Indigenous leaders in talks over jab lies

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Indigenous church and health leaders have thrashed out ways to drive down coronavirus vaccine hesitancy and counter dangerous conspiracies.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation chief executive Pat Turner met with the group on Friday.

The meeting of respected pastors and remote medical professionals heard conspiracies and misinformation were spreading fears about vaccines in vulnerable communities.

Ms Turner said while social media was driving anti-vaccination messages in urban areas, word of mouth remained incredibly powerful in regional and remote settings.

"We need to be aiming towards 100 per cent vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities," she said on Monday.

"It's going to be very challenging in the face of this dangerous misinformation."

Vaccine rollout coordinator Lieutenant General John Frewen has presented a new Indigenous vaccination plan to federal, state and territory leaders.

"There is a lot of hesitancy out in the communities," he told the ABC.

"We're working with local leaders to get the message out that not only are the vaccines safe, but there is a real urgency to this and there's a clear example of that in western NSW."

The proposed vaccination surge would involve 20 non-remote and 10 remote communities to address the biggest gaps.

Just 21.9 per cent of Indigenous people aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, compared with 38.2 per cent of the wider population.

Mr Wyatt said rates were increasing but he remains concerned conspiracies and misinformation are stoking fear.

"Our spiritual leaders will be crucial in ensuring positive messages succeed," the minister said.

"To that end, uniting faith-based and medical messaging will be key to stamping out the dangerous rhetoric and boost vaccine uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities."

The group of religious and medical leaders is expected to reconvene this week to develop and implement messages for communities.

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