Black Lives Matter protests should proceed – safely

Black Lives Matter protests should proceed – safely

After PHAA released the following media statement on 12 June, many of our members used social media to express their support for its sentiment so we are re-posting it on the Intouch blog for a wider readership.

If you would like to support this statement please use the comments section at the bottom of the page. 


Two hugely important public health objectives – Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 have been framed as competing imperatives. They are not.

The Black Lives Matter movement in Australia seeks to highlight the deplorable circumstances of disadvantage and discrimination experienced by Australia’s First people.

It is an important vehicle to seek changes that will help ‘close the gap’, and address generations of inequality and injustice which continue to this day. Addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is one of the highest order public health issues in Australia today.

The fact that over 430 Indigenous deaths in custody have been recorded since the 1991 Royal Commission is a stark illustration of this emergency. It is indisputable that racism is a real and ever-present public health issue. Racism in Australia obviously precedes COVID-19 and has a massive continuing impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Australia has managed the COVID-19 pandemic very successfully.

PHAA has recognised this through our special PHAA President’s Award for Members of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on 12 May.

We have enormous regard for the work of the public health officials and governments around Australia who have taken the hard decisions based on evidence to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the health of Australians.

With low levels of community transmission, effective contact tracing and quarantine, Australia is well placed to control the virus. But those challenges are ongoing and continued vigilance is essential.

We also respect all who support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make the case for reforms to policies that will improve the circumstances of Indigenous Australians.

We call on governments and police to lend every support to the BLM protestors in exercising their democratic right to peaceful protest, to forego any legal action to hinder protests, and to support protests in ways that mitigate any risk of COVID-19, for example by providing masks to protesters.

We call on protest organisers to take every possible measure to avoid virus transmission. We recommend that all who choose to be involved in protests wear masks, maintain physical distancing and download the CovidSafe app.

Maintaining physical distancing might be more easily achieved by protestors organising themselves into a number of small groups of no more than 20 people.

People at higher risk should also avoid unnecessary exposures.

We urge all involved – protestors, police, and anyone in the vicinity – to be respectful, peaceful and non-violent.

If the same commitment made by Australians and their governments to control COVID-19 was applied to eradicating racism and improving the circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Australia would be an enormously advanced nation.


49 responses to “Black Lives Matter protests should proceed – safely”

  1. I support this statement.

    Terry Slevin
    CEO Public Health Associaiton of Australia

    1. I support this statement

  2. Patrick Harris

    I support this statement

    Patrick Harris (President NSW Branch PHAA)

    1. Jason Gray

      I support this statement.

      Jason Gray
      Community Support Worker/Author

  3. Jameela Truman

    I support this statement.

    Jameela Truman – Clinical Nurse Specialist

  4. Hilary Tyler

    I support this statement.

    Hilary Tyler (Emergency Physician)

  5. Summer May Finlay

    I support this statement.
    Summer May Finlay PHAA Vice President (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander)

  6. Lucy McWilliams

    I support this statement.

    Lucy McWilliams
    Registered Nurse
    Emergency, RPA Hospital

  7. Paboda Ratnayake

    I support this statement.

    Dr Paboda Ratnayake Mudiyanselage

  8. Sam Stott

    I support this statement.
    Sam Stott

    1. Kate Kameniar

      I support this statement

      Kate Kameniar, PHAA Board & SA Branch Executive

  9. Travers Johnstone

    Thanks PHAA and those involved for making this position clear.

  10. Aimee Brownbill

    I support this statement.

    Aimee Brownbill.
    PHAA Board Member, Early Career Rep.

  11. Edward Jegasothy

    I support this statement
    Edward Jegasothy
    PHAA NSW Branch Committee Member

  12. Penelope Smith

    I support this statement
    Penelope Smith, Indigenous Australia Program, Fred Hollows Foundation
    PHAA Member

  13. Dr Becky Freeman, School of Public Health, University of Sydney

    I support this statement

  14. I support this statement.
    Member of PHAA and Executive Officer National Health Leadership Forum

  15. Keeley Allen

    I support this statement.

  16. Oluwatosin Akinya-Ojo

    I support this statement.

    Oluwatosin Akinya-Ojo
    PHAA NSW Branch Committee Member

  17. Margaret Beavis

    I support this statement
    PHAA member and GP, Melbourne

  18. Mary Brushe

    I support this statement.

    Mary Brushe
    PhD Candidate, University of Adelaide
    Study Manager, Telethon Kids Institute
    PHAA South Australian Branch Executive Committee

  19. Lynette Saville, RN, OHN, M App Sc (EH)

    I support this statement.

  20. Dr Sue Wareham, President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

    I support this statement

  21. Anthony Adams

    I definitely support this statement.
    Tony Adams

  22. Peter Sainsbury

    Yes. Essential.

  23. Amy Carrad

    As someone who attended the Wollongong protest and would do so again, I support this statement

  24. Emily Brennan

    I support this statement.

  25. Joanne Flavel

    I support this statement

    PHAA Member, Economist and Public Health Researcher

  26. Georgina Mulcahy

    I support this statement.
    Georgie Mulcahy
    PHAA NSW Branch Committee Member

  27. Kayla Theron

    I support this statement

    Kayla Theron (PHAA Member)

  28. Ilan Abrahams, Researcher La Trobe University

    I support this statement

  29. Frank Meany

    I support this Statement

  30. Jenny Donnelly, EO Upper Hume PCP

    I support this statement

  31. Dr Jennifer Fish

    I support this statement

  32. Amy Anderson

    I support this statement.

  33. Isabelle Barnes

    I support this statement.

  34. Emma Byrnes

    I support this statement!

  35. Toby Freeman

    I support this statement!

  36. Melissa Coci

    I also support this statement.

  37. Matthew Perkins

    I support this statement

  38. Tanja Dreher

    I support this statement

  39. Stella (Alison) Topaz

    I support this statement. Stella (Alison) Topaz – registered nurse

  40. Claudia Herrera

    Thanks PHAA for making our position clear. I support this statement.

  41. Robin Kagie

    I support this statement

  42. I support this statement.
    Ayesha Maharaj BHSc MPH

  43. Ada

    I support this statement
    Ada Castle MPH

  44. Dr Annie Preston-Thomas

    I support this statement

  45. I support this statement.
    Sanchia Aranda, AM, PhD.

  46. Rosie Yuille

    I support this statement.
    Rosie Yuille. Retired GP

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