Cross Border Commissioner newsletter - edition 329/05/2020
From the Commissioner
A considerable time has elapsed since the last bulletin, which was intended for the start of this year. Since that time much of the work has been prioritised into fire and fire recovery, helping border communities in north-east Victoria and Gippsland bring border issues to Victoria’s (and New South Wales’) emergency management and recovery agencies. To that end I remain engaged in the recovery committees in both areas and am helping bring the message that our border communities are one.
The office also contributed more directly to the relief and recovery effort with Cross Border Adviser, Alicia Keogh seconded into Towong Shire through January and then into the newly formed Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV) from that time. Alicia’s performance through this time has been recognised with her appointment in May 2020 as BRV’s Regional Recovery Director for the North East. This is an excellent and well-deserved appointment which will well serve our fire-affected, cross-border communities. Congratulations to Alicia.
In March, my work progressed into the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. I have received hundreds of email and phone call queries from people across Australia about travel across borders – always involving Victoria’s borders of course, but often for travel across multiple borders. If you do have questions, please see the information below and keep following the advice provided by state authorities and look after each other. Like fires, the virus and its impacts do not stop at state borders.
While some of the shorter-term priorities have changed, the core work of dealing with cross-border issues has not gone away. Work has continued as much as possible on key issues, with some of the outcomes mentioned below. Once circumstances allow, I will be able to get back on the road to meet with our border communities to work through cross-border issues. In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch with issues of concern to you and, as always, we can talk over the phone or meet via video and at least start the process.
We look forward to ongoing engagement with the various regulators, agencies and departments and thank them for coming to the border to hear these experiences.
Cross Border Commissioner
Victoria has no state border restrictions in place and thus no permit or approval is required to enter Victoria from another state.
For the most up to date information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and current measures in Victoria visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au, or people in Victoria can call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398.
Businesses can call Business Victoria’s dedicated hotline 13 22 15 from within Victoria, or 1800 136 034 outside Victoria, or visit business.vic.gov.au.
South Australia has border restrictions in place. For more information about these visit covid-19.sa.gov.au, or call South Australia’s coronavirus (COVID-19) information line on 1800 253 787.
New South Wales (NSW) has no state border restrictions. For more information about coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in NSW visit nsw.gov.au/covid-19.
Bushfire Recovery and Reviews
While coronavirus (COVID-19) is dominating current headlines the bushfire recovery work continues in all affected areas. As noted above the effort in Victoria is led by Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV). Information on the recovery programs and support is available through the BRV website and through the community recovery hubs.
BRV’s formation has been guided by Ken Lay AO APM FAICD. I had the opportunity to brief Ken on various cross-border experiences and issues from the fires. The need to work with cross-border communities in the Upper Murray and the northern and eastern areas of East Gippsland are well understood by BRV.
The Victorian Fire Season Inquiry is also underway. It is being conducted by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management, Mr Tony Pearce. For information on the inquiry and making a submission see igem.vic.gov.au/fire-season-inquiry-update.
One set of issues raised regularly around our borders is access to the vocational education and training system. Victoria has commissioned an independent review into Victoria’s post-secondary education and training system, which provides an opportunity for border residents and businesses to present their views and experiences on this important topic. The review is led by former Federal Minister Jenny Macklin.
Submissions can be made by 5 June 2020. The Review will deliver its final report and recommendations to the Minister for Training and Skills and the Minister for Higher Education by October 2020.
For more information visit engage.vic.gov.au/skillsforvictoria.
Don't put up with it
If you know of a border issue, raise it with us. No matter how big or small, or even if you think others have raised it already. Ideas that seem fine in Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide don’t always make sense at the border.
As a recent example, a resident of northern East Gippsland recently raised an issue he had with access to home dialysis while receiving medical treatment from NSW and ACT service providers – quite a sensible arrangement for people in that part of East Gippsland. Rather than accept the apparent barrier to the service, he queried it. Within a week the relevant health agency people from three jurisdictions were connected and a solution found allowing the resident to receive the service he needs. What’s more, the solution applies right around our borders to the future benefit of many. One voice can make a difference!
(And with thanks to the rural health team in Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services for the exemplary response on this one).
You can get in touch via:
What happens with an issue after it has been raised?
At a minimum, every border issue or opportunity raised is reported to the Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes, the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria, Danielle Green MP, relevant Victorian and interstate government departments or agencies and relevant Ministers.
When required we play an active role helping departments and agencies to understand the issues raised and how they are impacting on border residents and businesses. This includes bringing agencies to the border to meet with their cross-border counterparts and to hear from impacted residents and businesses directly.