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Premier mobilises healthy Queenslanders to create 'Care Army'


Nine years after a “Mud Army” helped clean up flooded Queensland, a “Care Army” is being rallied to get the state through the pandemic.

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Healthy Queenslanders have been asked to form a “Care Army” to help look after isolated and vulnerable members of the community amid ongoing restrictions on public movement.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the initiative, which she described as an Australian-first, and appointed Cabinet Minister Kate Jones the “General of the Care Army”.

While there was a slowing of new COVID-19 cases in Queensland overnight, up 40 to 781, Palaszczuk said she was still concerned that vulnerable people were risking infection by being out in public places. She emphasised that social isolation practices would be needed for six months or more.

“There are so many people out there who are still going to the shops three or four times a week, that are mixing with people and not staying at home – you are at risk, I can’t stress this enough to you,” Palaszczuk said, addressing her comments to vulnerable Queenslanders.

“You are the most vulnerable and at risk at this time.”

To keep more people isolated for longer, a call centre of 30-plus operators will seek to match volunteers with a database of one million more vulnerable people, being those aged over 65 and with a chronic illness, over 70 generally, or Indigenous people with a chronic illness aged over 50. Anyone wishing to volunteer, or needing help, can call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 – operators received more calls in two hours this morning than the previous two weeks.

“I know they’re going to step up to the plate and do this,” Palaszczuk said.

The new effort resembles the “Mud Army” of volunteers who in 2011, under then-premier Anna Bligh and then Brisbane lord mayor Campbell Newman, helped Queensland recover from devastating floods.

Jones said “the last time we had a crisis we asked Queenslanders to put on their gumboots, today we’re asking Queenslanders to make a call”.

It was unclear this morning whether service organisations or football clubs would rally their members to help, but Jones did not expect any shortage of volunteers.

“I think some of the proudest moments for Queenslanders is when we are facing tough times,” Jones said.

“Time and time again we’ve seen Queenslanders step up.”

Palaszczuk said she expected volunteers to be able to support people to stay at home by running errands, buying groceries or filling scripts on their behalf.

Queensland’s COVID-19 Seniors Taskforce will meet for the first time today to discuss services available to older residents.

The actual army is already assisting Queensland police in the enforcement of social isolation and quarantine, and various border restrictions. The state’s health system is also being bolstered ahead of an anticipated surge in patients.

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