Southern Peninsula News 4 August 2020

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Six-month reprieve for Centrelink Stephen Taylor MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has welcomed the six-month extension given to the operation of the Mornington Centrelink office, but wants the arrangement to be permanent. The mayor Cr Sam Hearn said news the Centrelink/Medicare service centre in Main Street would remain open until March next year would “come as a relief to the many local residents who use the service”. “This is a crucial support for our community and to close it in the middle of a pandemic would have been disastrous,” Cr Hearn said.

“Having that extra six months will ease concerns about the inadequacy of the new agency service that has been set up to replace the centre.” Dunkley Labor MP Peta Murphy said the federal government’s decision to close the Mornington Centrelink office run by 16 staff and replace it with a single desk staffed for 15 hours a week at the Mornington Post Office was “ludicrous”. “Before the recession and pandemic, over 800 people visited Mornington services centre every week,” she said. “The fight to protect Mornington Centrelink and Medicare is far from over. Together we will support each other to get through the current cri-

sis and then refocus to ensure that this community gets the service it deserves.” Flinders MP Greg Hunt said he was pleased that Services Australia was keeping the service centre open “to support locals through COVID-19”. “Many Australians are doing it tough right now, and locals on the Mornington Peninsula are no different,” Mr Hunt said. “I know that so many families are deeply distressed by the return to stage three restrictions and for those that need assistance, the service centre will be there to support them through this pandemic.” Cr Hearn said the peninsula had suffered one of the heaviest hits to

employment in the state due to the coronavirus pandemic, with close to 6000 job losses, a 21 per cent fall in gross regional product (compared with 6.9 per cent for Australia) and an 11 per cent drop in employment opportunities. “We fear the economic and social impacts of this period will go well beyond March,” he said. “We will continue to advocate for Services Australia to permanently reinstate the Mornington Centrelink office.” The Frankston, Rosebud and Hastings service centres remain open. The Mornington service centre is open 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday.

WITH job losses predicted to continue during the spiralling coronavirus pandemic, demands on Mornington Centrelink are only expected to increase. The latest restrictions on travel would also make it difficult to access Centrelink offices at Rosebud, Hastings or Frankston.

Peninsula ‘winning’ against COVID-19 Keith Platt THE 89 cases (17 active) of COVID-19 now recorded in the municipality by Monday (3 August), came three days after Mornington Peninsula Shire issued a statement that the peninsula was “winning the battle” against the coronavirus. “Now that we’re at the half-way point of the current six-week lockdown, we can see how the responsible actions of local residents are paying off,” the mayor Cr Sam Hearn said. The statement was made two days before the state government declared a state of disaster and stage four restrictions for six weeks from 6pm Sunday (2 August), including an 8pm-5am curfew. The new restrictions, scheduled to end Sunday 13 September, include exercising (one hour a day) and shopping (one person a household) only within five kilometres of where you live, if practicable. The Premier Daniel Andrews said Sunday was “by far the hardest day – and the hardest decision” he had experienced during his six years leading the state. He said the latest actions being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 would be “imperfect … [with] more questions than answers”, but asked Victorians to “please be calm, please be kind, please be patient”. Cases of COVID-19 cases released by the Department of Health and Human Services linked to postcodes, show Mornington, with 12 confirmed (3 active) as the highest on the peninsula, followed by Mount Martha 10 (2 active) and Mount Eliza 9 (2 active).

Other postcodes that have had COVID-19 cases on the peninsula are: Sorrento 7 (1 active); Flinders 7 (0 active); Portsea 5 (0 active); Boneo, Cape Schanck, Fingal, Rosebud 5 (0 active); Rosebud West 3 (2 active); Pearcedale, Somerville 5 (0 active); Blairgowrie 4 (0 active); Somers 4 (0 active); Arthurs Seat, Dromana, Safety Beach 3 (1 active); HMAS Cerberus 3 (1 active); Crib Point 2 (2 active); Bittern 2 (0 active); Baxter, Langwarrin South 2 (0 active); Moorooduc 2 (0 active); Main Ridge 1 (1 active); Hastings, Tuerong 1 (0 active); Tyabb 1 (0 active); Rye, St Andrews, Tootgarook 1 (0 active). Postcodes without any recorded cases cover: Balnarring, Balnarring Beach, Merricks North, Merricks Beach; Red Hill, Red Hill South; Merricks, Point Leo, Shoreham and McCrae. The reported cases indicate the area of residence, not where people were infected. Cr Hearn said the peninsula had fewer cases than several other non-metropolitan municipalities “and has not seen the spike in cases we’re seeing in the metropolitan region and Geelong”. He urged residents to continue to look after each other and support “local businesses who are having an incredibly tough time under the current restrictions”. “The shire has led the way by providing rent relief to all of our commercial tenants for at least six months. I would really encourage other local landlords to look at what they can do to support our local business community. Having businesses fail due to a temporary inability to pay rent benefits no-one,” Cr Hearn said. “These are tough times and it’s only natural to feel a sense of despondency, but the reality is we are doing really well and I hope the community can take heart from that.”

Stirring for happiness A GROUP of Somers residents is proving an early adaptor of a movement that started in England to improve mental health by making people happy. The recipe for Spoonville has its beginnings in the village of Winnersh and sees brightly painted wooden cooking spoons being planted in an accessible place. Some of the spoons are painted with the likenesses of cartoon characters, monsters, animals, politicians, celebrities and



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5 August 2020


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