18th May

Keeping Central Australia safe through COVID-19 testing for all

  • Congress Respiratory Clinic now testing for coronavirus 
  • All community members – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can be tested 
  • A vital step in keeping Central Australia safe 

Congress is now one of the 100 respiratory clinics approved by the Australian Government Dept of Health to provide testing to all people in the community with any symptoms, including mild symptoms like a cold or just feeling off. 

This ‘enhanced testing' is designed to ensure that if cases of COVID-19 somehow enter the community, we become aware of them early and can respond immediately. 

Congress commenced outreach testing in the very beginning of the pandemic and enhanced testing several weeks ago and has conducted hundreds of tests of Aboriginal community members already, identifying the need to do so early to protect the region from the virus. 

“Government supporting Congress to continue to do this testing for the whole community is a very positive step for Central Australia” said Congress CEO, Donna Ah Chee. 

“We know that there is no community transmission in the NT, and we know that our border control, testing, isolation, contact tracing, quarantine and public education measures are preventing cases of COVID-19 here. 

“Widespread enhanced testing is the next logical step in keeping Central Australia safe, especially as restrictions ease. 

“Central Australians should be commended for taking on physical distancing measures, staying home and doing all of the important things we have been asked to do to this point. Our next job is to go get tested if we have a cold or any flu-like symptoms. To make contact testing fast and effective, we should also all download the COVIDSafe app. I’ve downloaded it and I urge others to do so as well. 

“If we do this as a community, it will mean that if the virus gets into town, we know about it – fast. We can then isolate cases, contact trace and do what is needed to stop the spread and save lives. 

“It is Congress' priority to protect the Aboriginal community, but this service is open to the whole community because coronavirus is a whole of community problem. The virus does not discriminate. We can all get it and we can all spread it to each other. So, like other clinics in town, we won’t be turning anyone away when it comes to coronavirus. 

“There has been a strong collaborative response between government and non-government, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations to fight this battle. We are all committed to keeping Central Australia safe.” 

Congress also wants to remind people not to neglect their regular health care. Triaging patients at every clinic site and testing at Todd St means that no one with respiratory symptoms is at the clinic and they are safe. 

“Don’t put off your regular treatments, check-ups or medications.” Ms Ah Chee urged. 

“If you don’t want to come to the clinic, telehealth is available and will continue while it is needed.” 

Congress clients can make a regular or telehealth appointment by calling the clinical services switchboard on (free call) 1800 412 900. 

To access COVID-19 testing, Congress clients can call Congress’ COVID-19 hotline (free call) 1800 514 400 or go to the special clinic at 127 Todd Street (old Memo Club, near the second-hand shop) between 8.30-11am weekdays only. 

For anyone who isn’t a Congress client, speak to your doctor to be referred. They will manage your treatment and be sent your results. 


Media Contact Kate Buckland 0408 741 691