BHP’s Vital Resources Fund is providing more than A$3.3 million in funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled community health services across Australia, as part of new partnerships established to support communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long-standing health inequities and high rates of chronic illness make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
The funding announced today will support peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health bodies and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services to continue to deliver comprehensive and culturally competent critical health care services, distribute supplies and educate communities about transmission risks associated with COVID-19.
The partnerships are with the following organisations:
- Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council
- Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW
- Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia
- Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (ACT)
These partnerships build on measures BHP has put in place to assist and protect Aboriginal communities. These include halting face-to-face engagements with Aboriginal peoples from (or connected to) remote communities, implementing strict social protocols for all BHP employees and contractors in regional areas, and providing financial and in-kind support for local health authorities and community organisations.
BHP’s Chief External Affairs Officer Geoff Healy said: “BHP is determined to play its part in the collective response to COVID-19, and a critical area is how we support our regional and remote Aboriginal communities.”
“The Aboriginal community-led health sector moved early in a way that has saved so many lives. They are working incredibly hard to address the needs they have identified, and we are pleased to support with significant funding that enables their vital work,” Mr Healy said.
“We know there is no room for complacency. BHP will keep working hard to aid local health and community services, and through our own operations reduce the risk of transmission and support jobs and local businesses across the country.”
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chief Executive Officer, Pat Turner, said the financial donations from BHP directly to frontline primary health care services was most welcome.
“It is extraordinarily generous and will be used to directly benefit the health outcomes of First Nations people during these difficult times presented by COVID 19. The additional work and costs arising from our exemplary efforts to protect our families and communities from COVID 19 has been a huge drain on our budgets and this additional investment will certainly ease those burdens. I am truly proud of and most grateful to BHP for their amazing support.”
BHP’s Australian operations are close to several remote and regional Aboriginal communities. The company employs about 1,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and contractors, and partners with more than 50 Indigenous suppliers across its Australian operations.
The $50 million Vital Resources Fund was established in March to support regional health services and providers, community organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and local businesses deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
Find more information about the Vital Resources Fund here.