It is well documented that our people have suffered considerably as a result of introduced illnesses. In fact, outside of frontier violence, it has been devastating on our people and population.
So with the international spread of COVID-19 and the World Health Organisation declaring it an international pandemic, it is only natural that mob are feeling the anxiety along with the rest of the world. The history of colonisation tells us the impact of introduced illnesses and with the existing health issues, it is little wonder mob are concerned about the unknown that this pandemic brings.
We know that our remote communities have been closed off for non-essential travel to protect the communities. We also know that we have a significant population in metropolitan and rural regions that are likely to feel the effects of this spreading epidemic so now is the time that we draw on our kinship structures and take measures to look after each other.
The government is releasing changing guidance and instructions as the crisis unfolds and the World Health Organisation has been releasing practical guidance on how to take care of yourself and others.
Our people are a community based people – so now is no different.
What we know is that this virus is of greater risk to our Elders so we need to make sure we are doing all that we can to protect them from exposure by:
1. Wash hands
Make sure your whole family and community, particularly our children and Elders have plenty of soap so frequent hand washing can be routine. If you have Elders that require additional support, make sure you have a small container that can be used as a basin with water to help them with these hygiene activities.
2. Social distancing
All of the medical advice is to limit exposure through social distancing. This is difficult in families, particularly where you want to watch out for one another but we need to take extra steps to limit the risk to our Elders. Anyone in contact with Elders should make sure their hygiene practices are vigilant, make sure that you have not been in contact with anyone that could pose a risk and if you are concerned about your risk or are showing any symptoms of colds or flus at this time – stay away.
While we might encounter situations where we need to self-isolate and feel worried about our family or other community members, it is better to self-isolate than risk exposing them so err on the side of caution.
That said, it doesn’t need to be isolating. You can call them and yarn to them to check on them, you can organise services (most of which now have no contact services) to ensure they are fed and have their care or other needs taken care of. Call upon well members in your community to step up in your stead while you go through the isolation period.
3. Food and essentials
Check their supplies to make sure they have enough food and help with preparing some food that is easy to warm or prepare in bulk to assist them. Make sure they have plenty of toiletries, toilet paper (in light of the shortage) and if they require extra help – contact food services to see if you can set up a service for them.
Just going to do their groceries for them will be a big reduction in their risk of exposure. As people attend supermarkets in their masses at the moment, the stress and exposure risk is too much for our Elders so doing this for them will be a good way to help them keep stocked and not risk contact with the virus.
4. Helping them with contacting GP’s by telephone
This is now bulk billed as part of the COVID-19 action plan so you can support them by organising their regular prescriptions and let the doctor know you will be collecting them to fill out to limit the risk of exposure to your Elder/s.
You can then attend the pharmacy for them to get their regular medications so they don’t run the risk of being without their medication or going to the pharmacy when they are closed, over run with people or out of supplies. Would be a good idea to make sure they are stocked with paracetamol too – just in case.
5. Have a care plan
If you have people in your family that are older and/or have additional medical conditions, prepare a care plan. Make sure you have their medical conditions written down, along with their usual medications. Have a list of emergency contact numbers handy and a plan for if they fall ill so they know what to do if they feel unwell.
If they get sick or you are concerned they are showing symptoms, call ahead to the appropriate health service to let them know you are bringing them in so that they can give advice.
Remember also that this is a very frightening time for mob with family and friends with medical conditions that put them at greater risk, remember to be there to yarn and offer support. Fear is a legitimate and valid emotion that is okay to feel but if mob are feeling this in a way that is debilitating, please help them to reach out for the additional support needed to get through this particularly difficult people.
Take care of yourselves and each other mob. Wash your hands and remind everyone around you to wash their hands also. We are a resilient people and while the masses hoard to isolate, now more than ever, we need to remember our values, our kinship and our ways. Of course follow medical advice but make sure our Elders and vulnerable members of our communities are well taken care of too. We all feel the fear of the unknown – but the Elders and vulnerable members of our community feel it magnified when they need to rely on others for support and care. Let them feel wrapped in love, let them know that we are proud to care for them and let them know that no task is too big or small for us because it is our way to love and care.
One love mob!
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