TWELVE-year-old Ashleigh Kanoa wants to be able to go more places with her friends and family but most of all, she wants to know Ballarat will be safe.
Ashleigh got her COVID jab on Thursday morning in Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative's vaccine super clinic, aiming to ensure everyone in the city's Indigenous community has been immunised by Christmas.
"I did it so I could keep my community and family safe and I could go more places and see more people," Ashleigh said. "It's important to get tested and, if you're eligible, to get vaccinated.
"I want people to remember we're all in different storms but we're all in the same ship."
I want people to remember we're all in different storms but we're all in the same ship.Ashleigh Kanoa, age 12
And, if you are wondering, Ashleigh said the needle did not hurt.
BADAC medical clinic had 100 people line up for a COVID jab in its super blitz on Thursday, the city's first drive-through vaccination hub, with about 80 per cent of people receiving a first dose.
Indigenous vaccination rate in the Grampians region have generally mirrored the rates in Ballarat. This is despite the latest federal data for Victoria showing 32.5 per cent of the state's Indigenous peoples are at least partially vaccinated with a gap of 26 percentage points on the general population.
By the end of Thursday, BADAC had delivered 397 first jabs and 251 people were double-dosed.
BADAC operations manager Jon Kanoa, who is also Ashleigh's dad, said the organisation was focused on doing its part for the whole Ballarat community, not just its "own pocket". Mr Kanoa said the biggest challenge was to have conversations that would get the Indigenous community on board.
"Every Indigenous community is different and we can only do as much as we can with our mob here," Mr Kanoa said. "It hasn't been that difficult with our elders because we're all on the same page. The sooner we can reach everyone else, the better."
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Mr Kanoa said general mistrust in government still played a part in Indigenous community, stemming back to past policies and inter-generational trauma, but this was something BADAC remained trying to overcome.
He said the chance to be flexible in how they delivered important health messaging, coming from a Koori organisation, could make a difference in trust.
"The virus doesn't discriminate based on your background. We are all in this together and vaccinations are a way we can highlight the end of the tunnel," Mr Kanoa said.
BADAC medical practice manager Paul Kochskamper was rapt with the super clinic's success. He was proud of community enegagement in the vaccine blitz and in adhering to Ballarat's lockdown measures.
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