NSW Town Wilcannia Has Been Abandoned And Unsupported By The NSW Government After COVID Spike
"The government has done NOTHING to help our community."
The Delta outbreak has stretched beyond Greater Sydney and hit the small regional town of Wilcannia, sparking concern around food security and Indigenous health in the area.
Wilcannia in Western NSW has seen 39 COVID cases in just the space of a week — the predominantly Aboriginal town only has 750 people living there. The majority of COVID cases in the towns around Wilcannia have affected First Nations people, with 40 percent being mostly unvaccinated children under the age of 20, The Guardian reported.
“We have a really terrible situation here,” resident and community advocate Monica Kerwin said in a live video last Friday, sharing that households with positive cases are struggling in isolation, and haven’t been offered proper support. “No health service has ever rung these people, never checked on them,” she said.
Malyangapa and Barkindji rapper Barkaa took to Instagram to share what’s going on in her community, who have been asking the NSW government to close off their town to protect the vulnerable living there.
To properly illustrate the situation in #wilcannia .
Around 7% of people in town are infected with COVID.
That's equivalent to 371,840 people in Greater Sydney.
— BillOrmonde (@BillOrmonde_9) August 23, 2021
Police roadblocks have only now been erected, despite locals calling for precautionary measures for over a year. “Mob have had to make [their] own signs saying stay out of Wilcannia since [COVID] started,” Barkaa wrote.
She shared that food prices have spiked for basics like bread, and that the only local grocer has shut its doors after a positive case visit — remaining closed until someone from Dubbo, nearly six hours away, can deep clean the store.
The nearest supermarket is a four-hour round trip difficult to make with COVID restrictions, while army food pallets have reportedly had to be split between multiple remote communities. Donations, food hampers, and care packages have been organised to fill the gaping void of state support.
“We have mob there having to stay out and drop food off from Broken Hill but this costs money for petrol to go back and forth,” Barkaa said. “Money out of mob’s own pocket who are already struggling to make ends meet, since the government has done NOTHING to help our community”.
Wilcannia was thrown under the bus by Minister for Health Brad Hazzard on Saturday after 500 people attended a funeral, wrongfully pinning blame on mourners despite the town not being under any lockdown restrictions at the time.
“This is a community disaster, our people might be strong in spirituality but physically this will really test the strength and resilience of our people,” Wilyakali woman Taunoa Bugmy said in an online fundraiser for household necessities to be delivered to Wilcannia, which you can donate to here.
Photo Credit:3KND Kool ‘N’ Deadly