Be Kind Be Connected 7-11 February
Message from the CEO
On Thursday night, I was fortunate to attend the 2021 Victorian Tourism Awards and was thrilled to see the Events team win the top honour – Gold – for the 2021 Ballarat Heritage Festival in the Festivals and Events category. In 2021, the Ballarat Heritage Festival was expanded to a 24-day festival for the first time to give people the chance to celebrate being able to come together and experience Ballarat’s unique heritage in a COVID-safe way.
In further recognition for our organisation, the Marketing team was a finalist in the Tourism, Marketing and Campaigns category for BALLARAT, Made of: Ballarat and We Are Ballarat campaigns. These campaigns have worked to grow the important visiting friends and visiting relatives’ market, which represents 44.5 per cent of visitors to our regions.
A massive congratulations to our Events, Visitor Economy and Marketing teams, and everyone who has worked to support these teams to achieve this fantastic result for our organsiation. This recognition shows how our organisation has fought to support our city’s tourism sector through the pandemic and our post-pandemic recovery.
I have no doubt that 2022 will be another great year of events for Ballarat that will bring much needed visitors and economic support to our city. Well done all!
Have a great weekend.
What’s news this week?
Community Satisfaction Survey begins
The City of Ballarat last week began a three-week Community Satisfaction Survey.
As a result, some residents may receive a telephone call between Monday 31 January and Monday 21 February from independent market research agency National Field Services.
Similar surveys will be undertaken across all other Victorian councils in the coming months as part of the mandatory Local Government Performance Reporting Framework.
Read our latest media releases on our website here. This week’s highlights:
- Imaginative exhibitions add to Ballarat’s artistic calendar
- Applications open to assist the Ballarat community
- Fresh new surface for Learmonth Bowling Club
COVID-19 organisational update
As of Friday 4 February, we have about 40 staff either with COVID-19 or isolating, if they are a close contact or awaiting a test result. 89 impacted staff have now returned to work.
For the latest COVID-19 updates to our services, including the Ballarat Animal Shelter, Ageing Well, Libraries, Pools and Visitor Information Centre, visit our website.
City of Ballarat staff invited to book in for their booster
The National COVID Vaccine Taskforce has engaged Corporate Health Management (CHM) to run an extra Vaccine Hub in Ballarat.
The City of Ballarat is providing assistance with the location and promoting information about the hub to a range of sectors.
The vaccine hub will support the COVID-19 Booster program for disability support and aged care workers, people with a disability, childcare workers, and distribution centre workers.
We encourage all eligible City of Ballarat staff to book in for their booster.
What: COVID-19 Booster Program
Who: All eligible City of Ballarat staff
Where: Ballarat Mining Exchange, 12 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat
When: Monday 7 to Friday 11 February, 10am to 6pm daily
City of Ballarat childcare continues to support families through COVID
City of Ballarat childcare staff have shown up, day in and day out, throughout the pandemic to care for Ballarat babies, toddlers and kindergarten children.
Our childcare staff have worked on the frontline throughout the past two years to care for young children, who are ineligible to receive a vaccine, enabling families to work throughout the pandemic.
Today, childcare at the Wendouree and Girrabanya Children’s Centres looks a lot different than what it did two years ago, with increased COVID safe measures and procedures in place.
Parents now hand over their children to a staff member at the front of the centres, where possible, as part of a concierge service designed to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
Staff have returned to wearing masks, this week receiving a supply of KN95 masks, and are now also testing for COVID twice a week with Rapid Antigen Tests.
The centres operate with an increased focus on hygiene and cleaning, children play and learn outdoors as much as possible, the centres use improved ventilation with doors and windows open, and work to maintain bubbles with staff and children to avoid cross infection.
For many of the children, the pandemic has been a huge part of their lives.
Integrated Children’s Services Manager Rebecca Karslake says children explore concepts through play – and COVID-19 is no different.
“The children have created a mask-station where they learn about wearing masks and also play supermarket shopping where they pretend to use a QR code for checking in,” she says.
When it comes to operating the centres during COVID, navigating multiple restriction changes, robust contract tracing and reporting requirements, and the impact of COVID-19 and isolation requirements within the centres during times of planned and unplanned staff leave have provided multiple curveballs.
Despite the uncertainty with increased COVID cases in the community, Rebecca says staff continue to put on a smile each day at work, where they jump in to fill any staffing gaps and lend a hand wherever needed.
This dedication has ensured the two centres have not closed their doors once due to the impact of COVID-19.
“We operate for 11 hours a day. We have been able to keep operating but it hasn’t been easy,” Rebecca says.
“I am incredibly proud of our childcare staff – their teamwork, resilience and the way they look after each other is amazing. They just focus on the growth, development and learning of the children.”
The centres spent the past two years preparing for a positive case of COVID-19. The first positive case was reported in early January. There have since been multiple examples of children and staff who are currently isolating due to contracting COVID-19 or who are close contacts.
The organisation has also rallied behind the centres to ensure they continue to keep their doors open.
The mySafety team has provided ongoing assistance and support, including providing access to online group debriefing sessions via our Employee Assistance Program, while the People and Culture team has worked to fast-track the recruitment process to ensure a pool of casual staff are available to work.
“It ensures we can stay open and provide care for children, including vulnerable children, and the critical workers in our community,” Family and Children’s Services Executive Manager Sharelle Knight says.
"We are also supporting our families to continue to work as well. If we were to fully or partially close centres, there would be many Ballarat families unable to work.
Sharelle says all of the staff are impacted in different ways by the pandemic.
“They may have caring responsibilities for young children or elderly parents or someone with a health condition at home so there are anxieties about taking COVID home to their loved ones or, just as equally, anxieties about bringing COVID into their workplace,” she says.
“I have the utmost respect for our childcare and support staff – we are grateful to have such a wonderful team supporting children’s education and wellbeing at this time.”
Free cat desexing program
Do you have a pregnant cat or an accidental litter of kittens?
The Ballarat Animal Shelter has launched the National Desexing Program for the Ballarat municipality.
This initiative will provide free cat desexing up until 30 June 2022 for City of Ballarat residents with an eligible concession card.
The City of Ballarat is partnering with the National Desexing Network and participating vets to make veterinary care more accessible.
New exhibition in Ballarat Art Space
Did you know the City of Ballarat has two community spaces to provide emerging artists with the opportunity to exhibit their creations and reach a wider audience?
The latest exhibition in Art Space Ballarat, located at the front of the Mining Exchange, is currently exhibiting Entangled, a collection of works by CharisArt Group.
Each of the six artists work with different materials creating contemporary art works while using traditional techniques.
We encourage you to drop in, meet the artists and check out their creations.
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm until 6 March.
A giant boom box delivers live music to the CBD
Photos: Meda Design.
The City of Ballarat’s Boom Box is bringing music back to the city centre and giving local musicians a platform.
The Ballarat Boom Box will present a series of free live performances in various locations every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until April.
Discover more here.