Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Group requests border fixes
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020 our community has been hugely impacted by border closures and the confusion that goes with them.
This is the third article in a series, highlighting the
activities and progress of the Deniliquin Health Action Group since its formation two years ago. It looks at the impact of COVID-19 and border
closures on our community.
Being near the Victorian border, the overwhelming trend is for residents to go to Victoria — particularly Melbourne, Shepparton or Bendigo — for specialist services.
The nearest of these is 140kms away.
With the closure of the Victorian/NSW border during COVID19, attending to essential health appointments in Victoria became difficult, at best, and in some cases not possible.
This put a huge strain on individuals in our community.
There are also often the challenges of finding transport to attend health appointments, which has been an ongoing problem.
Under normal circumstances there is a daily bus service to Melbourne that allows a seven hour visit to the city.
However, at various times during the pandemic this service has been cancelled.
The Deniliquin Health Action Group recently wrote to NSW and Victorian health ministers, the NSW and Victorian Cross Border Commissioners and the NSW Murray Police Superintendent highlighting some of the issues, and presenting what we believe to be some workable solutions. These areas of concern included:
1. Victorian Police:
It has been identified that the police operations on the Victorian side of the border do not always have enough information about the NSW border communities.
On many occasions, NSW border residents have been turned around, as police are not familiar with postcodes and the actual area of the NSW border ‘bubble’ region.
This causes undue stress, especially to our elderly community that frequently travel to Victoria for medical reasons.
Request: The Victorian Government and Victoria Police provide police officers with a list of postcodes and a map for the NSW border bubble communities, especially those who are on border check points and roving patrols.
2. Victorian Hospitals: Patients have been turned away from some Victorian hospitals as they identify all NSW residents as coming from a ‘red’ zone, even though we are in the border bubble region.
Patients who have no other option other than to travel to Victoria for medical reasons have been disadvantaged by these border closures.
Request: Victoria Health direct medical facilities to make exceptions to patients who are travelling from NSW border communities.
3. Community/Patient Transport:
We know from previous border closures and lockdowns that our community transport service was affected as the majority of the drivers are retirees and volunteer their time.
The majority of the travel is across the border to Victoria, but due to ongoing COVID concerns this service is the first to be cancelled leaving patients without transport to medical appointments.
Request: The NSW Government consider additional funding to adequately
employ staff to assist with community transport needs especially when border closures are in effect.
4. Border Region Map:
Our community has been left confused with the border bubble map, depending on which state actions the closures a different map is used.
Request: NSW and Victorian Governments have a consistent
map that does not leave our communities confused.
The Deniliquin Health Action Group is hoping the above requests will be implemented as soon as possible, to ease the pressure on our border communities during these difficult COVID-19 times.
Next week: Our reliance on Victorian services and the impact on our community.