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COVID-19 and your
Home Care Services


COVID-19 (or you might have heard it just being called coronavirus) is currently spreading throughout communities across the world. This includes Australia, so we want to make sure our Aboriginal Home Care mob understands what this is all about. The video below features Australian Unity’s Indigenous Services Executive General Manager Ken Markwell sharing some great advice for Aboriginal Home Care customers on staying safe during COVID-19.

What is COVID-19 (commonly known as coronavirus)?

COVID-19 is a virus that can spread when someone who has it comes into physical contact with other people (like if you give them a hug) or when other people touch something an infected person has already touched (like door handles or other surfaces).
It can affect us whether we live in the city or the bush.  Our mob, especially our Elders, and even loved ones with chronic health conditions are most at risk. It is important to empower ourselves with the knowledge we need to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families, and communities from COVID-19.

Ken from Aboriginal Home Care answers your questions

We understand that the COVID-19 situation is quite a unique challenge for our mob. Australian Unity’s Indigenous Services Executive General Manager Ken Markwell responds to some commonly asked questions from Aboriginal Home Care customers.

Why do I have to stay at home when I live on country?

Ken explains why staying at home is the most important thing you can do to protect you and your mob from coronavirus whether we live in the city or the bush.

Why can’t I hug my grannies?

Physical contact is an important part of our culture, which makes physical distancing an important thing to talk about. Ken explains why it’s the most effective way to protect you and your loved ones.

How can I stay connected with family?

There are so many ways these days to stay close in this time of physical separation. Ken has some great tips on how to stay connected with your mob during this time.

What is Australian Unity doing about COVID-19?

Australian Unity’s Aboriginal Home Care team is taking our role in protecting the health and wellbeing of our customers, communities and employees very seriously.
We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and acting on government advice.
We have good systems in place to work through any problems, and we have already taken extra precautions, including:

  • Further training for all care workers on how to prevent and control infections, including how and when to use certain equipment and, most importantly, keeping our hands clean.
  • Making sure our employees do not come to work if:
    • They have flu-like symptoms or are feeling generally unwell;
    • They have been in close physical contact with someone who now has COVID-19, or
    • They are being tested for COVID-19.
  • Asking every customer health some simple health related questions before each service to make sure we can go ahead safely with providing our services.
  • We will continue to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) based on government and medical advice – so you can rest assured that we are taking all possible precautionary measures.
  • We will continue to closely monitor all relevant advice and advise you if anything changes.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The main symptoms are a high temperature (fever), coughing (and sometimes a sore throat), tiredness (fatigue) or having trouble breathing (shortness of breath).

If you think you have symptoms, phone the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 or your GP who will be able to provide you with further medical advice. Please also call your Aboriginal Home Care Service Coordinator or local branch to let them know. You can find the contact details for your local branch here.

How can you stay safe from COVID-19?

The Australian Government has recommended all Indigenous Australians over the age of 50 who have existing health conditions to ‘self-isolate’ at home. Even if you don't have any health issues, all over 70’s are  also advised to stay at home. This means you should really only leave your home if you need to get groceries or medical help.

Some other tips to help protect you are:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as often as you can, including after coughing or sneezing, before and after eating, and after coming home if you have been out.
  • Keeping at least 1.5 metres away from people who you don’t live with. Even if you know them and they seem healthy, they might be ‘asymptomatic’, which means they might have COVID-19 and not even know it—that means they could accidentally pass it on to you and make you sick.

As things change, we will keep in touch to let you know what that might mean for you and your loved ones.

We can help you

We have got a lot of different services that you might not have used before, like getting your shopping, making meals and helping you get in touch with people you might not be able to visit in person for the time being using different technology.

Please contact your Service Coordinator or local branch to discuss any extra help you might need.

More information and support

For the latest information, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website

More information from Australian Unity about symptoms and protecting yourself with hygiene is available here.

Australian Unity supports the Australian Government’s free COVIDSafe app and we are encouraging all our employees and customers to download it. It is free and it only takes a couple of minutes to register. For more information visit the Government website and read their FAQs. You can download COVIDSafe from App Store and Google Play.

Updates are also available from the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Australia app which is for Apple and Android devices. You can download the app from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NSW Aboriginal Land Council has released a Food Relief Program to help our most vulnerable communities during the #COVID19 crisis. To register, head to their website at

In addition, here are some links to corporate initiatives available to provide you additional support and benefits during this time:

You can also access additional information and support from services in your local area, like your Aboriginal Medical Service.


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