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COVID-19 information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Information and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.

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Staying safe during COVID-19

Watch these important messages about getting tested for COVID-19

Are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more at risk of COVID-19?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19. Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get COVID-19 and infect family, friends and Elders.

As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Loss or changes in sense of smell or taste
  • Fever
  • Chills or sweats
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose

Headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can also occur.

No matter how mild the symptoms, it is important that you get tested as soon as you show any of the symptoms of COVID-19. You must get tested every time you have symptoms, even if you have been tested before.

Testing in Victoria is:

  • available at culturally safe health services; check in with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCO) to find your nearest culturally safe testing point
  • available to people with COVID-19 symptoms, however mild
  • free and widely available
  • fast, taking around a minute and involves a swab from the back of your throat and nose.

Find your nearest COVID-19 testing location.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) has a wide range of information available:

You can also call the dedicated COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398 to find out where you can get tested or visit

What do I do after the test?

After your test, you must return home immediately and stay home until you receive your test result. This is also known as isolating. You must do this because there is a risk that you could have COVID-19 and infect other people. For general information about what is involved in testing, visit the Taking the test page.

For information about testing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians, read the

What can I do to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19?

There are four key things you can do to keep yourself, families and mob safe:

  • Stay at home and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild.
  • Practise good hygiene – wash your hands regularly and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
  • Keep your distance – stay 1.5 metres away from anyone you don’t live with.
  • Carry a fitted face mask that covers your nose and mouth when you leave home.

Are Victoria’s health and community services culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians?

Victorian health and human service providers are committed to creating an environment that is safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

More information about why cultural safety is important and cultural safety guidelines are available in the

How do Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations access personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies?

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations can access PPE and the supplies they need to keep workers and communities safe, provide testing, treatment and support services in Victoria.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations can submit requests for PPE to COVID19PPErequest@dhhs.vic.gov.au. To ensure your request is processed promptly, please follow the guidance outlined in the

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Staying connected to community, Country and culture

Community is an important aspect to Aboriginal culture. It is important to stay connected with community and your social networks.

You can stay connected by:

  • following your local Aboriginal community organisations on Facebook and/or Instagram for updates on their services
  • joining local community groups on social media 
  • maintaining contact with loved ones via FaceTime and social media
  • staying in contact with your employer to ensure you are getting regular updates relevant to your job  
  • looking after your physical and mental wellbeing by going out for some fresh air, a walk or some other exercise each day.

Koorie Heritage Trust offer a range of programs and services dedicated solely to Koorie voices, stories, art, culture and history.

For young people - join the Koorie Youth Council to network and connect with other deadly young people. 

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Current restrictions levels

For more information about the changes to restrictions please go to COVIDSafe Settings.

Wear a face mask

Wearing a face mask protects you and your community by providing an additional physical barrier to COVID-19.   

Everyone must wear a face mask when required, unless a lawful exception applies. 

For more information, including the latest rules on their use, please visit face masks

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Financial help and support

What financial support is available?

If you are worried you will lose income while you wait for your test result, you may be eligible for a $450 COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment. This payment provides financial support while you are in isolation and waiting for your test results.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may be eligible for the $1500 Worker Support Payment. This payment provides financial support while you are isolating at home as instructed by the Department of Health.

To find out if you are eligible, call the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit the Financial support for COVID-19 page for more information.

How do I access emergency relief?

We are working to ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians are supported with their food and essential needs.

If you are isolating and require emergency relief, call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 to request an emergency relief package.

Emergency relief packages contain essential food staples including cereal, long-life milk, sugar, pasta and canned vegetables.

Personal care items such as soap, deodorant and toothpaste are also provided as part of the packages. Nappies and baby formula can be provided if requested. The packages do not include medicines, incontinence and personal hygiene products, or pet food.

If you are not isolating and require emergency relief, you can contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation for support.

Aboriginal organisations and community services are able to submit requests for emergency care packages on behalf of clients by emailing semc@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

There are several large supermarkets offering food and groceries priority access to vulnerable people during COVID-19. You can find eligibility criteria and more information about these services in the

For information about all the available emergency relief supports, read the

If you would like help with your electricity or gas bills, read the

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Looking after your mental health

It’s important that mob looks after their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember that you are not alone, and support is available. Visit the Mental health resources page for resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.

If you or someone you love is feeling anxious, lonely or uncertain, you can call:

  • Yarning SafeNStrong - Call 1800 95 95 63(24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A free and confidential phone crisis line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and families who just want to have a yarn with someone about their wellbeing.
    www.vahs.org.au
  • Dardi Munwurro Aboriginal Men's Support Line - Call 1800 435 799 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A free and confidential phone support line for Aboriginal men to reach out to yarn with someone when times are tough.
    www.dardimunwurro.com.au
  • Lifeline Australia - Call 13 11 14(24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A crisis support service offering short term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.
    www.lifeline.org.au
  • Beyond Blue - Call 1800 650 890 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A COVID-19 mental wellbeing support service.
    https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au

Self-care Toolkit

Taking care of your mental and physical health has never been more important. Take a look at this resource for self-care advice that will help you feel healthier and happier.

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Caring for Elders

Can I care for Elders?

You can visit Elders and other people in their homes for caregiving purposes. If you are a caregiver, you should practise proper hygiene, minimise physical contact, and always wear a fitted face mask that covers your nose and mouth if you do not live with the person. Please remember that Elders and any Aboriginal person aged over 50 is at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing severe symptoms.

More information and resources for older people, their family, friends and carers is available.

Supporting Elders in the aged care sector

For COVID-19 resources and information for the aged care sector, please visit the Aged care sector page.

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Family violence support

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, you are not alone. There is help available. For more information and advice, please visit the Family violence crisis response and support during COVID-19 page.

Family violence support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians is also available through the Orange Door where you can choose to be supported by an Aboriginal Worker or be referred to an Aboriginal service.

Other resources:

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Information for people with disability

For information and considerations specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with disability and people caring for them, visit the Information for people with disability - COVID-19 page.

The First Peoples Disability Network has also developed a series of short films to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure families and communities are safe.

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Find your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation

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'Staying apart, keeps mob together' campaign materials

These campaign materials can be used by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and community.

*Download as static image or gif.

Staying apart, keeps mob together - campaign materials - Aboriginal Victorians - COVID-19

Resources

Reviewed 02 June 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

If you suspect you may have COVID-19 call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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