COVID 19 – VACCINATION

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (12:44): [by video link] I appreciate the opportunity to speak in this adjournment debate. As my colleagues would be aware, I'm in Wollongong and we're part of the New South Wales lockdown area. I want to report to the House and make some comments about the feedback on the experiences of my constituents at this time. It is the case that in Wollongong we have a very small number of cases being announced daily. This is a situation where people in so many local government areas and electorates across Greater Sydney are watching those daily numbers, watching the lists of exposure sites as they're released, and checking where they've been, with all the hypervigilance that people have at this time. This is putting a lot of stress on my community. I have to say that there are so many people across the community who, each and every day, make me proud to represent them: community groups, church groups, volunteer groups, those organising meals. Our local ABC Illawarra, each morning, talks to a local community group doing things to support the less fortunate in our community each and every day. It's great to hear about what they're doing. As always, the volunteer groups that are part of our community are impacted by people's need to stay at home, and that is affecting the volunteering capacity.

I want to acknowledge that there are some really great initiatives happening locally. We have had a group of Illawarra people coming together, leaders in business and community groups. They are running a campaign called 'vax the Illawarra' with the intention of getting us in the race to make sure that we reach the vaccination targets. They've pulled together a really great campaign. I want to acknowledge the media partners who've signed up to this campaign and are running stories to remind people to get vaccinated. They are the WIN network, PRIME7, Network 10, ABC Illawarra, Illawarra Mercury, i98FM, Wave FM and Vox FM. Across our TV, newspaper and radio media partners, they're all getting on board to get that message out to get vaccinated. There are also some really important community partners, such as: the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute; Destination Wollongong; the Aston Group; Housing Trust; Hansen & Cole Funerals; M&M Lawyers; MMJ Real Estate; the University of Wollongong, whose new Vice-Chancellor has a great message; The Cram Foundation; the Illawarra Turf Club; Greenacres; Dion's Bus Service; Convenient Chemist; and BlueScope. They've come together in a great way to get that message out to our community. I want to give a shout-out to Alex Volkanovski, our champion boxer, who is out there reminding people that it doesn't matter how fit and healthy you think you are, you still need to get vaccinated. There are also really great messages from all sorts of people across all sorts of areas: religious, entertainment, education. I give a big shout-out to our Olympic gold-medallist Emma McKeon, who's a champion of this campaign and is sending out the message.

I want to acknowledge that I, along with my colleague the member for Whitlam and our state colleagues Ryan Park and Paul Scully, have been making the point that people are also expressing great frustration because they want to do the right thing, so they're getting on lists to get the vaccination and some of them are getting appointments that are six or eight week weeks away. It is frustrating. The government really need to understand that the mistake they made by not getting ahead of the vaccination rollout at the beginning is a real problem in our community at this point in time. A big thank you to all of those in the community who are out there, determined to get vaccinated and having conversations with family members who might be a bit hesitant. It would have been a whole lot easier and a whole lot better if those people could have got those vaccinations a whole lot quicker.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.