Survey checks ‘pulse’ of Mackay residents during COVID-19

About one-third of Mackay region residents have had their employment negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has included reduced hours, being stood down or difficulty finding work.

And 20 per cent of residents have needed to access financial support, such as accessing superannuation, financing or sale of assets, or seeking rent reductions.

Most residents are hopeful for the future. However, one in three feels at risk of their situation worsening in the next six months.

These are some of the key findings of a COVID-19 Community Pulse Survey conducted recently by IRIS Research on behalf of Mackay Regional Council.

The survey, which included a random phone poll and an online option, showed the biggest negative impacts had been on residents’ mental and emotional health and social wellbeing.

Main concerns for the future included ongoing impacts on employment and travel, including being able to visit family, a second COVID-19 wave and the economic impact.

The full report is available on council’s website at mackay.qld.gov.au/covidsurvey

Mayor Greg Williamson, who is chair of the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG), said the survey gave a good insight into the impact of the pandemic on Mackay households.

“We know there have been impacts on households whose livelihoods relied on businesses affected by social restrictions, such as the tourism and hospitality industries,’’ Cr Williamson said.

“We’d heard plenty of anecdotal stories of impacts, but this survey provides some excellent ground truthing,’’ he said.

“We also know that many households haven’t been impacted economically as some of our key industries, such as mining and sugar, have been able to keep working through the pandemic.

“The results of the survey show just that. Although 33 per cent of residents have had their employment impacted negatively, two thirds have not.

“There are concerns though around mental and emotional health and social wellbeing of many residents due to the restrictions.”

Deputy Mayor Karen May, who is chair of the LDMG’s Human and Social Recovery Sub Group, said the survey results provided a valuable insight into the impacts in Mackay.

“The findings have been valuable for the work the Human and Social Recovery Sub Group is doing in terms of its response to the pandemic,’’ she said.

“We’ve made the full report available on our website and encourage any of the region’s agencies to access it when considering the most appropriate recovery assistance they can provide.

“We’ve also drilled down into the findings relating to communities in our region that were most affected by the bushfire crisis in late 2018.

“We’re very aware that some of the households in these areas were still struggling from impacts of the bushfires when the pandemic provided further challenges.”