The south-west's Indigenous population is leading the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, recording the highest vaccine uptake in regional Victoria.
Across the region, 43.95 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are fully vaccinated and 71 per cent of the population over 15 have received a first dose - 4.4 per cent above the national average.
Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Ashley Couzens said vaccine uptake had been strong in the region but there was still some hesitancy in the community.
He encouraged the young people to roll up their sleeves now that they're eligible to protect not just themselves but their Elders.
"Our Elders are our cultural knowledge carriers and the last thing we would want in our community would be to lose an Elder because you're not just losing an Elder; you're losing the stories and all the cultural knowledge that goes along with them," Mr Couzens said.
Of the south-west's 7773 Indigenous residents aged over 15 years, 3416 are double dosed.
At least 5521 have received a first dose, the highest percentage in the regions and second-highest in the state, just a fraction behind Melbourne's outer east (71.1 per cent).
The majority of the Aboriginal community in the Warrnambool region are young people who have been patiently waiting to become eligible for the vaccines.
Now that over 12s can access a vaccine, the Gunditjmara Health Clinic is engaging with south-west schools to encourage and inform youth about the vaccine.
Dominique De Bono is the Gunditjmara COVID Ambassador and is educating people about the safety of vaccines.
"There has been some fear among the older members of the community. If you have any concerns please come and talk to us," Ms De Bono said.
"We're lucky enough to be able to vaccinate the whole community."
The clinic offers transport to and from vaccination appointments.
Indigenous leaders in the south-west are calling for further measures to encourage vaccine uptake in Aboriginal communities, including more culturally safe and inclusive vaccine messaging and mobile vaccination clinics on Country.
Mr Couzens was a senior Aboriginal health worker in the 1990s and said flu vaccine uptake skyrocketed when the vaccine was delivered in Aboriginal communities.
"The evidence is there; if you take vaccines out to informal environments on Country you'll get more family members on board and more of an uptake," he said.
Barwon Health supplies the COVID-19 vaccines to Warrnambool and the south-west.
Professor Eugene Athan, the Barwon South West Public Health Unit director, said the team was working to minimise the barriers to vaccination access for all vulnerable groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
"South West Healthcare has been offering the Aboriginal community transport to vaccination appointments, linking people with specialists who can answer questions about vaccination and infection control, and supporting the Kirrae Health Service in offering vaccinations to Aboriginal communities, such as Framlingham," Professor Athan said.
"The South West Healthcare Aboriginal Health Team has made vaccination spaces culturally inclusive and welcoming, with a lot of positive feedback about the Warrnambool hub."
Professor Athan said on-site pop-up clinics could be considered for the region, similar to the Geelong Community Vaccination Hub where Aboriginal people have access to a culturally-safe clinic as part of a collaboration between Barwon Health and Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative.
A state-wide Aboriginal COVID-19 vaccination campaign is underway, called "Community Unity Immunity".
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