The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in the most significant global public health and economic challenge we have faced in over a century. It has fast become the most serious and pressing public health, social and economic issue facing our local community. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, with the Victorian State Government declaring a State of Emergency on the 14 March 2020. Brimbank City Council adopted the Brimbank Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response and Recovery Strategy in April 2020 in response to these unprecedented developments. This whole-of council approach helped combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across Brimbank and the broader community. The implementation of this strategy focused on the following pillars:
- Health and Wellbeing Response
- Community Response Business Support and Assistance Response
- Economic Support Response
- Community Engagement and advocacy response.
Almost a year on we have seen substantial health, economic and social impacts on our municipality, as well as innovation, adaptation and collaboration. Strict and changing restrictions aimed at alleviating the spread of COVID-19 have disrupted Brimbank businesses and communities but also highlighted the resilience and strength within our diverse municipality. In developing this Strategy, Council accessed information from many sources. A continuous process of consultation adopted multiple methods of engagement with residents, partner organisations, the state government and the business sector, seeking advice to assist Council in understanding community and business recovery needs and the Community Impact Analysis (CIA February 2021) examined the effect of COVID-19 on the Brimbank community, considering disruptions over a period of 12 months, from March 2020, with attention to the latest developments up to the end of February 2021.
The Stage 2 Brimbank Response and Recovery Strategy outlines how Council can assist our local businesses, residents and visitors to overcome obstacles and build on strengths as we continue to recover, rebuild and adjust to a “COVID normal’ through five revised pillars.
This is a whole-of-council Strategy that is designed to ensure that Council resources, programs, and initiatives continue to assist in responding to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It works to mobilise the pride, diversity and support that exist in Brimbank to strengthen community recovery.
1. Prioritising Health and Wellbeing
The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis. Our recovery must prioritise assisting people with immediate health and safety needs and building our individual resilience. We will focus immediate efforts in making sure Brimbank is safe to live, work and visit by overcoming barriers to health and wellbeing and increasing protective factors that support our community to thrive.
2. Building Economic Resilience
The intermittent implementation of restrictions in Melbourne to help mitigate community transmission of the COVID-19 have came with substantial costs, with economic activity and jobs taking a big hit. Our continuing focus will be on supporting our business community to recover and prioritising localised employment initiatives.
3. Supporting Community Resilience and Equity
The pandemic has further disproportionally affected vulnerable groups in our municipality. While we start to see increased participation and resumption in activities that had been limited through the lockdown period we will continue to monitor and focus efforts on ensuring that services and infrastructure continue to be inclusive, accessible and affordable and that our advocacy efforts work to improve health, wellbeing and prosperity.
4. Activating Public Space
COVID-19 disruptions forced residents to live locally, resulting in increased utilisation and appreciation of Council facilities. Brimbank’s natural environment and public spaces were identified as places that became a beacon of hope and connection in a time of change. We will focus our immediate efforts on increasing opportunities for individuals, groups and families to socialise, exercise and recreate in our public space network.
5. Monitoring, Measuring and Reviewing both the COVID Situation and Impact on Community
As we begin the hard work of recovery, we will need to be flexible and responsive in our approach as we learn and actively prioritise our resources to maximise our impact. We will focus our immediate efforts on monitoring, measuring and reviewing our approaches to adapt to both the challenges of the pandemic and impact on the Brimbank community.