Saturday, October 23, 2021

Minister Ward to advocate for India travel bubble

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Although a federal issue, NSW Multiculturalism Minister Natalie Ward has promised to raise with her Federal counterpart Minister Alex Hawke, the issue of allowing double-vaccinated people to travel between India and Australia. 

In an interview with the minister, Indian Link’s Pawan Luthra brought up media reports of travel bubbles to be set up with countries with high vaccinations such as UK, USA, Singapore etc.

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Given that it may take time for highly populated countries like India to reach the required 80% double vaccination targets, Indian-Australians are looking at extended periods without being able to reunite with their families.

Luthra urged the Minister to advocate the Federal Govt to change the ‘travel bubble’ definition to include people fully vaccinated, whichever part of the world they may live in.

Minister Ward promised her advocacy for all multicultural communities. “It is a federal issue, as you rightly acknowledge, and we’re trying to work together to work out for communities what we can nuance. I will certainly take that message to Minister Hawke – we’ve had one meeting of multicultural ministers across the country. I understand the community is really desperate to see their families and have been so good at complying. Tragically, some have missed out on very important milestones with families and I understand those challenges.”

Watch the full interview here:

Ms Ward became Minister for Multiculturalism on 27 May. Less than two months later, the state of NSW was in lockdown, with 12 of our highly diverse LGAs cited as areas of concern.

She laughed when Luthra described this initiation as a baptism by fire.

“An absolute privilege, is what I would say,” she replied. “I took over about a day after my birthday, and I was excited that I could work with all of our multicultural communities in such an important way. People in the government really understand how critical our multicultural community is, particularly in this pandemic, and (how important) working together in this journey is, so that we can get our messages out to all multicultural communities, in language, and through culturally appropriate messaging and responses. So yes, it’s been a baptism of fire, but an absolute pleasure of one.”

She expressed satisfaction at the rising rates of vaccination, but warned against complacency.

“Please don’t wait (to get your shots),” she urged the community. “Please don’t get complacent, because the numbers have been so good that we are looking like getting those restrictions eased as soon as possible. I would hate to see us go backwards, after everybody has stepped up so well, to get us to the position that we are in now.”

READ ALSO: Home vaccination program for people who are housebound

On vaccination messaging to the multicultural communities, Minister Ward acknowledged that “one size doesn’t fit all.”

“We worked really closely with the community to get the messaging to NSW Health about how we had to nuance specifically for our multicultural communities that one size doesn’t fit all. And the communities responded so well. I have to say one of the highlights was seeing the amazing vax messages. The Mission Jab message from Indian Link is so fun, and to know that we could do this in a really fun way. What an incredible message.”

With schools set to open up shortly, she assuaged the concerns of parents about safety.

“As a parent of school-aged children, I absolutely understand those concerns. We want to look after our children as best we can, and we want that return to face-to-face learning to be as safe as possible. There are key measures that have been taken to ensure that students have safe classrooms – hygiene supplies, extra cleaning, increased ventilation, and the prioritisation for vaccinations for school aged children, particularly HSC students,” Minister Ward revealed.

To the Indian-Australian community, the Minister said, “A very strong, heartfelt thank you to the community who I know has worked so very hard. The vaccination rates in the Indian community have been phenomenal. So, thank you for your forbearance, and for looking after each other. And thank you for helping to get the message out. Indian Link has been critical in that, and I thank you for all your wonderful work.”

READ ALSO: COVID19: Fundraising efforts continue for the most affected

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Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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