CENTRAL Victoria's Indigenous vaccination rate has skyrocketed to the relief of health advocates who had feared sluggish uptake was posing a silent health threat.
Indigenous people in the area the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative covers now boast an 86 per cent vaccination uptake rate, executive director Dallas Widdicombe said.
"The last 14 per cent is going to be harder than the first 86 per cent, but we've had a lot of community come forward who were once unsure," he said.
Indigenous health leaders watched the slow early rollout of vaccines in New South Wales and took away a number of lessons, Mr Widdicombe said.
"It really took a while for us to get that vaccination rate up. In the first two or three months we actually stopped doing clinics because people were not coming forward," he said.
So health workers began approaching well-known community members to act as "local champions".
"There were a few Elders and young people with profiles in the community," Mr Widdicombe said.
"We are now doing two clinics a week and vaccinating around 130 people, each week."
Mr Widdicombe said BDAC is not aware of anyone in central Victoria's Indigenous community currently diagnosed with COVID-19, though many are in isolation after attending exposure sites.
BDAC is now turning its attention to what might happen when lockdowns ease at the end of October.
It is bracing for a rise in people approaching the service, though chief executive Raylene Harradine said it was unlikely there would be a sudden surge.
"I really don't think we will see a 'spike' straight up. If anything we will see a rise in what issues we see ... and that will be a couple of months after," she said.
The full scale of any problems might only become clear as people have more chances to talk about what they experienced in lockdown.
That could especially be the case for groups like those experiencing family violence, Ms Harradine said.
Central Victoria's Indigenous people prefer to gather and talk-face-to-face so lockdowns have posed particular challenges for many.
"And some people in the community are going to be a bit weary about coming out of lockdown at the end of October as well," Ms Harradine said.
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