Local outbreak response show flaws in centralised systems

Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell says the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in Warrnambool has exposed serious flaws in the State Government’s contact tracing system.

Ms Britnell said she has been contacted by a number of constituents who are still waiting to hear from the Department of Health days after exposure sites have been listed locally.

“Thankfully we have had a wonderful local response and South West Healthcare and the Barwon Health Public Health Unit have been getting information out in the community as soon as possible,” she said.

“People have been isolating and testing sometimes up to a week before they received notification from the Department they had been at an exposure site.

“I have no doubt the proactive approach from our local health services have nipped this outbreak in the bud, they have made sure people who had potential exposure were isolating and testing as quickly as possible.

“I have businesses who were identified as exposure sites by local teams, but still haven’t been uploaded to the central website and still haven’t heard from the Department.”

Ms Britnell said the delays at the Department of Health were then causing issues for people requiring isolating payments.

“You don’t get a code to access that payment until you are contacted by the department, so for many people, they are left hanging – not able to go to work, but also not able to access payments unless they spend hours on the phone to the Department of Health,” she said.

“We have seen time and time again that a localised approach is key to managing an outbreak – we saw it in Colac, Portland and Shepparton – the centralised approach just doesn’t work – especially when state-wide case numbers are the highest recorded in any Australian jurisdictions and the system is under enormous strain.”

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