25 November 2021
SA Health’s failure to plan may put vulnerable at risk
Despite knowing for months that South Australia will open its borders this week, SA Health has failed to competently plan for the safety of some of the State’s most vulnerable groups, according to Member for Frome Geoff Brock MP.
Tenders issued by SA Health calling for expressions of interest for the management of accommodation in ‘COVID Quarantine Camps’ in Port Augusta, and other Regional locations, only went out in mid-November with a closing date a scant five days later.
The Regional ‘COVID Quarantine Camps’ are intended for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people who may not be able to quarantine at home during a COVID outbreak.
Despite SAs chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier saying she believed the tender had not been left too late, Mr Brock disagreed.
“Five days from making the tender public to its closure seems to be an afterthought, rather than a planned exercise,” Mr Brock said.
“I don’t think a lot of consideration has gone into how these facilities will operate or how they will be managed if they need to be used.”
Mr Brock said it was imperative that Regional Indigenous people were provided with appropriate and well managed facilities in case of an outbreak of the virus, when they are unable to isolate in their own homes.
“We also have a concern about the low rates of vaccinations amongst Aboriginal people in our regions – according to the latest statistics only 50.2% of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders have had their second dose of vaccine, compared with 87.9% for the whole of South Australia.
“This lower vaccination rate makes them particularly vulnerable to infection, and with the State borders now open we have already seen new COVID cases appear.”
Mr Brock said it was now up to SA Health to move quickly and efficiently to conclude the tender process and have the emergency accommodation ready to be used, if necessary, in the shortest possible time frame.