Woolyungah Indigenous Centre provides culturally safe space for vaccination clinic
Indigenous students, staff and community vaccinated at UOW
The Woolyungah Indigenous Centre was transformed into a hub of buzzing activity recently, as the University of Wollongong (UOW) offered a dedicated space on campus to host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and community on Wednesday 28 July and Wednesday 18 August.
The pop-up vaccination clinic, held on UOW’s Wollongong campus, was a joint initiative between Woolyungah and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) immunisation team, born out of a proactive idea to deliver vaccinations in a culturally safe space to Woolyungah’s wider Indigenous community.
An overwhelming response from the community was received with all available appointments booked out within six hours of being released, with a diverse and far reaching section of UOW students, staff and the local Aboriginal community.
UOW’s Executive Director (Indigenous Strategy) Jaymee Beveridge led the initiative and said it took shape quickly, going from an idea into reality in less than two weeks, with the full support of UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson from the beginning.
“It is extremely important for our community members to have access to a service or space that is free from racism, judgement and discrimination, a space where we can be totally comfortable, safe and feel like we actually belong,” Ms Beveridge said.
“Woolyungah Indigenous Centre has worked tirelessly to create a safe space both physically and culturally for our mob and the attendance at the repurposed centre is testimony to our success.”
Ms Beveridge said the Woolyungah team were thrilled to be able to connect with community members again, as the ongoing pandemic has kept many people apart for a long time.
“The response was heartfelt, and at times on the days overwhelming. We had Elder’s crying because they could come and get the vaccination in a safe space. We had a community member with cancer, elated because she could sit in the yarning circle and among the garden while waiting,” Ms Beveridge said.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and community recieve their COVID-19 vaccinations at Woolyungah Indigenous Centre on Wednesday 28 July. Photo: Paul Jones
Due to the overwhelming response, ISLHD were able to secure an additional nurse to meet the demand to ensure everyone who booked was able to access a vaccine.
UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson commended the team for their initiative and quick action to get the vaccination pop-up clinic up and running in such a short time.
“What a fantastic initiative from Woolyungah Indigenous Centre and the Local Health District, it is a true testament to their commitment to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community,” Professor Davidson said.
“Congratulations to all involved, this is a great milestone in UOW’s response to help fight COVID-19 and keep our community safe. Vaccination is such an important step in stopping transmission.”
Ms Beveridge believes UOW will be looked at differently in the eyes of many after their experience at the vaccination clinic: “this will have a deep and changing influence into the future.”
UOW is committed to the health and safety of the community. UOW has developed a Vaccination Information Centre for staff and students, to help the community to make informed decisions around COVID-19 vaccinations.
The site provides all the latest Government health advice related to vaccines, purpose-built Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), local options to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and more.
For more information visit: https://www.uow.edu.au/vice-chancellors-hub/vaccination-information-centre/