Coronavirus (COVID-19) and local government

Coronavirus COVID-19 was declared a “disease of pandemic potential” in Australia on January 21, 2020. The potential threat of the virus taking hold in Australia has already had economic implications to tourism, universities, the building sector and seafood exports.

The Federal Department of Health is closely monitoring the respiratory illness outbreak caused by the virus. For the latest advice, information and contact details, see the department’s health alert which is updated daily.

Section 2.1.1 of the Emergency Response Plan for Communicable Disease Incidents of National Significance outlines what local government’s role and responsibilities will be when Australia’s response is ramped up.

2.1.1 Local government responsibilities

Local government will (this may vary according to jurisdiction):

  • provide community leadership;
  • support the maintenance of civil society;
  • represent the interests of the community in broader planning processes;
  • support state and territory emergency management frameworks;
  • build understanding of health emergency arrangements within the community;
  • in partnership with State and Territory Governments inform the public of planning, preparations, response and recovery activities;
  • work with State and Territory Governments to tailor public information to the needs of the community, particularly to support vulnerable groups;
  • provide feedback on the effectiveness and perceptions

Primarily local government will be responsible for working closely with the state and territory governments to support preparedness, implementation of response measures and recovery, as well as communication of messages to the local community.

On 27 February the Australian Government also activated its emergency response plan to coronavirus and released the Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus. The emergency response plan guides the health sector’s response. It ensures there are enough medical staff, supplies and personal protective equipment across the country.

Under the plan, local government’s role will be to work with its State or Territory Government in the implementation of the emergency response if escalated, under the Prevention, Preparedness; Response; and Recovery (PPRR) model.

Advice for our communities remains to continue as normal and remember to practice good public health by regularly washing hands, limiting touches to the face and to self-isolate if feeling unwell.

Up-to-date information about COVID-19 is available at this link.