This vaccination centre is not for your community: ‘Discriminatory’ message by DHHS leaves residents angry & frustrated

"It was very confronting as the heated arguments broke when many people, who were waiting for hours, were asked to leave."

Farooq Ahmed* a long term resident of Suburb Truganina-3029 in the Wyndham council area is angry and frustrated with Victorian Health Authority.

He told The Australia Today, “I and my wife stood in the queue for almost 3 hours for vaccination at Al-Taqwa walk-in centre but they refused me to provide vaccine as my kids don’t go to Al-Taqwa college.”

“I live right behind the newly placed vaccination centre, but my kids go to Westbourne Grammar School, not Al-Taqwa, I am refused vaccination.”

But my cousin who lives next door and her two daughters go to Al-Taqwa has been given Pfizer vaccine.

Al-Taqwa Vaccination centre; Picture Source: Facebook

“I feel discriminated against just because my kids don’t attend Al-Taqwa.”

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Saturday morning as Victoria recorded the highest one-day COVID19 cases, Many DHHS representatives started calling multicultural community leaders asking them to relay a message many consider discriminating.

The below message allegedly from DHHS is doing rounds in community WhatsApp groups.

On Saturday afternoon, Sakina* and her son Hamid* also went to the Al-Taqwa vaccination centre and waited in the queue for four hours.

Video Source: The Australia Today

She told The Australia Today, “It was very confronting as the heated arguments broke when many people, who were waiting for hours, were asked to leave.”

“We just got lucky, while all that confusion they let us in and get vaccinated. However, I feel for people who were refused despite waiting for hours.”

Karthik Arasu is the President of the Federation of Indian Australians, a Melbourne based community advocacy organisation.

He told The Australia Today, “Our volunteers have been working so hard to deal with the vaccine hesitancy in multilingual Indian Australian communities and bring them to the vaccination queue.”

“This new message has created a lot of confusion regarding the Al-Taqwa college walk-in vaccination centre. There is no clear direction from anyone, as some are given vaccination while many are turned back.”

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“Many community representatives have received a call from some random members working for DHHS asking community representatives to share these messages with the community not to go to the Al-Taqwa vaccination centre,” added Mr Arasu.

“They are saying this is the directive from DHHS, but there is no official communication from the Government with regards to this.”

Mr Arasu says, “I understand the reason why the Department may want to avoid others going to this particular centre for vaccination, but please let’s have clarity through official communications.”

DHHS has provided a written response but has not replied to any of our specific questions.

DHHS statement says, “The Department of Health and Western Health has provided testing and vaccination services for staff and families designated as close contacts of a positive case linked with Al-Taqwa College.” 

“It has been critical that all these close contacts are prioritised for testing as soon as possible to assist our contact tracers in managing this outbreak.”  

“All staff and students at Al-Taqwa College have been required to test immediately and quarantine for 14 days. They have also been given an opportunity to get vaccinated at the same time as they were tested for COVID-19.”

Since then the Al-Taqwa Vaccination facility has been closed.

Note: Story Updated with DHHS response.

  • All * stared names changed on request.