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Impact on Council Services

Current as at: 1 April 2020

Given the rapidly evolving situation we face in relation to the COVID-19 virus, Southern Grampians Shire Council has taken steps as a precautionary measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect our staff, volunteers and visitors, and play our role in the national response to limiting transmissions.

In line with Federal and State Government recommendations, we will be practising social distancing by cancelling all non-essential public gatherings for the foreseeable future. Evidence from around the world has shown that pre-emptive measures are extremely effective in containing the spread of the disease.

It is important to note that as at today (Thursday 19 March) there are no known diagnosed cases of COVID-19 within Southern Grampians Shire and we are in regular talks with Western District Health Service (WDHS) and the State and Federal Governments to keep abreast of any changes to that information.

Our key objectives:

  • Contain the impact of the disease;
  • Maintain a healthy workforce;
  • Provide strong leadership across the Southern Grampians Shire; and
  • Keep residents and business informed about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

We are encouraging residents to:

  • Remain calm;
  • Follow all state and federal government advice;
  • This is about distancing yourself, but not social isolation; and
  • Look out for each other, check on your neighbours and provide assistance where necessary

It's important to remember, this is an extremely fluid situation and events are changing daily.

To achieve these objectives, we will be making the following changes to services provided by SGSC as of 5pm Friday and for the foreseeable future:

Customer Service Centres:

Customer service centres in Brown St and Market Place, Hamilton will be staffed from 8.15am-5.00pm Monday-Friday but closed to the public. Residents are encouraged to make enquiries via phone 03 55730 444, email council@sthgrampians.vic.gov.au or via the website www.sthgrampians.vic.gov.au.

Visitor Information Centres

Visitor Information Centres located throughout the Shire will be closed.

Cultural Services

Hamilton Gallery, Hamilton Performing Arts Centre, Greater Hamilton Library (including the mobile library) and the Hamilton Cinema will be closed. All scheduled programs and events, including school holiday programs, will not proceed at this point.

Digital Services at the Greater Hamilton Library are still available to borrow through your library membership. Borrowers can access eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines and newspapers, and over 30,000 plus free movies. Storybox library is also available with online stories for children.

For all digital resources:
• Visit www.centralhighlandslibraries.org.au.
• Select "Online Information and Databases" to access the Storybox library or select "eResources" for all other options.
• Download the apps on your devices, create an account using your library card number and pin number.

Items that are currently on loan will have no due date and overdue fines will not apply during this period. The out of hours returns chute remains open for returns.

For assistance and more information, contact the Greater Hamilton Library on 5573 0470 or via email at library@sthgrampians.vic.gov.au.

Council Meetings and Engagement Sessions

The April Council Meeting, scheduled to be held in Mirranatwa, will now be held in Hamilton. While this meeting is still open to the public, it is anticipated it be live-streamed via council’s Facebook page and we would strongly encourage you to engage with the meeting in this format. All other Council organised engagement sessions and events (eg Listening Posts, community meetings, DISA 2020 Festival) will also be cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Recreational Facilities

Hamilton Indoor Leisure and Aquatic Centre (and all associated facilities and programs including Vitality Gym), and all outdoor pools throughout the Shire will be closed.

Council Operated Caravan Parks

Council operated caravan parks in Penshurst and Coleraine have been closed, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer Victoria, effective from 11.59pm Wednesday 25 March 2020.

Permanent residents and those placed in caravan parks by DHHS as emergency housing will not be impacted by these closures.

Compliance with this directive is enforceable under the section 203 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and penalties apply.

Inspections will occur to ensure that campsites, caravan parks and camping grounds are compliant. Inspections will be carried out by DELWP and Parks Victoria staff and Local Government authorised officers over the coming weeks.

Playgrounds

Playgrounds and skate parks across the shire will be closed til further notice from 26 March 2020.

Hamilton Regional Livestock Exchange

Will remain operational however access to HRLX weekly sales will be limited to buyers, stock agents, transport operators and council staff. The general public will not be able to attend, even if they are sellers at the sale.

Waste Services

No changes will be made to household waste and recycling services at this point.
Transfer stations in Hamilton and townships will be closed to the general public but remaining open to account holders and commercial operators. Anyone who is adversely affected should contact 55730444 to discuss.
If you are a commercial operator and do not currently hold an account but would like to set one up temporarily, please fill out the form here.
For more information please see our Waste Services during COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Youth and Childcare services

The L2P program will be suspended at this point. Family Day Care is to remain available until the Department of Education advises that the service should not be operated. We will advise educators and families if this status changes.
Occasional Care Services will close with the closure of HILAC as the centre will not be accessible to the general public.

Maternal and Child Health

Council will conduct the Maternal Child Health service via phone only basis. Anyone who had a scheduled appointment will be contacted by the Maternal Child Health nurses. If face-to-face appointments are required (immunisations, key age and stage appointments) 15 minute appointments will be scheduled. We ask that if you are unwell you please reschedule your appointment.
Please contact the Frances Hewitt Community Centre on 5551 8450 if you have any concerns or queries.

Senior Citizens Centre

Centres are not operated by Council, however we will be contacting each centre and advising of the social distancing guidelines and encouraging the centres to not operate during the pandemic.

Flu vaccination programs will not be provided through the senior citizens centres this year, to avoid large gathering of at risk persons in one place. When flu vaccinations are available, they can be obtained through local medical practices and pharmacies.

Regulatory Services

Market Place office will be closed to the public. Services will be by appointment only. Please contact 5573 0227.

Home and Community Care Services

Home and Community Care Services will continue to operate as per normal arrangements. Communication with clients has been conducted to advise that services will continue but will potentially be modified to ensure clients and staff are protected.

As the pandemic event impacts our community further, it is anticipated that our services in this area may be required to be extended to isolated residents who have no other means of social support

Meals on Wheels

Service continues to operate as normal, however meals will be delivered to clients by Council staff only.

Business Support during COVID-19

Click here for local business support and information during COVID-19.

Council have contingency plans in place to keep essential services running even in the event that our workforce is affected by COVID-19. Southern Grampians Shire Council plans to redeploy and re-engage staff in key duties across the organisation to accommodate the changes necessary to provide council services during the outbreak and limit the impact on service delivery. Our priority is to continue providing support to vulnerable citizens who may be most seriously affected by this.

We will also be increasing the levels of cleaning at all of our facilities to ensure any potential spread of infection is minimised as much as possible.

At an operational level, Council has implemented a number of new health and safety measures within our workforce. This includes encouragement of flexible working arrangements, such as working from home, and cancellation of any non-essential meetings.

We are providing ongoing updates on our website and social media to ensure local residents have the latest information and advice about how COVID-19 is affecting the region and what they should do.

By taking these measures, we aim to help prevent a sharp spike in the number of infections – reducing the pressure on our health system and ensuring that everyone gets access to the care they need.

We appreciate the community’s understanding regarding this situation. For up-to-date information on Councils’ response and service impacts, please stay tuned to this website.

For anyone with concerns around COVID-19, please refer to the Health and Human Services departmental website: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus which provides up to date and accurate information.

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