Value of community in a year like no other

City of Port Phillip
It would be easy to define 2020 by the crises we’ve faced in Australia, from drought and devastating bushfires, through a smoke-choked summer to the spread and spikes of COVID-19 and Victoria being declared a state of emergency and disaster.

What this year has taught us, though, is that as part of a strong and supportive community, we can find the resilience and adaptability to weather crises and help others to do the same. Here we reflect on the challenges we’ve faced together as a community and how Council is supporting our City’s recovery.

Through 2020, our community has been resilient and adaptable. Early in the pandemic, we adapted in line with our community and responded to community needs, implementing our emergency plan to allow us to make the quick decisions required to keep the community safe and to help us plan for recovery.

Some of the changes included:

• managing the temporary closures of our beaches, playgrounds and outdoor fitness stations as government restrictions were rolled out

• lobbying for virtual Council meetings so Councillors and community members could safely participate in the democratic process

• seeking online alternatives as town halls, public libraries, recreational and leisure facilities, customer service counters, arts and culture centres and youth centres were closed

• organising online versions of events that would otherwise have had to be cancelled, such as the St Kilda Film Festival and Mabo Day commemoration. Library story times and a business forum were also held online

• assisting South Melbourne Market traders and shoppers through the introduction of an order and collect service.

We delivered a 2.8 million emergency relief package to help support those most affected in our community, including many of our traders. Up to $500,000 from our social housing fund was made available for services supporting people experiencing homelessness and $180,000 allocated to an arts rescue package.

Unforeseen costs, such as those arising from the COVID-19 emergency and government cost-shifting impacted our Budget and we had to make some big decisions on where to direct our focus and resources, including a comprehensive restructure.

In this climate we have responded to current pressures, but also delivered on our commitments that look to our City’s recovery.

We are also supporting the City through Live Love Local, as part of our social and economic recovery program, to engage locals and visitors alike to get out and about safely this summer and to eat, drink and shop locally.

A $1.7m Economic and Cultural Recovery package has recently been announced, with a number of events to be funded by the budget that was originally allocated to fund the 2021 St Kilda Festival.

With initiatives such as these in place, we are looking ahead, and taking the community spirit into 2021 and beyond.

/Public Release. View in full here.