Local leaders join forces to call for regional input into supporting the Border Closure


14 August 2020

MEDIA RELEASE

Local leaders join forces to call for regional input into supporting the Border Closure

A group of 32 signatory organisations have come together to raise awareness and engage governments on the impact of the NSW-Victoria border closures on local communities.

 

Led by Regional Development Australia Murray Inc, the signatories, including all border local Councils, business, tourism, trade and industry groups, and the 6 border RDAs, claim NSW – VIC border communities are being profoundly disadvantaged as a direct consequence of Victorian and New South Wales Emergency Public Health Orders.

 

Impacts on local business have been especially severe, results from recent local survey[1] of border businesses found:

  • 89.22% businesses had been impacted by border closure
  • An average of 2.7 staff per business unable to cross the border to attend work
  • An average $8,500 weekly revenue loss for impacted businesses
  • Impacted businesses are being forced to reduce their staff by up to 1.8 FTE

 

Approximately 5% of the border workforce are unable to work because they live or work outside the designated Border Zone1.  Border businesses are being forced to close where staff are excluded from entering NSW or are forced to self-isolate upon returning home.

 

Edwina Hayes; CEO of Regional Development Australia Murray Inc, which covers an area from the Snowy Valleys to the South Australian border, said she felt compelled to organise the statement after seeing firsthand the impact of the border closure on local people and businesses.

 

“The Murray region is one community across the NSW-Victoria border. We have borne the full brunt of this situation protecting NSW. Our communities depend on each other, both sides of the border. This means our people and businesses are experiencing unique exclusion from work, health, education and welfare services, family interaction, business delivery and development, banking, groceries and fresh food, sports and recreation activities.”

Dynamic modelling of the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on unemployment, social dislocation and mental health shows that there may be a 25 per cent increase in suicides[2]

 

The signatories have called on Government to:

  • Include residents and businesses in NSW - VIC border LGAs in all Commonwealth and State assistance and support packages; social, economic and mental health
  • Create a Border Closure Disaster Response program, similar to the Bushfire Grant Scheme, to support and sustain impacted businesses and services.
  • NSW Government establish a fund similar to the Victorian Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program to compensate accommodation businesses for cancellations arising from the border closure.
  • Adjust NSW Border Closure zone and restrictions to include locally identified border communities
  • Consult with local regional development leaders prior to future changes to border regulations.

 

Mrs Hayes said: “We understand and support the intention of closing the border. The health of NSW residents is utmost, however supporting the people doing the heavy lifting on behalf of the rest of the state is critical. We need health and mental health resources deployed in the region for public health care and COVID preparedness. Our organisations and service providers along the border e.g. Aged Care, Disability Services, Schools, Aboriginal, Housing and Health services and our businesses need physical resources; assessors, trainers, policy implementers, PPE, protocols, procedures to rally Infection Control measures, cleaning and Work Health Safety preparedness.”

View the Joint Statement NSW – VIC Border Closure Impact and Recommendations here

 

-ENDS-

Further details:

Edwina Hayes

Chief Executive Officer

Regional Development Australia Murray Inc

Ph: 0427 267 753

communications@rdamurray.org.au



[1] BusinessNSW COVID-19 Economic Impacts Survey n=1195 30/7/2020

  Albury Northside Chamber of Commerce Border Closure Survey n=269 24/7/2020

  Murray Regional Tourism Border Closure Impact Modelling preliminary findings; 30/7/2020

[2] Systems Modelling and Simulation Team of the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney, and the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on prevention of youth suicide (YOUTHe), in which Orygen and the University of Melbourne are partnering 7/5/2020  https://ama.com.au/sites/default/files/documents/070520%20-%20Joint%20Statement%20-%20COVID-19%20Likely%20to%20Lead%20to%20Increased%20Rates%20of%20Suicide%20and%20Mental%20Illness.pdf