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Community update - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Response - April 2020

Sunset in Castlemaine

Read an update on Council's response to COVID-19 including a message from our Mayor, support and relief measures, how to support local business at this time and where to find help if you need it.

Message from our Mayor

This is a strange time for all of us. Facing a global health pandemic is something I never imagined. By now, we all know the drill. Hand washing, physical distancing, stay at home - only four reasons to go out.

It’s important to stay connected at this time. Many of us can talk with family and friends via phone, text and online, or write an old-fashioned letter. It’s been good to see our community rise to the challenges of social distancing. Neighbours checking on each other, dropping off home cooked meals, writing notes and sharing advice.

While the doors to the Civic Centre may be closed, we’re running business as usual where possible. Our Customer Service Team is taking calls and staff are responding to service requests. We’ve also set up a dedicated COVID-19 telephone number and email address so please get in touch if you have any questions about services or support you need at this time.

Staff are delivering essential services like immunisations, meals on wheels and supporting our most vulnerable clients. Bin collection, planning services and road maintenance continues. The Works Unit is grading roads after much needed rain, and you’ll see the Parks and Gardens Team out as you enjoy your daily exercise.

We know it’s been a difficult time and have announced some measures to provide some financial relief. We’ve also put a hold on our 2020/2021 budget so we can review our priorities and explore how we can best support our community and local businesses in response to COVID-19.

We’re part of a creative, innovative and connected community and the inspirational work here never ceases to amaze me. It was remarkable to see a local food pantry set up by volunteers and community organisations to provide much needed food relief for residents in need.

Thank you to everyone for doing your bit. Early results show we are making gains so let’s keep it up to save lives and flatten the curve. We’ll get through this by working together.

Cr Christine Henderson,
Mayor, Mount Alexander Shire Council

Council response to pandemic

Council has a key role to play in reducing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Mount Alexander Shire. We are committed to supporting the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as the lead agency responsible for responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have activated our regional pandemic and business continuity plans to ensure we continue to deliver services with a focus on the health of our community, staff and volunteers. We’ve set up a local working group including community and health organisations, businesses networks and emergency services to coordinate our response, relief and recovery efforts.

With a number of coronavirus cases reported in the shire, we urge everyone to continue to follow the restrictions and ‘stay home’ to give ourselves and our community the best chance of stopping the spread.

To help and connect our community at this time we have created a dedicated COVID-19 support number and email. For assistance, information or a referral to a local community organisation or service, call us on 1800 512 446 between 8.30am and 5.00pm or email us at covid19@mountalexander.vic.gov.au.

Interim relief measures

Council announced some relief measures in March to help reduce some of the financial pressures:

• One month extension on the due date for the fourth rates instalment.
• Establishment of a Council COVID-19 financial hardship policy.
• Temporary hold on following up unpaid animal registrations until 30 June.
• Payment to suppliers as quickly as possible in weekly payment schedules; and
• A reduction of commercial rents in Council-owned buildings until 30 June, for businesses significantly impacted by COVID-19.

For more information and service updates visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

You can also continue contact our Customer Service Team on 5471 1700 between 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday for general Council queries or lodge a service request via our website.

Customers can make payments online, by phone, or via BPAY at www.bpay.com.au. Please get in touch if you are unable to make a payment or are experiencing financial hardship.

Community pantry provides food aid

Local volunteers, community groups and organisations have established a community pantry to provide food relief for local residents in need. The Mount Alexander Community Pantry is a centrally coordinated food relief system. It offers prepared meals and food packages in the absence of a local foodbank.

To access meals or food packages, contact the pantry intake coordinator on 0472 537 866, email mtalexcommunitypantry@gmail.com or order online at www.cch.org.au/communitypantry.

The pantry is accepting financial donations to help fund the initiative. These are being managed by Castlemaine Community House. Get in touch with the pantry to make a donation.

Support local business and creatives

COVID-19 has changed the way we work and play. We have been working with businesses, community groups and food markets to meet new public health standards, and keep our local food supply and economy going.
We’ve been checking in on creatives, event organisers and accommodation providers who have been hit hard, and are working in partnership with our creative workforce on a collaborative, online platform to help keep us culturally connected and support e-commerce opportunities.
It’s important to celebrate the small things and find solutions that enable us to thrive, not just survive. Now more than ever we need everyone to buy local to keep every dollar in our shire. Some things you can do are:

• Think local before ordering goods online
• Source essential items from your local butcher, grocer, supermarket or farmers market
• Buy a gift voucher for future use
• Order take away from a local café, pub or restaurant
• Leave a tip, or
• Share a positive review online.

Find a list of takeaway, delivery or online shopping options at www.maldoncastlemaine.com.au. For information on business support visit www.business.gov.au or www.business.vic.gov.au.

Family violence and staying safe

Unfortunately, there is often an increased risk of family violence during and after an emergency. It is important for everyone to know that family violence is never ok, no matter what the circumstances.

If you, or someone you know are at risk or escaping family violence call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help and support or visit www.safesteps.org.au. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

Looking after your health and wellbeing

It is understandable for people to have feelings of concern at this time. Fear and anxiety about a COVID-19 can cause strong emotions in adults or children. Financial pressures may also contribute to stress. If you, or someone you know, are feeling anxious or worried support is available:

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 www.beyondblue.org.au
Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Kids Helpline 1300 551 800 www.kidshelpline.com.au
Switchboard Victoria 1800 184 527 www.qlife.org.au

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