Disaster Payments

These people have been exposed to COVID through various types of interactions, and despite several being very close contacts, the locations of the contact have not been declared as exposure sites.

Declaring a site to be tier 1 or another designation is the responsibility of the Victorian government.

My constituents have done the right thing. As soon as they were informed that they had been in close contact with an infected person, they stopped work, went home and isolated for 14 days. While my constituents did the right thing, the department failed to declare the site as a tier 1. This declaration being the requirement that triggers disaster payments to those isolating.

One of my constituents was told by an operator on the COVID hotline, that because Victoria’s tracking and tracing teams had been so overwhelmed, they were not even getting to the locations that need to be declared as a tier 1 or 2. This is the same contact-tracing team that were using manual contact-tracing methods and a fax machine during Victoria’s deadly second wave last year. It’s clearly not the fault of the people on these teams, they are working as hard as they can; they have been let down badly by an incompetent Andrews government.

In one situation, a constituent of mine had a blood test performed by a person who was identified as being a positive COVID case at the time of the blood test. My constituent was notified about the close contact by the pathology company, so he went home immediately and isolated for two weeks. My constituent understandably expected to be eligible to receive the disaster payment; however, when he applied, the state health department advised him he didn’t qualify because they had been too busy to get to the location on the Mornington Peninsula, and therefore it had not been registered as a tier 1 site! My constituent is now left with a significant financial burden for doing the right thing.

Disaster payments must be made easily available for all those who find themselves in a situation where they are required to isolate and can no longer work. That is the only way we can ensure we can stop the spread and open Victoria again. By tethering these payments to an overwhelmed contact-tracing system, people are being let down.

People should not be forced to miss out on earning their income because of being required to isolate and then be left out of pocket because the Andrews government has left its department under-resourced and overwhelmed.