Aboriginal communities are often disproportionately affected by pandemic influenza (and with seasonal influenza) due to the higher prevalence of people at high risk of influenza complications.
Pandemic influenza planning requires partnerships with Aboriginal people and their communities to develop effective and culturally acceptable strategies for reducing the risk of pandemic influenza.
Key pandemic planning guidance for engaging Aboriginal communities
- The importance of family and particular ways of life in Aboriginal communities
- The realities of living that make it challenging to stop the spread of influenza in Aboriginal communities
- The need to have plans focus on effective communication, understanding and respect
- The need for an ongoing process of engagement and consultation with Aboriginal communities and their health services
- The reality of large and extended families living in a single house, and that there may be more than one house that an Aboriginal person considers “home”
- Sharing information is more effective if it is ‘localised, personalised and humourised’. Information for local communities should be shared through local community networks, using local language. This engages local people to share the information in a way that makes sense to their community (their colours, their people, their logos); and using humour that attracts attention in communities
- Health messages need to be negotiated respectfully and sensitively with an understanding of family and community ways, and should avoid conflict with the advice of respected sources of health advice in the community.
Additional strategies to minimise the impact of pandemic influenza in Aboriginal communities
- Providing additional infection control resources such as tissues and hand disinfectants:
- for families when someone is sick with pandemic influenza to address poor access
- at community events, such as funerals and other gatherings.
- Tailoring health services so that people can be treated in the context of their families and community groups, rather than just as individuals.
- Supporting Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to participate actively in the pandemic response, such as through providing influenza clinics during influenza outbreaks run by Aboriginal Health Workers.
- Improving transport to health services or providing outreach services to allow access to earlier diagnosis and treatment.