Indigenous health groups in the dark over COVID-19 plan for Melbourne workers
Ten gas pipeline workers from a coronavirus hotspot have begun quarantining in a Tennant Creek hotel under a Government-approved COVID-19 management plan that Indigenous health groups are demanding be shared with them.
In total, 17 employees from Victoria and NSW entered the Northern Territory to do the gas pipeline work after returning negative COVID-19 tests.
Ten of the workers are from Melbourne and have been given permission to leave the hotel under an arrangement organised for maintenance work on Jemena’s Northern Gas Pipeline, which runs from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa..
Indigenous health groups are concerned the alternative arrangement risks coronavirus spreading to Tennant Creek’s majority Indigenous population and that of nearby communities.
“Why is there such secrecy around sharing the Jemena COVID plan, and why can’t it be shared?” Barb Shaw from Anyinginyi Health asked.
“The fact that we haven’t seen the plan to show that there are stringent measures in place to ensure that this community is kept safe, I mean how can we feel confident?”
John Paterson from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory said his request to see the plan was denied on privacy grounds. Mr Paterson said a recent request for an exemption for health workers needed in the same region had been denied.
“There is no reason why they can’t redact the sensitive information and give us a copy,” he said.
“In this situation, it seems like there’s one exemption given to one lot of essential workers and another to another lot.”
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