Address to frontline workers at Lautoka Hospital

  • Speech, E&OE
Subjects: Thanking Fiji’s frontline heroes; Fiji’s COVID-19 response and vaccination rates; Australian Government support of Fiji’s COVID response.
15 November 2021

Okay, all right, we're on. Well, thank you very much. Can I thank Dr. Riga, Dr. Mara, for your presentations and for the welcome you've given to me and for the leadership you have shown in what has been an extraordinarily difficult time. And I wanted to acknowledge each and every one of you for your commitment, for your bravery, for your courage, for your dedication in dealing with these extraordinarily difficult times. And I wanted to pass on, on behalf of the Australian Government, my thanks and my admiration, but also my condolences, because I know there has been great loss here, and we should never forget that. But it has been because of the efforts of you and others like you that we have seen lives saved and that we have seen people cared for in the way that we would hope them to be cared for.

During this crisis, I've had the opportunity to connect with your Health Minister, Dr. Waqainabete on a number of occasions, and we've regularly communicated about how we can work together to deal with this crisis. I think if we look - I was getting very regular daily and weekly updates on the situation in Fiji. At first, it was an economic crisis as the borders were closed and the virus was kept under control. But of course, as we've seen around the world, as we've seen in Australia, as we've seen in virtually every part of the world, the virus has been very, very difficult to keep out. And once it gets into a community, we know how rapidly it can spread. And so during that time, as we've had those discussions about the needs, it's been so important that we've been able to work together, whether it's with the AUSMAT teams or whether it's the vaccine doses. And as we saw those difficult times, and we heard the stories of great courage, I was also heartened to see the rates of vaccinations going up. And as we saw that peak of the cases, and we saw on the graph there, those numbers now coming down. And that's something that you can all be so proud of, that you've protected your community through the most difficult of times. So that gives us great heart, the 90% vaccination rate in Fiji gives us great heart, that there will be protection.

We know that there will still be challenges ahead. We know that there will be, and it's important that, of course, we redouble our efforts. On behalf of the Australian Government, we stand ready to do that. We will continue to correspond with your government about what other ways we might be able to assist. But today it's really about saying thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your dedication and I look forward to seeing the better times ahead. There have been some challenging times and some dark times, but we look forward to those better times ahead that have been made available because of the dedication of people like yourself. So thank you very much for the honour of being with you today, and I look forward to future opportunities to come back to your beautiful country. From Australia can I say a big bula and a big g'day and thank you very, very much.

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