Desperate pleas for help to deliver food, medicine in Shepparton must be answered

27 August 2021

Workforce resources must be delivered to supermarkets, green grocers and pharmacists in Shepparton to fix long delays for food, medicine and other essential goods.

With about 20,000 local people – in a population of 65,000 - estimated to be in isolation due to the Shepparton outbreak, it’s left a massive gap in the workforce available to meet basic daily needs and keep the community moving.

Many local schools have been named Tier 1 sites, meaning thousands of students and their entire family are locked in strict 14-day isolation.

Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said the skeleton workforce couldn’t cope with demand from the tens of thousands of people who can’t leave their home, but need desperate access to medicine, food and other essential supplies.

“Everyone wants to do the right thing, but the panic of not being able to treat sick family members or put food on the table is a big risk to people breaking isolation,” Ms Ryan said.

“Businesses are being forced to close or dramatically reduce operations because so much of Shepparton’s essential workforce is in two weeks’ isolation.”

Ms Ryan called on the Andrews Government to urgently deliver support, including using the ADF to fill critical workforce shortages.

“The Andrews Labor Government must urgently step in to make sure local people’s basic needs are met and that the community keeps moving,” Ms Ryan said.

“ADF personnel should be directed where they’re needed most – to pack and deliver food, medicine and other essential supplies like nappies or baby formula.

“Rapid testing should be introduced, particularly for freight drivers to keep the supply chain moving and to ensure locals can access the essential items they need, when they need them.”

Ms Ryan said returning results for Tier 2 contacts – those who must isolate until they get a negative result – should be prioritised so people can get back to work sooner.

“It’s deeply concerning that 18 months into this pandemic, Daniel Andrews still doesn’t have a plan to support regional communities through an outbreak,” Ms Ryan said.

“Daniel Andrews is demanding people stick to his rules, but failing to making sure people can get the food and medicine they need only adds to the pressure on families in a community at breaking point.”

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