“The idea of getting a vaccine was something that I really didn’t agree with at first…”
Blake Tatafu from Penrith admits he was previously opposed to COVID-19 vaccination but seeing the recent COVID outbreak impact his community changed his mind.
It’s what led him to be among the first people vaccinated today at a new vaccination centre at Kimberwalli, the Aboriginal Centre for Excellence in Whalan.
“It wasn’t until I stared seeing more people get sick, my community start to get sick, that I thought it’s my responsibility to keep my mob safe, keep my community safe,” Blake said.
The vaccination centre at Kimberwalli, operated by Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), opened today for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from western Sydney to receive their Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations.
Aboriginal Elder Elaine Gordon marked the occasion with a traditional Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony.
As we gather on the sacred land, let us acknowledge we are standing on country for which the Darug nation and their ancestors have been custodians of for thousands of years.”Elaine Gordon
Aboriginal Elder and Windsor resident Aunty Rhonda Ryan was the first of over 100 people from the community to receive their vaccination at Kimberwalli today.
“We do need to be vaxxed so we can protect our children and our Elders,” said Aunty Rhonda, who is also a member for the Kimberwalli Advisory Board.
“If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your mob, do it for your Elders.”
Staff who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander provide information about vaccination and a yarning space is available to guide people through the consent process – something Blake Tatafu said made him feel connected to the step he was taking.
“Western Sydney boasts a very large population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, if not the most in one area, and I’m proud of that. I’m also proud that Kimberwalli is hosting a vaccination hub for our people so that we can stay safe and we can stay strong.”
WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy said the District is operating the vaccination centre to help ensure priority groups have access to COVID-19 vaccination in culturally appropriate settings.
“Our COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Program has been doing incredible work to reach our diverse community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and they’re continuing their important work at Kimberwalli,” Mr Loy said.
COVID-19 vaccination at Kimberwalli
Who is eligible: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from western Sydney, their families and household members
All ages 12 and up
Location: Kimberwalli – 1 Mamika Avenue, Whalan
When: 11am to 6pm, Monday to Friday
To make a booking, call 1800 922 886 between 8am – 8pm, 7 days per week, and let the team know you are calling to book your COVID-19 vaccination at Kimberwalli.
COVID-19 vaccinations are also available every day at Qudos Bank Arena Vaccination Centre and across western Sydney. Learn more and book your appointment today at nsw.gov.au/covid-19