COVID-19 and your immersion

 

We will update this page regularly as new information and advice is published by international, domestic, and regional government and health bodies.

Last update:  24 March 2020

 

COVID-19 Response Strategy – How your immersion may be affected

As the wet season eases up North and the Red Centre cools down, we are more excited than ever about the prospect of helping Traditional Owners host groups of young people on their lands. As always, our number one priority is to help create safe and  meaningful experiences for everyone involved, from the traveling students to the Elders and their families opening up their homelands.

Due to the need to keep remote Indigenous communities and Traditional Owners safe, access to some communities has been limited by local authorities. The APY Lands Council, the Northern Land Council and several councils in Far North Queensland have introduced measures to restrict entry to residents and essential services only. These restrictions are current, and have no specified end date. We are in close contact with local governments and health authorities in these regions and follow all developments.

In addition, restrictions now exist for travel into the Northern Territory, Queensland & South Australia. These are encouraging steps taken to ensure the health and safety of these communities and we will continue to consult with these local agencies to determine when it will be appropriate and safe for Traditional Owners to host young people on their country in the future.

Like everyone, we have been closely following the  development of COVID-19 in the media and have paid particular attention to information provided by the Australian and State governments and domestic and international health bodies. In light of the information we have gathered from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government Department of Health, we are implementing the following strategy.

 

Cancellations and COVID-19

If travel restrictions are lifted, our normal cancellation policy will apply (see below). That is, if there are no legal or regulatory reasons that prevent us from providing the experience for the students, we will deliver the immersion as promised. If, for other reasons, parents choose to withdraw their children from the program or a school chooses to cancel the program for all students, our cancellation policy will apply.   

If mandatory quarantine or mandatory curfew restrictions are imposed and, as a direct result of this, Red Earth is prevented from or unreasonably delayed in delivering the immersion as promised, Red Earth will refund the Fee paid by the School in full after deducting the reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by Red Earth in relation to the Activity up to the time that the quarantine or curfew restrictions were imposed. Red Earth will use all reasonable endeavours to seek refunds on all expenses incurred from third-party providers in order to maximise the amount of the Fee refunded to the School. We encourage Schools to seek the remainder of the Fee from their insurance policy covering domestic travel.  

 

The Red Earth cancellation policy:

  • Cancelling between due dates for the Deposit and the Second Payment, will result in a loss of your Deposit.
  • Cancelling between dues dates for the Second Payment and the Balance will result in a loss of your Deposit and 50% of the Second Payment .
  • Cancelling after the due date for the Balance will result in a loss of the Deposit and 75% of Second Payment and Balance.

Please note that the remainder of the Fee paid may be recoverable under the School’s insurance policy covering domestic travel.

 

Before your immersion:

Participants (students, teachers, leaders, Indigenous partners) who:

  • have travelled to countries for which there are full travel restrictions in the 21 days before the start date of their immersion will not be allowed to join the immersion (the latest list can be found here); or
  • have travelled to countries for which there are travel warnings on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smart Traveller Coronavirus website in the 21 days before the start date of their immersion will need to provide a certificate by a medical professional showing a negative result for COVID-19 (the latest list of countries for which there are travel warnings can be found at this website); or
  • have travelled oversea’s will need to complete a 14 day self isolation period. If any fever or flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, and shortness of breath develop during this time the individual will need a certificate by a medical professional showing a negative result for COVID-19 if they are to join the immersion.
  • have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 21 days before the start of their immersion will not be allowed to join the immersion; or
  • are experiencing fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, and shortness of breath in the 14 days before the start of their immersion will need a certificate by a medical professional showing a negative result for COVID-19 if they are to join the immersion.

Organisations and/or individuals will be required to complete and return a statutory declaration to Red Earth confirming that all participants:

  • have not travelled to countries for which there are full travel restrictions in the 21 days before the start date of their immersion; and
  • if they have travelled to any of those countries, have obtained a certificate from a medical professional showing a negative result for COVID-19.

Participants who are not able to join the immersion for any of the above reasons will have a refund available to them through our cancellation policy (below) and the school’s domestic travel insurance policy.

These standards are in place to protect traveling students and our community partners. In permit-only areas such as Arnhem Land and the APY Lands, we will consult closely with the relevant statutory bodies to ensure we are following any region-specific restrictions they may have imposed.

The same standards apply to our community partners as for the traveling group. Although it is unlikely that anyone in the remote areas that we travel to will contract COVID-19, we will not take students to areas where there is a risk of exposure to someone who has the virus.

 

During your immersion:

  • Upon arriving at the airport, any participant showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 who has not been cleared by a medical professional will be not be allowed to join the immersion; or
  • Because we consider airports the highest risk locations for contracting COVID-19, students will be required to wash their hands at their destination airport, after collecting their luggage and immediately before leaving the airport; or
  • Red Earth leaders will set up hand washing stations to supervise mandatory hand washing during the immersion at key points, including before, during and after every meal, after being in vehicles, before lights out and after use of all bathroom facilities; or
  • Red Earth leaders and traveling staff will regularly demonstrate good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene; or
  • If a participant or a community member develops or shows symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during the immersion (fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, and shortness of breath), the following steps will be taken immediately:
    • participant will be isolated from others; and
    • participant will be given a surgical mask; and
    • at the first possibility, the participant will be taken to a local health clinic for further testing and isolation. These are rarely further than 45 minutes from the homelands where we stay and are manned by nurses and rotating doctors; and
    • the participant will be tested for COVID-19 by health authorities.

While COVID-19 is of concern, it is important to remember that the great majority of people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness—not coronavirus.

It is important to note that state-of-the-art hospitals are only a few hours’ drive or a short flight away from all our partner homelands. Air evacuations are common in remote Indigenous Australia, and should a participant fall ill, our response strategy will be the same as for any other injury of concern.

 

After your immersion:

Should a participant or a community member develop or show symptoms consistent with COVID-19 after the immersion (fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, and shortness of breath), we ask that the participant or community member seek immediate medical attention and contact Red Earth as soon as is practical. This will allow us to follow the containment guidelines prescribed by the federal Department of Health.

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