Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021


COVID-19: Indigenous Australians

7:49 pm

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

We are all affected by COVID-19. We are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same ship. Decisions made by Labor and Liberal governments have kept our people back. Long-term systemic racism has made this pandemic worse for our people. Our health care, public homes and social infrastructure haven't been prioritised, despite decades of our people demanding change. Our people did not create the injustices but we are strong in spite of them. We are stronger than ever. We are no strangers to dealing with infectious diseases that we aren't immune to. This is why our people had the best responses in outcomes to the first wave of this pandemic. Our communities and our organisations mobilised better and faster than anyone. Remote communities organised big return-to-country efforts to keep their people well on country. Our language centres produced health promotion material in language when governments wouldn't, or couldn't. When we are in the driver's seat, everyone wins. That's what self-determination means. It means letting us be in control of our own lives. Our people will be hit hardest by every other wave of this pandemic because our services have been starved of resources by Labor and Liberal governments. When governments let us down, we cannot and we must not let each other down.

Right now, people who do not care about us are spreading lies in our communities, lies about vaccines, lies about the Army, lies about the virus—lies. They are lies. We must not fail each other at this moment. Right now, across this country, our strong, staunch elders and their lifelong fight for sovereignty and for self-determination is being hijacked. Those people are lying to our old people about this health crisis. They are disrespecting cultural protocols. They are spreading lies, not because they care about us but because they care about themselves. I say to mob watching, and I know you are, you've got so many blackfellas in here now. I know you're watching because you care. You care deeply about your people and your culture and about Nan. Get vaccinated. Follow only official and trusted health advice, and protect Nan.

Our sovereignty movement is about protecting and caring for one another. It's about protecting our elders and our matriarchs, and about protecting and defending country. Anyone who tells you that vaccines are not safe is lying to you. Talk to your local Aboriginal medical service. Talk to a doctor or an Aboriginal health worker. Talk to people who care about you more than they care about themselves. Our fight for freedom and sovereignty is being hijacked by liars. We must not allow this to ever happen again.