Free food plan as virus hits home


FREE parcels of food and personal care items are to be delivered to needy and socially isolated people across the Mornington Peninsula.

The food parcel plan is part of the rollout of emergency measures by Mornington Peninsula Shire to help lessen the spread and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the Caring for our Community program volunteers and staff left without jobs by the closing of shire services due to the coronavirus outbreak will be redeployed to deliver packages being put together with the help of health and welfare agencies, Red Cross, the Department of Health and Human Services and community leaders.

In its call to action, the shire hopes its program will “encourage our community to get through this challenge [of the coronavirus pandemic] together [and] foster the Anzac spirit”, CEO John Baker said in an email to councillors last Thursday (19 March).

The program will also aim to “counteract negative social behaviour with uplifting stories and volunteering opportunities”.

“Just to let you know we are making progress on supporting our community through this crisis,” Mr Baker said.

He and the mayor Cr Sam Hearn had “talked through” the Caring for our Community program with Flinders MP Greg Hunt, who was “very supportive”.

The email quoted Cr Hearn: “We need to be at our very best as a community in these times. We need to proactively care for our neighbours and volunteer in any way that we can to help those around us and support our local community.”

Mr Baker said “key benefits” of the program included support “for our most vulnerable residents”; creating a sense of community connectedness; reinforcing the “benefit of helping each other through these challenging times”; and encouraging others to be community minded.

Meanwhile, Cr Hugh Fraser has warned that the council cannot afford to “drag its heels” when formulating its 2020-2021 budget.

“[Council] needs to be up front with the community now and thinking about what to expect over the next financial year: what’s likely to be needed for the community, how is it going to be safely provided and by whom, how much is it going to cost and how is it to be paid for?”

Cr Fraser said it was reasonable to expect state and federal governments to slow their payment of grants and to expect rates to go follow a similar pattern, both effecting cash flows.

He said these impacts on its finances could mean that council has to borrow money to meet demand for “our home and community service delivery”.

Cr Fraser said the COVID-19 emergency could lead to a significant downturn in economic activity “over perhaps 18 months”.

Peninsula sees last of the big days out

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 24 March 2020


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