How Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can stay healthy and strong during the coronavirus: being informed

This information was extracted with permission from an article originally published by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention national leadership body. You can read the original and complete article.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia acknowledges and pays respect to Elders, both past and present and all generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now and into the future as the Traditional Owners of this land.

We are all feeling worried and stressed about the coronavirus. Our lives are changing in many ways, and we have to prepare ourselves. Life won’t be the same until the virus is under control, but with the right information and a sensible approach, the road ahead can be easier and less stressful. To stay mentally strong, here are some tips:

Staying healthy: be informed the right way

We need to know what the health experts are saying and follow their advice. Knowing what to do is important - not just to stay physically healthy, but to help bring peace of mind and stop unnecessary worry. However, do limit how much time you spend on news and social media for your own wellbeing.

We need to protect ourselves and our families as well as stopping the virus from spreading in the community. The virus spreads mostly by the sneezing and coughing into the air and onto surfaces that other people touch. But you can also feel OK and still be infected and spread it to others. Every person has a part to play so learn what is right for you.

What we know is that the following are important things we can do to control the spread of the virus:

  • Staying indoors and only going out if it’s unavoidable – to get food if you can’t order it in, or go to school or work if you can’t do these things remotely. In particular, any Indigenous person over 50 years of age or with a chronic condition has been advised by the Australian Government to remain indoors and practice social isolation.
  • If you have to go out, the Australian Government requires you not mix in groups larger than two people - if the people are not part of your household - and the advice is to keep two big steps away from the other person.
  • Calling your doctor or health service to find out how to access telehealth or other remote health services for any non-virus-related health issues you have rather than visiting. If you think you or a household member might have the coronavirus, follow the instructions in the text box.
  • Avoiding visiting Elders, any Indigenous person over 50 years of age, or Indigenous person with a chronic condition, pregnant women and anyone else who may be at risk. There are ways to connect or help without having contact.


  • Avoiding touching anything the virus might be on. Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects that might have come into contact with the virus.
  • Trying not to touch your face. This will stop the virus spreading from your hands to your mouth, nose or eyes, where it can enter your body.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water if possible.
  • Coughing into your elbow or into a clean tissue, then throwing the tissue in the bin, and washing your hands.
  • Not sharing drinks or smokes, and washing cups after use.

Take time away from the news and social media

It’s important to stay informed, but if the news or TV is stressing you out turn it off for a while. And make sure what you’re reading and watching is reliable, so you don’t waste time worrying about things that aren’t true. You may need to help your kids with this too. Redirect their time and attention to things that help.

COVID-19 Emergency Contact Numbers by State

If you feel unwell, have a fever or sore throat. PLEASE do not go to the medical centre/family clinic or the hospital, instead contact the following for instructions:

The following are useful, reliable sources of information about the coronavirus

  • The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s coronavirus updates
  • The National Coronavirus Helpline - the line is free and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week - 1800 020 080
  • The Australian Government website. See also a range of government of COVID-19 resources  including the Coronavirus Australia app – downloadable from the Apple App Store.You can also join its  WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.
  • Different governments are also doing different things, and some have made laws to control the spread of the virus that you should know about. You can find up to date information on the Australian Government website.

Image courtesy of Wayne Quilliam

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