COVID-19 information for First Nations people
Everybody is at risk of getting COVID-19. For most people, they will only develop mild illness and recover easily, but others may develop severe sickness.
People with weaker immune systems are more likely to get seriously ill. This puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) at a higher risk.
Queensland Health is working closely with key stakeholders across the state to ensure First Nations Queenslanders have access to current, culturally appropriate and localised information.
This page contains information to help you protect yourself, your family and community.
You can also:
- visit Make the Choice
- download COVID Resources for First Nations peoples .
COVID-19 is dangerous for First Nations people
First Nations 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
- First Nations 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 may only take one person coming into the community with the sickness to put the whole community at risk.
Traffic light system
Current traffic light level
The traffic light level is reviewed regularly. Last reviewed on 16 March 2023. Read more about traffic light levels.
For every traffic light colour, we recommend you:
- wear a mask where they're required
- stay home if you're sick and get tested
- wash your hands
- stay two big steps away from others
- keep your COVID-19 vaccinations up to date.
Find out more about what each traffic light colour means and when and where these guidelines apply.
What to do if you get sick
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, get tested, even if you think they are not bad.
You can also call:
- Queensland Health on 134 COVID (134 268) for advice on care and testing if you think you or a family member may have COVID-19 and your symptoms are mild. You can ask to speak with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander registered nurse when you call
- emergency services on Triple Zero (000) if anyone is very unwell
- the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 if you want more information on COVID-19. This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you think you have COVID-19, always call your doctor or hospital before you visit.
The care you receive will depend on your health conditions and how sick you are. You will most likely be able to stay home, and a health worker or doctor may phone or video call to check on you.
You may need to go to hospital if you:
- are very sick
- have other health issues
- can't stay home
- don't live near a hospital
- if your condition gets worse.
Make arrangements for anyone in your care before going to hospital.
Getting additional support
If you need to get food or medicines while isolating, get a friend or family member to help, or order food online if possible. Don’t leave your home to go shopping.
If this is hard for you, call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349, who can help with a no-contact delivery of food and supplies to your home.
If you are not able to do your job from home, you may be able to get financial help from the government. Contact Services Australia on 180 22 66 to find out more. If you speak a language other than English, call 131 202.
Protecting yourself from COVID-19
First Nations people are at risk of getting very 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) are the best defences against COVID-19.
You can protect yourself and others by:
- staying 2 big steps away from other people
- still taking any medicines you use so you’ll stay as healthy as possible
- not sharing cups or water bottles
- not smoking or sharing smokes with other people
- getting a COVID-19 vaccine
- getting a flu shot.
Read more about how to protect yourself and others.
Wear a mask
Masks are still required in certain situations in Queensland. Even if it's not mandatory, you can keep wearing a mask if you want to, especially where you cannot maintain a distance of 1.5 metres in distance from other people.
Social distancing can be difficult if you:
- share a small residence with other people
- live in over-crowded homes or communities
- share a house with a large or extended family
- live between several residences.
These practical tips can help protect those who are most vulnerable in your mob or community.
Children aged 6 months and over are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination.
Everyone who can get a vaccination should do so.
The COVID-19 vaccination will give you extra protection from getting very sick if you get COVID-19. It will also help protect community members who may be more vulnerable, like Elders and those who have health problems.
Getting the vaccine means we can continue to catch up at family gatherings in our homes or elsewhere. This might mean attending Murri carnivals or cultural events like NAIDOC activities.
Find a place to get vaccinated.
Book your booster dose
Check with your health worker or doctor when you can get your booster shot. If you're eligible, book in for your booster dose now.
Using trusted sources
There’s a lot of wrong and scary information out there about COVID-19 at the moment, especially on social media. Make sure you’re talking to the mob you trust who have the facts.
When looking for information, use trusted sources such as Queensland Health and the Australian Government. These sites will help you make an informed choice.
Keeping in touch with your community
Staying connected with family, friends and your community is important. Some ways you can do this are:
- calling people for a yarn on the phone
- talking about the community and checking if they are okay
- talking about the virus and how to stop the spread
- connecting to family and friends on social media.
Keeping your 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. Through this time, it's important we keep our cultural knowledge strong and we draw strength from it. While physically distancing, it is more important than ever that we remain socially, emotionally and culturally connected.
Strong Spirit, Safe Mob is a collection of tips and resources we have developed to help you keep your spirit strong so you can keep yourself, your family and your community safe. It draws on the strength and resilience Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people already hold through connection to culture, family and community.
How to get help
Find out more about how to get help with COVID-19 and getting help from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support services.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Special topics - Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (ecu.edu.au)
- National Coronavirus Helpline – call 1800 020 080 and press 5
- Make the Choice - visit the website to access COVID-19 information, support and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) - visit the NACCHO website to find your local NACCHO member or affiliate near you
- COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - visit the Deadly Choices website to:
- get your vaccination
- locate a testing clinic.