Brimbank Mayor Georgina Papafotiou has written to the State Government requesting it consider establishing a joint State Government and Brimbank Council COVID-19 Taskforce to oversee the local health, wellbeing and economic responses to COVID-19 in the light of increased concerns within Victoria about the impact of increasing coronavirus infection rates.
Mayor Papafotiou has written to the Premier, Minister for Health, Chief Health Officer and the Treasurer, requesting urgent strategic briefings from Government on the ongoing and emerging health impacts, risks, measures and considerations of COVID-19 in Brimbank and in consideration of the economic impact of further possible restrictions on local businesses, workers and community cohorts.
‘I acknowledge the work of the State Government and the Department of Health of Human Services (DHHS), for the leadership that has been shown to help our community through the COVID-19 Pandemic.
‘Any outbreak of COVID-19 in a community is a concern, and Council’s number one priority has continued to remain the health, wellbeing and safety of our residents, while ensuring those impacted economically and financially are also supported through Council’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Strategy, and Council’s advocacy to the Federal and State Government for a local ‘Health, Wellbeing and Economic Partnership’.
‘Through our own Whole-of-Council COVID-19 Response and Recovery Strategy, and in line with State Government advice, Brimbank has been working to support our community through the health, wellbeing, social and economic impacts during this period. However the Brimbank community already experiences a range of socio-economic issues, and is particularly vulnerable to a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic,’ she said.
Mayor Papafotiou said Brimbank’s high levels of socio-economic disadvantage, levels of unemployment, youth unemployment, workforce casualisation, educational outcomes, high diabetes and obesity rates, mental health rates, elderly community, and our high number of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities mean that Brimbank is particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brimbank’s business community is also particularly vulnerable to a prolonged pandemic. Over 33 per cent of local businesses who are associated with the transport, logistic, warehouse, tourism, accommodation, retail, food services, arts and recreational sectors; have been heavily impacted by social distancing restrictions, and the impact on Melbourne Airport operations, which borders Brimbank and plays a major role in supporting local economic, business and employment activity. Brimbank’s local employment impacts (which include JobKeeper) is forecast to fall by an estimated 14.5 per cent in the June quarter, or impact 12,682 local jobs.
Council is encouraging the State Government to adopt a targeted, meaningful and supportive approach, in partnership with Council, to help our community through this period. In considering possible further restrictions for Brimbank, Council is asking the State Government to take into account Council’s advice and complement any increase with an appropriate health, wellbeing and economic support package.
Mayor Papafotiou said Council was keen to build off existing working groups, engagement and relationships with the State Government in establishing a new joint taskforce that could work towards and oversee:
- A strengthened local health, safety and wellbeing response including increased testing of residents across the community more often and more regularly.
- A dedicated State Government COVID-19 Health, Wellbeing and Economic Package for Brimbank LGA, that supports our local economy, businesses, workers and impacted residents during the pandemic and as part of recovery efforts, building on the existing relief efforts being provided to local business and workers; considering support for Council’s Transforming Brimbank 2020 Agenda priorities such as the shovel ready St Albans Health and Wellbeing Hub as a ‘COVID-19 Support and Recovery Centre for Melbourne’s West’.
- State Government support towards delivery of Council’s 2020-21 Draft Budget, and Council’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Strategy, and it’s 5 pillars including the Health and Well-being Response, Community Support Response (Financial Hardship and Resources), Economic Development and Business Response, Community Support Response (Capital Works and Stimulus), and Communications, Advocacy and Engagement Response.
Mayor Papafotiou said Council considers this approach would provide both the State and Council with a genuine pathway to engage, collaborate and address both the short term and longer term local health, wellbeing and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the Brimbank community is particularly vulnerable and exposed to.