A high-level Sunshine Coast Council Control Group met this morning (Monday, March 16) to oversee the efforts of a specialised team of senior staff working to ensure our Sunshine Coast community has access to current information about council services and activities during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
The Control Group comprises Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson, Acting Chief Executive Officer Warren Bunker and all executive members.
Mayor Jamieson – who chairs the Sunshine Coast Local Disaster Management Group, which also met this morning – said these arrangements would help keep the community informed on a regular basis and assist residents and businesses manage the local impacts of COVID-19 in a rapidly changing environment.
“Council has a well-established track record of working with our community in times of disaster events in order to keep our residents as safe as possible – and we will do so again in our response to COVID-19,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“This is an evolving situation and we need to be prepared for the fact that what is in place today may change tomorrow, or at the end of the week, next week or next month.
“We have already seen restrictions placed on mass gatherings and people returning from overseas and it is inevitable there will be other impacts on services and the availability of local facilities – particularly as employees become ill, self-isolate or need to care for other family members.
“We are truly fortunate that the Sunshine Coast and Australia generally, has some of the best health and emergency services arrangements and systems in place and our community can have confidence that all levels of government are entirely focussed on managing the COVID-19 situation.
“To help prepare for and manage some of the impacts that are likely to arise from COVID-19, council undertakes regular business continuity planning to ensure our staff are well-placed to respond to a range of situations and can assist our community where possible.
“It is important however, that we all prepare and this is why Council encourages residents and local businesses – if they are not already doing so – to plan for disruption.
“This can include checking on those who cannot get out and about easily, such as the elderly, to make sure they are in good health and have sufficient food and medical supplies.
“In disaster events, I am always encouraged by the willingness of Sunshine Coast residents to help each other and I have every confidence we will see this again as we respond to the impacts of COVID-19.”
Mayor Jamieson said council was taking regular advice from Federal and State health authorities and other government agencies and would respond quickly as circumstances changed.
“At this stage, there is no disruption to core council services such as waste collection, local transport services Flexilink and Council Link and maintaining public parks and recreational areas.
“Public facilities such as libraries, aquatic facilities and our venues currently remain open, but it is possible this may change in coming days and weeks.
“We encourage everyone to stay informed. Our customer contact centre staff are on hand to answer your queries.
“Residents can contact council via phone on 5475.7272. Many services can be completed online via council’s website or via Mycouncil.
“Alternatively at any time of the day or night you can email council on firstname.lastname@example.org with your service request.
“Council’s service counters at Maroochydore, Caloundra and Nambour remain open from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Council also offers webchats through our Sunshine Coast Council website.”
Mayor Jamieson said council would follow the advice of the Australian Government and Queensland Health in regard to its own events.
“Council is also liaising with other event organisers and encouraging them to follow the directions of the Australian Government and the National Cabinet,” he said.
“Patrons should contact event organisers directly for any queries related to non-council organised events.
“If you are a ticket-holder for an event that has or will be cancelled from Monday, March 16, check the terms and conditions of purchase, and give the event operator time to process this decision and advise you in due course regarding reschedules and refunds.
“I also encourage anyone experiencing difficulty paying their rates or meeting repayment plans because of an inability to attend work or loss of work due to COVID-19, to contact council as soon as possible to discuss flexible payment options.”