The Australian Government has implemented further measures to protect remote communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Northern Territory (NT).
Remote communities in the NT continue to see escalating cases of COVID-19. The situation required a broader public health response to supplement the Northern Territory Government’s response.
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 or exiting remote regional zones in the Northern Territory. This is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 across the Northern Territory and will be in place until the end of 17 February 2022.
This broader approach is complemented by more targeted restrictions for communities with high case numbers, namely Milikapiti, Milingimbi, Palumpa, Ampilatwatja, Elcho Island (including Galiwin’ku), Wessel Islands (including Martjanba) and Lajamanu.
These measures are based on the medical advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly. These measures will help to contain the current outbreak by restricting entry into, and exit from, these communities. This will assist in preventing the spread of the disease, including to neighbouring remote communities in the Northern Territory.
These Determinations were requested by the Northern Territory Government to supplement mechanisms they have implemented and is supported by the Central Land Council, Northern Land Council, Tiwi Land Council, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).
The approach is consistent with extensive planning undertaken by the Australian Government in partnership with the Northern Territory Government, the Aboriginal Advisory Group on COVID-19, NACCHO, Northern Territory Land Councils, the National Indigenous Australians’ Agency (NIAA) and the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector. This 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 the Northern Territory 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 emergency determination will cover the Northern, Central and Tiwi Land Councils regions, and allow movement to continue within specific community wards as agreed with the Land Councils. The designated zones are:
Central designated zones
Barkly designated zone
Central Desert designated zone
- Northern Tanami
- Southern Tanami.
MacDonnell designated zone
- Luritja Pintubi
Tiwi Islands designated zones
Bathurst Island designated zone
- the ward of Bathurst Island.
Melville Island designated zone
Northern designated zones
East Arnhem designated zone
- the ward of Birr Rawarrang
- the ward of Gumurr Gattjirrk
- the ward of Gumurr Marthakal
- the ward of Gumurr Miwatj (with exclusions)
- the ward of Gumurr Miyarrka.
Roper Gulf designated zone
- Never Never
- Numbulwar Numburindi
- South West Gulf
- Yugul Mangi.
Victoria Daly designated zone
- the ward of Timber Creek, excluding the following:
- NT Portion 7278 (Jiylinum Community Living Area);
- NT Portion 3046 (Marralum Outstation);
- the ward of Walangeri.
West Arnham designated zone
West Daly designated zone
- Thamarrurr / Pindi Pindi;