Chief Executive Update 1 December

Just when we thought it was smooth sailing, we’ve hit a slight bump with the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. I know many of you may be experiencing familiar feelings of anxiousness this week with the news of Omicron emerging across the world and here in Australia.

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While the virus continues to pose a threat to our health and our economy as evidenced across the globe in places like Europe and the United States, it’s important to remember we are in a very different position now with our vaccination rate so high.

As we wait for more information on the Omicron variant, Victoria’s 90 per cent (over 12) vaccination rate should give us the confidence of being well placed to handle the threat of new strains of COVID-19. The two-week international border opening delay is unfortunate on many levels, but I still maintain it’s better than business being locked down in the future by acting too slowly.

Yesterday I joined Professor Sharon Lewin from The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity for a special one-hour COVID-19 health and business discussion on 3AW with Neil Mitchell. We spoke on a range of topics including how Victoria is positioned in its recovery, mandatory booster shots, revitalising our CBD and what the new Omicron variant means for business and the community.

We have the luxury of our warmer months to put mitigation methods in place now to prepare for what winter may bring. Victoria should be increasing our health care infrastructure now in tandem with boosting the workforce capacity. Yes, both strategies will be costly and difficult but it’s a price I’m sure we are all willing to pay to protect ourselves from what could lie ahead.

We simply can’t have any more lockdowns as the impact to business, community and non-pandemic related healthcare needs is too important to risk again. If our health care system can cope, then coupled with booster shots of vaccine, we won’t need lockdowns. You can see the Herald Sun article we wrote last week here. Following on with that theme, it was fantastic to see the news Australia’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been created in Victoria that is ready for clinical trials to begin in the new year.

This week I sat down with the Herald Sun alongside numerous leaders to discuss ideas on how Victoria can reclaim the title of the World's Most Liveable City again as part of their Future Victoria campaign. I suggested a Collaboration and Innovation Super Hub - an ecosystem where industries, venture capitalists and start-ups partner with our university and TAFE sector to solve problems and develop innovative technology and tools that will create the jobs of the future and underpin a post-COVID-19 economy.

We’re seeing big, bold ideas like these as we continue to develop our Victoria Summit 2021 playbook. After setting our new vision for the state earlier this year, the Summit is now working through its long list of actions ready for the official launch in February 2022.

In the meantime, next week we’ll be holding our Voices of Tomorrow event at MCEC with a special panel of emerging leaders Ahmed Hassan, Victoria Young Australian of the Year and Youth Activating Youth Co-Founder, Belle Lim, Council of International Students National President, and Stephanie Hall, an award-winning climate communicator and entrepreneur consultant to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for their generation in this state.

The importance of our youth has been a consistent theme throughout the Victoria Summit process and our current leaders have a responsibility and obligation to foster the voices coming through and to leave them a better Victoria - a state that is the best place to live, work and operate a business. Tickets are still available for this fabulous event, so grab yours now and I hope to see you there!

Enjoy your week ahead.

Regards,
Paul.

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