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Policy Brief Assignment: Protecting Aboriginals From COVID-19

Question

Task:
This policy brief assignment requires students to write a policy brief on an aspect of the COVID-19 Pandemic. A policy brief is a concise summary of an issue written to be presented to policy makers aid their decision making. The brief should include key options and recommendations as to the preferred action. Clarity and succinctness are key features of a policy brief. These can only be achieved through thorough mastery of the topic. Policy brief topic for the Australian Federal Government on maintains social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer

Introduction
Starting from China, coronavirus disease has been affecting people across the world, their lives, professions, and physical and mental health as well. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. A wider base of people has been facing major risks, mostly those who are aboriginal (AGDH, 2020). In this regard, the Australian Government is aimed at protecting the mobility of those aboriginal people in order to stop the spread of corona virus disease. In response to this, the Department of Health of the Australian Government has announced some new policies for preventing the outbreak of COVID-19. It has been known that the mortality rate of Australia has increased by 3% due to the effects of Coronavirus disease (Atkinson, 2020). This is because the “Protect Your Mob and Stop the Spread” policy has been launched by the Australian Government (AGDH, 2020). Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people are found at the highest risk regarding public health emergencies. The current study abridges the requirements of this policy to protect the nation from spread of COVID-19 by protecting the aboriginals in Australia.

Reasons for the policy briefing
Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginals and people who have been staying in remote communities of Australia are at greater risk from the coronavirus disease. People who are living in remote areas in Australia are considered as one of the major priorities by the Australian Government as well as the “COVID-19 National Emergency Response Plan” (DPC, 2020). The government is aimed at engaging all levels of the Department of Health for the urge of working together in order to maintain the standards of safety for people and also to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Mercer, 2020). As per this reason, a policy for aboriginals of Australia has been imposed by the government in order to protect those people from risks. The reasons behind their risks have been identified as follows:

  • There are some more higher frequent rates of other health-related problems in the aforementioned communities (Markham & Smith, 2020)
  • It might be comparatively more difficult to access healthcare services from hospitals or nursing homes due to the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks
  • People of the aforementioned communities are highly mobile and often travel to many places. Because of this, the possibility of the spread can increase after coming to in contact with those people (Riley, 2020)
  • People of these communities are usually dependent more on outreaching for their jobs or services in remote areas of Australia

In relation to this, all designated communities are withdrawn from the imposed restrictions from Friday 10 July 2020 (GSA, 2020). This indicates that the Determination of the government has been ceased and repealed in order to exist from the mentioned date. The decision of the Australian Government for lifting up the Determination has been supported by the information with the assistance of the Remote framework (Hayes, 2020). This has enabled the Australian Government to ease the conditions for travelling restrictions to remote areas, which was launched on 15 May 2020 by the Prime Minister (GSA, 2020). Some of the remote communities have still been facing local restrictions in their places regarding who can enter and who can leave the area.

Research basis for the policy briefing
It is a highly concerning fact that Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders experience a huge scale of burden regarding diseases 2.3 times more than the rate of non-Indigenous places in Australia. It is found that they are at a high-rated risk related to severe illness because of coronavirus diseases (Riley, 2020). However, yet no case has been reported from the Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal communities in remote areas. Still, new modelling is indicating a continuous effort that is highly required for limiting the adverse impact of the COVID-19 outbreak (Markham & Smith, 2020). The respective modelling has been released on the weekend, which reflects from the time one confirmed case of coronavirus disease in a remote area is recorded, a huge base of people may be infected. This simply means that only one confirmed case of coronavirus disease might be dealt as an overall outbreak of COVID-19, which triggers a huge rate of response by the state, local, or territory.

People who suffer from underlying health-related conditions are commonly stated to be at highest risk from Covid-19 such as aboriginals of Australia, who travel a lot to different places (DPC, 2020). As it has been known that the rate of medical issues among aboriginal people is comparatively higher than non-indigenous people, it can be stated that aboriginal people may have a lower degree of immunity power. On the other hand, the rate of smoking among aboriginal people is also higher and that may have affected the respiratory system (Mercer, 2020). Moreover, the coronavirus disease also affects the respiratory system at first and that is extended to death, which is a serious fact of concern that aboriginal people have a lack of ability to survive the coronavirus disease. This is because the Australian Government has stated that a single confirmed case amongst aboriginal people may have created issues to the entire community and the area in which they have been living (AGDH, 2020). This is because the government has also abolished the restrictions on their travel by enhancing the Determination of the Government.

Implications of the research
This research study might have helped in analysing numerous insights along with evidential and research materials, which has helped in yielding the significant pointers of the policy. The classification of people is created by the Australian Government who have been living in remote areas and are highly vulnerable to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Hayes, 2020). This reflects the government might have taken care of integrated precautionary needs in order to make sure that safety standards are maintained by the population of the respective areas. This research has also determined that aboriginal people travel a lot to many places, which is also found vulnerable to coronavirus disease. The study has found that the policy of “Protect Your Mob and Stop the Spread” is focusing on the personal needs of aboriginal people who need to travel for out searching services.

In addition to this, the Australian Government has stated that the modelling is developed by highlighting the requirements for all aboriginal people of Australia so that they get tested even if they have mild symptoms (DPC, 2020). This is because finding the very first case as early as possible may be one of the most effective keys to stop the spread at large. The Federal Minister for Australian Indigenous has stated that the Australian Government has imposed the priority at high in order to protect the health conditions of aboriginal Australians along with Torres Strait Islanders during the pandemic. It has been known that approximately 120000 people are living in remote areas, and the respective people are mainly aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, who are often referred to as Indigenous Australians and First Nation people (Riley, 2020).

Considerations for the policy and relative practices
Predominantly in the Northern Territory, the Western Australia, and the Far North Queensland; it can be seen that some of the remote communities are at the distance of a few hours of drive from the township. These communities are about as isolated as a person can imagine, which only allows the health and medical staff, educational services, and police (Atkinson, 2020). So far, no aboriginal has been found with a confirmed case of COVID-19; it is found that confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been increasing sharply in Australia. This is because aboriginal people have been restricted in metropolitan areas without any report of cases in remote areas. A bulk of Australian COVID-19 cases has been imported by those people who have been travelling overseas as well as remote areas are visited rarely by outsiders.

Key actions
However, there has been a lack of clear communication regarding containment and social distancing norms on the part of the government. It has further led to confusion in the masses. In this regard, no national order has been issued on the part of the federal government asking the people to stay at home. However, public gatherings have been banned and all crowded places such as multiplexes and restaurants have been shut down for indefinite period of time. The flocking of people at beach sites has been banned. For breaking social distancing rules, on- the-spot fine have been introduced in parts of Australia such as New South Wales and Victoria.

The Government has planned to initiate the Stand-down stage when the Pandemic is under control. Under such conditions, the risk of the corona virus spread is only among a segment of the population. Therefore, the conditions of the lockdown can be eased after taking adequate steps and measures. Some of the key actions which can be undertaken here are as follows:

  • Maintenance and supporting quality care
  • Monitoring for a second wave of the outbreak
  • Inspecting for the development of resistance to any drugs or pharmaceutical products
  • Transitioning from complete lockdown to interim business arrangements
  • Evaluating implemented plans of action

Recommendations
Empowering people and make them aware regarding the precautionary measure can help them better cope up with the pandemic. It is important to communicate to the masses that the government and health facilities will be support them to the utmost level, in case they get infected. Communications can be used to raise awareness in high risk groups. Individual should be educated regarding managing their own exposure to the disease by practising the following methods:

  • The current status of the pandemic internationally and also within the country
  • Sneezing and coughing etiquette
  • Prevention of disease transmission
  • Comprehend how to manage the symptoms of the disease
  • Understand the importance of seeking medical assistance
  • Providing access to mental health care services

References
AGDH (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities. Retrieved from: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/advice-for-people-at-risk-of-coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples-and-remote-communities Retrieved on 29 September

Atkinson, S. (2020). Coronavirus: Why are Australia's remote Aboriginal communities at risk?. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51971891 Retrieved on 29 September

DPC (2020). COVID-19 coronavirus: Remote Aboriginal communities travel. Retrieved from: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-remote-aboriginal-communities-travel Retrieved on 29 September

Hayes, P. (2020). Support for remote communities at high risk of COVID-19. Retrieved from: https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/support-for-remote-communities-at-high-risk-of-cov Retrieved on 29 September

Markham, F., & Smith, D. (2020). Indigenous Australians and the COVID 19 crisis: Perspectives on public policy. Retrieved from: https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/202733/1/CAEPR_TI_no1_2020_Markham_Smith_Morphy.pdf Retrieved on 29 September

Mercer, P. (2020). 45-Minute COVID-19 Tests Aid Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities. Retrieved from: https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/45-minute-covid-19-tests-aid-remote-australian-aboriginal-communities Retrieved on 29 September

Riley, B. (2020). Energy Security on remote Aboriginal communities during the COVID-19 crisis. In Indigenous Australians and the COVID 19 crisis: Perspectives on public policy. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, ANU. Retrieved from: https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/209659/1/01_Riley_Energy_Security_on_remote_2020.pdf Retrieved on 29 September

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