Editorial September 17th 2021

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

If you are in the Eurobodalla you will no doubt be enjoying the continued Lock Down, taking time to attend to everything you still haven’t got around to over the past weeks and weeks of Lock Downs.

It was nice to see smiling faces on social media this morning of our neighbours in Cobargo, Bermagui and across the Bega shire enjoying a lifting of restrictions. They looked happy to be back in the gym, sitting around in cafes, actually buying things in shops, having a beer with mates and enjoying their new found freedom. We can only hope that we too might enjoy those same freedoms one day.

Alas Eurobodalla now has ten active cases of Covid.

Covid is a strange beast that takes hold and then quietly spreads as you go about your day to day. You might pick it up unknowingly and be in the community for a few days before becoming aware of any symptoms. By then you could well have gone to Woollies, Dan Murphy’s and even the Post Office. Fortunately for most of us we do the right thing. We scan ourselves in and check ourselves out. Our phones keep a record of our Check-In history and should we be unlucky enough to contract Covid we would willingly hand over our phone so that our whereabouts might help Covid Trackers do their job as quickly as possible to prevent any further spread.

But that is in an ideal world. Ours sadly is not such a world.

Many in the Shire, now locked down indefinitely, might lay the blame for all of this at the feet of Case Number One. It is understood that Case #1 came into the Shire having been released from a correctional facility. We have since learnt that Case #1 moved about in the community. Most likely unaware they were infected they set in line a domino effect that now numbers ten cases. By the end of the weekend we can expect more.

Of importance in this is the revelation that the correctional facility holds no responsibility for having released a Covid positive person into the community. Parklea, for example, has an intake protocol that places new arrivals in isolation from other prisoners for a fortnight to ensure they will not infect fellow detainees. But there is no such release protocol.

Parklea states "All inmates who leave Parklea Correctional Centre are required to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their COVID status." We learn that upon release, inmate details are provided to NSW Health, who are then responsible for ensuring self-isolation.

Sadly for Eurobodalla our Primary Case #1 didn’t self isolate. When it came to assisting authorities with times and places of check-ins using QR codes or Case #1 decided to be unco-operative. This caused a major delay in the community being advised of venues of concern. The rest will become our history.

In the meantime the potential for other Covid Primary Cases to enter the fragile NSW regional community via soon to be released inmates from Parklea remains a major concern. Parklea is a known hotspot for Covid.

The most disappointing aspect of all this is that the authorities are aware of the exposure risk when prisoners are released. With a disproportionate number of prisoners in NSW Correctional facilities being Aboriginal it is even more concerning that their return, if positive, to their homes and community, will have major consequences.

Over the past few months we have seen countless examples of people doing the wrong thing. There is an exasperation of Lock Down weariness, there is a faction who declare it all a sham, and then there are those who simple don’t care. In our case it appears that we are all in this together because Correctional Services simply didn’t care. They had their rules and procedures and they let out a person they knew would not abide by the self isolation rules.

The lesson to be learnt here is that we can not place total trust in “thy neighbour” and we must acknowledge that there are those who will do their best to find loopholes, to snub rules, and to act selfishly. It is therefore up to each and all of us to do what we can to limit our exposure. Let’s continue being mindful, respectful, careful and, when able, cheerful because one day we will be able to enjoy the freedoms we miss.

Until next—lei

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