Hazzard lashes feds over Indigenous vaccination

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has hit out at the federal government over Indigenous vaccination rates. Picture: Simone De Peak
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has hit out at the federal government over Indigenous vaccination rates. Picture: Simone De Peak

The NSW Health Minister has taken aim at the federal government over vaccination rates among Indigenous Australians in western NSW.

NSW recorded another 345 community transmission Covid cases on Thursday, with at least 60 infectious in the community, on the same day the state's Delta outbreak was discovered to have jumped the ACT border.

A crisis in western NSW also deepened as three new cases in Dubbo saw the region's outbreak grow to six.

There were also heightened concerns for western NSW's large Indigenous population after the virus seeped into the region earlier this week.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned low vaccination rates in that community, the purview of the federal government, had left it exposed.

"By far the majority of Aboriginal people in that section of our state have not received the vaccine and, well, you would have to direct that [question to] the federal government. But I have actually asked for help on that front," he said.

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NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale urged residents in Dubbo, plunged into lockdown on Wednesday, and eight nearby LGAs to follow stay-at-home orders.

"I also want to say a specific callout to our Aboriginal community. We know that many of those affected areas have a high proportion of Aboriginal people," she said.

"I ask all our Aboriginal community as well to please stay at home, come forward for a test if you have symptoms, and of course please get vaccinated with any available vaccine as soon as you can."

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt told Parliament 160,000 Indigenous Australians, roughly 30 per cent, had received a first dose, and 80,371 were fully vaccinated.

"While we need to increase the vaccination rate, it is steadily progressing forward," he said.

"Luckily we have had no deaths ... We have not seen them hospitalised, so there is a resilience to some extent.

"It is a remarkable achievement when you consider the status of health conditions of many Indigenous Australians."

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NSW diverted Pfizer doses from regional NSW earlier this month, prioritising year 12 students in Sydney hotspots. But an additional 180,000 sent to the city by the federal government allowed the doses to be returned.

A lockdown in the NSW Hunter region, set to end on Friday, has also been extended for another week after 24 new cases were confirmed around Newcastle.

And in Sydney, the epicentre of the state's outbreak, tough restrictions were clamped on three new areas of concern: Bayside, Burwood, and Strathfield.

Premier Berejiklian said Fairfield and Canterbury-Bankstown were the most concerning areas, but insisted case numbers were stabilising.

She revealed NSW had requested extra support from the ADF to assist with its vaccination program.

"We are making sure that we do not leave any stone unturned in relation to extra ADF resources," she said.

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Victoria also confirmed two women found travelling from Sydney without a permit had tested positive in hotel quarantine. They were two of the 21 local cases recorded across the state on Thursday, of which four were infected via an unknown source.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was bullish over the chances of crushing her state's outbreak, given all 10 cases confirmed on Thursday were in home quarantine.

But as the virus passed through northern NSW, she flagged tougher restrictions at the border.

"We do not want to see that, as far as creeping north. If we have to implement harder measures, we will ... Nobody should be crossing the border to go into NSW," she said.

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This story Hazzard lashes feds over Indigenous vaccination first appeared on The Canberra Times.