Border restrictions made with 'very little sympathy', council says

BORDER RESTRICTIONS: West Wimmera Shire Council CEO David Leahy stated the new border restrictions are a political decision and were made with
BORDER RESTRICTIONS: West Wimmera Shire Council CEO David Leahy stated the new border restrictions are a political decision and were made with "very little sympathy".

West Wimmera Shire Council is seeking further clarification on tough new border restrictions as well as looking for ways to help affected community members.

South Australian premier Steven Marshall announced last Wednesday that the South Australian border will be closed to Victorian cross-border community members from next Friday (August 21).

Previously, people living within 40 kilometres of the border were able to enter South Australia for medical or educational purposes or to access essential services such as food, machinery parts and fuel.

West Wimmera Shire Council has several towns within 40 kilometres of the border, including Kaniva, Edenhope and Apsley.

West Wimmera Shire chief executive officer David Leahy met with the cross-border commissioner and other affected council leaders on Thursday.

"We still don't have a lot of answers unfortunately, but we are doing our best to get them," Mr Leahy said.

Mr Leahy stated even council was not immune to the effects of the new border restrictions.

"We have many staff members that live across the border and unfortunately there is no easy fix for them," Mr Leahy said.

"We think many of them won't be able to cross the border for work purposes."

Due the tough situation, many council staff members are now looking for alternative accommodation in Victoria.

Council staff are also required to cross the border regularly for its capital works and maintenance programs.

"We access quarry materials across the border and our equipment is often serviced over in South Australia as well - we have asked if these activities can continue but the answers are still unclear," Mr Leahy said.

"We are also pushing for asymptomatic testing to be available to Victorian residents in cross-border communities."

Mr Leahy said the border restrictions were causing great distress to many families in the West Wimmera Shire, with many of them using social media as a way to voice their concerns.

"Access to medical treatment is a big concern for residents who have previously seen doctors or specialists in South Australia and have done so for many years," Mr Leahy said.

"There are also issues with children crossing the border to go to school and families receiving infant care in South Australia.

"Farming is another big concern for residents, with many people relying on South Australia for machinery parts, service and labour."

Mr Leahy stated the border restrictions are a political decision and seemed to be made with "very little sympathy".

West Wimmera Shire Council staff are now liaising with other Victorian health and support agencies about this issue.

"We are meeting with Wimmera PCP and health care groups to see what tangible actions we can put in place to help our residents cope with these dramatic changes," Mr Leahy said.

"We have had a number of multi-agency meetings and we are doing our best to try to find a solution in this very difficult situation."

Mr Leahy said council would endeavour to keep the cross-border community members informed about the border restrictions as more information is brought forward.

This story Border restrictions made with 'very little sympathy', council says first appeared on Border Chronicle.