Country, Culture, People, Future


COVID-19 testing criteria expanded in WA

Posted: April 3rd, 2020


WA Health Minister Roger Cook MLA announced recently that the testing criteria for COVID-19 will be expanded significantly at all COVID-19 clinics in WA.

Any person from the general public presenting with BOTH a fever higher than 38°C AND an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat) will be tested.

Also anyone working within a high-risk setting that presents with EITHER a fever higher than 38°C OR an acute respiratory infection will be tested. This includes healthcare workers (including aged care and disability workers) and Western Australian Police Officers.

Testing will also be arranged for anyone from the following high-risk settings where two or more people are experiencing EITHER a fever higher than, or equal to 38°C  OR an acute respiratory infection:

  • aged and residential care;
  • rural and remote Aboriginal communities;
  • detention centres;
  • correctional facilities;
  • boarding schools;
  • military barracks or equivalent;
  • geographically localised areas with increased risk of community transmission; and
  • cruise ship passengers or returned travellers (international and domestic).

Members of the public can telephone the COVID-19 Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for advice.

More information here

$123 million boost to Indigenous response to COVID-19

Posted: April 3rd, 2020

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP announced today that $123 million is available over two financial years for targeted measures to support Indigenous businesses and communities to increase their responses to COVID-19.

Assistance includes support through Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), who will provide Indigenous businesses with specialist advice on how to help businesses survive, adapt, recover, and access the different business support packages available from the Government.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency is also supporting a variety of agencies to look at how local Indigenous workers can help address workforce shortages, particularly in regional and remote areas where the usual workforce is unavailable.

Funding will go to regional and remote communities while travel restrictions are in place so they are prepared and responsive to evolving issues that emerge during the crisis.

See the full Media Release here

New laws being introduced to keep West Australians safe and well during COVID-19

Posted: April 1st, 2020

On Tuesday 31 March, the State Government introduced new legislation into State Parliament to specifically address COVID-19. The Emergency Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 is designed to help keep West Australians safe and well.

For detailed information on the legislation and what it means, see the Premier’s announcement here.

RECOV19ER website launched to help coordinate COVID-19 response

Posted: April 1st, 2020

A group of proactive Pilbara Aboriginal leaders have helped to establish an emergency COVID-19 response working group and website to help people across Western Australia.

The website – – is intended to share clear, current and correct information, including government media releases and other health and community advice for people in WA being affected by the ongoing changes impacting regional and remote areas.

The RECOV19ER working group involves a large number of local Aboriginal organisations – including several Prescribed Bodies Corporate – as well a number of government agencies and other service providers, who meet daily via teleconference to coordinate information and support.

Current priorities for the group are ensuring strong, accurate messaging to Aboriginal communities (especially remote communities) and securing/confirming essential supplies, e.g. food security and access to health/medical/hygiene provisions.

Full media statement can be found here

WA travel restrictions come into place from midnight Tuesday

Posted: March 31st, 2020

In a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan will introduce travel restrictions within WA from midnight Tuesday, 31 March.

West Australians are urged to abide by these restrictions to protect themselves, their family and the wider community.

People will not be permitted to leave their regional boundary and if they choose to, police can enforce fines of up to $50,000.

The regional boundaries include the South-West, Great Southern, Goldfields-Esperance, Mid West, Wheatbelt, Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley. Due to their close proximity, the Perth and Peel regions will combine into one region. See map here

Exemptions will only apply in the following circumstances: employment purposes; medical or veterinary reasons; delivery of essential services including health or emergency services; people living across regional boundaries, who may not have access to groceries or supplies immediately within their region; transport of goods; compassionate grounds; a family member has primary care responsibilities; for school, TAFE or tertiary study reasons; to escape domestic violence or due to an emergency.

Additional restrictions to remote Aboriginal communities were announced last week by Ben Wyatt, Aboriginal Affairs Minister, to provide extra protection to vulnerable communities.

More information here

ORIC Registrar’s actions to help Aboriginal Corporations during COVID-19

Posted: March 27th, 2020


The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) is aware of the challenges posed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations during this period. They are working on temporary provisions to support your operations and governance.

The Registrar continues to operate with staff available for you to contact to help you with any questions you have regarding the operation and governance of your corporation.

The Registrar will use his unique powers and the flexibility of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act), to help corporations manage the threats and impacts of COVID-19.

A corporation can request the Registrar exercise his power under the CATSI Act to change their rule book to include a set of special rules to assist, without needing to pass a special resolution for this purpose.

More information can be found here.

Regular updates and further information can be found here


Posted: March 26th, 2020

The State and Commonwealth Government has today announced new restrictions.  From 9pm on Thursday, 26 March 2020 travel and access into the following communities will be restricted:

  • The Kimberley;
  • Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku; and
  • parts of the Shire of the East Pilbara that encompass the communities of Jigalong, Martu homeland communities and Kiwirrkurra.

Any person who is outside a designated region can only enter if they are:

  • providing essential services or supplies; OR
  • has been quarantined from the general public for the previous 14 days.

If you do not get back to your community in time, you will have to go into quarantine for 14 days before returning home.


Information on buses to get you there and more information on the restrictions can be found  HERE  – scroll down the page to see the list of contact details.

Not sure if your community qualifies?

Within the designated regions and for all remote Aboriginal communities outside these designated regions listed above, the State Government’s Remote Aboriginal Communities Directions will continue to apply.



Posted: March 24th, 2020


The National NAIDOC Committee (NNC) has announced that NAIDOC Week 2020 (5 July -12 July) will be postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision was made in the interests of safety for their communities after taking advice from the Federal Government, health experts, key partners and leading national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations.

“We all believe that an escalating COVID-19 crisis as we head into winter would have disastrous impacts on our mob – especially for our Elders and those in our communities with chronic health issues.”

Also suspended are the 2020 NAIDOC Local Grants round, which will not be progressed.  No funding will be awarded under the round at this time.

Any information about the 2020 NAIDOC Local Grants Round re-opening will be published on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website, the Agency’s social media pages and on the NAIDOC website.

The Agency will shortly contact those who have already submitted an application. If applications are re-opened for the NAIDOC Local Grants Round you are not expected to re-apply but organisers may need to contact you once they have more information.

If you did not have the opportunity to submit your application and wish to be notified about future arrangements or opportunities to apply, please email

The National NAIDOC Awards to have been held in Alice Springs on 11 July have also be postponed. This means that the nomination process will not go ahead for now.

The NNC will keep communities updated on new dates for the above events once confirmed, but at this stage it is not known when this will be.

For more information contact the NNC here



COVID-19: A message for YMAC Members, clients and community from the CEO

Posted: March 23rd, 2020

As part of community effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and effects of the virus, YMAC has made the decision to partially close offices and have staff work from home for a three week period commencing Monday, 23 March.

Fortunately, as far as we are aware, no YMAC staff member has contracted COVID-19. This decision has not been informed by any specific incidents of COVID-19 among staff, or their contacts. We are taking this step as a precautionary measure to ensure that we look after our members, clients and staff, and the benefits to the broader community.

While the number of staff present in offices will be largely reduced, we will continue to deliver services by phone and email, and will use digital tools and technology whenever possible.

This decision has also been informed by the following larger decisions in the sector:

  1. The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has cancelled all non-essential travel for staff across Australia and YMAC is following this example.
  2. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Wyatt MLA this week announced closing access in and out of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
  3. Numerous government agencies, corporations including mining company offices in Perth have already closed offices, with staff working remotely. They have also advised staff to cancel all non-essential travel until further notice.
  4. The Federal Court has advised that it will be vacating all listings and other Court events until the end of June 2020, except for those matters that can be dealt with entirely by phone/video conference.

Regarding point 4, current Federal Court hearings have been vacated, and all other prospective on-Country matters (including consent determinations) have been postponed.

This action will only impact native title work related to a small number of claims, who will be contacted directly by their claim lawyer. Working groups can communicate with their claim group lawyer; staff are looking at innovated ways to progress work with you differently.

Of course, there will be some essential client meetings and meetings among our staff which will need to occur in the ordinary course, consistent with client needs. YMAC will contact you to discuss meeting arrangements which – where possible – will be conducted with everyone’s health and well-being as priority.

If you have any questions about business continuity, please contact staff via their individual email or phone. Please let us know if we should be aware of any requirements you have put in place for your organisation, as we want to ensure the safety and well-being of all.

An alternative way of making contact with each office during business hours is –

Perth:  (08) 9268 7000            Geraldton: (08) 9965 6222         Port Hedland: (08) 9160 3800

Finally, I thank you for your patience during this difficult time, and thank you for your understanding as we work through the best way of handling this unprecedented situation.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Hawkins