House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Statements by Members

Calwell Electorate: COVID-19

4:11 pm

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I want to highlight a story of resilience in response to the disruption brought about by the COVID pandemic. As we know, the JobKeeper program was not available to local government employees. During the restrictions, many local government services, including libraries, gyms and swimming pools, were closed. As a result, many casual workers found themselves without jobs. The City of Hume in my electorate runs a number of leisure centres in Broadmeadows, Craigieburn and Sunbury. Many of the staff who were stood down were women. The 'ladies of leisure', as they have dubbed themselves, are made up of life guards, swim teachers, gym instructors and customer service personnel. They got together and volunteered to be redeployed to council outdoor jobs. To the council's credit they accepted the proposal, and very soon the women were wearing high-vis vests, pushing wheel barrows and swinging shovels. They maintained their connection with each other and with their employer and provided a valuable service to the municipality. In one week the ladies of leisure planted more than 1,000 trees at the John Ilhan Reserve, and they mulched and planted trees and shrubs around the town hall of Broadmeadows. As the restrictions in Victoria are set to ease next week, the workers will, I hope, be able to return to their previous roles, but in the meantime I want to acknowledge this wonderful crew, including Kristen Cullen, Melanie Taylor, Patricia Petrakis, Jan Ellis, Kathy Portelli and Rubina Grasso. I also acknowledge the CEO of the City of Hume, Dominic Isola, and his team for thinking outside the box and finding a creative and compassionate approach to the workforce and the community.