The Australian Government has implemented additional measures to protect remote communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Northern Territory.
As Minister for Health and Aged Care, I have made a determination under section 477 of the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015 to prevent a person from entering and/or exiting the Robinson River and surrounding homelands, which is aimed at stopping any further spread of COVID-19 in the community.
These measures are based on the medical advice from the acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett. The implementation of these measures will help to contain the current outbreak by ensuring that a person will only enter and/or leave the area if necessary, and for essential purposes.
These measures will help to prevent and contain the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Robinson River, and will assist in preventing the emergence, establishment and spread of the disease to neighbouring remote communities in the Northern Territory.
The Determination was requested by the Northern Territory Government to supplement restrictions they have also implemented and is supported by the Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT).
The implementation of these measure follows extensive engagement with the Northern Territory Government and consultation with and support from Federal MPs and representatives of the affected communities.
The approach is consistent with extensive planning undertaken by the Australian Government in partnership with the Norther Territory Government, the Aboriginal Advisory Group on COVID-19, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Northern Territory Land Councils, the National Indigenous Australians’ Agency (NIAA) and the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.
The Australian Government’s response was also:
- informed by the predictive modelling on an outbreak in a remote community by the Kirby Institute and University of Melbourne and modelling looking at an outbreak in a remote community in the context of vaccination by the Doherty Institute
- recognised in the Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations; and
- outlined in the Communicable Disease Network Australia’s National Guidance for Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities for COVID-19.
All residents of Robinson River are encouraged to continue to follow their local Health Department directions, to be tested in the coming days and to book their vaccinations.
The measures are being implemented based on the best public health advice and will be in place only as long as necessary to keep the community safe. The measures will be in place until 6pm, 18 November 2021.