Improving access to RATs for Shepparton’s multicultural communities

Improving access to RATs for Shepparton’s multicultural communitiesFree rapid antigen tests and hand sanitiser will be distributed to vulnerable members of Shepparton’s multicultural communities to address barriers to access. About 1500 rapid antigen tests have been provided by the Victorian Health Department through the Goulburn Valley Public Health Unit to local multicultural organisations.


Free rapid antigen tests and hand sanitiser will be distributed to vulnerable members of Shepparton’s multicultural communities to address barriers to access.

About 1500 rapid antigen tests have been provided by the Victorian Health Department through the Goulburn Valley Public Health Unit to local multicultural organisations.

“For a lot of people in multicultural communities their language prevents them from getting the level of information they need,” Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District manager Chris Hazelman said.

“Our principle is that someone’s language skills shouldn’t prevent them from getting access to both information and services most of us take for granted.”

He said the RATs would be distributed through community groups, and the Ethnic Council would continue to inform and connect to communities through existing communication channels in their language.

St Paul’s African House partnerships and programs manager Kate Radevski said barriers for accessing RATs included supply and cost.

“For a number of families it’s not uncommon to have six people and upwards in the house — a box of tests comes in five so it doesn’t go very far in larger households,” she said.

“The RATs will be available in places people feel safe and where they can access language support as well.

“If you’re going to purchase one from a chemist the chances of someone speaking your language may be slim.”

Ethnic Council Shepparton COVID consortium co-ordinator Susan Johnston agreed the price of RATs was too high for a family to absorb and said lack of access may have led to more transmission of COVID-19.

“It’s not like you just have to do it once a month, for a lot of people it was doing it regularly,” she said.

“Because of reluctance of the cost — they might have had a tickle in their throat, thought it was nothing and went about their business, and meanwhile they were contagious at that time.”

The Ethnic Council has also been going out into community hubs with a translator to show people how to use the RATs.

A large donation of 2000 hand sanitiser bottles came from a personal connection of the Ethnic Council’s strategic engagement co-ordinator Sam Atukorala.

Mr Atukorala said the donation came “unasked” for, from Tony and Sharon Rechtman of the Total Beauty Network, and would be distributed by Shepparton Central Rotary Club to multicultural groups, schools and places of worship.

 

Improving access to RATs for Shepparton’s multicultural communities
Improving access: Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District, St Paul’s African House and Shepparton Central Rotary Club representatives from left to right, Susan Johnston, Chris Parnell, Kate Radevski, Chris Hazelman, David Hardiment, Sam Atukorala and Les Mitchell. Photo by Anna McGuinness

 

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