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The Australian Water Association (AWA) has called on its members to pass on their thoughts and experiences with COVID-19 to the Federal Government.

As Australia’s peak national water association, AWA is in a unique position to communicate the views and recommendations from the water industry to the government. 

AWA’s membership includes the utilities, contractors, consultants and suppliers to the water industry. As such, the association is looking to ensure that the COVID-19 concerns and recommendations of these different but interconnected sectors of the industry are reaching government throughout this crisis.

To facilitate this conduit to government, the AWA’s President, Carmel Krogh OAM, and CEO, Jonathan McKeown, have been invited to join the industry advisory group called the Utilities Work Stream, reporting to the COVID-19 Coordination Commission. 

The Commission was established by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in March 2020 to provide advice on a coordinated approach to the COVID-19 crisis and the economic recovery phase that will follow. 

AWA’s representation is to bring the views of the water industry to the Commission, who then advises the National Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister. 

AWA is involved with COVID-19 meetings twice a week to discuss developments on the crisis.

AWA is also in weekly contact with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, the lead Commonwealth Agency for the water sector. 

In addition, AWA is being briefed on the Water – National Coordination Mechanism (NCM) designed to operationalise the National Communicable Diseases (CD) Plan and effectively coordinate Commonwealth agencies’ planning and preparedness measures for the non-health impacts of COVID-19. The Water NCM is managed by the Department of Home Affairs.

AWA understands that the Federal Government is well aware that the supply of potable water and wastewater services remain essential for the proper functioning of society. 

However, it said that some of its members have experienced issues with employees being hindered or sometimes prevented from carrying out tasks due to the restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Whilst Queensland has declared the water industry to be an essential service, other jurisdictions have a less defined approach. Despite varying approaches, many practical steps have already been taken by the water industry to ensure continuity of services. 

AWA said it needed its members’ help to clearly articulate to the Federal Government not only  those measures that are working, but also where the gaps and issues are existing and emerging.

Presenting relevant data from the water industry to government

AWA has established a mechanism for members to inform it of their own COVID-19 issues and recommendations throughout the crisis. 

On the homepage of its website, AWA has made available a link to a Members Feedback on COVID-19 page, and a link to its Practical guide on COVID-19 for the water industry

Subsequent developments on COVID-19 will be updated in the Practical Guide. All future requests for members’ feedback and information to share with the government will be updated on these pages.

The immediate details AWA is seeking from members are as follows:

  1. What types of work practices or work outcomes have been impacted by COVID-19?
  2. What areas of activity are you having trouble in accommodating social distancing?
  3. Provide examples of how you are utilising personal protective equipment or other measures (e.g. shift rotations, protective barriers in vehicles, register of workers undertaking work that is potentially exposed to COVID-19) to mitigate COVID-19 risks where social distancing is not possible.
  4. Are there any other immediate respond and act issues that you would like AWA to bring to the attention of the Federal Government?
  5. What other recommendations do you want AWA to advocate to the government to help the water industry through an extended period of COVID-19?

Fill in responses to these questions here.

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