Council meetings certainly are different in their implementation as we continue to face restrictions on Council due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to meet face-to-face in the Nhill Memorial Community Centre with wide spacing between all in attendance. We are pleased with the feedback we have received from the community with our meetings now being live streamed on Council’s Facebook page. Council has always encouraged public attendance at meetings, but unfortunately this cannot happen at this time.

Zoom meetings, emails and phones are our big communicator outside Council meetings. Social media is another way of communicating, but I am personally not a great fan, although it can be successful if used in the right spirit. There can also be negatives where unpleasant or negative comments are made, even derogatory and personal words being used. I read recently an appropriate saying, “Social media is a buffet, take what you like, leave what you don’t, then get the hell out of there”.

Hindmarsh Shire’s Working for Victoria staff are being fully utilised in our towns and works are being carried out that our normal maintenance crews do not have the time to achieve.

The first meeting of Hindmarsh Shire Council’s COVID-19 Community Reference Group was held this week. The group has Council, Community and Health representatives on the advisory panel that report to Council with suggestions and recommendations for the assistance of our communities for recovery.

We received great news from Minister Melissa Horne MP on the announcement of further upgrades to the Rainbow – Dimboola railway line. This will enable trains to be safer and faster. We thank the State Government for this stimulus funding.

Fantastic news for the Dimboola community with the new library being completed. Again with health regulations, Council is unable to have a normal opening of this great facility but it will be available when regular library hours’ resume.

Jeparit’s Charles Street upgrade is progressing on time and the entrance to Jeparit will be enhanced when this project is finished. Council’s work crew are taking great pride in this development.

The six Council’s that represent the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Transport Group, which Hindmarsh is a member, continues to lobby strongly for additional funding of 50 million dollars for upgrading and maintenance of our C-Class roads. These roads have deteriated over time and have become dangerous and unsafe for all vehicles, particularly trucks. An injection of funding is urgently required.

COVID-19 continues to rule our way of life and we are in for the long haul. Again, I urge all residents to continue their support of health regulations. If further restrictions are to increase, hopefully our rural areas with no virus numbers are looked at differently to our Metro Councils. It is disturbing to see how some people are behaving and surely they will use common sense if our numbers remain high.

Cr Rob Gersch