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Council Connections - Mayor's Message 29 April 2020

29th April 2020

It is timely to congratulate the many businesses in our district for the mighty job they are doing in continuing the service to our community under these trying times. Changed circumstances has meant changing ways and the level of innovation and service re-arrangement employed to ensure that customers continue to receive quality service, in and out of the shops and stores is simply amazing. Thank you everybody for pitching in and helping out as you have done. Your loyalty to our community is unquestionable.

We as a community can and must show our gratitude to the hard work put in by our local businesses by shopping locally. Spending our money locally will help our businesses trade through this difficult period and ensure the continuity of service into the future that we all would like to see.

When you support locally owned businesses, you support the local economy and the employment of local people. You are also directly supporting your local sporting groups and your local community in general. There are many studies that indicate that shopping locally has major economic benefits for your local community. Did you know for instance that when you spend $100 at a local business, on average 58% more of your money stays in your community compared to what would have happened if you spent that $100 at a multinational company based store.

To assist our local business community through the uncertain times surrounding COVID-19 Council staff have been contacting business owners to provide information regarding the support available through various State and Federal Government programs. The feedback received through this process has reaffirmed the positivity of our tight knit community in the support that residents are able to offer local businesses and the support that they in turn offer us.

Thank you for shopping locally.

Solar Power for Picture Theatre

I am pleased to inform that Council has recently released a contract to local firm Lahtinen Electrical to install solar electrical systems at the Ingham Picture Theatre. The work is being undertaken as part of Council’s overall cost reduction program with a view to minimising rating impacts through cost minimisation where possible. Installation of solar will significantly reduce the current high power bills associated with running of air conditioners and lighting associated with cinema use and will greatly assist the Ingham Disability Support centre in their efforts to provide ongoing movie experiences for the community in an affordable manner.

LDMG Communications During Disaster Events

The Hinchinbrook Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) is constantly reviewing its plans and strategies seeking continuous improvement. Feedback and suggestions from the community are vital and essential for information gathering.

A concern for quite a while has been the absence of a quick method of communicating with the elderly members of our community in times of disaster, particularly when events are unfolding. As you are all aware, our best defense to disaster situations is preparedness and more often than not, timing for preparedness is critical.

The development of Social Media and digital technology has been a godsend for instantaneous messaging purposes, but unfortunately, not everyone in our community is connected or technologically savvy with the larger proportion of non-connected people being within our older demographic.

In addition to not owning a digital device, our experiences also show that a good majority of our elderly are fearful of aspects of modern technology. For instance, we are aware that many of our elderly will not answer the phone when we have, in the past sent out an emergency alert regarding flooding, as they did not recognise the number coming up on their screen. The emergency alert was ignored on the basis that it may have been a marketeer.

We do rely on the traditional means of messaging such as radio, television and good old word of mouth to get the message out when needed. We are also reliant upon and thankful that we are by nature a generally caring community where neighbours and friends do look out for each other and assist with the message spread when needed. This neighbourly assistance is a very essential asset to the LDMG operations and is something that we really could not do without.

We do accept that we have had disasters in the past when no similar technology was in existence and that people survived. No argument with that, but the fact is that the technology is now available and why not use it to make life simpler and easier if possible.

Any thoughts or ideas you may have regarding improvements to our communication methods would be appreciated.

COVID-19 Staff Adaptation

Whilst compliance with COVID-19 restrictions have included the closure of many community facilities, staff have taken the opportunity to undertake tasks that are often secondary to assisting customers and residents who are visiting facilities.

Community and Development Services staff have recently undertaken a review of the Hinchinbrook Shire Library Collection, which includes both Ingham and Halifax Libraries, with over 18,000 books documented. A review of Council’s Arts Collection Register with the inclusion of new artworks has also been undertaken and providence investigations are continuing.

In addition to this, staff have commenced cataloguing the Special Collections Room, which comprises of Local History and the Kennedy Regiment Collection. This project includes the cataloguing and digitisation of photographs, books, periodicals, journals and miscellaneous items which are invaluable to the Hinchinbrook Shire. We are the gatekeepers of the knowledge of our region and it is important that locals are able to easily access the collection.

Community staff have also taken over cleaning responsibilities for the facilities that they work in, freeing up Cleaning and Maintenance staff to provide a much needed focus on community facilities.

During these unprecedented times, it is important that staff are able to adapt to the quick changes necessary to ensure continuation of our services to the community and I applaud staff on their positive attitude towards the various strategies that have been implemented.

Need to print the Council Connections page? Click on the link below for the printable version. 

COUNCIL CONNECTIONS -  29 APRIL 2020

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