Instead of blaming First Nations communities for the lagging vaccine rollout, the Government needs to plug the huge gaps in its communication strategy.
First Nations people were meant to be a priority in the rollout, but the government dropped the ball - now there is a 21 point gap in vaccination rates.
A patchy rollout, and lack of supply has been made much worse by a tragic information vacuum. Which has been filled by those looking to exploit and hurt.
Urgent additional investment is needed in a three-point communications strategy to reach First Nations people in all parts of Australia – remote, regional and urban:
- More localised and culturally appropriate content in First Nations languages - online, radio, television and print
- Better support for local community groups and First Nations controlled organisations to work with trusted local leaders on local material and strategies
- Leverage First Nations media to get the message out – First Nations media organisations can create content and share information more effectively.
It’s clear the Government’s current strategy is not working.
The Government doesn’t need to be throwing money at slick PR firms, local communities and First Nations media should be leading the change.
Trusted local stories and voices work best. Along with First Nations content creators.
This should have been done a year ago, but the next best time is now.
With the vaccination gap getting worse, time is running out for the Government to get the message to all First Nations communities.