First Nations Disaster Management Plans for COVID-19


Jenni Judd

Jenny Kelly

Outcomes for Australia

Project outcomes will include a detailed and specific understanding of community preparedness, concerns and strategies for addressing COVID-19, and the amplification and incorporation of local solutions into communication and health promotion material for COVID-19.


History tells us that pandemic influenza has a devastating impact on Australian First Nations communities in rural and remote areas. Social and economic disadvantage like overcrowding, excess-co-morbidity, limited access to health care, communication with health care staff, limited access to medicines and institutionalised racism all severely impact the morbidity and mortality from pandemic influenza.

For decisions to be made on appropriate pandemic containment measures, there needs to be a genuine partnership with communities, recognising that some cultural practices may amplify or reduce infection risk. Previous research has shown that First Nation Australians must be involved in decision-making processes that impact on their health in order to link genuine and respectful partnerships to aspirations for self-determination of First Nations communities and organisations.

Kristy Crooks and Peter Massey have established a mechanism for engagement of First Nations communities through community panels. These panels have to date focused on influenza vaccine allocation. We now plan to extend this work and modify this approach to specifically address issues related to COVID-19 including attitudes towards social distancing and home quarantine. We will work in partnership with Lucas De Toca and others in the Department of Health to align our initiatives with First Nations people.


  • Gain access into First Nations local government and shires disaster management plans to assess alignment with current national and state plans for pandemic influenza and strategies to control COVID-19
  • Provide recommendations and feedback to First Nations local government and shires using a First Nations community panel model on ways to improve alignment or to adapt existing strategies to national and state pandemic and COVID-19 plans
  • Provide health promotion and health literacy information about ways to control COVID-19 that can be locally developed that links to the social, cultural and economic conditions of rural and remote First Nations communities for disaster managements plans
  • Evaluate feasibility and effectiveness of implementing disaster managements plans in rural and remote First Nations local government and shires in controlling COVID-19

Read about other COVID-19 projects funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council

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