Health | March 31, 2020

Kealy: Use local workers to expand emergency care packs

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy MP has called on the Andrews Labor Government to prioritise local people in the making of emergency care packs to help those isolating during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ms Kealy said there was a great opportunity for the government to help keep local people employed, while ensuring some of the most vulnerable members of the community were supported.

She has also called for the government to widen the eligibility criteria for the packs, which are currently only being distributed to people who are in mandatory self-isolation and who have no one else to help them.

“I am concerned that with the new advice from the government that people over the age of 70 should not to leave home, there are people across our community who will now need a greater level of assistance,” she said.

“There are many people who require support who are not registered to receive home and community care services.

“There is an opportunity for the state government to subcontract local cafes and restaurants that have been forced to close to make meals for people.

“If this work could be done locally, more pubs, restaurants and cafes would be able to keep staff employed during this very difficult time.”

Ms Kealy said the expansion of services could be funded through the $500-million Working for Victorians fund, which aims to match displaced workers with opportunities to be employed in managing the coronavirus pandemic and supporting the community.

“Currently, Foodbank is making all of the packs and distributing them from a central point in Melbourne. However because supermarkets have been struggling to keep up with demand, Foodbank has been unable to source enough food to supply their regular network of charities, putting additional pressure on vulnerable people,” she said.

“There is a perfect opportunity here to help our cafes and restaurants, while also helping residents in our community who require extra support.

“There obviously needs to be oversight and co-ordination, but our own community networks tend to work far better than centralised government control from an office in Melbourne.”

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