Q & A with Shire President

Q & A with Shire President, Eddie Smith - Thursday 9 April 

The Shire of Carnarvon council would like to say thank you to the community for being patient during these uncertain times, but we must not become complacent. The Shire is working to ensure we put in place measures to reduce additional traffic into our community, to ensure it stops the spread of COVID-19.  

As we approach the Easter Long Weekend, we have received several enquiries regarding trips to local attractions such as the Blowholes. Please remember, unless your trip is essential, you must stay home.  

Can I still go fishing?  

Department of Transport is urging boat owners to stay at home, where you can, and to play your role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 by postponing unnecessary boating activity. 

The advice provided to Recfishwest directly from the Premier’s Office on 2 April was: “To protect our community and reduce the spread of COVID-19, we’ve introduced restrictions that limit both indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings to two persons only. Western Australians should follow four simple guidelines. That is, everyone should be staying home unless for: 

  • shopping for what you need – like food or necessary supplies; 
  • medical or health care needs, including compassionate requirements; 
  • exercise, in compliance with the public gathering requirements; and 
  • work or study, if you can’t work or learn remotely. 

“We urge all Western Australians to practice common-sense and cease non-essential activity. Where possible, we encourage recreational fishers to stay home for now. We thank all Western Australians for their understanding during this time.” WA Premier’s Office. 

More information regarding Fishing in Western Australia visit: https://recfishwest.org.au/news/recfishing-and-covid-19-your-questions-answered/  

Are there roadblocks this weekend?  

The Shire President, Eddie Smith has been in touch with Carnarvon Police and they have confirmed they will be enforcing the ‘Stay Home’ message. There will also be some patrols and roadblocks south and north of Carnarvon.  

Check points and police patrols are in place for the Easter Long Weekend to monitor travel across south and north of Carnarvon to ensure people are doing the right thing. 

If you believe you fall under an exemption category and are required to travel between these regions you will need to prepare documentation to present to police at the regional check points. This documentation can be a letter/email/SMS from an employer, that supports the legitimate travel. 

For more information view the Prohibition on Regional Travel Directions.  

WA Police would like to remind the community that penalties apply: 

It is an offence to fail to comply with any of these directions, punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for bodies corporate.  

Can we go to the Blowholes for a day trip?  

Unfortunately, a trip to the Blowholes is classed as non-essential travel. The Shire of Carnarvon has closed the toilet facilities as the campground is closed, there will be no access to public toilets until further notice.  

Department of Health has recommended to get some exercise to improve your mental health, it is advised to go to a local beach within proximity to home for no more than 30 minutes. Please ensure you are maintaining social distancing.  

 Official advice by Environmental Health Australia: 

 Guide to physical Distancing.jpg
 

Q & A with Shire President, Eddie Smith - Tuesday 31 March

The Shire of Carnarvon is receiving a large number of enquiries relating to Covid-19. As part of the Incident Response Team which addresses the need to communicate regularly during these uncertain times.  

Q. How is the Shire of Carnarvon dealing with the increase of backpackers in the region? 

The Shire of Carnarvon is working closely with the Carnarvon Police along with our Ranger Services. Backpackers have been encouraged to utilise our local Caravan Parks with amenities. Infringements still apply for those who disobey the ‘No Free Camping’ within the Shire of Carnarvon. 

Backpackers have been advised to stay put within their campgrounds and to only leave the campgrounds for essential services, such as shopping. 

A number of backpackers are working on the Plantations, whilst others are waiting in the region for work availability. Department of Primary Industries has developed a website for those looking for work in Food and Ag industry in Western Australia – www.jobsinwafoodandag.com 

A message on the website is clear – Important:Please observe the latest travel and health advice from the Australian Government. Do not travel to regional or rural areas of Western Australia without first obtaining employment. Your search for work DOES NOT negate your civic responsibility to follow the health guidelines outlined by the Federal and State Governments.

Q. The Gascoyne Region is in lockdown as of midnight tonight, what is the impact of this? 

WA Police are enforcing the regional boarder closures. Check points and mobile police patrols will be in place to monitor travel across boundaries and ensure people are doing the right thing.

As of midnight tonight, the following exceptions apply:

  • people travelling to work
  • attending medical appointments
  • transporting freight
  • those who do not have access to groceries or supplies within their region
  • returning to a place of residence
  • attending school or an educational institution where necessary
  • catering for family members
  • compassionate grounds

People are encouraged, where possible, to assist police by preparing documentation, such as a letter/email/SMS from an employer, to support their legitimate travel.

Carnarvon Police and the Shire President visited all the local Caravan Parks today to advise existing Caravan and Campers that the restrictions come into place tonight, and travellers need to stay put and only travel for essential services. Police have the power to enforce these restrictions, and issue fines of up to $50,000.

Q. How do people in the community know what the Shire of Carnarvon doing during COVID-19?

The Shire of Carnarvon has been extremely proactive behind the scenes. The first step for the Council was to establish a Critical Incident Response Team. A number of staff have been redeployed to support the Critical Incident Response Team, which specifically work on the COVID-19 situation. 

A communication officer role has been established as part of the Critical Incident Response Team to ensure effective communication with the community.  

The Shire of Carnarvon is using its existing resources to distribute information:

  • Facebook
  • Website 
  • Newsletter – 500 Copies of the April edition was distributed to key locations within the community. 
Q. As some of the Shire of Carnarvon services are closed, what are the staff doing at the moment? 

As addressed above, the Shire of Carnarvon has established a Critical Incident Response Team which have been working to ensure the matters relating to COVID-19 are addressed. 

The Shire of Carnarvon ensures that it remains business as usual, with department working on establishing a virtual service delivery. More information about our virtual services will be delivered through our communication methods.

Q. Is the Shire of Carnarvon meeting with other organisations in Carnarvon to deal with the COVID-19 situation? 

The Shire of Carnarvon established a Local Incident Support Group which is made up Carnarvon Police, Department of Health, Department of Fire and Emergency, Department of Communities, Department of Human Services and local member of parliament, Vince Catania. This group effectively addresses the issues across the region and meets twice a week. 

The Shire of Carnarvon has an internal Critical Incident Response Team, this group effectively deals with matters related to the core business of the Shire and meets daily. 

 Q. Does the Shire of Carnarvon know anything about the flights in and out of Carnarvon? 

The Shire of Carnarvon has been advised that there will be one flight a day until the 8 April. Department of Transport has advised that future flights will be reduced for the next three months, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis which has impacted airlines across the world. 

The Shire of Carnarvon will notify the community through our communication methods.

Q. Is the Shire of Carnarvon going to freeze the rates? 

The Shire of Carnarvon is aware of the financial impact the COVID-19 situation has had on businesses and community members across the region. 

The Shire Council will be discussing the matter as a collective and we will provide further information of the outcome through our communication methods. 

If you have questions relevant to COVID-19 that you would like the Shire President to address in our next Q&A session, please email: covid19@carnarvon.wa.gov.au