After the dust settled on the announcement the Yass Valley would be leaving lockdown, several issues rose to the surface. Perhaps the most significant is that for those who work in Canberra and some of our surrounding LGA’s still in lockdown, such as Goulburn and Queanbeyan, disaster payments will now become invalid. This is due to their place of residency no longer being in lockdown.

Federal Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain has been very outspoken on the issues the ACT bordering communities have faced since the recent outbreak began. She said it was vital that both Federal and State Government’s recognise that there is a large portion of the community that “don’t fit into a neat bubble based solely in their LGA.”

“It’s really great news that parts of NSW that don’t have any cases can regain some freedom and start getting back to a sense of normality. These lockdowns have been incredibly tough for small business owners and being able to reopen will be a welcome relief for many. But lockdowns ending doesn’t mean everything is immediately back to normal and it’s important that the State and Federal governments keep providing support to individuals and businesses who are still feeling the effects of these lockdowns. Countless people who live in the Yass Valley work in surrounding areas, particularly Canberra. People’s whole lives don’t fit into a neat bubble based solely in their LGA.”

“These people need reassurance that the support will continue. I reached out to the Minister for Government Services and was assured that people in Yass would still be eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment if their place of work was unable to open due to lockdowns in other regions. But clearly this information hasn’t flowed through and people are being told they will need to reapply for support. The last thing people need right now is more confusion. Government’s need to communicate and they need to work together to ensure people aren’t left behind. I’ll continue to advocate for our communities and will be once again writing to the relevant Minister to ensure people in Yass aren’t unfairly cut off,” said McBain.

One local who chose to remain anonymous has been dealing with Services Australia and other relevant departments in the last 24 hours, describing the current situation as “ridiculous”.

“Just after it was announced we would come out of lockdown, I rang them and asked what to do.”

“They said the payments would be cancelled and you would have to reapply through the ACT. Then in the interim I messaged Kristy to see if she had any extra information for what that would entail and then she replied with what she put out last night which she got from the Minister’s office,” she said.

“Because I work in the ACT I now need to reapply through the ACT link on the MyGov website but that can’t be done until next Friday because that’s when those dates open up.”

“New South Wales is the only state that had those payments done in advance, every other state is doing it in arrears so it will leave people with a week gap in their payments.”

The announcement of a release from lockdown for the Yass Valley will do wonders for our local businesses and workforce. However, with such a significant portion of our community travelling outside the LGA for their work, could this release from lockdown do more harm than good?
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