I understand that this is a deeply stressful time for Mornington Peninsula residents and the whole nation both in terms of our health and also our livelihoods. Australia and the Peninsula have not been immune to the economic and societal effects of COVID-19, but we as a community and as a nation are working together like never before.
Our national aim over the next few months is simple: suppress the disease, increase our testing and tracing response and capabilities, and carefully ease restrictions.
Here on the Peninsula, businesses are adapting and changing to help our community. GP clinics and pathology labs in Balnarring, Crib Point, Flinders, Hastings, Mount Martha, Mornington, Red Hill, Rosebud and Sorrento are testing for COVID-19; Chief’s Son Distillery in Somerville and JimmyRum Distillery in Dromana are now producing hand sanitiser which is available for public purchase; restaurants have moved to takeaway-only menus; and so many others are responding to such difficult circumstances.
The Mornington Peninsula Shire is also providing free care packages for our most vulnerable, disadvantaged and isolated community members on the Peninsula. I commend the leadership of Mayor Sam Hearn and CEO John Baker in this effort. To register to receive a care package from Mornington Peninsula Shire, please phone 1300 850 600.
However, we know not all businesses have the ability to rapidly adapt and that, sadly, many have lost their jobs. The Australian Government has worked tirelessly to ensure Australian businesses and employees are supported through these almost unprecedented times.
The Australian Government’s JobKeeper package will help workers stay connected to their place of employment, as well as supporting businesses affected by the significant economic impact of the disease. Around six million workers will receive a fortnightly payment of $1500 through their employer. The payment ensures eligible employers remain connected to their workforce and will help businesses restart quickly when the crisis is over, and I urge all Mornington Peninsula businesses to visit www.ATO.gov.au to check their eligibility.
To provide additional support to those who find themselves unemployed or have had their income reduced as a result of the disease, the Australian Government has expanded the eligibility criteria of the JobSeeker payment. Funding under this program has also been expanded, adding an additional $550 Coronavirus Supplement from April 27, meaning recipients will be eligible to claim up to $1100 a fortnight. Further information can be found at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au
On the whole, the actions of residents on the Peninsula in terms of social distancing have been exemplary. In addition, those who have returned from overseas or who have received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, as well as those living in the same premises, must self-isolate for 14 days.
In the health space, from our doctors to our nurses, our disability workers to our pathologists, our pharmacists to our paramedics, our medical workforces are working harder than ever to ensure the safety of all Australians.
Australia continues to invest heavily in the medical sector to combat the disease, including recent announcements that in order to provide continued access to essential primary health services during the pandemic, the Australian Government is expanding Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians and providing extra incentives to general practitioners and other health practitioners.
Whole-of-population telehealth will allow people to access essential health services in their home and will support self-isolation and quarantine policies to reduce the risk of exposure to and the spread of COVID-19. It will also help vulnerable doctors continue to deliver services to their patients.
My office and I are here to assist those in our community with COVID-19 questions and any other issues we are facing. If you need assistance with any of the above or would like more information, you can contact my office on 5977 9082 or email me directly at email@example.com
If you have any immediate concerns, you can also call the COVID-19 national helpline on 1800 020 080 or visit www.australia.gov.au
There is more to go and there is more to be done, but together we are making our way through this.
GREG HUNT – Federal Member for Flinders, Minister for Health, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet