Local COVID vaccination rates have now reached the first milestone on the road map to living with COVID. Seventy percent of the local adult population is now fully vaccinated and 91 percent have received a first dose.

The highest rates in the state are in Benalla, Gannawarra, Wangaratta, Bass Coast, Surf Coast, Nillumbik, Warrambool, Corangamite and Buloke. They all have more than 95 percent of the adult population with at least one dose.

The lowest rates are in Moreland, Melbourne, Maribrynong, and Yarra – all with less than 80 percent of the adult population with one dose.

It is likely that restrictions will begin to ease in Melbourne next week as Victoria reaches the 70 percent fully vaccinated rate for adults across the board. This will be welcome.

But a recent study has demonstrated that, not surprisingly, Australian anxiety and depression rates have gone up as a result of COVID.

Some of the impact has been serious. People have lost their jobs, businesses have closed and domestic violence has increased.

But much of it is also a normal reaction to a stressful situation – COVID. We have seen this before for bushfires and floods.

Some people need specialist help, but practical assistance and community support go a long way.  People in distress need to know that they are not on their own. That makes a big difference.

Locally efforts that groups like the Good Grub Club, the Men’s Shed, Rotary and the church communities are making are important. They demonstrate that the community supports people who need assistance when times are tough.

The same goes for locals supporting local businesses. The Council has also played an important part in supporting local initiatives from vaccination through to community and business support.