An Ordinary Meeting of the Bega Valley Shire Council will be held at Council Chambers, Biamanga Room Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre
6.2 COVID-19 Update............................................................................................................................. 4
12.8 Bushfire Inquiry and Royal Commission - Proposed Submissions......................................... 10
18 March 2020
6.2 COVID-19 Update.................................................................................................. 4
Council 18 March 2020
Cr McBain, Mayor
That Council staff provide a report to update Council on the Business Continuity Plan for pandemic and the associated Health and Safety Pandemic and related Council and local government matters to the meeting on 8 April 2020.
Over this week the Federal and NSW Governments have stepped up their preventative measures in relation to the spread of COVID-19.
This is different to our recent bushfire experience where the smoke and flames made the need to respond and act more obvious.
All of us are asked to take personal responsibility for social distancing, meaning keeping a distance of 1.5m between people where possible, avoiding shaking hands, hugging or kissing others, and avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces and crowds where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others.
To protect our vulnerable community members, NSW Health is also advising of reduced visitor numbers to residential aged care facilities and hospitals and ask that we avoid visiting those with lower or compromised immune systems.
The Australian Government has advised that non-essential gatherings over 500 people be postponed, and that non-essential meetings of critical work forces such as health care professionals and emergency services be limited.
Bega Valley Shire Council has taken steps internally and at the community sites we manage following the advice of NSW Health.
In simple terms promotion of and reminders about the importance of hand washing, increased cleaning and disinfection of high traffic and high touch areas and planning for work from home or sick leave arrangements has been our approach across council offices and depots, libraries and child care centres.
Council has also activated Level 1 of its Business Continuity Plan (BCP), designed to prepare and respond to an event such as this.
To support the health, safety and wellness of our people and allow for services to continue in a positive and supportive manner, staff have also developed a Health and Safety Pandemic Control Strategy focused on the safety of our staff and workplaces.
Staff are also working with the Canberra Region Joint Organisation, the Office of Local Government, NSW Health and LGNSW to ensure consistent messaging key items such as:
· Council meeting provisions for attendance via online options to ensure decision making remain with Councillors and important matters continue to be progressed for example adoption of budgets, rates and charges etc
· planning for Level 3 measures to ensure we have clear guidelines and information available should we need to go to this level; and
· establishment of the Continuity Crisis Management team of key staff to oversee the business continuity.
Currently, Australia does not have widespread community transmission of COVID-19. However, to slow the spread, the Australian Government has advised, effective Monday 16 March, organised, non-essential gatherings should be limited to 500 people. Several local events have been cancelled including ANZAC Day gatherings and Harmony Day.
Regular updates on events will be made available via Council media.
Non-essential meetings or conferences of critical workforces, such as health care professionals and emergency services, should also be limited. This advice does not yet include workplaces, schools, universities, shops, supermarkets, public transport and airports.
However, I would like all Departments to seriously review any travel being conducted outside of the South Coast, especially any travel required by aircraft or public transport. These measures are likely to change in coming weeks, so Departments should be reducing their planned travel needs now.
Protecting the vulnerable including our disaster impacted communities:
To protect vulnerable Australians, the Government has also advised reducing visitors to all residential aged care facilities, hospitals and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In addition, NSW Health are recommending that people reduce contact with people who have a reduced level of immunity such as those who may have existing immune disorders, those undertaking medical treatments, infants and the elderly.
As our Council programs include services to vulnerable and at-risk groups each team has been advised to review their controls in line with the Health and Safety Pandemic Control Strategy and to commence planning for increased measures in the coming weeks.
Of note is the need to continue to support our many bushfire and flood impacted community members and businesses. We have noted that the COVID-19 virus, like many other viruses, is more likely to impact those under stress and facing other difficult circumstances. This applies to the many in our community impacted. Staff are looking at how best to be able to continue to work to support he many people impacted in a way that meets the needs of each group.
Your actions are now important:
What you do is now more important than ever to slowing the spread of not only COVID-19 but also seasonal viruses.
For the health of your colleagues and the community you now need to undertake the following:
· DO NOT shake hands.
· Where possible maintain spacing of 1.5 metres.
· Undertake cough and sneeze etiquette (Into your elbow or use a tissue)
· DO NOT come to work or visit friends or family if you have COVID-19 Symptoms – Seek medical assessment
· DO NOT come to work or visit friends or family if you have been near someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 – Seek medical assessment
· Defer large meetings or gatherings (discuss with your Director)
· Use videoconferencing where possible for team meetings
· Arrange hand sanitiser to be in place at the public reception/entry points to your workplaces
· Wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water (see attached poster for when to wash)
· Use natural ventilation (open windows and doors) and where possible hold meetings outdoors.
· Disinfect your desk phone, keyboards and “high touch” surfaces in your work area regularly.
· DO NOT share food, do not bring in food to share or redistribute left over catering from meetings.
· Ensure the attached workplace posters are displayed in high risk areas (bathrooms, kitchens, high touch areas)
What to do if you develop symptoms:
· If you become ill with any of the following symptoms DO NOT attend work:
a. Shortness of breath
c. Sore throat
e. Prolonged headache or fatigue
· Immediately inform your supervisor and seek medical assessment.
· Remain at home until medically cleared
· If cleared of COVID-19 but you have another virus or cold remain at home till symptoms cease.
· If confirmed as COVID-19 inform your supervisor immediately and remain at home for 14 days.
It’s important not to be complacent but to be informed - but not alarmed about COVID-19. Please encourage colleagues, friends and family to access the following official sources of information:
Australian Government Department of Health:
COVID-19 Hotline: 1800 022 222
Let’s continue to work to put our health and safety first so we can support our communities in confidence.
18 March 2020
12.8 Bushfire Inquiry and Royal Commission - Proposed Submissions...................... 10
Council 18 March 2020
The proposed submissions to the Royal Commissions into the Black Summer Bushfires and the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, as referred to in Item 12.6 Bushfire Inquiry and Royal Commission of the Ordinary Council Meeting Agenda of 18 March 2020 are provided as a supplementary attachment.
1⇩. Bushfire Inquiry and Royal Commission - Submission