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Monday, November 29, 2021

Indigenous health worker calls “misinformation” about COVID-19 response in Australia’s Northern Territories

An indigenous Australian health professional currently at the Northern Territory (NT) COVID-19 quarantine center called online posts criticizing the Territory government’s response to the outbreak as “disgusting.”

Social media posts have attacked the New Zealand government for evacuating Aboriginal communities, comparing it to policies used during the “Stolen Generation” when Aboriginal children and young people were forced out of their families and communities.

Luke Ellis, who helped deploy the vaccine to remote indigenous communities in Binjari and Rockhole when he contracted the virus, is now at the Center for National Resilience (CNR) on the outskirts of Darwin, commonly known as the Howard Springs facility. …

Ellis shared his experience of being quarantined in a thread on Twitter, where he said he wanted to counter what he called disinformation about the relocation of indigenous people to the site.

“Not everything is perfect. There are legitimate concerns and reasons for concern about the way things are developing. But they are drowned out by madmen who use this situation to fuel their own interests, ”he said.

The rumors on social media have emerged in response to an ongoing vaccination campaign in Aboriginal communities, as well as a call from defense officials to help test and enforce isolation regulations in some communities, NT News reported.

Among the allegations were that the military forced residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In one video post, an Aboriginal man said he received a call from a Robinson River elder who cried after everyone in his community was forcibly vaccinated.

In response, Ellis said on his Twitter thread that if there were soldiers with weapons holding people in order to forcibly vaccinate them, pictures and videos of this would have appeared by now.

“There are millions of videos with tons of things happening in indigenous communities, both good and bad. I’ve seen hundreds of mass brawls on cell phone filming, ”he said.

The NT health worker also noted that he was not surprised that the defense forces were mobilized to help evacuate people from indigenous communities, noting that when he was taken to the facility, he was traveling in an ambulance and a small plane that, according to him, it was not sustainable for the large number of people who are currently being taken to a medical facility.

The Epoch Times contacted the Department of Defense (DOD), which confirmed in an email that allegations of forced vaccinations and military detentions were “categorically false.”

“Soldiers currently supporting the Northern Territory government cannot forcibly evict residents from their homes, forcibly vaccinate residents against their will, or forcibly obstruct the filming or photography of residents in public places,” the Defense Department said.

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Their response also stated that the Department of Defense is supporting the nationwide response to COVID-19 by providing support upon request by states and territories through the Australian Emergency Management Authority. This support primarily focuses on COVID-19 testing supporting measures to slow the spread of the virus and the well-being of the community.

“ADF personnel perform a supporting role for the state and territory authorities and are not authorized or authorized to conduct any law enforcement actions,” added the department.

The Epoch Times also contacted the Northern Territory Department of Health for comment on the disinformation, but received no response at the time of publication.

Ellis was a participant in the Rockhole and Binjari vaccination campaign and noted that he visited every home in Rockhole to talk to people about the vaccine.

He said that people hesitated about the jab due to misinformation, but in all the time spent in society, not a single person was forced to do it.

“However, we have found that people who have refused the vaccine in the past often want the vaccine as soon as they discover [COVID-19] is in their community. Once [COVID-19] becomes ‘real’ and tangible, it changes the way people think about the vaccine, ”he said.

He also rejected allegations that the Howard Springs facility was used to incarcerate Indigenous Australians.

“The camp is not being used to drag off the black mafia,” he said. He added that hundreds of non-indigenous people have passed through the camp, and people are transferred there from Binjari due to overcrowding and the inability to isolate 20 to 30 people in one house.

Ellis’s comments came after Indigenous Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, who is from Catherine, also raised the issue of overpopulation in Aboriginal communities when the outbreak first began in the Northern Territory, calling it a “serious problem” and stressing that it was very hard. so that people can isolate themselves in this situation.

McCarthy called on the federal government to get housing in the region.

“If we could get housing there right now, I would nudge the federal government and the Northwest region government right now to work on it, but we obviously need the resources to do this.”

Ellis said that while the food at CNR is not very good, the camp conditions are pretty good and there is free Wi-Fi.

“Everyone has access to their phones and is in constant contact with the outside family. I’m sure my family is tired of calling me all the time, ”he said.

He also categorically denied the accusation that the situation was comparable to the “stolen generation”, noting that his grandmother was a victim of the “stolen generation” and “to compare what I am going through in this camp with what she and her generation means disgusting. “

“I am in a beautiful room with my own air conditioner. I sit and watch Netflix on free Wi-Fi, ”he said.

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