Meeting that needed to happen

Penrith City Council welcomed the invitation for Penrith Mayor, Karen McKeown OAM to meet with the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, earlier today, alongside the mayors from the other affected LGAs who are under the state’s harshest of lockdowns.

The long-awaited meeting meant our City could appeal directly to the Premier for what we need on the ground now and into the future to give us hope as we continue to manage the impacts of the current restrictions.

Penrith Mayor, Karen McKeown OAM said, “The COVID-19 pandemic that’s griping our City needs leadership that’s driven from all levels of government. Today’s meeting was a welcome change as it gave us the ability to advocate directly to one of the key decision-makers to affect real change.”

“Being left out of the decision-making process for so long has meant that we’ve been unable to explain to residents and our community why certain suburbs have been deemed areas of concern, especially Orchard Hills that’s only had one case since this second wave started.

“Suburbs need to be reviewed, not in a week or two weeks’ time, this needs to happen now. We need areas that have low or no cases to be relieved of these harsh restrictions.

“We also need a vaccination hub at the epicentre of the outbreak, St Marys. It’s great that we have a vaccination hub at Penrith and Caddens, however, the area of greatest need is still not covered, if we are serious about helping those who are suffering the most, access to a vaccine is an imperative.

“Our residents need hope, they need the assurance from the State government that their lives will look better, and more positive in the coming weeks and months.

“I asked the Premier directly to make a decision today that could bring some of this hope to our residents. I asked her to end the curfew. It’s not working, it’s causing additional stress to communities who are already doing it tough. I’m asking again, please help them see that their freedoms will return.

“A sense of frustration and anger is brewing at the local level, especially as the heat of summer was first felt over the weekend. Residents of western Sydney live in one of the hottest areas of the state, so the images of crowded beaches were insulting to those who were sweltering in their homes under strict restrictions. They want to access pools and other facilities; they want to be able to keep cool as the summer heat rises as well.

“Most importantly, access to food and other essential items needs better coordination. The fact that some people are going hungry weighs heavy on me and it should on others too. We’re doing what we can at a local level through the Council run hamper hub at North St Marys but we know there are still people missing out,” Cr McKeown said.

Council launched the Hamper Hub at North St Marys over a week ago after working closely with local community organisations to understand the immediate needs on the ground. Demand has surged since opening, with Council staff delivering food hampers directly into the car boots of those in need.

Anyone experiencing hardship can access a list of services available to them on Council’s website. Visit penrith.city/covid19

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