About 80 people who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are joining Port Phillip Council’s cleaning effort to help prevent the virus spreading through contact transmission.
Under the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative, Citywide's Cleansing and Sanitisation Services is recruiting, training and supervising the participants working in Port Phillip.
The Government funding means a range of hard surfaces in public spaces - from streets and shopping strips to parks and beaches, are being disinfected and cleansed on top of Council's standard cleaning regime, at no cost to Council.
Bins, pedestrian signal buttons, hand rails, street furniture and bus shelters are among the 'touchpoints' getting extra attention over the next three months.
Sporting pavilions at Elwood Reserve, the Peanut Farm Reserve in St Kilda and JL Murphy Reserve in Port Melbourne are standing in as staging areas for the sanitation crews.
Mayor Bernadene Voss said the Victorian Government program is a great way of assisting jobseekers - and communities, at this challenging time.
"The pandemic has caused tremendous disruption to jobs across many industries, so we are very pleased to support a program which gets people back in the workforce while helping us to keep our City clean and safe," Cr Voss said.
"This extra cleaning is also helping set our community up for success as restrictions ease and our public spaces become busier."
Chef Jordan Lakin was on the verge of setting up his own restaurant consultancy when his professional dreams were scuppered by COVID-19.
He is relishing the opportunity provided by the Working for Victoria program to keeping working during the pandemic, which has taking a huge toll on the hospitality sector.
"I'm out in the open in Port Phillip every day, doing an important job, and everyone we meet is genuinely happy to see us," Mr Lakin said.
"People are always stopping to say thank-you and getting off park benches and tram stops so we can clean them. And at least five or six times a day, a car will stop in the street and someone will shout to us what a great job we're doing and how much they appreciate it. How nice is that?"
The $500 million Working for Victoria program is matching people who have lost their job, including those affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, with employers who need staff.
More than 2,750 Victorians have found positions through Working for Victoria since the program was launched last month, providing a quick return to work and access to training where required.
The Cities of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Maribyrnong, Yarra and Stonnington have led the way in employing and training people to perform tasks including deep cleaning of public assets such as drinking fountains and disinfecting surfaces such as handrails, street furniture, playgrounds, tram stops, traffic signal boxes and mailboxes.