Due to the lockdowns and travel restrictions implemented over the COVID-19 pandemic the Shire of Manjimup saw an increased number of people experiencing financial hardship. In some cases COVID-19 safety measures may have led to one or several family members losing their jobs, having their work hours severely reduced, or losing the support and assistance of family and friends. Through the Shire of Manjimup's success in obtaining a Lotterywest grant, the Shire was able to support the community, and alleviate the increased demand on local service providers and charities. By making an application through one of 24 referral agent partners across the Shire community members in need received direct support with food, shelter, crisis accommodation, transport, gas bottles, firewood, and other emergency relief items. Critically the funding was to ensure no one, as a result of COVID-19, became entrenched in long term poverty and hardship.
For the past four months the Shire of Manjimup has worked with existing charity organisations and support service providers in Manjimup, Northcliffe, Pemberton and Walpole to distribute support and emergency relief. Not only has the Emergency Relief fund supported those in need, but it has provided a boost for local businesses and the economies of the towns within the Shire. To date, the Shire of Manjimup Emergency Relief Fund Program has received 1,357 requests for assistance, helping 201 Couples, and 240 Singles with a total of 295 children. The Program has benefited 937 people, equating to 1 in 10 people in the Shire experiencing a benefit from the support offered. One of the additional benefits of the Program has been to local business with a total of $173,585 being spent across 42 businesses. It is no surprise that the most requested items, through the winter period, have been fire wood, gas bottles and food.
With the initial impact of COVID-19 reduced, and restrictions being lessened, the Shire has now stepped back from front line delivery, and transitioned the support role back to support service organisations and charities to provide emergency relief to the community. Essentially reverting back to pre COVID-19 practices with the additional remaining grant funding being available to assist these agencies with meeting the need of addressing genuine hardships that many have experienced as a result of the lockdown and restrictions period.
To help those in need with the change in service delivery, the Shire has produced a Community Support Information Directory which will provide information as to where people can access assistance with food, clothing and other items. The directory can be accessed on the Shire's webpage www.manjimup.wa.gov.au, copies will be available from the Shire on request, and at your local Community Resource Centre.
Shire President Paul Omodei stated "The Shire's COVID-19 Relief Team have done fantastic work in pulling the relief fund together. The significant role support services have played in partnering with the local government to ensure people in need, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions, have received essential support services. The critical role these agencies play is acknowledged and always appreciated".
Authorised by Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer
Contact Sheri Laba, Public Relations Officer
Contact for comment: Paul Omodei, Shire President
Contact: 0448 810 773