In light of the escalating public health challenges communities are facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, I am establishing a local COVID-19 Volunteer Connect initiative to link volunteers with anyone in our community who needs help.

I am particularly concerned about people who are more vulnerable, including older Australians, those with chronic diseases, and those with a disability.

It is distressing, for instance, to witness the elderly struggling on their own to buy essential items from the supermarket.

There are many people across the Geelong, Corangamite, Ballarat and Bendigo regions who wish to volunteer their time, even if it is to assist with shopping or running errands.

Effective immediately, anyone who wishes to volunteer or anyone who is seeking support from a volunteer may ring my office on (03) 5221 5900.

Alternatively, please email Kerry in my office at Kerry.Ridgeway@aph.gov.au and include the words “COVID-19 Volunteer Connect” in the subject line.

We will do our best to connect volunteers with those needing assistance as well as connecting people to local agencies and services.

As a member of the Morrison Liberal Government, I want to assure Victorians that we are doing everything possible to combat COVID-19 and to keep Australians safe.

As the Prime Minister has said, we will get through this and be a stronger nation as a result.

For anyone seeking public health information including how to identify the symptoms of coronavirus and obtain medical assistance, please go to health.gov.au.

18 March 2020