Brimbank announces Whole-of-Council COVID-19 Response & Recovery Strategy

Brimbank Council is implementing a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response and Recovery Strategy to help address the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Brimbank and limit impacts on community, businesses, and cultural and sporting groups across the municipality.

Brimbank Mayor, Cr Georgina Papafotiou said the COVID 19 pandemic is one of the most serious issues today, and the health and safety of our residents and staff continues to remain Council’s top priority.

‘Brimbank’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Strategy considers the important role we can play to assist our local businesses and residents not just now, but as we recover and rebuild.

‘This is a genuine whole-of-council Strategy focused on our community. It will help ensure all resources, programs and initiatives across Council can assist in the response and recovery.

‘This strategy includes a range of current and future initiatives, and most importantly, it gives Council the agility to adapt and grow our response depending on how the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold.

‘Besides health impacts, we know the pandemic is also causing significant hardship for many. Our strategy therefore also identifies key ways Council can reduce the financial pressure on affected ratepayers, businesses, community organisations and sporting clubs.  This includes measures like rates payment plans, and more.

‘Council will  regularly monitor its actions and report back, to keep our community informed and enable them to participate in emerging opportunities,’ Cr Papafotiou said.

The Strategy includes five key Response Pillars:

  • Health and Wellbeing Response
  • Community Support Response (Financial Hardship and Resource Support)
  • Economic Development and Business Support Response
  • Economic Support Response
  • Communications, Engagement and Advocacy Response

The first stage of the Strategy focuses on short term relief and direct support measures, while Stage 2 focuses on recovery and rebuilding.

Key initiatives across Stage 1 and 2 include:

  • Expanding Council’s Aged, Home Care, Community Register and Meals on Wheels Programs- including 1,500 additional meals over this initial response phase.
  • A new COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy, to assist local businesses, residents and ratepayers
  • A Brimbank COVID-19 Rate, Charges and Fee Review
  • A Workforce Redeployment Strategy to support areas of increasing demand
  • New innovative maternal health, youth and learning services
  • Developing a support package for local sporting clubs
  • A revised ‘Brimbank Community Recovery’ Grant Program
  • Establishing a Brimbank COVID-19 Business Response and Recovery Taskforce
  • A Brimbank Business ‘Micro-Grants’ Program
  • Developing a ‘Local Jobs for Local People’ Program
  • Developing Social Wellbeing and Connection Resources for local service providers, council staff and residents
  • Developing an economic support response that considers Council’s Capital Works Program, and Federal-State Government opportunities through the Transforming Brimbank Agenda.
  • New ‘Brimbank Proud’ campaigns to support both the local community and businesses

Council will continue to assess its Coronavirus Response & Recovery Strategy on an ongoing basis, as updated public health and wellbeing advice is released by Federal and State authorities, and economic circumstances change.

Council has written to the Federal and State governments calling for Brimbank Coronavirus strategies to be fully integrated with their own, including through an integrated ‘health and wellbeing partnership’ between local community health providers, networks and broader hospital and social service network.

Council is also encouraging government investment in shovel ready projects, such as the Melbourne Airport Rail (MAR), St Albans Health and Wellbeing Hub, and the Home of the Matildas at Sydenham Park,  to support and stimulate the local economy as part of the recovery phase.

 

Additional Information

Key pillars of Brimbank Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response and Recovery Strategy:

  • Health and Wellbeing Response
  • Community Support Response (Financial Hardship and Resources)
  • Economic Development Response
  • Economic Support Response
  • Communications, Advocacy and Engagement Response

Stage 1 of the Strategy - Direct Support

Stage 1 actions relate directly to providing a targeted response to the immediate needs, as they emerge, of the community, business and cultural and sporting groups.

Key Stage 1 actions to date

Health and Wellbeing Response
  • Closure of Council facilities including Brimbank Community and Civic Centre, Leisure Centres, Libraries, Neighbourhood Houses, and deferral of events
  • Promoting and encouraging social distancing measures
  • Increased resources to support more vulnerable people in the community through Council’s Home Care Programs, Meals on Wheels Program and Brimbank Community Register
  • An additional 1,500 meals to be provided to local vulnerable residents over this initial period, with redeployed staff to assist in deliveries
  • Developing a Social Wellbeing and Connection Response
  • Engaging with partners, including State Government, Western Health, Red Cross, Victoria Police and others to ensure Council’s services are appropriately targeted and supported.
  • Providing maternal and child health services by phone with families, continuing face to face with more vulnerable residents
  • Maintaining immunisation services
  • Library and Education Teams developing increased online and learning materials
  • Increased mobile library services, particularly to assist older residents
  • Providing variations to current Community Grant Recipients to postpone their programs or events up to June 2021
  • Developing a Support Package for local sporting clubs, including review of ground licence and lease fees, and resources to keep clubs and players active
  • New online health activities for the whole community to keep fit and active
  • Developing new online content for the Arts and Creative Industries
  • Continuing Youth Services counselling via phone and increasing online resources and support for young people
  • Developing new online tips for people to be more sustainable and energy efficient while spending more time at home
  • Continuing to deliver essential local services including waste and recycling collection services, street cleansing services and road maintenance
  • Ongoing cleaning of community and Council facilities.
Community Support Response (Financial Hardship and Resources)
  • Development of a new COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy, in light of current circumstances to assist local businesses, residents and ratepayers
  • Reviewing Council Business fees and charges
  • Deferring animal registration payments
  • Regularly considering how Council’s services and resources can be re-aligned and redeployed to support the immediate issues our community is experiencing and engaging Council about.
Economic Development and Business Support Response
  • Environmental Health staff working directly with relevant business to assist to takeaway / alternate service models
  • Undertaking a COVID-19 Business Assistance Survey (to help inform Council’s ongoing response)
  • Direct personal contact with Brimbank businesses to understand effects and tailor assistance
  • Existing Business Engagement resources and programs, including ‘i-Harvest’ and ‘Cul-ti-vate’, moving to be delivered online
  • Business Development Webinar Program, to assist in website development, online business development, tax essentials, marketing, influencing and entrepreneurship
  • Specific online COVID-19 Brimbank Business Support and Assistance Resources, including information on Federal and State Government Support packages and regular Brimbank Business e-Bulletins.
Economic Support Response
  • Council continuing with projects already underway under the Capital Works Program, and plan for future works, subject to any further potential Federal and State Government social distancing restrictions that may impact the construction sector
  • Engaging with the Federal and State Government around a local economic support response as part of recovery efforts, to include the North-West City Deal, Melbourne Airport Rail, St Albans Health and Wellbeing Hub, and Home of the Matildas.
Communications, Engagement and Advocacy Response
  • Refreshed COVID-19 Community information, resources and materials
  • Engagement with Brimbank based community services to understand and align local service changes and trends on community demand for support, including health, wellbeing and social services
  • Conducting the local community leadership program via ZOOM
  • Realigning future Community Grants to a ‘Brimbank Recovery’ Grant Program
  • Engaging with Federal and State Government around an integrated health, wellbeing, economic and stimulus approaches h to COVID-19
  • Supporting the Municipal Association of Victoria’s advocacy for the State Government to defer Council budgets, and for Councils to hold meetings through innovative means.

Stage 2 of the Strategy - Recovery and Rebuilding

A key focus of Stage 2 is supporting local businesses and community to recover.

Snapshot of planned activities

Ongoing strategy to support businesses
  • Brimbank COVID-19 Business Response and Recovery Taskforce, to develop an ongoing strategy to support businesses
  • Brimbank Business Support Hot-Line for affected businesses
  • Brimbank Localised social network and Business Mentoring for local businesses
  • Recasting the Community Grants program, to support residents, community groups and businesses responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Brimbank Business Micro grants, to enable home working, online payments, training and support to foster local businesses
  • Developing new campaigns to support local businesses during this period.
  • Streamlining business permit processes
  • Brimbank Local Program; activation of vacant shops in local precincts.
  • Streamlining planning approvals that stimulate the economy and provide employment opportunities
  • Brimbank Local Jobs for Local People Program
  • A focus on Programs to be tailored to community need delivered via neighbourhood houses/libraries and community centres and could include assistance with applying for employment, skill development, mental health and wellbeing, reconnecting with community.

Many of the actions will be developed in partnership with affected businesses and community.