With COVID cases on the rise, The Greens today have back calls from prominent public health experts urging the McGowan Government to both house and address the low rates of vaccination among rough sleepers and chronically homeless people in Perth.
It comes as leading public health experts, including Professor Fiona Stanley, have issued an open letter to Premier McGowan urging him to “activate (a) plan immediately, in collaboration with First Nations organisations, to ensure that all the have the basic security and protection of safe shelter.”
“Otherwise, people who are homeless in WA may be caught in a perfect storm when borders open next Thursday,” the letter states.
Recent research finds that only 7% of the overall homeless population in Perth have received their booster shot, of which just 38% of First Nations people had received two doses of the COVID vaccine by the end of January.
Yamatji-Noongar woman and Australian Greens Senator for WA Dorinda Cox today urged the WA Government to take its lead from public health officials - and act now to protect these vulnerable cohorts prior to the March 3 border reopening.
“In a wealthy place like Perth, everyone should have a roof over their head and access to a strong social safety net,” Senator Cox said today.
“The Greens today welcome calls from prominent health officials for a public health-based response to this growing crisis. We are now into the third year of this pandemic, and with cases on the rise, the Government has failed to not only house but to vaccinate homeless people in our city.
“This is especially devastating for First Nations people, who make up around 40% of Perth’s homelessness cohort. First Nations people know what is best for our communities, and should be better supported in their health promotion efforts to get more vaccines in the arms of vulnerable people. Aboriginal-led health organisations are best placed to lead here on this.”
Earlier this week WA Greens State MP Dr Brad Pettit questioned the WA Government’s limited funding support for health organisations, specifically to improve vaccine uptake for those experiencing homelessness.
“It is essential that the McGowan Government immediately invest in a plan alongside First Nations organisations, to ensure that First Nations people are given the vaccines and housing they need at this critical time,” Dr Pettit said.
At every level, the Greens will continue to advocate for health-based responses to the COVID pandemic.