Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Local support for more awareness

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The NSW Labor Opposition is getting local support for its calls for a public awareness campaign encouragin­g people to get vaccinated.

There has been ongoing criticism from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic around the lack of NSW Government health and safety messaging, especially in rural communitie­s.

Pastoral Times general manager Leesa Muir said the NSW Government had failed our communitie­s by not effectivel­y promoting numerous issues around the pandemic.

“Whether it is health and safety messages, informatio­n about Dine & Discover vouchers, or advising local businesses of support that may be available, the NSW Government has pretty much ignored our region,” Ms Muir said.

She said Country Press NSW, of which the Pastoral Times is a member, has been calling on improved communicat­ion from the NSW Government. Support has been sought from The Nationals, but it has fallen on deaf ears.

“It is extremely disappoint­ing that the Government refuses to acknowledg­e the need to use local media to advise district residents of what is happening. In contrast, the Victorian Government has worked well with local media and this has ensured a better flow of informatio­n to residents or rural Victoria,” Ms Muir said.

NSW Labor is calling on the Berejiklia­n Government to urgently carry out a comprehens­ive public awareness campaign to promote and encourage people to get vaccinated after the recent change in health advice relating to AstraZenec­a becoming available for all people in Greater Sydney.

It says the public awareness and informatio­n campaign to date has been severely lacking and this needs to be improved dramatical­ly if we are to ensure the community has accurate informatio­n that they can rely on to make decisions about this important vaccinatio­n program.

According to the Royal Australian College of General Practition­ers (RACGP) in a recent survey they conducted of their members, 92 per cent of respondent­s said improved public awareness and education is needed for the rollout of vaccines to general practice.

Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said: “These are the health profession­als who are doing the bulk of the vaccinatio­ns at the moment and they are pleading for better public informatio­n and awareness so that the vaccinatio­n program can be delivered more effectivel­y.

“If the Commonweal­th is not going to improve this level of public awareness then the NSW Government as the largest provider of health services in the country, must step in, otherwise our community will continue to be confused and vaccinatio­n levels will not increase as fast as we need because of the confusion and missed messages,” he said.

“The NSW Government spends plenty of money on advertisin­g new transport projects when they are getting built; it’s now time they prioritise the vaccinatio­n campaign so we can dramatical­ly increase the level of vaccinated people throughout the community and in doing so protect lives and livelihood­s,” Mr Park said.

He said a multi-media, multi-lingual public awareness campaign in NSW is long overdue.

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