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Thursday, 11 June 2020
Page: 4041


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (11:51): I'd like to start by thanking the healthcare workers, and their families, who, week after week, walked into the hospitals, the GP clinics and the testing centres never quite sure if it was the day that they would be overwhelmed, like their colleagues in Italy, the UK or the US. While Australia did flatten the curve, I cannot begin to imagine the toll that this has taken on our healthcare workers. I want to thank the Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, and his deputies, as well as South Australia's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, for their leadership and guidance in recent weeks. Their briefings quickly became part of our daily routine, and phrases such as 'flattening the curve' and 'social distancing' are now part of our Australian vernacular. I'd like to acknowledge the work of the state government and, in particular, our Premier, Steven Marshall, Minister Wade and Commissioner of Police, Grant Stevens. Premier Steven Marshall's mother said that he was born for this, and, can I say, his leadership has been extraordinary. Finally, I want to thank the community. It was in no small part due to the disciplined and determined approach to following the health advice and abiding by government restrictions that we were able to avoid the calamitous events which unfolded, and are still unfolding, elsewhere in the world.

Worldwide, more than seven million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and over 400,000 people are estimated to have died. The numbers are almost beyond comprehension. When they compare to our national and state data, we have been incredibly fortunate in this country, and that is because of our governments, both state and federal. In South Australia, there are currently no active cases of COVID-19 and it has been over two weeks since the last reported case. But I recognise that many families and friends have lost loved ones, only to have that loss compounded by their inability to grieve as they would wish due to the restrictions. For others, the physical separation has taken its toll. I was particularly concerned to hear from distressed family members who were, and some still are, repeatedly denied access to their families and friends in aged-care facilities.

I wish to thank the Aged Rights Advocacy Service for their assistance in helping older people and their family members to understand their rights and for working with residential aged-care providers to workshop solutions to the visitation restrictions. The staff at aged-care residences across our electorate worked hard to find new ways to ensure residents remain connected, including video calls and window visits. Adelaide Hills Council have launched their Cards for Kindness campaign where schoolchildren write postcards to residents in aged care. While this is a poor substitute for a hug or someone holding your hand or a long chat over a pot of tea, it shows the capacity we have for kindness in the face of great uncertainty and fear. I have the oldest electorate by median age in South Australia, and that fear and concern was very much felt on our South Coast, which is also an area where we normally experience an enormous amount of tourism.

Our Mayo community has risen to the occasion and has faced the challenge with a great sense of camaraderie. For example, at the height of the pandemic buying, the local IGA at Mount Barker went above and beyond to ensure that those who needed essential supplies were always able to access them, including the Meadows Out of School Hours Care team. Each day, the Meadows OSHC feeds between 10 and 15 children breakfast before school and another 30 tired and hungry students at the end of the school day, but, at the height of the pandemic, sourcing and buying the supplies they needed to feed the children was just impossible. In stepped Joe from the team at Mount Barker IGA, who not only supplied enough groceries for the remainder of the term but threw in Easter eggs too so the children could have an Easter egg hunt. In the words of Caroline G from the Meadows OSHC, 'This action has made us reflect on our business choices of supplies. We are hoping to move very quickly to an account with Mount Barker IGA, locally owned. So much better for all of us.'

As we move out of the pandemic and to our next challenge, the economic recovery, we need to support our local businesses as they, too, adapt to a changing landscape. I'd like to mention a few businesses in my community that I think have done an extraordinary job of adapting. Prancing Pony and Sidewood Estate are two business that have been able to adapt and navigate a pathway through the restrictions. There are many others who will simply never reopen their doors. For many, the bushfires were a devastating blow, but it was COVID that stopped their recovery. I'd also like to mention Sylvia from Walls That Talk. She changed her business model. She used to make corporate wallpaper, but she moved to making COVID signage. My offices in Mount Barker and Victor Harbor have her COVIDSafe signage everywhere, on the floor and on the walls.

I'd also like to mention a local COVID relief fund. This is what community does. I, my state colleague, the member for Kaval, Dan Cregan, and one of our local mayors, Ann Ferguson, got together and realised that there would be people in our community who would be suffering. Perhaps they had very big mortgages, had never had interactions with Centrelink before and were really struggling to feed their children. We have had over 200 families every week accessing the pantry. We've come together to create a fund so that, with Rotary, we can put money in and can work with local businesses to have local takeaway meals in the deep freezer, as well as a range of fresh fruit and vegetables and dry goods. We're putting our personal money into this fund, but we know that many in our community who also have capacity to give are doing this. We're all caring and supporting each other, and that is what this is all about.

There is a light on the horizon. The clearest sign of life returning to normal is, surely, the return of the Showdown for South Australians and the announcement that 2,000 supporters can be cheering for our state's greatest rivalry. It's incredibly exciting for so many of us. Most importantly, though, local sport is coming back. I will be standing on the sidelines, with my gloves on, cheering with the rest of our community. We believe we'll be able to do that in July. We have each done our part to successfully flatten the curve, but I urge all members of our community to follow the health advice and health experts.

I would like to finish with a shout-out for a wonderful business called Quarter Mile Cafe. A gentleman named Dave makes soups and meals, no questions asked. If you need assistance, you just come in and get some soup for your family. He has made thousands of litres of soup. I've personally dropped off some pumpkins from our garden just to help out with his soup. He's doing an extraordinary job. It's all these people in our community, all these heroes in our community, who have made our community come through what has been a devastating time for many.

Debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 12:00 to 16:01