Changes to cultural and family gatherings

Connecting with family and community through cultural events is an important part of life for Aboriginal people but social distancing measures mean new ways of interacting with each other are needed.

South Western Sydney Local Health District Aboriginal Health Director Nathan Jones said the new laws affected the way Aboriginal people go about cultural gatherings and ceremonies and, in particular, will have an impact on Sorry Business.

Under the social distancing laws necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), no more than 10 people can attend a funeral and five at a wedding.

"These measures are necessary to help to protect our community from COVID-19, particularly our elders and those who already have illnesses," Mr Jones said.

He acknowledged there would be an impact on families dealing with Sorry Business but there may be options families could explore using technology to link loved ones into funeral services.

"It’s important for people to stay connected safely and use the technology that is available either via telephone or apps such as zoom, facetime and skype," he said. 

"Family members can use their phones to record video messages to be played on screens at the funeral. Talk to churches about setting up a private broadcast for family and community.

"A private online broadcast of a funeral allows people who cannot be there due to travel restrictions to watch and be a part of the ceremony."

Mr Jones encouraged the Aboriginal community to stay home to stay healthy.

"For the time being unless you are with people from your own household, or the gathering is essential for work or education, no more than two people can gather together in a public space,’’ Mr Jones said.

"You must now stay in your own home unless you are leaving for work, to get food, essentials or medicine, to exercise or for educational purposes."

Mr Jones said all Aboriginal people over 50 should stay home, where possible and away from other people from outside their household as much as possible.

"You can spread coronavirus without being sick or knowing you have the virus. This is why it is important to keep a distance from each other and not gather in groups," Mr Jones said.

"I know this is hard but it will help save the lives of the people we love."

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Page last updated: 24 April, 2020