Aboriginal communities COVID-19 advice

Everybody is at risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). For most people, they will only develop mild illness, but others may develop severe sickness that affects the lungs, heart and brain.

People with weaker immune systems are more likely to get seriously ill. This puts Aboriginal Elders and people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) at risk.

SA Health is working closely with key stakeholders across the state to ensure that Aboriginal Communities have access to current, culturally appropriate and localised information.

This page contains information to help you protect yourself, your family and community.

Update to COVID-19 restrictions

South Australia

SA Health has identified exposure locations in South Australia linked with a positive case of COVID-19. Action is required by the community.
Check the exposure locations and follow the instructions www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVIDcontacttracing.

The current COVID-19 situation in the eastern states is concerning. To protect South Australians, some restrictions are in place to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading into our state and communities:

  • Restrictions on activity will continue and can be found on the COVID-19 website.
  • Masks are required in shared indoor public spaces, passenger transport services, health care services, high risk settings, and personal care services. For advice on masks visit the Face masks page.

Please also continue to:

  • Keep visiting the SA Health website to see if you have visited an exposure site. If you have been directed by SA Health to quarantine, you must stay in quarantine for the required period.
  • Stay home and get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild.
  • Use the COVID Safe Check-In at all required businesses and events.
  • Get vaccinated if you haven’t already.

Other states

Different levels of restrictions, quarantine and testing requirements exist for entry into South Australia from all states and territories.

If you’ve crossed the border lately, make sure you follow the directions for quarantine and testing and encourage others to do the same.

All returned travellers should monitor the COVID-19 website for travel restrictions and updates, get tested immediately if you develop any symptoms, no matter how mild and complete a Cross-Border Travel Registration.

COVID-19 vaccination

South Australia, has done an incredible job at stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

The best thing we can do to protect our families and communities is to practice COVID SAfe behaviours and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Recently, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines be extended from 16 years and over to include Aboriginal children aged 12–15 years.

All Aboriginal people 12 years and over can now book an appointment to be vaccinated.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for people aged 12 and over. People aged 60 and over can now choose to receive Pfizer at SA Health vaccination clinics.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is available at participating pharmacies for people aged 12 years and over.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is available for people aged 18 and over.
People aged 18 to 59 years will need to make an informed decision by speaking with the vaccinator at their appointment or a medical professional.

If you have already had your first dose of AstraZeneca, you must receive AstraZeneca for your second dose. The vaccines are not interchangeable. It is important to have 2 doses for the best protection.  

If you have safely had your first dose of AstraZeneca, you can safely receive your second dose.

COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy

Research from around the world shows the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines is safe and effective for pregnant people, people planning a family, and people who are breastfeeding.

For more information, visit the COVID vaccine and pregnancy page or read the Frequently asked questions: COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy, planning a family, and breastfeeding (PDF 212KB).

For questions or if you are having trouble making an online booking, call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, 7 days.

Where are the SA Health COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics?

Metropolitan clinics

Regional clinics

Many new clinics have been established in regional areas, and are vaccinating people 12 years and older. Find a regional COVID-19 vaccination clinic or call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787 9.00 am to 5.00 pm 7 days to find the best option for you.

For more information about your vaccination appointment, go to the vaccination appointment page.

COVID-19 vaccination frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Want to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines?

Check out the frequently asked questions (FAQs) for Aboriginal communities (PDF 312KB).

For more information about how the COVID-19 vaccine works, how vaccines are tested, safety and the South Australian COVID-19 Vaccination program, visit the SA Gov COVID-19 vaccination page, visit the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine page, watch the explainer videos, or follow SA Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Information on how Aboriginal people in Australia have responded to the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccines so far can be found at the AusVaxSafety website.

Access to Aboriginal communities

The Emergency Management Cross Border General Direction (released on 29 March) provides protection for high risk facilities in Aboriginal communities.

Outbreak locations are now assigned a level from 1 to 6, which reflects the level of risk associated with the outbreak. More information can be found in the COVID Entry Requirements Chart

If someone has returned from a Level 1 or 2 outbreak area, they must receive a negative COVID-19 test result before attending any:

  • health service
  • aged care facility
  • prison or other place of custody.

If someone has returned from a Level 3 location, they cannot attend these facilities for 14 days.

People returning from a Level 4, 5 or 6 location will be required to quarantine.

These facilities can be attended at any time if the person:

  • needs medical treatment (including a COVID-19 test)
  • is an emergency services worker assisting with an emergency
  • is visiting someone who is dying.

This applies to the following areas:     

  • APY Lands
  • Davenport
  • Nepabunna
  • Iga Warta
  • Umoona
  • Oodnadatta
  • Yalata
  • Kooniba
  • Maralinga Tjarutja
  • Gerard
  • Raukkan which is also known as Narrung and previously known as Point McLeay
  • Point Pearce Aboriginal Community

For a reference table that shows restricted locations and their associated ‘levels’ of risk, visit https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/emergency-declarations/cross-border-travel, go to the More information heading and open the ‘Entry into SA Requirements Table’. Please note this table is frequently updated and will need to be checked regularly.

Travel to Adelaide

During the warmer months there’s increased movement of people right across the state for cultural activities and holidays.

People from Aboriginal communities naturally want to come to Adelaide to connect with family and friends at social gatherings, for shopping and travel.

We’re reminded to be extra careful in high traffic areas such as shops and shopping centres and end of year gatherings where food is served.

These are all high touch zones that can be enjoyed in a COVID Safe way.

If you are moving around the state during these times, current SA Government COVID-19 recommendations include:

Why is COVID-19 dangerous for Aboriginal Communities?

Aboriginal people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19 because:

  • Living arrangements and social connectedness (particularly where many people are living or gathering in one household), makes transmission more likely.
  • Aboriginal people have higher levels of pre-existing health conditions (particularly diabetes and respiratory conditions). People with these health conditions, especially those aged over 50, are at risk of more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
  • Increased remoteness makes access to health care more challenging.
  • COVID-19 can spread quickly—it will only take one person coming into the community with the sickness to put the whole community at risk.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

As with other respiratory illnesses, some people infected with COVID-19 may experience mild What is Covid-19 (coronavirus)? A4 Aboriginal Communities poster and will recover easily, and others may become very ill and need urgent medical care.

COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including:

  • fever or chills
  • sore throat
  • coughing
  • runny or blocked nose
  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness
  • loss of taste or smell
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • headache
  • sore muscles or joints
  • don't feel like eating.

For some people, it can be more severe and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties and can even be fatal.

Call 000 if you need urgent medical help (such as chest pain or difficulty breathing) .

What should I do if I’m feeling unwell?

  • If you are severely unwell, such as chest pain or having difficulty breathing, call 000 (Triple Zero).
  • Visit the Testing for COVID-19 page for information on:
    • Who can get tested
    • How and where to get tested
    • What to do after your test
    • What to do if you have a positive or negative test result
    • What to do if you are feeling worried but well.
  • Visit the COVID-19 Clinics and Testing Centres page to find your closest dedicated testing clinic across metropolitan and regional South Australia.
  • If you are worried, keep a distance of 1.5 metres away from sick people when out and about in public spaces.
  • This also means not holding any unnecessary meetings or events, working from home where possible, not shaking hands, hugging, kissing and touching people unnecessarily or sharing food, smokes and drinks.
  • Call the SA COVID Information Line on 1800 253 787 if you want more information on COVID-19.

How does contact tracing work?

If a person gets a positive test result for COVID-19, SA Health does what is called ‘contact tracing’. This is to prevent the virus spreading further through the community.

As part of this process, the contact tracing team speak to the sick person to find out who might have had close contact with them when they would have been infectious.

For the step-by-step ‘contact tracing’ process, check out these resources:

To enhance contact tracing and keep the community COVID safe, check-in at all COVID SAfe check in locations using your mySA Gov app or fill in the paper record. This will help SA Health to quickly contact others who may have been exposed to the virus and control the spread.

For more information on the COVID SAfe check in process, visit: www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/business-and-work/covid-safe-check-in

For a list of all COVID-19 public exposure locations, check the SA Health contact tracing webpage regularly for updates.

How can I protect my community and Elders?

You can protect yourself and others by:

How can I stop the spread and stay strong?

Aboriginal people are at risk of getting really sick from COVID-19. Even if you are feeling well it is important to take steps to prevent the virus from spreading.

Good hygiene and social distancing (also called physical distancing) (PDF 332KB), are the best defences against COVID-19.

It is important that you talk to your doctor, health clinic, or pharmacy about getting a flu shot (PDF 253KB) as soon as it is available.

Read more about how to protect yourself and others (PDF 332KB).

Can I leave my house?

For the most up to date information about restrictions, directionsfrequently asked questions, and restrictions on movement into Aboriginal communities, visit the Government of South Australia COVID-19 website.

Child care arrangements during an Aboriginal community outbreak

In response to concern around family members in Aboriginal communities being separated in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak, this FAQ fact sheet (PDF 154KB) provides clarification around care arrangements for children during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Keeping in touch with your community

Staying connected with family, friends and your community is important (PDF 312KB). Some ways you can do this are:

  • calling people for a yarn on the phone
  • talking about the community and checking if they are OK
  • talking about the virus and how to stop the spread
  • connecting to family and friends on social media.

How can I keep my spirit strong?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every area of our lives - our health, job security, family life, and ability to engage in cultural practices. It is normal to feel things like anxiety, distress, and fear. Some people may feel grief and loss for how things used to be, particularly as we are unsure when things will go back to ‘normal’.

While COVID-19 has changed ways of being and doing, it has not changed ways of knowing. It is important that through this time, communities continue to practice culture and traditions where possible.

Practising culture helps people and communities to stay strong. While physically distancing, it is more important than ever to remain socially, emotionally and culturally connected.

Download the fact sheets below for tips on looking after your health and wellbeing or visit Open Your World website to find tools to improve wellbeing and stay healthy, active and connected.

Watch the animations for tips, talk to your local health worker or visit dedicated support webpages for Aboriginal peoples at headtohealth.gov.au if you need additional help.

Funerals and Sorry Business during COVID-19

When big groups of people get together there is a high risk of spreading COVID-19 from person to person.

Big family gatherings are how COVID-19 has spread through Aboriginal communities in other states.

Although it may be hard to practice good hygiene and COVID safe behaviours (PDF 285KB) while you are grieving, it’s really important that you do to keep your family and community safe.

Restrictions are in place for the number of people allowed to gather for funerals and sorry business. These restrictions will change over time. For current information, visit Activities and Gatherings on the COVID-19 website.

Travel restrictions may also be in place across Australia so people may not be able to travel to attend gatherings. For current information, visit Travel Restrictions on the COVID-19 website.

Visit the Government of South Australia COVID-19 website to understand the current restrictions in South Australia.

Restrictions on movement into remote Aboriginal communities

For the most up to date information about restrictions, directions and other frequently asked questions, visit the Government of South Australia COVID-19 website.