Council staff to join state, global COVID-19 response teams

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Sunil Kushor and Ian Florence

Noosa is in good hands through the COVID-19 pandemic, with Council’s Coronavirus Taskforce staff among some of the most skilled in the world - And they’re in demand.

Ian Florence, Council’s Waste Coordinator, was this week seconded to the State Health Emergency Coordination Centre, three days a week, to support the Public Health Incident Management Team (COVID-19) in the Team Leader role.

His colleague, Sunil Kushor, Coordinator of Council’s Environmental Health team, has been advising a World Health Organization (WHO) Pacific Island Working Group on COVID-19 Pandemic Response. He has previously worked closely with Pacific Island countries on environmental health and communicable diseases.

Both are Noosa Council Local Disaster Management Group staff and both will carry out their new roles in tandem with their work at Council.

Mr Florence is part of a group heading up the compliance team responsible for ensuring new public health measures to stop the spread of the virus across Queensland are rolled out consistently and successfully.

“There are some big challenges ahead of us in Queensland, but I am pleased to have been called up and I’m looking forward to being at the coalface,” Mr Florence said.

“Early planning and preparation at Noosa Council has been vital in our response to COVID-19,” Mr Kushor added.

Both staff have significant skills in disease and pandemic management.

Mr Florence spent eight years in Cairns as Queensland Health’s Team Leader, Environmental Health – often focused on reducing the spread of notifiable diseases such as dengue, cholera and flu within the community.

Mr Kushor worked as Health Protection Manager for the Ministry of Health in Auckland, New Zealand. He has been involved in, and co-ordinated, many communicable disease responses including SARS, MERSCoV, Ebola Virus and large outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

He also recently joined the Research Data Alliance’s COVID-19 Working Group.

“The working group aims to develop practical data sharing guidelines to maximise timely data sharing and ensure an appropriate response to health emergencies,” he said.

Research Data Alliance (RDA) is an initiative of the European Commission, the US Government`s National Science Foundation and the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation.

It aims to build social and technical infrastructure to enable open sharing and re-use of data.

It’s not the first time Mr Florence has been called on to help other communities through emergency situations. Earlier this year he headed to Snowy Valleys Council area, west of Canberra, to assist them with their recovery from devastating bushfires.

“It’s very soon after the bushfires to be heading off again, but it’s a good opportunity and it’s a chance to use the skills I’ve acquired from my previous roles, combined with my disaster management work at Noosa, to help out,” Mr Florence said.

“Because this is such a big outbreak they’re struggling to find experienced personnel. I’m glad to be able to do my bit to help out.”

Council’s Community Services Director, Kerri Contini, said the community was in good hands with Mr Florence and Mr Kushor on Council’s COVID-19 taskforce.

“Noosa Council’s response to COVID-19 has been all the more successful for having Ian and Sunil, with all of their expertise and experience, at the table. The fact that we’re now in a situation to be able to share them with our State and indeed international counterparts in the fight against this virus is rewarding – the best way to overcome this pandemic is if we all work together,” Ms Contini said.

 
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