Victorian quarantine hub - Community information session

CHRIS KEATING: OK, I think we've got a good number of people that have now joined the meeting.
I know there'll be a few more that trickle in as we go.
I think we'll kick off and try to get you out of here in a reasonable hour.
So, hi, and welcome to the Savings Information Session on the Centre for National Resilience, Melbourne.
It's a relatively new name, I'm still getting my tongue across it.
My name is Chris Keating and I'm the Program Director for the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
And I've got a number of colleagues here today from the Australian and Victorian governments who are going to talk to you about the Centre for National Resilience.
Next slide, please.
Firstly, I'd like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we're dialling in from today.
And I know there's a range of different locations - we have colleagues calling it from Canberra and other locations - and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
I'd also like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Mickleham, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
Next slide, please.
So, we've had a large number of people register for this event, which is great.
I think we've had over 200 people register, and I'd really like to thank you for dialling in.
And, you know, we'd love to have done this in person, but in the current environment really, a Zoom session was the most confident we could be about engaging you directly.
So, tonight, we'll share information about the centre's location and why the centre is being built, and I'll cover a lot of that information.
We'll also take you through the design and construction process and how that process, the construction will be managed from the surrounding community.
We'll then talk in quite a bit of detail about the operations of the centre and how we'll manage infection prevention control measures and the broader workforce.
And when you registered, we encouraged you to ask a number of questions.
I think we've had more than 300 questions lodged, which is wonderful.
What we'll do at the end of the session is answer your questions that have been asked in advance.
We're also recording the session and we'll make this video available on our website in the coming days for those that couldn't attend the session or the broader community who'd like to see the same information.
So, I'll start by introducing some of my colleagues.
So, first introduce Kylie Dennis, who's a project director from the Australian Department of Finance.
Kylie, we're really fortunate, also managed the animal quarantine facility adjacent, so knows the area well and has significant experience working in this area.
We've also got Abi Trewin, who is the Executive Director of Hotel Services Implementation Planning at COVID 19 Quarantine Victoria.
And Abi brings a wealth of experience to our Victorian program.
Abi most recently headed up the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory.
Abi is an intensive care paramedic with a master's degree in public health and is involved in a wide range of international bodies as well.
So, we're really privileged to have Kylie and Abi with us today.
Next slide, please.
And so, I'll give you an initial overview of the project and really why it's happening, the process we went through initially to identify the location and the priority for it, and then we'll move into the construction and the operations in the second.
So, we can go to the next slide.
So, if I take you back to February earlier this year, the Premier, Daniel Andrews, got up and said, you know, we were in the middle of a walk-down that came out of (INAUDIBLE) unexpectedly, and really made the commitment to say that we need a different level of accommodation for quarantine purposes in Victoria.
That we need something that can ensure that we keep the community safe.
That we avoid restrictions and lockdowns - we're another lockdown right now and I know that's had an impact on all of us.
That we increase the capacity to bring Australians home and Victorians home from overseas.
And so, to that effect, the Premier asked me to come in and do a business case to look at, where should we build a facility?
What should the facility be - how should it be designed and constructed?
And what was the right size and way of operating it?
So, over about a 5 to 6-week period, we did a significant business case, and I'll talk in a second about that.
Shall we go to the next slide.
So, what we did when we were asked to look at this, we effectively stood back and looked at, Victoria-wide, all the possible locations that you could establish a quarantine facility.
And some of the key things that were really important to ensure that it could be established were, it had to be close to a hospital.
It had to be close to an airport, even though a lot of the arrivals will be coming through international airports.
It was also really important that it had existing infrastructure on-site.
By that, I mean things like sewerage and water and electricity so it could be established relatively quickly.
And that we didn't have really sensitive environmental or cultural issues on the site.
So we looked, statewide, all the private land holdings that existed, all the land that was owned by Government, and we basically came to the conclusion that the only sites that really were suitable for these purposes were the site that we ended up recommending, which is this Mickleham site, but also a site at Avalon Airport.
Both of those sites were suitable, but also both of those
sites were owned by the Australian government.
So, we at that point then engaged the Australian government and said,
"Look, we've done this business case.
We've identified these options.
Given they're both sites owned by you, it really is a decision for
the Commonwealth government to make about the final location."
And so, we worked with the Commonwealth government,
the Australian government,
to assess, work through both of the sites.
And really, the key determinant that led to
Mickleham being the preferred site was,
we can deliver it faster because there are
services on the site that are close.
We can actually build a facility and have
it up and running as soon as possible,
which will mean that we can actually reduce
the risks of further lockdowns
and increase the capacity of Victoria to
return people back to our community.
If we delivered at Avalon, it would have added a significant
amount of additional time to building this facility.
And that was really, in the end,
the predominant reason why the Mickleham site was selected.
If you look at this image of the site,
I'm just looking at it from Donnybrook and Polaris Road intersection,
so we're looking from that angle back.
So, the centre will be accessed from Polaris Road,
which is the road running out of the bottom left of your screen.
It will be extended down the length of the site,
so that becomes a primary entrance point for the facility,
and we'll show some information in a sec.
The site for the quarantine centre is about 300 to
400 meters away from the animal quarantine centre.
There's a protected wetland or grassland between the animal quarantine
centre and the new quarantine centre that's being built.
And it's about a kilometre away from homes on the north,
eastern and western sides.
And it's around about 300 metres from homes on the southern side.
We are aware that this is a community that's growing and we're
all aware that there are residents in the surrounding area.
When you look across metropolitan Melbourne
and you try to find sites that are
close to airports and close to hospitals
and that are 30 hectares or larger,
there are really very few sites that fit that bill.
And so, the assurance I suppose I want to
give you is that we deeply considered
the importance of the location in terms of arriving residents,
but also adjacent residents in terms of the impact on you.
And we are really confident that this location will work very well
and the impact on immediate residents can be managed really effectively.
Can we go to the next slide, please.
So, this is an artist's impression, and obviously,
this project is still to be built,
but this is a very good representation of what
the site will look like from the back left corner,
so we're kind of looking to the Hume in the distance.
I suppose one of the things I really want to
emphasize is that from a design perspective,
we are not building a prison, we're not building a harsh environment.
We are building an environment where when
residents are admitted into the facility,
it's green, it's open, there's ventilation,
it's a place where people feel safe and secure
and has all the necessary security elements.
But then it actually is quite a green
and attractive presenting on the landscape.
It's important to be aware that when we planned the facility,
when we looked at sites,
we planned for a facility that could be as large as up to 3,000 beds.
What's been committed at this point by the Australian
government is a facility of 1,000 beds.
It is still to be determined whether it would be built larger than that,
larger than the 1,000, but certainly,
it would be no bigger than 3,000 beds.
And the image that you see in front of you is what it would look like,
built out to a 1,000 person capacity.
The other thing, I suppose, that is worth considering,
whilst we did a lot of work to look at the location
of where the best location for it would be,
we also did a lot of work about design to make
sure that what was being considered was
the best possible mix of prevention and reducing
the risk of virus transmission,
but also the best for ensuring that when residents go into it,
they feel safe and secure and they experience it positively.
And so, whilst options were considered about going
and looking at existing mining camps that
could be relocated or finding other facilities
that could be used, we really landed very,
very firmly on the idea that a purpose-built
facility of really high quality with
a very specific design for this purpose was
going to achieve a much better effect.
And that means, therefore, the look and the feel of it will be very much
more appropriate and consistent with the environment that it's in.
So look, at that juncture, I will put a little
hand over to my colleague, Kylie Dennis,
who will talk a little bit now about a bit more detail
on the design and the construction facility itself.
Over to you, Kylie.
KYLIE DENNIS: Thanks very much, Chris.
Good evening, everyone.
Thanks for being here with us tonight.
As Chris mentioned, I'm Kylie from the Department of Finance,
and I'm the project delivery lead for the project.
As you heard Chris say a bit earlier,
the Commonwealth government is taking the lead on
the delivery and the construction of the centre.
Once the build is finished, the Victorian government will manage
the quarantine centre for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the owner of the centre, we will look at options for use
when the centre is no longer needed for the COVID response,
and I will talk to that a little more later.
Tonight, I also have with me Josh Caldow from Multiplex.
Multiplex have been appointed as the managing contractor for the build,
and has significant experience in delivering large-scale projects.
Josh will talk more in detail and respond to the questions that you've
sent through to us around construction and the job's aspects.
The Commonwealth has a strong interest in
the design principles for the centre,
and we are working very closely with the Victorian
government to finalise the centre's design.
Our next speaker, Abi, will talk to that in more detail.
Next slide, please.
In terms of the work that we've been undertaking today, first,
I'll take you over some of the work that we've
been doing over the last few weeks.
As you can imagine, there is a significant amount of behind the scenes
activity that we need to go through before construction commences.
As this is a Commonwealth site and we have a...
Sorry, on commonwealth land, we have a number of procedures,
guidelines and initial assessments that we need to follow and carry out.
The project team has been undertaking detailed site investigations
as a follow-on from the work that Victoria had undertaken,
and that includes in the environment,
surface water flow, and infrastructure spaces.
And we are doing all of this to ensure that
the project will be compliant with
all applicable regulatory requirements
and relevant Australian standards.
Next slide, please.
Now that multiplex has been appointed as a managing contractor,
we are moving at pace.
You may have seen that work has commenced on
the site already ahead of the anticipated
first stage of completion for the 500 beds at the end of this year,
and the second stage of completion with
an additional 500 beds in February next year.
As Chris said, the project is a high priority for both
the Commonwealth and the Victorian governments,
and our focus is on the excellence in design and construction
while maintaining the highest standards of safety.
Next slide, please.
We do have a very tight time frame for the build.
And so, this necessarily will involve two shifts a day working
on-site into the fairly early hours of the morning,
and also will include working over the weekends.
The busiest time on site will be over the coming
few weeks during the earthworks activities.
Over the course of the build,
there will be plant and equipment on site that will
cause some construction noise that will
be heard in the surrounding areas,
and we will try to program the activities
that cause the most noise during the day,
although there will be times when the noisy
works will need to be done in the evening.
Multiplex will monitor noise impacts closely and introduce
mitigation measures such as sound barriers,
noise dampening, perimeter fencing,
and noise dampening devices on the mechanical machinery.
I have Josh here, as I mentioned, who will talk to this
in more detail in the question and answer section.
In terms of the construction,
a lot of noise - there will be a lot of work,
but about 80% will be done off-site as the buildings are modular
constructions and will be brought on-site already and assembled.
This greatly reduces the civil works that need to be done on-site
and will help to reduce the noise and on-site traffic.
Next slide, please.
I thought it would be worthwhile talking through the traffic routes,
and as you can see on this map,
the main track routes will be via the Hume Freeway,
utilizing Donnybrook Road and Polaris Road.
Some trucks and site vehicles will access from the western
side of Donnybrook Road, but wherever possible,
deliveries will be scheduled to ensure
congestion on the roads is limited.
There will be quite heavy construction traffic during the earthworks,
but this is for a finite period of just a few weeks.
And once complete, there will be a significant
reduction in that construction traffic.
I'd like to reassure the community that we're aware of your concerns,
and we'll be working to minimize construction
and traffic impacts as much as possible.
We do appreciate your understanding as we work
to deliver this centre as quickly as we can.
Thank you, and I'll now hand over to Abi.
ABIGAIL TREWIN: Thank you, Kylie.
Next slide, please.
And again.
All right.
Good evening, everybody.
It's lovely to be here with you.
I've only recently moved to Victoria around two months ago,
so I'm still getting acclimatized to the weather,
having come down from Darwin.
And the reason I wanted to show you this particular picture is,
this is the working environment that I've experienced
for probably close to eight months.
And I wanted to tell you a little bit about it because there are
some parallels with the works that will happen here in Victoria.
So, this is a gas plant workers' site
that was built some time ago and had
been left vacant for 18 months before
we started to use it for quarantine.
It's on Larrakeyah Land, about 35 kilometres from Darwin,
about 15 minutes from a local hospital,
and within a kilometre of the community surrounding it.
Now, I've deployed all over the world,
but I never expected to work in my own backyard.
And when we stood this site up,
we had a very short amount of time and there was
naturally quite some concern in the community
around what this meant for them.
And this was important to me personally because I actually lived here.
I was five kilometres from the site.
I had my family living at home,
including an elderly father in law who
was actually quite sick at the time.
And so, that anxiety, I completely understood.
I think the other concerns the community
had were things like property prices,
and would they be impacted in the longer term?
They were worried about the indigenous community that lived very close,
within a kilometre, knowing how vulnerable that community was.
And, I guess, the important part for us,
having a novel virus we had never,
ever managed before was to try and build
some confidence in the community that we
would do everything humanly possible to
keep them safe because I lived there,
too, and we knew how important that was to ensure
that they stayed safe throughout this pandemic.
Now, eight months, 12 months on,
there's not been a leak from this facility,
and there's a lot of reasons why that is so and I'd like to
tell you a little bit more about that to help, I suppose,
give you an understanding of how these sort of sites work,
give you the transparency to understand our processes,
and hopefully build some trust that we will
manage this as safely as possible.
Next slide, please.
So, this is inside the facility in terms of what it sort of looked like.
Now, the nice part out of this is, Chris, who spoke earlier,
he spent some time on this site with me
and we walked through with all of my team,
all the things we would love to change because remember,
this was never built for this purpose.
So, it was quite austere.
It was quite a harsh environment, and yet what we knew is,
residents actually really enjoyed living and staying
here during their 14 days of quarantine.
And we saw exceptional changes in their mood, their behaviours,
their softening of the resistance to being
in quarantine and therefore were really compliant
in relation to all the rules we had in place.
And the reason for that was open air, beautiful scenery,
birds that would fly in,
the ability to talk to their neighbours safely,
and it really helped that quarantine experience.
But there's also some really important elements with this.
The design of these facilities makes quarantining
so much easier and so much safer.
You can see the open air here in terms of ventilation,
the ability to distance well away from the residents
that are there for quarantine purposes.
And we know if we do that, we decrease our risk even further.
So, all the layers of control that we put in place,
the actual design of the building makes a big difference to that safety.
So, the exciting part for Victoria is,
all our learnings and all the things
we would like to have had different have been put into this design.
And so, I think that's what makes it a particularly exciting project.
The other thing that's really important to know about quarantine is,
you need to always consider that humans will make mistakes.
We know they do.
We know that aeroplanes will have challenges.
We've put in a whole range of safety controls,
we don't just trust the pilot.
And the same goes for quarantine.
We really think about all the different layers we need to have in
place to ensure that not only do we minimize any risk of error,
but when an error does happen we're on top of it very, very quickly.
And I want to talk to you a little bit about our first line of defence.
Next slide, please.
That's our staff.
So, I think with a pandemic that's gone on for so long,
I really want to call out to the people that
turn up every day that are Victorians,
that work on this front line.
It's a really tough job.
Most of them are, you know, mums, dads, sisters, brothers,
and yet every day they come to work to try and keep us safe.
And they do it for two reasons.
They do it because they believe that Australians
should be able to come home safely.
But importantly, they do it because they
want to keep their community safe.
It's not just a job.
I think the other important element about CQV
staff which I found really interesting having
arrived and come from very much a health background
is the diversity of the workforce.
And that's brought with it some really good strengths.
There's a large number of people in CQV that come from
a corrections background or indeed come from the airlines.
They might have been flying A380s not so long ago,
or maybe working in very difficult and complex environments.
And what that brings with that is real discipline.
It also brings a really strong understanding of command and control
and also what a rule means and how a rule should be applied.
So, that's one of the key strengths of the CQV staffing.
It's their professionalism and their life
experience that they bring to the job,
as well as the training and the support that
they receive when they start with us.
In addition, we have an infection control team,
and that's made up of three infectious disease doctors.
It's also made up of two professors of infection prevention control,
and they provide expert advice every single day.
And to give you an understanding,
if we have a concern or there is an issue that arises,
that has to be notified within 30 minutes.
That comes to me as the executive director,
but it also goes directly to our
experts to get appropriate advice on the next steps that are required.
Now, reporting is one of the key elements of safety.
And you need staff to be engaged and really keen to tell us everything
all of the time because that's what makes a system safe.
And partly with having all of the staff
that come from the background they do,
we find we've got an extremely good reporting culture,
and that gives me a great deal of confidence and is certainly
one of the key things I looked for when I started with CQV.
Next slide.
In terms of staff, the vocation that they
have with us is quite challenging,
so I'm going to walk you through what it means to
be a CQV staff member working in quarantine,
and this will apply to the site as well that we're discussing tonight.
And that is when they join,
they're actually selected to be the right people to start with.
So, the right attitude, the right disposition, the right background,
the understanding of rules, and the importance of community safety.
So, that's the first thing.
The second thing that happens is, they receive a great deal of IPC
training and support in developing that knowledge and that skill.
They have to be vaccinated.
Not only vaccinated, but they now have to wait
until their vaccine has actually kicked in.
So, we're very cautious around that area.
The picture here shows a staff member being
fit-tested for a mask that is part
of her protective equipment that she would
wear in what we call a red zone.
So, that fit testing has to happen before you're
allowed to even enter one of our sites.
You also have to tell us a little bit about your family.
We need to know who you might mix with,
we need to know who could be vulnerable in your household,
and that forms part of our contact tracing
information that we keep on our staff.
And this is all part of their ID.
So, before they can even enter a hotel or this site, Mickleham,
they will actually have to be scanned in to tell us that all of those
important security and safety measures and all the infection prevention
control tests have been achieved and done and are up to date.
In addition, they have to also do a self-declaration, verbal,
to say they have checked all of the exposure
sites to ensure no one comes
on to a site that could have already been exposed in the community.
That's an important element.
In addition, when they get to work,
they are managed in cohorts or bubbles.
So, we can't have staff mixing with other staff.
So, they actually work within confined groups.
And importantly, they can't work anywhere else.
This is the only job that they can have when they're with us.
Now, that's not just true for the lady in
the picture here who would be one of our RSOs.
It's actually true for our bus drivers, our transport team,
and for everyone who works for CQV.
So, that's a really important safety measure that we have in place.
On top of this, we also swab our staff every single day.
So, they receive a COVID test every day,
which is quite an invasive procedure and really necessary.
But we do that because we know that frequent and regular testing
is the safest way to identify a virus extremely early.
That means if that was to occur, there is a really quick
escalation pathway to the Department of Health to ensure
that person is furloughed immediately and every close
contact around them is also put into quarantine.
So, those systems are well entrenched.
They're practised and rehearsed on a regular basis.
They're tested, they're reviewed, we have clinical governance teams,
we have teams that actually go out
and audit us on a daily and weekly basis.
So, there is a very robust system.
And having come from setting up quarantine sites,
not just at Howard Springs but in other contexts,
I can tell you I was really impressed with the systems
that I saw and felt they're extremely robust.
Also, I need to tell you that we do a lot of ventilation testing,
and that's really important because everything,
from our buses and our transport to our accommodation sites,
they actually test to make sure that the ventilation
is appropriate for this virus because
we all know it's changing in its nature and we
need to be constantly one step ahead of it.
So, there's a lot of work that does around preemptive,
what could happen next, and how we'll be ready for that.
Next slide, please.
In terms of the residents' experience, you know,
all of us who've done long haul travel
know how miserable that can be when you
get off a plane and you're exhausted.
You enter through the airport and now you're greeted with
people in strange clothing who ask lots of questions.
It is a tough journey for people coming home or
for those even travelling from interstate.
But the first thing that happens is,
the authorized officer actually detains them to quarantine.
So, they manage from the minute they get off that aircraft
all the way through till they arrive at our site.
The Skybus you see here is one of our transport vehicles,
and we also have a fleet of smaller vehicles
that support other transport requirements.
All of those involved in this process are tested every day as well.
They obviously wear protective clothing that you can see,
and they're taught how to do that properly.
The buses are actually ventilation-checked.
The small numbers that are loaded onto the buses,
they're not mixed with other passengers.
The buses are not used for any other purpose,
just for quarantine guests.
So, that's an important element.
When they arrive at Mickleham, they will actually
proceed to their hub, if you like.
So, they are processed and then put into a quarantine room.
And if we go to the next slide,
this is a photograph from Howard Springs,
but it gives you sort of a feel.
The actual cabins themselves, what we know is
when we put people into cabins like this,
their opportunity is to still get fresh air,
which is such an incredibly important part of quarantine.
And we know that's been one of the biggest problems
with looking after people coming back,
and one of the absolute points of mental health issues that have arisen.
So, this is a really important factor for sites like this.
So, not only that, when they come out onto their veranda,
there is a screen that separates the room
from the next person next to them,
but they're still able to have a conversation
and a chat without causing any risk to each other.
To be on the balcony, you have to have a mask,
and the mask only is removed once you complete quarantine,
providing we're not in lockdown at that time,
and that's after you leave the site.
So, masks are mandatory throughout.
The staff member here, that'd be the closest contact that
would happen during the entire stay of a resident.
And in fact, things like meals and others
are actually delivered to their veranda
to minimize any contact with those who are inside these buildings.
These are important elements of minimizing
risk and making sure that we maximize
the use of the site and we use it to its
full potential to keep our staff safe.
I think it's important for you to know that when people are with us,
they're swabbed repeatedly.
So, we swab on day zero, day four, day 12, day 14,
and we also encourage swabbing on day 17 and day 21.
So, extensive swabbing to make sure we pick up
any potential virus as quickly as possible.
And in this first phase,
positive cases will be moved to the health hotel,
and we do that with dedicated transport that then
arrives and does that safely and securely.
These are important parts.
I think the important thing to note is,
quarantine in this environment, even at Howard Springs,
which you saw before, was very austere, really surprised me.
We have people at the end of two weeks actually asking to stay longer,
which I think came as a surprise to all of us.
But in fact, the ability for these sites to provide
excellent mental health and support,
to be incredibly safe for staff to ensure that leaks do not occur,
this is the type of site that really supports that function.
So, I just wanted to share that with you
today and explain how it's worked.
And my job at CQV is to support the service development
and to make sure all of our learnings are passed on to
Victoria to ensure that we maximize what was learned in
the Northern Territory for this site in particular.
Thank you.
CHRIS KEATING: Thank you, Abi, and thank you, Kylie.
We really appreciate that, and I think having the insights from
Howard Springs is invaluable to be able to really talk
in real terms about what it's like to have
this type of facility in communities,
so thank you enormously, both.
Now, we're going to move to the pre-submitted questions,
and we really want to thank you for submitting so many questions.
I think we had about 200 people registered,
about 300 questions, which is great.
As I said at the start, we won't go question by question
'cause that will take way too much of your time.
But what we will do is answer them all directly,
but we've themed them up into topics.
So, we'll try to keep this pretty conversational given we can't
engage with you directly, but we will work through these now.
If I could go to the first set of questions.
So this relates to staff, and there was a lot of questions about staff.
And it particularly relates to the role of
staff in the broader community and what it
will mean for the community to have CQV staff
on-site and in the surrounding area.
So, I might get Abi initially to kick off
and just talk a little about her experience
at Howard Springs and her expectations of
what will happen at the Mickleham site.
Abi, do you want to read that?
ABIGAIL TREWIN: Thank you, I do.
I do that regularly.
Look, thank you.
I think, you know, our experience from Howard Springs,
I've got a personal experience of going into the service
station and the service station person walking away
from me because they thought I was a problem.
So, you know, I really don't want to see that sort of ostracization
of staff members noting that they come from our community.
And the important part of our controls and measures is,
we test people every single day.
They wear personal protective equipment.
They follow the CHO directions.
They are monitored unbelievably in terms of their movements
and their vaccine status and everything else.
So, I think it's important to recognize that
they will do as they're directed by the CHO,
and I hope that answers the question.
But I also think it's important to remember that
there are people in the Mickleham community now,
I'm sure, that are frontline workers who may work
in hospitals or might work in other areas,
and we certainly want to be able to,
when we advertise for staff for CQV,
we're considering the local community in that
and those who would like to be part of this.
In terms of stopping medically trained, they're not medically trained.
We have medical professionals for that.
So, that is already provided on-site.
They have 24/7 medical support,
which is an important element of quarantining.
And all staff are trained frequently in donning and doffing PPE.
That's an important element.
We also have buddies, and a really important
element of control for a quarantine
site is to make sure somebody checks you before you do anything.
So, we encourage and mandate the buddy system.
So that means when I go and put on my PPE,
somebody confirms it's correct before
I then go to do the job I'm going to do.
And the same happens when you take off your PPE.
Someone confirms, checks, and watches you doing that.
So, these are all the sort of additional
layers of safety that we have in place.
In terms of vaccinated, I've already mentioned that.
You can't work at CQV without being fully vaccinated.
That's essential.
It's non-negotiable.
And indeed, in terms of additional layers of control,
I can even tell you gentlemen must be clean-shaven
and clean-shaven at all times.
So, we really do look at a whole range of things
to keep people safe while they're with us.
In relation to private security guards or police, we have police.
VicPol provides the support around the security elements
for all of our operations and will continue to do so.
And they, of course, are supported by CQV staff of which,
as I've mentioned,
many come from a corrections background as well.
So, there's significant expertise in this space
but it is definitely VicPol that provides that support.
CHRIS KEATING: Thank you enormously, Abi.
Abi, we are going to stay with you 'cause the next series of questions
are probably a bit related but it really goes to community safety.
Shall we go to the next slide, please?
I was really interested in your thoughts, you know,
both in terms of your understanding of Mickleham,
but also kind of, how was the community was kept safe
in Howard Springs and the surrounding areas.
ABIGAIL TREWIN: Well, I think the first point is,
we come from the community that we're protecting.
So, there's already invested interest in making sure
we stay safe and we don't take anything home.
We don't want to make our family members safe.
The challenge with all quarantine is to
make it as safe as physically possible
and to ensure that you've got lots and lots of layers of control.
And those controls are constantly tested
to make sure that they won't fail.
So, it's similar to an airline pilot or
a cabin staff when they do a cross-check.
We have the same sort of principles
and processes inside a quarantine facility.
So, the key to keeping all communities safe is
by making sure that we follow those processes.
And importantly, we have a really good surveillance system.
So, that testing every single day tells us a lot about our staff.
And if an event was to occur,
the escalation process is extremely rapid and it has a low tolerance
in terms of quarantining or furloughing
staff if there's any shadow of a doubt.
So, if we were at all concerned, a staff member
will actually be required to spend
14 days until we either get results or we
decide what's next for that individual.
So, there's some really stringent rules around quarantine,
and that's all what keeps Community safe.
It's making sure that they're followed and they're
tested and they're implemented consistently.
And I believe we're doing that very well.
And from my experience of going through CQV,
I would say it's probably being done better than
what we were able to do in the territory.
In cases of leaks into the community,
with localized lockdowns, you know,
this is directed through the Department
of Health and the Chief Health Officer.
So, you know, we obviously have COVID in our community right now.
So, those decisions are always taken by Government,
and they make the decisions based on the risk to all of us.
In terms of Mickleham prioritised for vaccine rollout, look,
I really hope everyone who has an opportunity
to get a vaccine, go and get one.
You should be doing that anyway.
We have COVID in our community, and I can't stress enough.
It's so important as soon as you're eligible to get the jab.
And by the time this site actually opens up,
I'm hoping with all the vaccines
that are coming into the country, that this is a mute point.
That opportunity will have already been realized
and everyone will have already reached
that vaccine milestone 'cause I'm sure we're
all keen to travel and get our lives back.
The evacuation plan when it comes to a site like this.
So, I have some interesting personal experience
in running a site where we were required
to evacuate people way back in February last
year with Wuhan-repatriated Australians.
And I can tell you, it was a surprise that
we would have to do an evacuation.
What I can tell you also is that we kept everybody on the site.
So, the same principles apply for CQV and for Mickleham.
It will be evacuation on site.
So, you move from your room to a location that's already identified,
because we have a couple of things we
need to do with an evacuation plan.
We need to obviously keep our residents safe.
We need to keep our staff safe.
We need to keep our community safe, and we also are trying not to make
this poor person start their quarantine period all over again.
So we do need to have designated areas within
this facility that people are evacuated to,
and it would be an extraordinary day if there was
a requirement to evacuate outside of that facility.
And of course, all those plans are in place and will
be in place in the event that that would occur.
I hope that answers the questions, Chris,
or if there's anyone else who'd like to contribute.
CHRIS KEATING: Thank you, Abby, I think that did very well.
I will go to the next slide.
So, this is one that I'll take on,
and there was a lot of questions about traffic and look,
you know, the first comments I'd make,
you know, we know in a growing community that traffic
is an issue already regardless of this facility.
We know that that's been an underlying concern
of this community for some time.
Look, I engage heavily with my colleagues
in the Department of Transport,
and I know there's been a lot of advocacy
from the local government and from
the community to try to really improve
the broader road network in the area.
And so, I can say that the state government has got that loud and clear,
and there are clearly some options around investment
and other things that need to be considered.
I can't promise anything to you today,
but I can really assure you that the understanding
of the traffic congestion and the need for investment is very,
very well understood.
So, I'll go to these specifics.
So, we are working with the local government to
understand the best route at the best time of
the day to get the shuttle buses to the facility to
both have the shortest possible travel distance.
We want to keep these arriving residents in
transit for as short a time as possible,
both from an amenity perspective for them but also
for minimizing risk to the broader community.
But we also want to take into account local traffic.
So, we'll work with Local Government to make
sure that depending on the time of the day,
every bus route is taking the optimal route.
The other part is this question about how many buses there will be.
Is it challenging?
Because I think one of the the big factors here
is how many people are arriving into Victoria.
As we speak today, there are approximately
500 international arrivals a week.
Depending on the size of each flight,
there will be a variable number of buses.
But at the moment, Howard Springs is mostly receiving
full planeloads of repatriating Australians.
What's happening currently in total is,
we're having not full planeloads,
so maybe in the order of 30 to 50 people per planeload.
And so over the course of a week, 500 arrivals a week,
you can kind of do the math to roughly what
you would see in terms of bus travel.
But, you know, they will be coming from Melbourne Airport
and they'll be coming straight through the facility,
straight to the gate and processed.
So, how will it impact local congestion?
So, I suppose there's two parts to the traffic.
So, there's the arriving buses for international
arrivals from the airport,
and it's also the workers who will be driving to the site in
dedicated car parks and parking adjacent to the facility.
So, buses will be arriving linked to international arrivals,
as flights arrive, workers will be arriving in shifts.
So, there will be a roster where staff will
arrive throughout the course of the day.
They'll be driving, there'll be dedicated parking,
there will not be huge numbers of staff.
So, we do not expect to have dramatic
impacts on local traffic congestion.
As we move through to the recruitment, maybe I'll talk more clearly
about the numbers of staff and shift patterns of those people.
But we don't expect that there'll be a dramatic
impact on the traffic as it stands.
Managing the impacts, particularly on traffic, you know,
it will be making sure we understand the congestion
at different points of the day
to make sure we find the route that is fastest
and least impact on local traffic,
and that would apply particularly to the buses,
but also to arriving workforce to make sure that they
can get into the site as quickly as possible.
Touching on the last one, will local roads be upgraded?
I mean, they absolutely will be at some point.
You know, there's no doubt with the community growing this
fast and that much new residential development happening,
the roads need to be upgraded.
The question is, when will they be upgraded as opposed to,
will they be upgraded.
And really, (INAUDIBLE) the community to continue to raise that concern,
and we're very clear from the state government's perspective
that this is something that's needed.
We will touch a little bit on the subsequent slides about
potential traffic impacts during the construction phase,
but I'll leave that to the next slide.
I might then now move to our next slide, which talks about construction.
And so, I think Josh was going to walk us through
now about noise during construction,
which is one of the questions we had also.
Josh, you're OK if I hand it over to you?
JOSH CALDOW: Thank you, Chris, and I'm Josh from Multiplex.
So, at all times, Multiplex will manage and constantly
monitor the noise impacts across the site.
And we do note that there will be times when the works are noisy.
An example of that might be the excavation phase,
where we're getting services in the ground or when we're
pumping concrete to the various areas across the site.
As Kylie mentioned briefly at the start,
we will implement noise-mitigating measures,
and some of those may include noise dampening blankets,
which would be attached to the perimeter fence.
Another way we could do that is by noise
barriers around specific machinery,
as well as fitting noise-mitigating devices
to the mechanical plant that is on-site.
I would like to say that we are establishing the site in a way to really
limit the noise and the location of where that noise is generated.
We will have our amenities and our site office as far
away from residents as possible as that will be
powered by generators and we want to really try
and limit the noise that is airborne in that area.
And we will ensure that at all times, we do have the necessary checks
and balances in place to make sure the noise is monitored.
CHRIS KEATING: Now, Josh, just to keep things interesting, I might,
if you're able to (INAUDIBLE) all about construction traffic as well,
just in terms of during the construction phase,
so what residents might expect.
JOSH CALDOW: Definitely.
So we will, and we already have in place
a site-specific traffic management plan.
And we will be endeavouring, as the graphic was shown earlier,
to have as much vehicular traffic access via the Hume
and Donnybrook Road down Polaris Road as possible.
And we'll be seeking to ensure that as much
vehicular traffic as possible is stored
in the site or trucks waiting to access
the site aren't clogging up local roads.
And we'll keep our lay-down area within the site so that
they're not creating congestion on local roads.
CHRIS KEATING: Thank you, Josh.
We might go to the next topic, which is about future use,
which we did have a number of questions about as well.
So, Kylie, I will hand to you to give a response to that one.
KYLIE DENNIS: Thanks, Chris.
It's a really good question, actually.
Once there's no longer a need for a dedicated quarantine
accommodation for the COVID-19 response,
the facilities will be made available to be used for other purposes.
While the Commonwealth hasn't made a decision around the future use yet,
there are many possibilities for this to be used for responses
to future public health emergencies or as crisis accommodation for
bushfire-affected communities or other vulnerable Victorians.
While there are a number of options for us to work through,
I can say that the centre has been designed
with residential quarantine in mind,
and there has not been any consideration that
it would be used for immigration detention.
The decisions, however, about the future use will be made by
the Australian government as the owner of the centre and,
we'll continue to keep the community informed around that.
CHRIS KEATING: Lovely, Kylie.
Thank you very much.
We might go to the next slide.
Ah, this is for me.
OK, so why are we hearing of this now,
and what could be expected from us?
You know, it is true to say this project is moving at record pace.
There is no doubt that from a Victorian government
and Australian government perspective,
the desire to have something ready at the end of this calendar year is
absolutely driving this to make sure that we
can actually start moving out of having
lockdowns in our community and actually
having a safe and confident future.
So, in terms of the process itself,
why weren't you told about this project until now?
So, let's walk through the process.
We, if I go back to about May,
we confirmed there were two suitable sites,
that there was Mickleham and there was Avalon.
And then about probably four to six weeks ago,
it was really confirmed that Mickleham was the preferred site.
Now, we wanted to make sure that we had meaningful
information to share with you.
And to be candid, you know,
there wasn't an option for the community
to say yes or no to the project.
This was something, I suppose, that both layers of government
considered so important that it just had to happen.
And so, we know in a project traditionally,
you would seek an opportunity for community feedback and engagement.
But in this instance, given the importance,
there was a decision it just had to happen.
So, we are really, I suppose,
telling you what's going on as opposed to seeking to
engage with you on what the project could
be and whether you support the project.
So, that's as candid as I can be in terms
of the way we're presenting it.
You know, my hope is that now,
particularly with the Commonwealth and the builder on board,
we can talk very concretely about the facility, what it will look like,
what will happen during construction,
with Abi and Board having come down
from Darwin and able to talk very clearly about how we'll operate it.
We can talk very tangibly.
So, that's the reason we're having this community information session
now because we can talk with a greater amount of clarity
and precision on what's going to happen and give you confidence
in our impact on you as neighbouring residents.
I've got a question about who was invited
and how the letter was sent out.
So essentially what we did was,
we drew a ring of about four to five kilometres
from the centre and sent letters out to about 8,000 residents.
We chose to do a letter.
We don't as yet have a mailing list.
We didn't have any other means of communicating.
So, we effectively did a letter box drop to try to tell those residents
that were most immediately adjacent that this session was happening.
And I suppose that's also the reason that
we are recording the video so it
can actually be provided to anyone else
who's interested at a later point.
And subject to our community interest,
we would be more than happy to do further sessions
or provide different forms of information
to the community as it progresses.
I'll directly answer this one again,
about why didn't the community get a say on the location of the centre.
Really, really bluntly and directly, there are,
in the state of Victoria, there are a very,
very small number of actual bits of land that
were both big enough, well located enough,
and could be built on fast enough to actually
deliver a quarantine centre that would enable
us to get through this pandemic with limiting
the lockdowns we have experienced.
And the...
So, therefore, really the decision was that
we just had to progress and therefore
there was a decision not to formally engage
with Community and get their say.
Now, I know that's tough and I know that's not normally
the way that we would seek to do decision-making in Government.
But the balance of risk in terms of just desperately needing
to get this project up and running was the driving focus.
So, we acknowledge that you didn't get
your say and we acknowledge that's not
the way that we would traditionally do things
in terms of engaging with communities.
But on this particular project, the broader national
priority was seen to really take priority.
And I would also really emphasize that we
are really confident that this will,
just as animal quarantine centre has become,
just a part of the broader community where jobs are created,
where opportunities are presented,
and this is something that is green and on the horizon to actually
provide something that the community can be proud of in terms
of the Mickleham community actually having taken on board such
an important role within the response to this pandemic.
I will go to the next one, which is me again, which is related.
Abi touched on a little bit about this from the Howard Springs example.
I suppose what I would say here is that house prices in
Melbourne and Australia are increasing consistently.
The bit of land that we are building on was always earmarked for
potential - for an expansion of the animal quarantine centre.
So, it was not a bit of land that originally had been planned
for residential purposes or for any other purpose.
It was always going to be a quarantine centre of some sort.
Now, the fact that it is for people rather than animals,
my sense is that doesn't and that shouldn't have a material
impact on house prices or perception of the area.
And look, you know, our general experience is
that particularly in growth areas where,
you know, we're putting lots of infrastructure and lots of services in,
anything that really creates significant employment opportunities,
which this facility absolutely will do,
is the most important thing for house prices there.
Having jobs and economic activities is the thing that
drives house prices more than anything else.
So, we're really positive that this facility will provide
a whole range of opportunities for employment.
And so, there won't be a purchase scheme for homeowners
who live in the area in a big part
because we're just invoking our nature because
we actually don't consider any impacts,
negative impacts, on house prices in the area.
I'll then go to the next slide,
which touches a little bit on what I was just phrasing,
so I hope I haven't jumped the gun too much.
It starts to talk a little bit about opportunities for local employment.
I might start, Abi, with you and ask questions about,
what are the types of jobs that might be
available during the operating phase?
Then, we can talk a little bit about the construction
phase in terms of opportunities there.
So, over to you, Abi.
ABIGAIL TREWIN: Thanks, Chris.
I think for any site such as this,
there is a number of roles that are required.
Now, one thing we know is, what we want is,
we want skilled people to put their hand up
and say yes to jobs and working for us.
We recruit constantly, and so there are
always opportunities to join CQV.
And I would imagine this will be no different.
Certainly, our experience with Howard Springs is,
a large number of the community were engaged in the end,
including a large number of young people
that perhaps this was their first job.
And I'll also humanize that a little bit
more by telling you I think my son was
one of the employees that ended up working
there and is still working there.
So, there are a number of opportunities
that come from enterprises like these.
The other thing I would add, Chris, to the resident component
there around food deliveries is, we saw some really clever,
innovative approaches by local businesses to think
about how they could package up groceries.
And not Ubereats or anything along those lines,
but certainly groceries to make it safe to
deliver to residents when they ordered.
So, we saw a lot of enterprise occurring,
and those opportunities continue to this day.
And I imagine there will be no different for us at the Mickleham site.
CHRIS KEATING: Now, Josh or Kylie, I might give you - just give an overview
in terms of during the construction phase in terms of,
there are companies or subcontractors out there or suppliers interested
in opportunities on the project, can you give your perspective on that?
CHRIS KEATING: Would you like to take this one, Kylie?
KYLIE DENNIS: Yes please, Josh.
I mean, I think the Commonwealth is very conscious
of the broader supply chain market and the like,
and engaging Multiplex as our managing
contractor means that there's still
many opportunities to be involved from a construction perspective.
But I'll hand to Josh to talk to that some more.
JOSH CALDOW: Thanks, Kylie.
So, I think from our point of view, a Multiplex point of view,
we estimate that there could be up to 800 workers
involved with the project on any given day.
But as we've mentioned previously,
I do note that there is a large portion
of the site that's being delivered that will be fabricated off-site.
So, that's not necessarily 800 workers on site every day.
But that is, you know, 800 workers involved with the project
on any given day when we get to that peak point.
So, definitely, the building materials for
the project will be sourced primarily
from the local area as well as statewide and interstate providers.
But where possible, Multiplex will definitely engage with
the local community to provide those materials and resources.
So, if you are interested in potentially being a supplier,
we do have an email address down the bottom of the page there.
So, we encourage you to reach out to that email address.
And if you are or do run a business,
Multiplex will be using the ICN gateway for local traders
and suppliers to register their interest in the project,
and we obviously encourage you to do that.
CHRIS KEATING: Thank you, Josh and Kylie.
Now that actually takes us to the end of the questions that were asked,
and we are - I think we'd allowed - we'd aimed to go for an hour.
We're pretty much bang-on.
We're allowed up to 1.5 hours if we (INAUDIBLE) to the vote.
So, we're pretty much on the time that we'd expected.
So, at that point, I would really like to thank you for coming.
Thank you for all the questions,
and it was really important to get those questions.
They've really helped us focus on the things
that are most important to you.
Thank you to all of our speakers, Abi, Kylie and Josh.
And if you've got any further questions, please feel free to send
those through to the email address you can see on the page.
Now, that's up on our website.
You can see the website there.
So, you're welcome.
We'll provide regular updates on that website in
terms of progress and things that are happening.
So, keep an eye out for that.
If you have follow-up questions, please email through
this address and we'll respond, absolutely.
As I said earlier, there is a recording that's being made
which we'll make available on our project website,
so you can find the website that's listed on the screen,
and we will engage through Local Council and local
community organizations to assess whether there
is a desire for future information sessions or
what form of community engagement is needed.
But we'll continue to provide communication in the format that you
want and make sure that you're kept up to date on the project.
At that point, I would say thank you enormously for
having us and letting us come and speak to you.
Thank you for all your questions,
and I hope you have a wonderful evening.
Good night.

Reviewed 14 September 2021