House debates

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Constituency Statements

Bendigo Electorate: COVID-19

10:00 am

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thought it was important at the end of this week, being such a significant week for Victoria, to acknowledge some of the great work that occurred in my community during the peak of the pandemic. Bendigo was not immune. We did have a few clusters that broke out. But quick, active and committed work by many in our communities saw the clusters and the outbreaks get under control quickly.

It is no secret that this virus has, in many ways, targeted many of our recently arrived and multicultural communities. Many who work in food and meatworks have been affected. We did have small outbreaks at two of our food outlets, our manufacturers—Don KR, based in Castlemaine, and Hazeldene's. But, because of the work of our community, they were able to get on top of those clusters quickly.

I want to particularly acknowledge the work of the Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services and the work of the Eaglehawk Community House. Both organisations were contacted by the City of Greater Bendigo after calls were placed to their hotline about people who had been referred who had tested positive and were seeking support. Many of these households did not have their own extended network in Bendigo because they had recently arrived. Some of them lived in houses with multiple generations, all of whom then became infected. They needed the support of the broader Bendigo community, and Tracey and her team at Eaglehawk Community House and Rose and her team at Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services stepped up. They ensured that the houses and the people involved had food. They did the mercy runs to pick up extra supplies like medicines and materials that the households would need. They also did welfare checks and ensured that there was culturally appropriate language, making sure they understood what was going on, and that they had appropriate food. This is what our community did to make sure that we got on top of the cluster. I want to thank the individuals involved, not just the people at the community house and the multicultural service who volunteered their time to help these families, but also the families themselves. Because they isolated and they reached out and sought help when needed, the virus did not spread.

We have now been COVID free for many days in Bendigo and, in fact, in regional Victoria, and it is because of the sacrifice of families like these families that we were able to get on top of these clusters. This is the commitment that it takes. These are the people who have made it possible for the rest of us to get on with living our normal lives. Without that commitment and without that support, I doubt that we would be in the positive position that we are in today.