Administration and operations update on COVID-19

News Update 27 March 2020

State of Emergency

As the Federal Government has declared a Human Biosecurity Emergency and the State Government has declared a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency for the whole of WA, the City of South Perth is required to act on directions from the State (the Commissioner of Police). We have been continuously monitoring the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic situation and have been posting the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) notifications on the City’s website since 25 February. 

Our response has been to ready and prepare the organisation, as best as we can, to be able to continue to provide essential and emergency local government services during what may be an extended health and economic crisis. 

Guiding Principles

In developing a response and remaining alert to the ever changing situation, the City is guided by some key principles:

  • This is a human health issue first and foremost – this is a declared global pandemic with very significant economic and social impacts
  • Protecting our community – the health of the community is paramount and the City has a range of statutory responsibilities, services and facilities to support the achievement of that 
  • Protecting our workforce – to fulfil those obligations, the health, safety and well-being of the City staff (and contractors) is a priority
  • Ensuring business continuity – the organisation must be adaptable and agile to provide relevant, valued and viable services commensurate with the requirements of changing circumstances
  • Respond strategically and deal in the facts to minimise reactive responses and avoid potential for confusing messages and indecisive leadership
  • Continuously monitor Federal and State Government directions and advise and respond promptly as able
  • Partner and learn from other local governments and from those jurisdictions experiencing the crisis to a greater extent than us
  • Communicate clearly and as needed to the City’s internal and external stakeholders.

The above guiding principles aid our preparation and operational decision making in the uncertain scenario we are in and are about to experience.

City Administration and Operations Status 

Currently the City Administration and Operations Centres remain open to the public and we will attempt to stay open for business for as long as we can.

However, in anticipation of the further ‘ratcheting’ of restrictions to movement and business activity, we have implemented measures to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors, including extensive closures of virtually all facilities and all community service events and programs.

We have also been finalising preparations for our workforce to be able to continue with the provision of essential and emergency services remotely when required. A majority of our employees are anticipated to be working from home by Monday 30 March and we are confident that we can continue to operate when a ‘lockdown’ is declared. 

This is obviously not a business as usual situation and there is an urgent need to turn our attention to how we can re-orient our services to be able to offer community support. The City is here as a resource and support for the community and we aim to remain connected. It will be just in a different way – not face to face and in gatherings, but electronically or by phone. 

Whilst the City is still open for business, some delays and changes to non-essential services may be required as we try to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on our organisation. We will continue to respond to all enquiries received in line with our Customer Service Charter, however we may need to change the way we do this. We encourage customers to contact us by email or social media as our phone service may need to be reduced in the event that all City staff are required to work from home.

Whilst the libraries are temporarily closed, a wide range of free eResources are available to members through the library website including free eBooks and eAudio books, online newspapers and magazines, eLearning as well as online entertainment channels.  

Keeping the Economy Going

At this early stage, before the real adverse health impacts are extensively felt, there is much concern across the country about personal job security, business continuity and household costs. Already the Federal and State Governments have announced very significant financial responses in an attempt to build a platform upon which the economy can survive and then ultimately rebound. Whilst relief measures are being discussed at all levels of government, I expect the Local Government sector to play our greatest role in the revival of the economy once the health crisis is over.

We will soon commence 2020/21 budget scenario planning and under direction from the Council the City will review all options open to us to mitigate the impact on household budgets. We will also be taking into consideration the impact that any reduction in revenue will have on our ability to provide not only essential services but also on our ability to carry out a range of ‘shovel ready’ capital works projects. Options are available for the City to consider given the exceptional circumstances we are experiencing and we will need to be brave and justify why these times will demand different approaches.

Local government will have a significant part to play in keeping people in employment and business when we come through the other side of the pandemic. All levels of government will be looking at job stimulation in the recovery process and the City can be a partner with other levels of government and business in that recovery. We have a number of community benefit projects ready and waiting to be implemented that could result in a long term improvement for the local economy and we will be proactive in seeking support from State and Federal Government for those projects.  

Flatten the Curve

We urge anyone who continues to go outside the home environment to exercise every precaution possible to maintain four square metre distancing in absolutely every situation, be it queuing for a coffee to walking the aisles of a supermarket or jogging on the foreshore. We all have a part to play to flatten the curve and minimise the impact that the COVID-19 virus has on our community. 

It is important that we continue to look out for each other during this extremely difficult but temporary period of isolation.

We will continue to keep our website and social media channels updated with any new developments as they occur.

Geoff Glass

Media contact

For media enquiries, please contact the City’s Communications Officer.