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Mayor's Column - Longreach Leader 30 July 2021

Published: 2nd August 2021

This column first appeared in the Longreach Leader on Friday 30 July 2021.

We have much to be grateful for in our community, and as I sit down to write this fortnight’s column I have much to be grateful for as your Mayor. The events of last weekend serve to highlight the resilience of our communities and the important work of the Central West Hospital and Health Service. I think our community can be proud of its response; with so many of our residents and visitors doing the right thing and coming forward for testing.

I have the honour of chairing the Local Disaster Management Group. Only a couple of weeks ago we coordinated an exercise that turned out to become a practice run for our response. We worked with all the agencies to work out how, if called on to do so, we could set up a drive-through testing facility at the showgrounds. So when the call came, we were able to whip into action quickly and everyone involved knew what had to be done. 

I’d like to thank everyone who came forward to be tested – within 24 hours we had tested over 90% of close contacts. At no time did Queensland Health deem it necessary to impose any restrictions on our community. The only advice was that close contacts and people with symptoms come forward for testing, and that’s what happened.

Our whole emergency services community are prepared for any situation, under the expert guidance of Queensland Health as the lead agency. We at Council play a supporting role through the Local Disaster Management Group, and I’m very proud of the leadership our team have shown throughout the Covid response under Local Disaster Coordinator Mitchell Murphy. But most importantly, on behalf of the community, I’m grateful to Jane Hancock and the entire Central West Hospital and Health Service for their extremely professional and rapid response. What the community don’t see is the work they continue to do every day, behind the scenes, to keep us safe and prepared. We are so lucky to have them.

A big thank you also goes out to all the SES volunteers and emergency services who helped on the day; and everyone at PJ Rayners who assisted with traffic control. I also want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the Council staff that played a role in the response, with particular mention to Craig Neuendorf, Brendon Harvey, Kristen Grant, Holly Blyth, Corinne Ballard, and Guy Goodman.

The testing regime didn’t stop several big events from taking place over the weekend – and that’s a good thing. The final round of the Outback Queensland Masters was a big success, even though the million-dollar-hole-in-one didn’t go off. There was one punter who came close, I’m told. We also had the rodeo at the showgrounds – thank you to the organisers for working with us over the weekend – plus the Isisford Fishing Competition, and a veterinarian’s conference at the Longreach Civic Centre. Another busy weekend in the life of our region.

As I look back on it all, the events of the weekend highlight the importance of using the Check In Qld app everywhere you can, and making sure our communities are vaccinated. We’ve done very well to date – with uptake of about sixty percent or so – but we can do better. If you’ve not yet received a vaccine, email cw-covax@health.qld.gov.au or call 1800 953 703 for more information about getting yours. You can also follow Central West Hospital and Health Service on social media to stay up to date with local developments.

Until next time, you can find email and direct phone numbers and email addresses for me and each of my fellow Councillors on our website at longreach.qld.gov.au/elected-members. If you want to know anything at all, reach out to one of us - or contact Council directly on (07) 4658 4111 (24hrs), or email assist@longreach.qld.gov.au.

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