Northern Territory Aboriginal leaders have united to call on Chief Minister Michael Gunner to “do what it takes” and immediately declare the entire Territory and the remote tri-state border region in South Australia and Western Australia a special control area.
The Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT (APO NT) have requested an urgent meeting with Aboriginal leaders and Mr Gunner to progress the establishment of the quarantine zone before it is too late.
The call follows the first two cases of a Territorian testing positive for the coronavirus in Darwin today.
“If this virus gets into our communities it will wipe out an entire generation of elders and many, many younger people as well,” John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT, said.
“The only way to prevent this from happening is to accept the reality that it is simply not possible to stop remote community residents from travelling between communities and regional centres and that here in the Territory we are all in this together.”
“We have a unique chance to keep everyone safe from the virus, but only if we act fast now. If we fail to take our lucky chance while we still can, history will surely condemn us,” Central Land Council CEO Joe Martin-Jard said.
“The door is now open for Mr Gunner to listen to Aboriginal leaders and act for the good of all Territorians.”
APO NT noted the National Cabinet’s in-principle agreement to restrict travel into remote Aboriginal communities to prevent the spread of the virus.
The agreement allows Mr Gunner to nominate the special control area as soon as possible and restrict persons from entering or leaving it while granting exemptions to essential service providers.
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