Supporting vulnerable populations

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Supporting vulnerable populations

Page last updated at 12pm 27 June2022

Certain groups of people in Brisbane south are at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, or experience greater barriers to access to reliable information and support in relation to health care. Our response to COVID-19 includes particular attention to providing additional support to ensure all people are well informed and have the access and support they need to understand, get vaccinated, and received appropriate care and advice in relation to COVID-19. 

Pathways for vaccinating greater Brisbane’s vulnerable people

Brisbane South PHN and Brisbane North PHN and are working together to improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine for people who would benefit from additional support. Information on support available for vulnerable people is available as a downloadable resource.   Some highlights of the program so far are summarized in this progress update.

Multicultural communities

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia, even if a person is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This includes people without a Medicare card, overseas visitors, international students, migrant workers and asylum seekers. 

Information and resources are available to support our multicultural communities. 

Free RAT test expansion in Queensland

From August 2022, Queensland Health has expanded the eligibility for access to free Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) kits for the following population groups:

  • Commonwealth Concession care holders
  • people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, including people escaping domestic and family violence 
  • people seeking asylum in Queensland 
  • people recently arrived from Ukraine  
  • people working in Queensland as part of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme.

For more information and to find your nearest Queensland Health RAT distribution locations click here.

Free interpreting services

Working with qualified interpreters is essential to ensuring health care providers are able to communicate effectively with their patients and are protected from professional risk. Interpreters are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Visit our Multicultural Health page for more information and tips on engaging an interpreter for patients. 

People without a Medicare card

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia, regardless of Medicare or visa status. This includes: 

  • refugees
  • asylum seekers 
  • temporary protection visa holders 
  • people on bridging visas 
  • overseas visitors 
  • international students 
  • migrant workers 
  • people who are not Australian citizens 
  • people who are not permanent residents 
  • people who are living in Australia on a visa 
  • those whose visas have been cancelled or who have overstayed their visas
  • those who are eligible for, but do not have a Medicare card (for example, some people experiencing homelessness). 

Information on booking a COVID vaccine for non-Medicare card holders

Information on access to COVID-19 vaccines and support for non-Medicare card holders.

Information on COVID-19 oral treatments for non-Medicare card holders.

People experiencing homelessness 

Micah Projects have been commissioned to work alongside Brisbane South and Brisbane North PHNs to support people experiencing homelessness in Brisbane. Vaccinations are offered via outreach for people experiencing homelessness, including those living on the streets, in emergency accommodation, boarding houses or between shelters. Participants were engaged across a range of venues and support networks to increase access to vaccination and address barriers such as vaccine hesitancy, transport issues, and adverse response to hospitals or clinics.  

Contact Micah Projects on 07 3036 4444 to request an outreach visit. 

View Micah Projects’ COVID-19 response brochure 

First Nations people  

Everybody is at risk of getting COVID-19. For most people, they will only develop mild illness and recover easily, but others may develop severe sickness that affects the lungs.  People with weaker immune systems are more likely to get seriously ill. This puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) at increased risk. Health system bodies across the state are working together to ensure that First Nations Queenslanders have access to current, culturally appropriate and localised information.  

Information and resources are available to support First Nations people. 

COVID-19 care for First Nations peoples in south-east Queensland  

Mob Link is an initiative of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, supporting First Nations peoples living in south-east Queensland, by linking them with health and social services. The Mob Link app provides a wide range of information and resources designed to support during times of hardship, including: 

  • where to get vaccinated 
  • how to book a community yarn about COVID-19 
  • who to contact for questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine 
  • connections to services and support for those affected by COVID-19. 

Yarning about COVID-19 video series

Brisbane South PHN in collaboration with Metro South Health, Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health and ATSICHS Brisbane have developed a series of videos discussing the answers to questions frequently raised by First Nations communities.

Discussions with Dr Claudia Collins, Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health

Discussion with Dr Jonathan Leitch, ATSICHS Brisbane

Disability, support workers and carers 

Information and resources are available to support people with disability, support workers and carers.

Support for autistic people through the COVID-19 pandemic 

Autism Spectrum Australia have developed a range of resources to support autistic people and people with special needs be supported. 

Amaze, a peak body for autistic people and their supporters, have developed a COVID-19 community information hub. The hub has resources to help autistic people and their supporters to access and prepare for vaccination appointments. There are a range of social scripts, a webinar on supporting autistic children to get their vaccination, and a COVID-19 vaccination appointment checklist. There are also guides for health professionals and free training on supporting autistic people through the vaccination process. These resources can help providers in their conversations with autistic patients.  

Metro South Health and Hospital Service worked with Autism Queensland to offer targeted support to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who have difficulty receiving vaccines through mainstream channels. 

Vaccinations for homebound people

Many at-risk people may be housebound or have other obstacles or health conditions that prevent them from attending a vaccination hub, clinic or pharmacy. Service providers who have not been able to arrange vaccination for this group of clients can complete the online referral form to request support, including in-home appointments, to ensure priority people get access to the vaccine and are protected against COVID-19.