An indigenous man is vaccinated at a COVID-19 clinic
An Indigenous man is vaccinated at a COVID-19 clinic in the Northern Territory town of Katherine. Image by Katherine Morrow/AAP IMAGES

Military ‘force vaccinating’ NT Indigenous is a load of croc

AAP FactCheck December 10, 2021

The Australian military is forcibly vaccinating Indigenous people in the Northern Territory against COVID-19.


False. There is no evidence Aboriginal people in the NT have been forcibly vaccinated by the military or any other group or agency.

A social media video alleges Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are being forcibly vaccinated by the military.

However, the video provides no evidence to support its claim and has been labelled as “deliberate disinformation” and false by Aboriginal leaders, the Australian Defence Force, the NT Chief Minister and NT health services.

The video has been posted on Facebook multiple times since November 24. Similar claims have circulated about the communities of Binjari and Rockhole here and here.

The footage features activist David Cole claiming the NT government is “force vaccinating our people” (video mark 33sec).

He goes on to allege the government pressured “them (Indigenous people) using military, using foreign military, foreign police officers, and local military and local police officers, to pressure our people into taking this bio weapon”.

But a spokesman for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) told AAP FactCheck the claims in the video were “emphatically false”.

“Defence personnel currently supporting Northern Territory government authorities cannot forcibly remove residents from their homes, forcibly vaccinate residents against their will nor forcibly prevent residents from filming or photographing events in public places,” he said in an email.

“The ADF is not administering COVID-19 vaccines to the Australian public. However, ADF personnel previously supported administration of COVID-19 vaccines in aged and disability care facilities.

“Claims currently gaining prominence within various social media communities are deliberate disinformation based on a theme that has spread globally, been localised for effect, and results in significant and unwarranted concern among residents.”

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has described claims the ADF was forcibly vaccinating Indigenous residents as “ridiculous rumours” and “insane crap”.

In a subsequent video, Mr Cole admitted he had received no confirmation that either the police or the army were forcibly injecting anyone in Indigenous communities.

A NT Health spokesman also labelled the claims about forced vaccinations as false, noting that all COVID-19 vaccine recipients in the territory must provide consent. The same process applies throughout Australia, where patients must provide either verbal or written consent as part of the vaccination process.

One video circulating on social media was said to show an “Aboriginal elder” being seized off the street by police for “forced vaccination”, but in fact it depicts a woman being arrested during a protest at Djaki Kundu, which has been claimed as a sacred site.

Multiple NT Aboriginal leaders have also denied the claims about forced vaccination in their communities.

John Patterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory, described the claims as “palpably false and malicious”.

“There is no evidence that the Australian Defence Forces have behaved in the manner alleged,” Mr Patterson told AAP FactCheck in an emailed statement.

“Their role has been, unarmed, the distribution of food to Aboriginal people in quarantine, and supplying transport. These allegations are being made, in any case, without any audio, audiovisual or print evidence.

“The particular video shown is based on conspiracy theories and hearsay, and is insulting to the traditional owners and residents of the communities concerned, and damaging to efforts to achieve vaccination levels that can ensure the health of Aboriginal people.”

Similar claims have also been debunked here.

The Verdict

There is no credible evidence that the military is forcibly vaccinating Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. The claims have been widely rejected by the Australian Defence Force, the government, Aboriginal health services and leaders of local Indigenous communities.

False The claim is inaccurate.

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