Central Land Councils chief executive Joe Martin-Jard speaks with Josef Egger on the federal government’s enforced biosecurity areas and how the recent changes will affect local and remote communities.
Biosecurity areas are zones that have been enforced by the federal government to stop people from coming in from other places who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Mr. Martin-Jard states, “we’re just worried that if someone comes in that is sick, they could spread that sickness to other people in remote communities.” With our elderly population being the most at risk, they must be protected as many do have undying and pre-existing health issues and are extremely vulnerable.
Currently the biosecurity areas in Central Australia include, the Barkly Regional Council area, the Central Desert Regional Council area, and the McDonnell Regional Council area with exception to Alice Springs and Tennant Creek which are excluded.
“As of the 23 April, the Federal Government, on CLC’s recommendation, excluded outstations near Alice Springs from the biosecurity areas”- CLC. This means that Aboriginal people who are living on nearby outstations that work in town, won’t have to obtain a CLC permit to access essential services in Alice Springs states Mr. Martin-Jard. This new change is long overdue and will ease the pressure on councils, where permission letters will now only be granted for emergencies.
Within these biosecurity areas people are free to move within them, however, if people do decide to leave the zones and go to Alice Springs or Tennant they must complete their 14-day quarantine before returning home. Territory Families will assist with accommodation and food and Tangentyere will provide transport – Return to Country. After people do complete their quarantine they will be issued a document to grant them access at the numerous biosecurity checkpoints before they can return home.