Cross Border Call Out team still working for community

COMMUNITY ADVOCATE: Border community member Paula Gust is hoping to take a well-deservde break after months of advocacy work
COMMUNITY ADVOCATE: Border community member Paula Gust is hoping to take a well-deservde break after months of advocacy work

With the borders open and some normality returning to the state, Paula Gust and her hardworking team at Cross Border Community Call Out will be taking a well earned break, but will be continuing with their advocacy work.

Ms Gust and her team have spent countless hours over the past several months advocating for cross border community members, speaking to politicians, police and government bodies, and deciphering legislation.

Ms Gust started the Cross Border Call out Facebook page during the height of COVID-19 border restrictions, and it quickly became a place of support and information for local residents, and more recently, people from all over South Australia who are confused by the new permit system.

"We have about 4,500 people on our page now," she said.

"We still have the people who are cross border community members, and have followed us from day dot, and I think because they have been amongst it, we can put out notices or explanations and they grasp it a bit quicker."

"We have also had an influx of people outside of the 70 km travel bubble who are looking at us as a go to point for information, and because they haven't had to go through this for so long, I think they find it a bit harder to understand the initial stages."

She said there had been confusing messages from both Victoria and South Australia.

"We need it in writing and we need it clear for everyone," she said.

"Nothing should be open for interpretation, we can't have grey areas, they have to write it out simply, so we can all read it.

"The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria has not been updated for the last two changes, that's way behind the 8-ball.

"It's not ideal, it just causes angst - people get pulled over, they are thinking one thing and they are told another."

However, Ms Gust was hopeful that the border crossings would soon be a thing of the past, with the introduction of QR check-in in all South Australian venues this week.

"I believe that if they are bringing in the QR codes at all the places you visit, hopefully that means they can phase out the checkpoints at the border,because you are really being traced everywhere else.

"It's doubling up, having the checkpoints in operation."

"I think the SA cops are over it, they are ready to go home and be with their families for Christmas."

Although the borders are now open and things are starting to return to normal, Ms Gust said the team will be continuing their advocacy for the cross border community.

"We are in the background, still working on trying to get some attention put into scenarios - let's say for instance there was an outbreak in Naracoorte, with five cases, would they shut the whole state?," she said.

"Obviously, they wouldn't shut down Adelaide because of Naracoorte, it just wouldn't happen, we know that, so what we want to get is some clarity that if there were another outbreak in the city, they need to apply that same principle - lockdown the hotspot, not the whole state.

"I hope there are things in place and addressed now in the quieter time so that if it rears its ugly head again now or even next winter, there is an action plan, so it's not a reactive response - It needs to be proactive so everyone knows what is going to happen so there is no panic buying and all this unsurety.

"Of course, we could do all that work and then nothing will happen, but if we didn't do al the work, something would happen - as much as it's settled down, we do know anything is possible so we can get some things in place to be prepared instead of trying to rush and so it when the heat is on."

With Christmas near, Ms Gust was hopeful that her and the team could enjoy some time off.

"We do deserve some downtime," she said

"Three of the four of us are farmers, so we have other things we need to be alert about like bushfires - we had a fire at the farm last January, things like that turn your world upside down.

"We do have things we need to focus on such as harvest, so we have a busy season ahead regardless."

PERMITS STILL NEEDED

As COVID-19 restrictions ease and people make Christmas travel plans, South Australians are reminded that permits are still required if planning to travel interstate.

Travelling to Victoria

Anyone entering Victoria from South Australia will need a Victorian Border Crossing Permit.

Failure to present a valid permit at the border will mean you are not able to enter Victoria, except under listed exemptions or in an emergency.

If you reach the border without a valid permit or identification, you will be refused entry, except under listed exemptions or in an emergency.

You will be able to apply for a permit through a smart device and permits will be issued immediately.

The 70-kilometre cross border permit arrangements between Victoria and South Australia are still in place. You can display your previous cross border permits or your driver licence with an address within 70 kms of the border.

You will be allowed to cross the border if you have only been in the Green Zone or the Orange Zone, and you're crossing the border to seek emergency support because you or your children are escaping harm or are at risk of harm from family violence.

If you have visited locations identify by South Australia Health as a high risk location during the exposure period then you have visited the Red Zone and you are not eligible to receive a Victorian Border Crossing Permit. You will not be allowed to enter Victoria, unless you have been granted an exemption by the Chief Health Officer.

You can apply for a Victorian Border Crossing Permit here - https://www.service.vic.gov.au/services/border-permit/home

Travelling to SA  

A Cross Border Travel application is required for domestic travellers planning travel to SA.

You should aim to complete the cross border travel registration form at least three days before you leave, regardless of where your travel begins.

Note: For families, each individual must complete a separate cross border travel registration form.

If you already have an existing cross border approval, you do not need to reapply.

People with existing Cross Border Community Member approvals will be able to use their existing approvals to travel into Victoria, or produce their drivers licence verifying their residence is within 70 km of the border.

This story Cross Border Call Out team still working for community first appeared on Naracoorte Herald.