COVID19 Lockdowns

As I am writing this morning, NSW is still recording hundreds of cases daily – 291 locally acquired today.  Sadly, there have been deaths as well.

Nine days after coming out of lockdown, the whole of Victoria went also back into lockdown last night.

Our borders are closed to both of these states and to South Australia as well.

In Queensland,  the southeast corner is also in lockdown, but we look like we are winning – at least for the moment.

SEQ Looks to Sunday

In fact, there is some hope we may be able to lift the lockdown on Sunday. At this morning’s media conference, of the 12 new cases, only two people had been circulating in the community while infectious. The other 10 cases were already in home quarantine.

The trick to keeping up with this aggressive Delta strain seems to be using all the weapons at our disposal.

Upping the Game with Delta

For 18 months we have all been doing the 1.5 metre social distancing when out and about. We all know about the 2 minutes of careful handwashing when we get home. But with the Delta strain we have now added masks and the Qld Check In app.

The reason we have upped our game is because the corona virus has upped its game. The new Delta generation is like a bolting horse. The Qld Check In app is proving a great help in keeping ahold of it.

QR Codes find the Close Exposures

This morning 10 of the 12 new cases were already in home quarantine before they tested positive. They were not out and about, spreading new cases. The Qld Check In app allows Queensland’s  contact tracers to reach close exposures and order them to isolate at home. So we aren’t waiting for people to have symptoms before they ask for a test.

Home Isolation

In Queensland, “close exposures” must now isolate for 14 days regardless of their test results. Currently, there are nearly 9,000 “close exposures” doing this home quarantine in SEQ – and they really deserve our thanks. They are the reason our Delta horse hasn’t bolted.

Masks at the Ready

The other factor is a new emphasis on the use of masks against Delta. Masks, combined with the 1.5 metre social distancing rule, really seem to help. As the CHO has said, when you look at the current  Indooroopilly cluster, which is a Delta cluster, it spread in settings where people weren’t wearing masks. It spread at schools and in after-school activities and it spread in homes.

At the moment, you must wear masks in all airports and on all flights. There are also strict mask wearing requirements in SEQ. Even when lock-down lifts, expect to see a much greater emphasis on mask-wearing in Queensland.

Respecting the Effort

I know we are all bit “over” COVID19, but we just have to keep up our efforts and we will get there. I suspect we are not even halfway through this.

I say this because, Delta won’t be the last new generation of this virus. I was pleased to see a far more respectful performance at the Queensland media conferences this morning and yesterday. Our leaders have asked us to make sacrifices and most of us have understood why and have made those sacrifices willingly.

In return, we don’t expect to see squabbling amongst the state premiers. When the issue is an infectious disease, either we will all win or we will all lose. We expect our leaders to work together in mateship, not see some states as “winners” and others as “losers”.

Cranking Up the Vaccinations

The other big challenge is vaccinations. As supplies start to crank up, we all need to book in for a vaccine. Remember, if you need some advice about which vaccine you should receive, the federal government will pay for you to have a free consultation with your GP. This is the best source of advice.

Vaccination is not a silver bullet. Fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus. They can also get sick, although it seems they don’t get as sick. This helps our health systems stand the strain. But vaccination may not end lockdowns.

The other factor to consider is that boosters may be needed for several years. I also have no doubt that medical researchers are continuing to refine and improve the vaccinations – as they have done with all vaccines over time.

Vulnerable Children Now Eligible

Because of the number of children becoming infected with the Delta strain, the federal government has announced that from Monday (August 9) children aged 12 to fifteen years of age who suffer certain medical conditions, who are of aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent or who live in remote communities will now be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. You can read more here.

Booking a Vaccination

If you are in the Central West, you can book a vaccination appointment online for when the mobile clinic comes to your neck of the woods. Second shots are rolling out now, but don’t worry if you haven’t had your first shot yet. These are continuing to roll out too. Just click here to book a vaccination. It is free for everyone.

In the Central West, vaccination is open to everyone over the age of 18.

In the Central Highlands, people aged 40 years or more should go online to book here. Alternatively, you can book a free vaccination appointment at the Emerald Medical Group by calling (07) 4986 7400. You can check your vaccine eligibility here. And remember you are entitled to a free consultation with your GP regarding advice on which vaccine is right for you.

Petition to Save our Mini Schools

Many of you may be aware that I am currently sponsoring a petition in the Queensland Parliament regarding the decision by the Queensland Department of Education to close the on-site camping accommodation for students and their parent chaperones at our Distance Ed campuses in Emerald and Longreach.

This accommodation was built by the families and P&C’s. They have operated safely for decades, and yet now the families have found they have been locked out. Mini-schools are vital for the education of our most remote children.

Teachers Need to Meet Students

It allows children to meet their teachers and classmates face to face for one week. Not only does it let children form a bond with their teachers, it lets teachers get a better grasp of the challenges facing each child. Teachers are often the first to spot developmental delays or learning disabilities and other issues affecting the children.

Group Activities and Friendships

While the kids are on campus, they also get to undertake group activities like team sports, drama, public speaking and similar activities.

And for parent chaperones, who don’t get to meet at the school gate at pick-up time, mini-school lets them find an informal network of other distance-ed parents.

Accommodation Challenges

We have put a very strong case to the Education Minister for these facilities to be returned to the families. Not every family can afford motel accommodation and this has already led to mini-school cancellations. Secondly, accommodation can be hard to come by in both Emerald and Longreach in the cooler months when mini-schools are held.

If you want to support these fellow Gregory residents, please consider signing the petition, even if you are not a distance Ed family. With the Ekka being cancelled, our chance to share the petition more widely has been lost.

Sign the Petition

You can do this by clicking on this link. So I am asking you all to support it. You will see the Queensland Parliament webpage also offers you the opportunity to share it with people you know via email. This would be greatly appreciated too.

This Census Night Make Sure You Count

Next Tuesday is Census Day. The Census is important in ensuring we can receive proper funding for our community’s needs. Most Australians will file their census survey online this year.

You can find out more on the website here. If you have an older friend or relative who would prefer a paper form, you will see a link for that on the same website.

Getting Help in Person
I am advised that Census Community Field Officers will be available to help in person at the following Gregory locations and times:

Thursday August 12  

10 AM to Noon   Emerald Library

10 AM to 5 PM   Centro Shopping Centre (Old Woolworths), Hospital Road, Emerald

Friday August 13

10 AM to Noon Blackwater Library
10 AM to 5 PM  Blackwater Woolworths

Queensland Ambulance App Gives Exact Locations

Thanks to Anna from the Arcadia Valley for drawing my attention to a new Queensland Ambulance phone app. If you are travelling or in an unfamiliar location and you need to call the ambulance, sometimes it can be hard to tell the operator exactly where you are.

Emergency+ App

The Emergency+ app provides your phone’s GPS co-ordinates so you can tell the ambulance your exact location.

The app also gives you all the important phone numbers to call both for emergencies and non-emergency situations.

Called “Emergency+”, the app is available for download at the Apple app store, Google Play and from the Windows app store.

Electrical Apprenticeships for 2022

Ergon Energy and Energex have opened applications for the 2022 apprenticeship intake. Apprenticeships are available for electro-technology electricians, distribution linespersons, mechanical fitters and communications technicians.

Closing August 16

Applications are open until Friday August 16. You can read more and apply on both the Ergon and Energex websites. The Ergon website is here.

The apprenticeships commence in 2022, so students graduating at the end of this year could consider this.  There are 116 places, 70 of which will be at Ergon depots in regional parts of the state.

New Round of Gambling Grants

Round 111 of the Gambling Community Benefit Fund is now open. Applications close at the end of the month, August 31. These grants are a great way for smaller clubs to fund larger projects. You can read more here.

Individual Mental Tele-Health for Qld’s Regions

Rural and remote Queenslanders struggling to access help with depression, anxiety and mental health concerns now have a new option.

The White Cloud Foundation this week announced that residents outside Brisbane will have free access- via telehealth in their own home- to a team of 40 allied healthcare professionals including psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses, dieticians and exercise physiologists.

Ongoing, Tailored Support

Patients will receive individual care plans and support via phone or video calls. Called the STRATUS Tele-Mental Health Solution, the program hopes to replicate the success of White Cloud’s Tele-Cardiac Investigations Solution which bridges the gap between city and bush.

The Stratus program does not require a referral, although GPs are welcome to refer patients. But if you want to contact them directly and confidentially you can. You can find out more here or call (07) 3155 3456.

Enrolments open for E-Kindy 2022

eKindy enrolments for 2022 are now open in Gregory. This is a flexible, at-home kindy program for children who can’t attend a kindergarten centre due to distance or medical reasons. To find out more or to register, call (07) 3727 2860 or click here to see the website.

Well Women’s Clinics in CH

Well Women’s Clinics will be held in Blackwater August 11, Emerald August 12, Capella on August 17, Tieri August 18, Gemfields August 19 and Woorabinda August 30. These mobile Central Queensland Health clinics are free and confidential. They can assist with a wide range of women’s health problems.

You can call (07) 4980 1800 to book or click here to read more.

Thanks For Staying Up to Date

Thanks for reading and staying up to date with the state issues and services that affect Gregory.

I haven’t written about the budget estimates as they have been disrupted by COVID19. Hopefully next time I can give you the highlights, or should that be the low-lights?

Thanks to everyone who finds the time to sign and share the Distance Ed petition.

Gregory Contacts

Remember, if I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Longreach office phone number is (07) 4521 5700. The Emerald office phone number is (07) 4913 1000. Or you can email me at [email protected]

If you wish to share this email with a friend or relative, you can simply forward it to them. If you wish to subscribe you can do so for free at my website here.  If you no longer wish to receive this email, simply unsubscribe by clicking  on the link below.

Kindest Regards,

Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory
Assistant to the Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Assistant Minister for Trade | Shadow Assistant Minister for Western Queensland
Deputy Chair – Queensland Parliamentary Transport and Resources Committee