Border permits cause difficulty

Kiara Stacey
By Kiara Stacey
Updated December 1 2021 - 11:52pm, first published 11:02pm
Travel Freedom: PPHS livestock sales consultant Paul Kinnaird, Pinnaroo, says it is exciting for border communities to be one.

THE border reopening has helped bring about reunions of friends, families and communities with 57,902 arrivals to SA within the first week.

Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell said while it is still early days, it was time to open up SA again.

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"Living in a cross border community such as Mount Gambier, that ability to travel freely across the border is necessary for the daily life of so many people," he said.

But it has not been all smooth sailing with concerns raised about the required border travel documentation.

"SA Health's border permit system is difficult, complex and failing older South Australians," Mr Bell said.

"We've had so many people walk through our doors in the last week needing help. It's clear the system was not properly thought out before coming into effect."

"New state-wide systems require foresight and extra resourcing to implement, and proper communication about how to use them.

Mr Bell said the systems need to be tested by people of all ages and accessibility levels to ensure inclusivity.

"Not everyone is tech savvy or has the latest smartphones or people to walk them through the process step-by-step," he said.

"There has been some pretty big assumptions made by SA Health as to the digital capacity of South Australians living in regional areas.

"I'd like to invite the SA Health team out to Glenburnie or Mt Schank and see how they go filling out 40 minutes of digital forms with limited phone reception."

He said his office had an 80-year-old man come in and ask for help with the permits because he wanted to travel to Vic for the Harrow Historical Society meeting for a few hours, but he did not have an email address or mobile phone.

Mr Bell said he will be highlighting the issue in State Parliament with SA Health Minister Stephen Wade.

"If you're going to put a system in place, it must be accessible to everyone," he said.

Pinnaroo producer Adam Oster said he would not have liked to have been the one making the decisions, but having property both sides of the border meant it was nice to know he had freedom with his movements.

"When you're trying to run a business you cannot spend half a day on the phone chasing answers," he said.

"I know they were making it up as they were going along, because it was an ever-evolving situation, but the lack of cohesiveness was pretty frustrating.

"I think mental health is something that has been ignored by a lot of the decision makers and the impact that has had on people in this area is something that will last longer than COVID."

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An SA government spokesperson said anyone struggling with the permit system should reach out to friends, family members or the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787.

"We are looking into other options for EntryCheck SA applications to support people who don't have access to, or are not comfortable using, the internet," they said.

They also acknowledged the mental health burden and said anyone experiencing distress should call the SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line on 1800 632 753.

"It's normal to feel stress and worry at this time, and we know the impacts of COVID-19 can impact individuals and communities differently," they said.

"In May 2020, Wellbeing SA launched www.OpenYourWorld.sa.gov.au to provide South Australians and their families with valuable resources, tools and information to support wellbeing by staying healthy, active and connected."

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The contact number for Lifeline Australia is 13 11 14.

CROSS-BORDER ACCESS WELCOMED

PPHS agent Paul Kinnaird says newly-reopened borders would allow his local community to have "normality" and go back to working together.

"We can go across there (Vic) and our clients can come here with confidence and not feel like we are doing something wrong," he said.

"We are be able to move a lot more freely and have a lot more contact time with our clients that were in those areas we could not get to."

Mr Kinnaird said it was exciting to have the ability to move freely, have consistency and some reliability on how often and when he can service clients that were outside of the 'border bubble'.

"I can transition without difficulty of knowing what we can do one day to the next," he said.

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He said it would also benefit cattle vendors and buyers.

"Having the border open means the opportunity for high cattle prices as people want to see what they are buying," he said.

"It gives them the opportunity to buy with a bit of confidence."

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Kiara Stacey

Kiara Stacey

Journalist

Journalist for Stock Journal. Kiara was in classified sales at Stock Journal before joining the editorial team. Kiara completed a Bachelor of Communication (journalism) at Deakin University in 2020.

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