Council has voted to forge ahead with its ‘Covid Safety Ambassador Volunteer’ program – originally referred to as Covid Marshalls – despite just 46 volunteers raising their hand for the role during a recent call for expressions of interest.
Northern Beaches Council CEO Ray Brownlee said last night he had hoped at least 100 volunteers would be interested, as there are 12 areas to be patrolled during the summer period. Mayor Michael Regan said he hoped word of mouth would see volunteer numbers increase now the plan was officially endorsed by council.
The program’s aim is to have volunteers on shifts to monitor crowd numbers and remind people of social distancing guidelines to avoid beaches being closed and to keep the community safe.
“Ultimately this will allow the lifeguards and volunteer SLSC patrollers (surf life savers) to focus on keeping people safe in the water and our rangers to ensure compliance on other issues,” Cr Regan said.
Cr Regan said the State Government had so far refused to provide financial support to provide the public health service.
“The previous approach of redeploying staff is no longer a viable option due to all Council services resuming operation,” he said. The cost of paying staff to do the job would likely be several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is not currently mandatory to provide the service.
The motion was passed, and the plan will go ahead, but it was met with resistance from Councillors Rory Amon, David Walton and Vincent De Luca.
Cr Amon repeatedly referred to the program as “Covid cops” – to the mayor’s clear annoyance – and said the low level of interest was, in his opinion, embarrassing to the Council. He called the plan “ill-conceived” , adding “It’s only going to embarrass the Council as I think it already has, as it has very little interest”.
Volunteers will likely work in three hours shifts and receive a uniform, hat and possibly sunscreen and a meal voucher for their efforts. The call for expressions of interest is still on the Council’s website for those interested: