White supremacists groups from the US are spreading vaccine misinformation to Indigenous communities because they “want to harm” them, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan says.
The premier attended a roundtable of community leaders from the state’s Goldfields region on Thursday, and said he learned false information was being spread via social media to Indigenous Australians.
The information was found to have originated from the extremist groups in America.
“At the meeting just now we hard from one Aboriginal person who said white supremacist groups are sending information to Aboriginal people that they shouldn’t get vaccinated,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
“Now, the suspicion is these white supremacist groups out of America wouldn’t be unhappy if bad outcomes occurred to the health of Aboriginal people in Australia.
“Some of these groups spreading misinformation like white supremacist groups are doing it because they want to harm Aboriginal people, so I just urge Aboriginal people to listen to the experts.
“The experts say the vaccine is safe and effective and it’ll save their lives.”
Western Australia’s vaccination rate was at 87 per cent first dose and 76 per cent, double dose.
However, across the Goldfields regions the rates are significantly less, prompting Thursday’s meeting in the Kimberley with leaders from the Aboriginal, medical and community groups on how to lift rates.
Mr McGowan warned if vaccination rates don’t rise, extra rules may be applied to keep people safe.
“There’ll be certain parts of regional Western Australia, particularly Aboriginal communities that may have to have very strong restrictions on who can come in and come out if they don’t get to high enough levels of vaccination,” he said.
“That’s something we’re currently working through, but it’s the Goldfields, the Pilbara and the Kimberley we’re most concerned about.
“We just need people to get vaccinated to a far higher degree in each of those regions.”
The Pilbara region was the “most worrisome”.
“The virus will actually kill Aboriginal people. That’s a fact,” Mr McGowan said.
“If they don’t get to high levels of vaccination, we will have to put rules in around those communities as to who can come in and out.
“I just urge Aboriginal people, that’s what we’re here for, to get to higher levels of vaccination as soon as they possibly can.”
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