Aboriginal affairs

Gloom or salvation for Broome if borders re-open

Broome: a calm you won’t find anywhere else. Photo: Sam Luckas.

Since Australia’s spike in COVID-19 numbers from late March to early April there has undeniably been a large reduction in active cases.

The road to WA’s hidden beauty. Photo: Matt Deakin.

Through the federal and state governments’ fast actions to curb the virus’ spread, in less than a month the numbers have seen a rapid decline in most states.

Many have attributed the declining numbers to these quick responses taken, such as safe social distancing protocols and state and national border closures.

The news of this recovery has already led some, such as Innes Willox, Chief Executive of Ai Group, to call for the easing of restrictions, in particular the reopening of regional and state borders, with Broome being named specifically.

“…..wouldn’t it be better for our local economy to take a break in Broome or the Flinders Ranges rather than go skiing in Queenstown?”

The Kimberleys are a WA gem. Photo: Matt Deakin

Increased calls for actions such as these stem from the federal government’s announcement this week that Australia will consider resuming international flights exclusively to New Zealand due to both countries’ promising infection rates.

While the desire to put Australia back to a sense of normal are well-intentioned, some say it poses a risk to certain areas of the country considered vulnerable during a time like this.

Ismahl Croft, an interpreter who works closely with Indigenous people in the Kimberley believes there is too much risk to remote communities if borders are reopened too soon.

Ismahl Croft, interpreter

Deanne Lightfoot, CEO of Aboriginal Interpreting WA says the service is working closely with Aboriginal community organisations and government departments and says we also need to ensure the linguistic needs of regional and remote community members in WA are met.

Ms Lightfoot says it’s important everyone has equal access to information throughout every stage of the pandemic in languages they understand.

“Awareness of prevention and safety measures within the communities will limit the risk of infection spreading into the areas of vulnerability.”