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Elder leads way for First Nations community

Aunty Delmae Barton receives her COVID-19 vaccination.

Elder, grandmother and performer Aunty Delmae Barton and her son William Barton received their second COVID-19 vaccine at Broadbeach Vaccination Centre recently.

Aunty Delmae shares her story:

“I was quite dubious when it came to the COVID-19 vaccine. I have had two flu injections throughout my life, the last one to protect a family member from getting sick who had an auto-immune disease as well as heart and lung conditions. After that flu shot, I was laid out for a week. I said I would never get another vaccine as I was certain that my body could not handle it.

"I was hearing more and more about COVID-19 and how bad it was. I started to think, what if I got COVID-19? What if I gave COVID-19 to someone? I guess, like me, no-one would want to give COVID-19 to our loved ones. What if you survived and they didn’t? Terrible that would be.

"My son William and I travel as artists, performing and collaborating with many communities and fellow artists. For many industries, being vaccinated is a pathway to travel safely. Being vaccinated would mean that would be less likely to take COVID-19 to another community and I would likely not die if exposed to the virus. There is an element of reassurance in knowing I could protect others, and I suppose lead the way for community.

"William and I spoke to our dear friend Paula Nihot, who works for Gold Coast Health, who helped to arrange our COVID-19 vaccinations. As we were able to make the choice about which vaccine to have, we chose to get the Pfizer vaccine. We even invited our friends to get the vaccine with us, to protect our family and community. Work can take you to a lot of different places and you connect with such lovely people; this was our way of keeping everyone safe.

"Paula and William were talking about the lower vaccination uptake within the younger community. As an Elder, I encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Even if you’re young, fit, and healthy, you can still get very sick with COVID-19. Getting vaccinated will help keep you, your family and community safe.

"COVID-19 has also affected how we provide for our families. The cancellation of festivals, live performances, exhibitions and celebrations has impacted the ability of artists to support their families. The arts sector, like many others, has been hard hit by COVID, and we can only open again, once we’ve all been vaccinated. So, it’s important we get vaccinated not only for our health but to protect our livelihoods and share our culture.

"We got our jabs at the Broadbeach Vaccination Centre which was wonderful. Getting to meet the staff made us feel at ease. Our friend, Craig, well he is more like family, joined us and received his first dose. It makes you feel good inside to know that the vaccine is protecting family.

"William and I didn’t have any side effects. I had heard that the second dose could be worse, but not for us. We drank plenty of water and kept busy. We were participating a week-long residency at HOTA, celebrating the Art of William Robinson and collaborating with community through a yarning circle of sound and song. It was immensely special to work alongside Candace Kruger and the Yugambeh Youth learning and listening, performing, and celebrating the journey ahead. I am looking forward to being back on the Gold Coast soon. I am glad I had the COVID-19 vaccine; I feel like I have played my part in stopping the spread of this terrible virus."

Gold Coast Public Health Unit is working towards advancing health equity and closing the vaccination gap for First Nations Queenslanders and other populations.

Find out more about getting vaccinated on the Gold Coast.


Last updated 06 Apr 2023