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The Governor’s program this week had a particular focus on organisations which are aiming to maintain connection throughout their communities.

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The Governor again conducted many video calls during the week, building on some long-standing connections. The Governor spoke with many organisations with a particular community focus – including organisations of which the Governor is proud to be Patron, such as the Country Women’s Association, and the Victorian Men’s Shed Association.  Both of these organisations are vital conduits of support and camaraderie in regional communities right across Victoria.  They are of vital importance to those in our regions who may be feeling particularly isolated from family during this period of physical distancing.  The Governor appreciated hearing about the ways in which both organisations have continued their work in communities to maintain important connections.

Following the tragic events of last week, the Governor spoke with Commander Lauren Callaway APM, Chair of Victoria Police Legacy. As Patron-in-Chief, the Governor is very proud of the vital support that Victoria Police Legacy provides to the families of VicPol members. The Governor heard from Commander Callaway how Victoria Police Legacy is supporting those whose lives have been devastated following the loss of four Victoria Police officers last week.

Among the other video calls received by the Governor included representatives of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival – another of the many dynamic festivals Melbourne is famous for, and which is unable to go ahead as planned in 2020.  The Governor spoke with the Presidents and CEO to hear about how the Festival will continue into the future. 

Another of the Governor’s video calls enabled Her Excellency to speak with more Mayors and CEOs of Victorian regional Shire Councils, especially those who have just emerged from a Summer marred by tragic bushfires, from which their communities are still recovering.  These are important conversations for the Governor, as it affords her the opportunity deepen her understanding of the challenges faced by these areas.  The Governor and Mr Howard are very much looking forward to being able to resume their program of shire visits, once it is possible and safe to do so.

The Governor rounded off a busy week with another virtual visit – this time, to the Austin Hospital in Melbourne’s north.  During the visit, the Governor and Mr Howard received a briefing from Dr Max Alexander, Interim CEO of Austin Health and Dr Jason Kwong, Medical Director for Infection Control, before being given a virtual tour of the COVID-19 screening clinic.  During the tour, the Governor and Mr Howard had the opportunity of speaking with Dr Liv Smibert, Infectious Diseases Physician, Dr Stephen Warrilow, Head of the Intensive Care Unit, and Ms Michelle Topple, Nurse Unit Manager, to hear about the challenges they and their colleagues are facing in their everyday work while helping to keep Victorians safe.

The Governor finished the week by chairing a Special Meeting of the Victorian Executive Council, this time to make the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 – the latest set of regulations in Victoria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognising the emotional difficulties that children may be facing as they are isolated from their school friends, sports teams and peer groups, the Governor has recently launched the Someone Special Program, which aims to encourage young Victorians to identify someone who inspires them, because of the work or actions they take in support of others.  Children and young people are asked to make a video, draw or write a short poem or paragraph about their special someone. It might be a family member or friend, someone in their school or neighbourhood or a local faith, sports, performance or other community group. For more information on the Someone Special Program, visit this page.