Senate debates

Thursday, 12 August 2021


COVID-19: Indigenous Health

1:34 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Last Saturday, a young black man from Walgett was released from Bathurst prison. The ABC reports that he was tested for COVID while imprisoned and was released before his results were known. Because Bathurst prison did not—and, let's be honest, could not—provide our communities with proper, culturally-safe medical care, Bathurst prison has put our people in grave danger. The man was tested only one week before his release and released anyway. Walgett and surrounding towns have high First Nations populations—around 40 per cent. Our people were the best prepared; we responded quicker than any government to the pandemic, only to be absolutely let down by the New South Wales government and their officials.

In fact, the first Aboriginal health service in this country was born in New South Wales. That mob have been looking after us for 50 years. Now our communities and our old people, the keepers of tradition, culture and song, could be at risk because Bathurst prison did not do its job. That's why we need Greens in power, holding the balance of power. We'll be pushing the new government—hopefully—to make sure that a culturally-safe and well-resourced oversight mechanism for prisons, via the OPCAT, is established urgently. We will make sure imprisoned people have access to Medicare and good medical care. This is why this is important. Without these things, people will die. Bathurst prison let out a positive COVID— (Time expired)