The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to be realised across the world – but people in Australian communities are stepping up to the crease to lend their mates a hand – however they can. One of those people is one of our people – Gary Cox, Business Improvement Specialist in our operational division.

Gary and his wife Jessica are the founders of the Facebook page Alpine Buddy Up, which has been set up in their town of Bright, Victoria – near Mount Beauty, where AGL operates several hydroelectricity schemes. Alpine Buddy Up is a local support network aimed at helping those in COVID-19 high-risk categories in the local community.

Gary and Jessica Cox with their family

‘The Bright and wider Victorian Alps community is a unique one,’ said Gary.

‘Given our somewhat geographical isolation, a lot of people in the community have relocated from elsewhere to here and therefore have moved away from their traditional support networks.

‘The area also has a significant percentage of retirees and elderly people. While they may not need support right now, if things continue to escalate, these people may require a support network in the future.’

The Alpine Buddy Up group aims to pair low-risk members of the community with high-risk members, and asks the low-risk volunteers to check in on their partner and assist in any way they can. The group is steadily growing, with more than 100 buddies ready to be paired with a member of the community.

‘The idea is to help promote social distancing, especially for high-risk community members, by allowing them to stay at home while their buddy assists with the necessary day-to-day tasks,’ said Gary.

‘It’s small things like grocery shops, taking things to the post office, or even grabbing the newspaper that will help some people a lot.

‘Even a simple phone call is often ignored as a valuable gesture to individuals at this time. Sometimes all that’s needed for a person who is feeling a bit overwhelmed and lonely in these times is some company.

As a family, we’re strong believers in making a positive impact on the world around us, whether that’s by reducing our impact and the impact of others on our environment or actively taking steps to join volunteer groups. We see this initiative as another way we can give back and significantly help ease the pressure for some of our community’s most vulnerable.

‘The pandemic is something that has created a lot of anxiety for me, as I think about my family across the world. Establishing this initiative has genuinely helped me and my wife control our anxiety by doing something positive and empowering.

‘We’re creating a small solution to a complex situation by helping people and not allowing the pandemic to make us all feel like victims.’

If you are based in the in the Victorian Alpine area and would like to become a buddy or know someone who could benefit from the program, visit the Alpine Buddy Up Facebook page.