WOLLONGONG City Council have placed on hold a number of programs and events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released today, the Council announced it is applying “a community-oriented, risk-based approach” to the delivery of services during this challenging time.
“Today we are making modifications to selected services. These changes are being made to protect our vulnerable community members, and are part of our focus on ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our staff and volunteers, their families and our community at this difficult time.”
In addition to all Council-run events and gatherings with more than 100 people, the following programs will be placed on hold until further notice:
- Wollongong Art Gallery programs, events and workshops. The Gallery will remain open.
- Council’s Aged Day Care programs, except for the Friday Men’s Shed group.
- Wollongong Youth Services Youth Centre’s drop-in sessions. Small group programs and information referral will continue.
- All Wollongong City Libraries programs
- Wollongong Botanic Garden’s programs, including the Greenplan Plant Sales, School Holidays activities, and all tours
- All Wollongong City Council Reference Groups
- Beaton Park and Lakeside Leisure Centre programs and gym – excluding the privately-run programs
- All Community Engagement programs are postponed while alternative arrangements are explored. Council’s online engagement opportunities, via Council’s website, remain open.
- Council-run conferences including the Reconciliation Conference scheduled for May
- All Council-run school holidays programs
While there have been changes to programming, the Council is asking anyone visiting the following facilities, to adhere to NSW Health guidelines in regards to hygiene and health. The following facilities are open:
- All pools
- All Libraries
- Wollongong Art Gallery
- Wollongong Botanic Garden
- All Council-run youth centres
- Beaton Park and Lakeside Leisure Centres
- Russell Vale Golf Course
- Wollongong Memorial Gardens and Cemeteries
- Wollongong Tourist Parks
- All Community Facility buildings
- Wollongong Council’s Friday Men’s Shed
- Volunteering Illawarra
Essential services, such as trips to attend medical appointments or shopping for necessities such as food will continue to be provided by Council’s Community Transport service. Respite services for Carers will also continue. Advice will be provided directly to the Council’s customers and volunteers, who can also contact Community Transport and Social Support teams to confirm service arrangements.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he understood people in the community were concerned about coronavirus.
“This is an unsettling time and this is an emotive issue,” he said.
“That can be seen through people’s response in supermarkets.
“I would like to assure our community that Council has plans in place and we are following advice from the appropriate authorities when it comes to the delivery of our services and programs. There is also not a one-size fits all solution for Council because of the diversity of what we do and how we do it.
“What we’ve detailed today are some changes to the way we are doing some things so that we can have steps in place to help protect our vulnerable community members. This is a considered and measured approach. These are the right steps, and appropriate steps at this time for our city.
“We will continue to review our services and what we do for our community and how we do it. And, I would like to assure everyone that we have the plans in place to move beyond these measures, if it’s appropriate.”
While there have been modifications to services, Council’s libraries, community centres, pools, sportsgrounds and leisure facilities remain open.
The Council will continue to review the service levels on offer at each of the facilities daily – and following any updated advice from appropriate state and federal authorities – and will make additional changes, if appropriate.
Cr Bradbery said this time may prove to be financially difficult for some residents and those conducting business.
“I’d like to remind people that Council does have a Debt Recovery and Rates Hardship Policy that can be considered at this time,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
“We have staff available who can talk through the options, and provide advice should that be something our residents or businesses need.’’
Council encourages everyone to follow the advice of NSW Health and if you’re unwell to not visit Council facilities.
Council also offer a range of services over the phone and through its website and people can use these options rather than visiting in person at the Wollongong Customer Service Centre.
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