Statement regarding Redfern Waterloo COVID outbreak

The escalating COVID outbreak in Redfern and Waterloo must be solved by ongoing health measures and increased practical and financial support, the Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong said today.

“There have been people on the ground working hard since this outbreak began, to ensure that people living in public and community housing have food and medicine, access to vaccines and the practical support they need,” Ms Leong said.

“It is clear that these local organisations, groups and services are the best way to respond - and it is critical they are getting the resourcing and funding they need to do this.

“The current outbreak is very concerning, and the Premier and responsible Ministers should leave no stone unturned in ensuring that people have access to information, testing, vaccines and practical support.

“It is critical that this response is done in coordination and partnership with first nations organisations and community members - and not imposed on the community.

“We welcome the fact that there are now a number of on-site vaccination and testing clinics at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, the Redfern Community Centre and Poet’s Corner - and it was good to visit each of these sites over the past week to see their important work in action and see the power of partnerships in making this happen.

“We urge everyone who can to turn up today and get vaccinated - you don’t even need to make an appointment if you live nearby.

“People urgently need better internet and phone access, so they can access information, register for their COVID test results and remain connected while they are in isolation - but we know that many people in this community do not have internet at home. 

“Many people who normally use libraries and free public wifi access the internet cannot do that while they are required to isolate, and lack of internet is a serious issue of equity, and further compounds the health crisis.

“During the last lockdown, the JobSeeker supplement kept many people afloat, enabling them to pay the extra costs associated with lockdown. But shamefully this time there is no JobSeeker supplement, and it is having a huge impact on already vulnerable communities.

“Food security, housing and a lack of a livable income for many in these communities are huge issues. It is totally unacceptable that so many people are relying on food charities to survive. 

“The Premier has said that no one should worry that they won’t be looked after, but the reality is that thousands of people do not have enough money to buy food or phone credit - and that is a disgrace. 

“We will continue to work directly to support individuals, organisations and services in doing all we can to keep our community safe - and we thank all those who are going above and beyond to offer care and assistance,” Ms Leong said.

Earlier this week Jenny visited the new Redfern Community Centre testing site, the NCIE Vaccination Clinic, assisted with Viral Kindness Sydney’s food hamper efforts at Counterpoint Community Services.

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