Report on COVID-19 impact

Jane Anderson has been appointed Latrobe Health Advocate. photograph hayley mills

TOM GANNON

Latrobe Health Advocate Jane Anderson and the Gippsland Primary Health Network have produced a report detailing the impact of COVID-19 in the Latrobe Valley.

The report titled ‘COVID-19 Impact and Recovery in Latrobe’, is designed to highlight concerns raised by community members regarding their experiences during last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns.

The report identifies gaps in the system, considers broader opportunities for health system reform, and provides advice to the Victorian Government and local service organisations about the key commitments required to steer recovery in the Valley.

Ms Anderson said a report specific to the Latrobe Valley is an important part of providing targeted assistance its residents.

“We need to make sure recovery is informed by people’s experiences in the community, so that means it’s not just a blanket approach to all locations, it’s hearing about what needs to occur in a local area,”she said.

According to Ms Anderson one of the key points of concern raised in the report is the issue of digital connectivity.

“People weren’t able to connect with others as they ordinarily would,” she said.

“For volunteers and community groups there’s a reliance on technology to enable those connections to occur, and not everyone has the equipment or the skills or can afford the data, so they were further isolated.”

Ms Anderson said the issue of digital connectivity is an even greater concern considering the societal shift towards digital-only communication.

“From a digital connectivity side of things the ever increasing reliance on digital connectivity for everyday services and what that means for people that don’t have that digital connectivity, they need that for paying bills, accessing financial support and health services,” she said.

Among other concerns raised is the need for greater collaboration between health services, a whole government approach for bolstering digital infrastructure, patient-centred care, and community-led recovery.

Ms Anderson said the best approach to recovery is through the combined efforts of government and community services.

“We need to have the collective approach to addressing issues, so across multiple levels of government and across services to support recovery,” she said.

“We have seen aspects of that in protecting people’s health and communicating messages and we need to make sure that continues.”