By Colin MacGillivray
KILMORE Wallan RSL leaders have called for the State Government to rethink its COVID-19 lockdown policy, claiming social distancing restrictions have made it impossible for the group to do its job.
Sub-branch president Rod Dally said the most recent COVID lockdown had prevented the RSL from looking after its most isolated members.
He said he had defied lockdown restrictions to check in on older members who lived alone.
“It’s hurting us as an RSL. We need to be able to see everyone and check on everyone, but we’re not able to do that out there and we’re just hamstrung,” he said.
“The people we’ve got are good people, and without them this RSL sub-branch will fold.
“There’s been a lack of ability to do what we do, which is the whole reason we exist as an RSL – to look after our people.”
RSL member Kenn Lonergan said he believed the government was implementing lockdowns too frequently instead of using them as a last-resort measure.
“There is one particular lady who lives on her own and is in her 80s. She’s been quite emotional over the past 18 months, and she’s in fear of being isolated,” he said.
“That sort of stuff does not normally happen. We’re normally there for her and other people like her, but we’re prevented by unnecessary lockdowns.
“[Lockdowns] have allowed unelected public servants to affect our lives to a huge degree, and they are answerable to no one.”
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan, who met with RSL representatives earlier this month, said the government had ‘let down’ the group.
“[The government] hasn’t got contact tracing up to speed and it hasn’t got its systems in hotel quarantine up to speed, and it’s the broader community that is paying the price,” she said.
“We had no cases in regional Victoria in this last outbreak, and I don’t understand why the government didn’t return us to where we were before the outbreak where community groups were allowed to gather.”
Ms Ryan said the government needed to ‘weigh up the social and mental cost’ of lockdowns on community groups.
“The RSL’s weekly get-togethers are … a major source of social interaction and support. The RSL is not just a coffee club, it’s supporting people throughout the community,” she said.
“That goes for a whole range of community organisations, and I think the government needs to adopt a more proportionate, sensible approach to restrictions.
“New South Wales has had a far more proportionate response where they’ve been able to restrict areas by postcode, and I think that’s what we need to adopt in Victoria.
“I’m not advocating for COVID to just be let loose throughout the community, but we need a more sensible approach to it.
“People are fatigued from the lockdowns, they’re exhausted and I don’t know that businesses or individuals can take another lockdown.”