Article written by David Cohen, in the front page of the Post Newspaper 21/03/2020
Curtin MP Celia Hammond has tapped into western suburbs’ “kindness and community” to help vulnerable people with shopping and other needs. More than 200 locals have already signed up to do household tasks for older people too afraid to jostle for groceries or reluctant to expose themselves in crowds to possible carriers of COVID-19.
“It’s not going to be over in two weeks,” Ms Hammond said. “It’s a matter of us working together to get through it.” The Federal MP’s electorate office in Subiaco is acting as a contact point for volunteers and for people needing help. Many younger western suburb people are already helping their older neighbours who have largely confined themselves to their homes.
Ms Hammond said the 19,000 seniors in her electorate needed to be looked after. This week she told local mayors, CEOs, and politicians that her Curtin Community Care campaign would help coordinate efforts to make sure electorate residents were helped, and could help.
“This is not about taking over a vital role,” Ms Hammond said. “It’s about helping to connect people. If people already have a point of contact with a charity or a service group, they should keep using that.”
She said her letters to people aged 65 and over should have started arriving in letterboxes this Friday. Her letter asks people to contact her office if they can call the elderly or vulnerable, collect and deliver their groceries, and do other tasks. “If people volunteer to us, we will connect them to the best organisation,” she said.
Ms Hammond said she was optimistic the western suburbs would emerge from the crisis. “We see it time and time again in Curtin, volunteering and philanthropy,” she said. “I’ve got no reason to see why it won’t happen again.” “We want people to be cautious and careful – but not panic or be narky with each other.”
She said her office would also like to build up a database of businesses that could help people. “For example, I’m approaching organisations that want to produce alcohol-based hand sanitiser,” she said. “It keeps getting nicked and it’s run out everywhere.
“If you know of a local business that can offer online ordering, pick-up and delivery services, we’d love to hear about it.”
Ms Hammond said she looked likely to stay in her electorate office for now. “The biggest concern was what was true regarding health recommendations: people needed clearer information,” Ms Hammond said. “The second-biggest were worries about the elderly and the vulnerable. If they stay home, who is going to help them with their shopping, for example.”
A key part of Ms Hammond’s letter promotes the federal health department’s website for accurate and up-to-date information. Ms Hammond said misinformation about the pandemic, and what to do, was being circulated.
She can be contacted via phone on 9388 0288 or email at celia.ham[email protected]
“I will continue to share the latest COVID-19 updates on my social media and website,” she said. “However I encourage everyone to regularly monitor the Health Department website at www.health.gov.au.”