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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

Resources

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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.

Testing

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are the easiest way to test for COVID-19.

You should take a RAT:

  • if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they’re very mild
  • if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • before visiting a hospital, aged care facility, or disability care facility
  • before visiting elderly people, people with disability or people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

COVID-19 can spread before you have symptoms. You can protect others by checking that you are negative before you leave home.

if you need a PCR test, you will need to visit a GP respiratory clinic or have a GP referral to a private pathology provider.

If you are at high risk of severe illness and have symptoms, you should speak to a GP about a PCR test even if you have tested negative on a RAT. This is so you can get any help you need, including COVID antiviral medicine, as quickly as possible.

There are culturally safe health services to help you get a PCR test with a GP referral:

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

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What to do if you have tested positive

If you have tested positive on a RAT at home, report your result to the Department of Health online or by calling the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

Find out if you can get medicine to help treat COVID-19. These medicines can stop people from getting so sick that they need to go to hospital.

If you test positive, it’s important that you speak to a doctor as soon as you can if you are:

  • aged 12 or older with severe immunocompromise
  • aged 35 or older and have not yet received three doses of vaccine

For information on how to manage COVID-19 at home, download this fact sheet:

COVID Positive Pathways

COVID Positive Pathways provides targeted care and support for Victorians diagnosed with COVID-19 who need support to recover or who experience barriers to accessing care.

The program is delivered by community health services and hospitals, including collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

The program is free and ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be cared for in the best possible place, depending on personal needs and circumstances, whether at home or in a hospital bed.

For more information on available support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, visit the COVID Positive Pathways page

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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

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

For young people - join the Koorie Youth CouncilExternal Link to network and connect with other young First Nations people.

Find your local Aboriginal health service

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Financial help and support

What financial support is available?

If you are a casual or contract worker, you may be eligible for the Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee. This payment provides financial support for up to 38 hours a year of sick and carer's pay. To check your eligibility or to apply, visit vic.gov.au/sickpayguaranteeExternal Link or visit the Financial and other support page for more information.

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How do I access emergency relief?

If you need emergency relief while you have COVID-19, please call the National COVID-19 Helpline on 1800 020 080 to request an emergency relief package.

Emergency relief packages include personal care, long-life and non-perishable items.

If you do not have COVID-19 and require emergency relief, you can contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled OrganisationExternal Link for support.

If you would like help with your electricity or gas bills, read this factsheet:

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Looking after your mental health

It’s important to look after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember that you are not alone, and support is available. Visit the Mental health support 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:

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 can help you feel healthier and happier.

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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.

Family violence support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians is available through the Orange DoorExternal Link 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

The First Peoples Disability Network has 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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Reviewed 31 December 2022

Coronavirus Victoria

Coronavirus Hotline

Call the Coronavirus Hotline if you need help to report a rapid antigen test (RAT) or if you have any questions about COVID-19.

The Victorian Coronavirus Hotline diverts to the National Coronavirus Helpline every night between 4pm and 9am.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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