I want to congratulate and thank the Warrnambool community for their extraordinary response to the Coronavirus outbreak we are currently dealing with in the city.
On Grand Final Friday when the first exposure sites were announced, people turned out in force to get tested – 2000 tests done in one day after South West Healthcare launched a pop-up testing clinic in just a few hours.
I’m not at all surprised – in country areas we pull together when times are tough – we do the right thing by our neighbours and we come together to defeat the common threat – be it fire, flood or now virus.
That’s been shown in the vaccinations rates which have been incredibly impressive – as of Monday 94.2% of eligible people in the Warrnambool City Council area have has their first dose and 65.3% have had their second. In the Moyne Shire rates are at 91.8% first dose and 62.5% second and in Glenelg it’s 88.7% first and 59.3% second.
I spoke with my old friend Anne Litster from the Kirrae Health Service at Framlingham Aboriginal Community late last week – she proudly reported to me that nearly 100 per cent of community members had been vaccinated after a fantastic campaign by the health service.
I managed Kirrae Health Service for 15 years and when I started one of my goals was to get vaccination rates up within the community – we did this by bringing vaccinations to the community. Rather than just expecting community members to go outside the community to other health services, we bought vaccines to their health service, where they felt comfortable and where they had ownership of the space. We made sure we had good engagement with the community through appropriate activities that made it a fun environment. It was a successful approach and vaccination rates rose steadily among indigenous adults and children.
Anne told me that was the model they followed with the COVID vaccine – they bought vaccines to the health service and have achieved almost 100% coverage. It’s incredible and that story and the fact the South West Coast is among the highest vaccinated locations in the state has filled me with so much pride.
So keep it up Warrnambool and the south-west. We will get through this, we will come out the other side and we will be as strong and united as ever.