Funds needed for food relief: mayor

Greater Dandenong mayor Jim Memeti, centre, with Wellsprings for Women''s Jasmine Robbins, second left, receiving food support packages for Covid-19 relief in April.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong Council will extend its Covid-19 relief program in response to the pandemic’s continuing impact.

Mayor Jim Memeti said the council would need to extend its $330,000 food relief program that’s delivered about 25 tonnes of food a month to material aid providers since April.

The program, which has fed about 3000 people a week, had just four more weeks of funds left, Cr Memeti said.

Greater Dandenong will seek a state or federal grant to extend the program at least until the end of the year, if not longer.

Cr Memeti said the council was prepared to “top up” the grant if required – as businesses and workers suffer stage-4 lockdowns.

“It definitely needs to keep going to the end of the year or even longer.

“There’s lots of vulnerable people out there. We need to make sure we can continue to feed people and give them help.”

In April, the council unveiled a $4 million Covid-help package, which has since grown to $5.4 million.

The package included $100 rates waivers for 11,000 pensioners and $200 rates waivers for Jobseeker recipients in 2019-‘20.

Prior to the stage-4 announcements, councillors recently resolved to add a further $200 rates waiver for 2020-’21.

Eligible ratepayers who receive Jobseeker payments until 30 November can apply.

Councillors said the targeted waivers had better value to “those that need them” than blanket rate cuts in cities of Kingston (5 per cent) and Monash (10 per cent).

“For an unemployed rate payer with a median residential priced property … of $600,000, the $200 reduction on their municipal rates would be a 20% rate cut,” Cr Matthew Kirwan said.

According to modelling, the council will suffer a financial hit of at least $10.4 million due to the pandemic in 2019-’20 and 2020-‘21.

“This could increase unless Victoria rapidly improves on its current spike in positive cases,” a council report stated on 27 July.

“The impacts of Covid-19 continue to be profound and Council, like all levels of government, needs to remain agile in how we can best respond to assisting our community through these challenging times.”


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