Working together to protect our future

On the 2nd of March, after a months leave in New Zealand, I returned to the Territory just before the seriousness and urgency of the COVID-19 global pandemic was being realised and social distancing, quarantining and international and state border restrictions were imposed.

The first week back I travelled to Darwin, returning to Alice the following day by road, taking the opportunity to stop off and catch up with members at Bachelor, Pine Creek, Adelaide River, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Ali Curung and Ti Tree on the return journey south.

COVID-19 restrictions imposed in mid-March caused immediate, unprecedented and dramatic changes to our work, social and family environment. On the 24th of March the NTPA office in Darwin was closed to the public and we altered our service model to offsite operations. Thankfully, I managed to squeeze in a remote support visit to Yuendumu on the 9th of March, where I caught up with Rob Jordan and his team and delivered an NTPAdonated rowing machine.

The decisions made to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of people in remote areas effectively closed all non-essential travel to remote communities prohibiting persons from entering designated areas, unless issued with exemptions for essential travel. As a result of these restrictions, most of my everyday business was conducted via email or phone. The opportunity to have personal face-to-face contact especially with our remote community membership has been limited, and many of our permanently stationed members have effectively been locked down in their respective communities unless for essential travel.

A need to provide an increased supply line to get grocery items out to our remote members was quickly identified. At the forefront co-ordinating this function and supporting our members, as always, was Brodie Anderson. Fridges and freezers were quickly sourced and placed in the Police Station to store frozen/ perishable goods for remote stations until arrangements could be made to have the goods forwarded to the relevant station, urgent discussions regarding Woolworths bush orders were established, the Bush Bus was made available for the taking of bush orders to remote stations, and Airwing is being utilised for support and wellbeing visits and deliveries. There are only 24 hours in a day Brodie make sure you save some for yourself mate!

I would also like to take this opportunity and reiterate the words of NTPFES Senior Business Manager, Nancy Parsons and personally thank our Southern Housing Officer, Maddy Bail for her effort and professionalism in housing our new members from Squad 136. To source housing for almost 30 members in one occurrence required a lot of organisation, preparation and consideration. A massive undertaking with a huge burden of responsibility and made all the more difficult and urgent when, unexpectantly, the graduation date was brought forward by six weeks. Good job Maddy!

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