Leaders of over 50 multicultural communities gather with Federal MP to plan vaccine rollout

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A major roundtable was held yesterday involving more than 50 community leaders to discuss how they can partner together in supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Australia.

Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis was in attendance for the meeting, asking the Minister for Health and Aged Care Mr Greg Hunt the question below:

“Covid has had a profound impact on communities and the economy by dislocating Australia from the rest of the world. It has stopped many families from reconnecting and has stranded many students abroad. What is the timeframe for opening Australia’s borders with the rest of the world in line with the proposed vaccination rollout?

Below is Minister Hunt’s response:

“As the vaccination program is rolled out, community groups should step up their representations with State Governments about the ability to leave and return to Australia,” Mr Hunt said.  

“I and the Federal Government do not support the long term closing of our borders. The effect on family reunions and our economy has been hard. In terms of a time line, Australia will continue to open up green lanes with countries that have low levels of cases. 

“Next, as cases subside overseas, then Australia will continue to progressively open up channels with other countries. All of this will be staged an much will depend on transmission rates overseas, albeit the results from the U.K that are coming out now seem somewhat positive. 

“Progressive steps will be made on opening up Australia which will take place during 2021”

A comprehensive plan, including communication activities and community engagement strategies, has been developed in partnership with multicultural specialist agencies and, with advice from the national CALD Communities COVID-19 Health Advisory Group, to reach people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

The campaign will reach Australians through a range of channels including regular website updates, social media, health professionals and community and grass roots organisations, networks, and the media. It includes advertising in 32 languages across radio, print and social media, and will extend to communities that are harder to reach through traditional channels.

Messages will target specific multicultural groups to ensure everyone in Australia has a full understanding of the vaccination program. Many people working in sectors such as aged care will be in the first groups to be vaccinated and are from CALD communities, with the government highlighting that it is critical that they receive translated information that is culturally appropriate.

Translated resources have been developed for multicultural communities, including radio and print editorials, a video development guide for community leaders to film their own videos, in-language web content, social media posts, posters, and newsletter articles. The Department of Health’s vaccine hub also has a translation button for 63 languages available on its website and on mobile devices.

Professor Michael Kidd during the roundtable said that by late February, the first doses will be given for Pfizer. In March, the AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive from overseas (assuming they are TGA approved). CSL will produce the AstraZeneca vaccines from late March here in Australia.

Dr Monique Stone made the point that all the correct steps for approval have been taken by the TGA.

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