Community comes together to discuss impacts of COVID-19

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On 25 June, Council held an online community meeting to better understand how the community has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 140 people registered to attend the online meeting, including individual community members, community groups and Council representatives.

Council’s Community Planning Portfolio Councillor Sandice McAulay said it was fantastic to hear from so many community members from all across our Shire, with people tuning in from Alexandra, Kinglake, Narbethong, Pheasant Creek, Highlands, Yea, Yarck, Marysville, Flowerdale, Acheron, Buxton, Eildon and Taggerty.

‘During the meeting we heard directly from individuals and community groups about the challenges they are facing during the pandemic. It’s understandable that a lot of people feel isolated and quite uncertain about what the future might hold. However, it was heart-warming to see that many people have been able to form closer connections with family, friends and neighbours during this difficult time. Many people also reflected that they’ve enjoyed a slower pace of life and for some, achieving a better work life balance has allowed for more time at home and in the garden.

‘During the online discussion, it was evident that community groups within our Shire have experienced financial hardship and are feeling disconnected with not being able to meet in person. However, one thing that stands out to me is the resilience of some of these groups. Not only have they come up with new ideas to keep members connected and engaged, they are actively planning for what they can do together in the future, as restrictions continue to ease.

‘While Victoria is still seeing a number of new cases each day, we need to continue to observe the restrictions in place. However, as restrictions ease, it’s important we understand what is going to meet community needs in both the short term and long term. For Council’s part, we will be working with health and community service providers to develop a ‘COVID-19 Transition Plan’. The Plan will include strategies and actions addressing the key themes that came out of the online discussion, including social isolation, mental health support and support for groups and clubs. We are working to develop the Plan over the coming months and our aim is to start implementing it from September 2020.

‘We want the Plan to deliver tangible outcomes for the community. That’s why the actions identified in the Plan will be incorporated within Council’s Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Year 4 implementation plan. This means the ideas put forward by the community will be backed by the appropriate resources and timeframes for delivery.

‘Finally, I’d just like to thank everyone who attended the online discussion. We appreciate the time taken to provide us with your thoughts, concerns and ideas. I’d like to express how proud I am of the community we live in. The sense of community in our Shire is something that each and every one of us should be very proud of’, added Cr McAulay.

If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like to find out what was discussed, you can view a recording of the meeting here. If you would like to express your thoughts and ideas, give us a call on 5772 0333.

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