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Wollongong City Council

Important Update for our Community 19 March

Thursday 19 March 2020

We know we have an important role to play in our community and that’s why Wollongong City Council is applying a community-oriented, risk-based approach to the delivery of our services during this challenging time.

We are continuing to review and respond to updated advice from the Australian Government and NSW Health, and have flexible plans in place which can be scaled to meet community needs and expectations in this rapidly changing space.

Today we are making modifications to selected services. These changes are being made to protect our vulnerable community members, and are part of our focus on ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers, their families and our community at this difficult time.

In addition to all Council-run events and gatherings with more than 100 people, the following programs will be placed on hold until further notice:

  • Wollongong Art Gallery programs, events and workshops. The Gallery will remain open.
  • Council’s Aged Day Care programs, except for the Friday Men’s Shed group.
  • Wollongong Youth Services Youth Centre’s drop-in sessions. Small group programs and information referral will continue.
  • All Wollongong City Libraries programs
  • Wollongong Botanic Garden's programs, including the Greenplan Plant Sales, School Holidays activities, and all tours
  • All Wollongong City Council Reference Groups
  • Beaton Park and Lakeside Leisure Centre programs and gym – excluding the privately-run programs
  • All our Community Engagement programs are postponed while alternative arrangements are explored. Council’s online engagement opportunities, via Council’s website, remain open.
  • Council-run conferences including the Reconciliation Conference scheduled for May
  • All Council-run school holidays programs

While there have been changes to programming, we ask anyone visiting the following facilities, to adhere to NSW Health guidelines in regards to hygiene and health. The following facilities are open:

  • All pools
  • Beaches
  • All Libraries
  • Wollongong Art Gallery
  • Wollongong Botanic Garden
  • Wollongong Youth Centre
  • Beaton Park and Lakeside Leisure Centres
  • Russell Vale Golf Course
  • Wollongong Memorial Gardens and Cemeteries
  • Wollongong Tourist Parks
  • All Community Facility buildings
  • Wollongong Council’s Friday Men’s Shed
  • Volunteering Illawarra

Essential services, such as trips to attend medical appointments or shopping for necessities such as food will continue to be provided by Council’s Community Transport service. Respite services for Carers will also continue. Advice will be provided directly to our customers and volunteers, but customers can also contact our Community Transport and Social Support teams to confirm service arrangements.

In addition, to these changes, Wollongong's Waste and Resource Recovery Park, or Whyte's Gully, asks customers to pay by card only from Saturday 21 March.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said he understood people in our community were concerned about coronavirus.

“This is an unsettling time and this is an emotive issue. That can be seen through people’s response in supermarkets,’’ he said.

“I would like to assure our community that Council has plans in place and we are following advice from the appropriate authorities when it comes to the delivery of our services and programs. There is also not a one-size fits all solution for Council because of the diversity of what we do and how we do it.

“What we’ve detailed today are some changes to the way we are doing some things so that we can have steps in place to help protect our vulnerable community members. This is a considered and measured approach. These are the right steps, and appropriate steps at this time for our city.

“We will continue to review our services and what we do for our community and how we do it. And, I would like to assure everyone that we have the plans in place to move beyond these measures, if it’s appropriate.”

While there have been modifications to the services, our libraries, community centres, pools, sportsgrounds and leisure facilities remain open. We are continuing to review the service levels on offer at each of these facilities daily – and following any updated advice from appropriate state and federal authorities – and will make additional changes, if appropriate.

Cr Bradbery said this time may prove to be financially difficult for some residents and those conducting business.

“I’d like to remind people that Council does have a Debt Recovery and Rates Hardship Policy that can be considered at this time,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“We have staff available who can talk through the options, and provide advice should that be something our residents or businesses need.’’

Council encourages everyone to follow the advice of NSW Health and if you’re unwell to not visit Council facilities. We do offer a range of services over the phone and through our website and people can use these options rather than visiting us in person at our Wollongong Customer Service Centre.

We continue to review the latest advice from NSW Health and the Australian Government related to all Council’s facilities and will keep people informed if anything changes. We will post updates on our City of Wollongong Facebook page, and on our website.

We assure our community we are focussed on continuing to serve their needs, and have plans in place to ensure the ongoing delivery of all our services. We have robust contingency plans, should they be needed, that will ensure the ongoing delivery of essential services, like waste collections.