Keeping remote Indigenous communities safe during COVID

• Projects

With Western Australia’s borders now opened to the world for the first time in nearly two years, concerns have continued to mount about the impact of COVID-19 on remote Indigenous communities.

As part of our ongoing work on the Newman Futures project, we collaborated with our partners and stakeholders to ensure Martu communities living in the Western Desert are able to stay on, or quickly get back to Country through three pilot projects now being rolled out by Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service and Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa to deliver telehealth, transactional services and essential transport infrastructure.

Not will not only will this technology and infrastructure reduce the need for Martu people living in remote Western Desert communities to travel thousands of kilometres for essential services and health appointments, it will also ensure they have access to first class health and digital infrastructure in the event of a lock-down.

To help raise awareness of the projects and to advocate for PAMS and KJ to receive ongoing funding for continuation of these important projects, we produced these three short films in partnership with Prevailing Winds Productions. The films not only highlight the profound impact that these services are having on the lives of the Martu people living in the Western Desert, but also their deep connection to Country and the need to preserve one of the oldest living cultures on earth.

Project partners:

  • BHP
  • Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service
  • Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa
  • Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation
  • Newman Futures

Staying At Home – telehealth

The new state-of-the-art digital infrastructure and satellite technology, funded by BHP in response to the pandemic, means Martu people in these communities can now attend medical appointments without the need to travel thousands of kilometres to Perth or Newman.

Led by Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service, Martu people in the Western Desert communities can access GPs and medical specialists throughout the pandemic and beyond via telehealth appointments.

Staying At Home – digital transactions

Led by Martu organisation, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, the installation of digital hubs in the Western Desert communities is providing Martu people the opportunity to attend online appointments and access vital services such as Centrelink, banking and licensing. This enables the community to remain on Country, without the need to travel thousands of kilometres on unsealed desert roads for basic services.

Caption for videos: Getting Back Home

The Getting Back Home project is an initiative led by Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, that provides a safe transport for Martu people to get back from Newman to their remote communities.

As COVID cases continue to rise in Western Australia, the Getting Back Home project, which employs Martu drivers, is helping protect these remote communities and preserve their heritage and culture by enabling them to quickly get back on Country.