Aboriginal grandmother dies in western NSW

·3-min read

An Aboriginal woman in her 70s from the tiny remote NSW town of Enngonia has died of COVID-19, becoming the second Aboriginal person in the state's west to succumb to the virus.

Nephew Peter Shillingsworth, who also lives in Enngonia, remembered the woman as someone with a "big heart" and a "big family".

He said she was taken to hospital about a week ago. She died in Dubbo's hospital overnight. She was not vaccinated.

Enngonia had just 148 residents at the last census, almost half of whom were Aboriginal.

It's an hour away from the nearest hospital at Bourke, and about five hours from Dubbo.

Since August 27, at least 17 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Enngonia, including Mr Shillingsworth's teenage son.

Mr Shillingsworth is now isolating in the house he shares with his family of seven.

Being stuck in the house and unable to mourn with other households "makes me upset even more," he said.

Budjiti elder Phillip Eulo, who now lives in Maitland, told AAP he had gone to school with the woman when they were both children in Enngonia.

"She was a lovely girl growing up...they were a big family," he said.

Mr Eulo's daughter Kiara said the death of the elder "should never have happened".

"What is taking place now does not accommodate for the Indigenous people of Australia," Ms Eulo said.

"This would not have taken place if we were able to communicate and have better strategies for Indigenous people."

Western NSW Local Health District Chief Executive Scott McLachlan said on Monday there had been a "significant increase" in the number of Aboriginal people getting vaccinated, and that first dose numbers had more than doubled in the district.

The district has had a full-time team in Enngonia in the last three to five days, "helping to talk to every member of the community about their individual circumstances, their health and other support needs," he said.

The Australian Defence Force came to the Bourke Shire in late August to administer vaccinations, according to a Western NSW Local Health District spokesperson.

Vaccinations have also been made available through the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Bourke Aboriginal Medical Service.

Ms Eulo and her sister Ebony have raised over $7000 on GoFundMe for food to support the Aboriginal community in Enngonia. But they're frustrated they won't be able to deliver it themselves.

"I don't know why are we getting stopped taking food to our community," Ms Eulo said. The family believes the emergency hampers being delivered to isolating families are not suitable food and there isn't enough to feed a family.

More than 100 of the 1281 new local COVID-19 cases were recorded outside of Greater Sydney.

The government is yet to announce any extension to the lockdown for regional NSW, scheduled to be lifted on Friday.

Some 44 of the new cases were in the Western NSW LHD, which takes in Enngonia. Thirty-five were in Dubbo.

In the far west LHD, six new cases were identified at Broken Hill and one at Wilcannia.

More than 13 per cent of Wilcannia's predominantly Indigenous population have caught the virus.

An emergency management centre has been established at Wilcannia's showground, housing personnel and staging response activities with emergency services and volunteers.

The first of 30 campervans to help people isolate have arrived in town.

There were 21 new cases in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region which Deputy Premier John Barilaro said was becoming "an area of concern".

He revealed two more cases were reported in the area overnight and they will be counted in Tuesday's figures.

There were eight cases on the Central Coast, five in the Hunter-New England region and five in Southern NSW.

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