'Vigilante approach' towards Victorian licence plates amid COVID spike 'ridiculous'

Signage on a hire car in Eden, demonstrating the apprehension drivers with Victorian plates have about potentially negative reception from south coast residents . Picture: Anderson Cranes.
Signage on a hire car in Eden, demonstrating the apprehension drivers with Victorian plates have about potentially negative reception from south coast residents . Picture: Anderson Cranes.

There is concern within the Far South Coast community about the negative attitude being directed at those with Victorian licence plates, with numerous reports of abuse.

One Bega Valley Shire resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he has Victorian plates "for reasons that I do not have to explain", but which drew unwarranted "vigilante" behaviour when someone scrawled profanities across the back of his car in recent days.

"Before taking a vigilante approach to what state is shown on someone's car, keep in mind, in most cases, there would be a valid reason for them being here," the resident said.

Being located so close to the NSW-Victoria border, the Far South Coast region is accessed by residents of relatively remote localities in Victoria to work, access healthcare or other essential services, in addition to the extra support required here while recovering from the summer bushfires.

The NSW government closed the NSW-Victoria border on July 8 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under the new public health order, anyone who has been in Victoria within the last 14 days must not enter NSW except in special circumstances or in relation to a critical service.

Under the public health order, critical services include:

  • movement of freight on a commercial basis
  • movement of persons on a commercial basis
  • maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure
  • medical, hospital, dental or veterinary care
  • Commonwealth defence and security services
  • mining, agriculture, construction, energy or manufacturing
  • environmental cleaning and disinfection in a workplace or other non-residential premises to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on a commercial basis that is not available locally.

An alarming number of Victorian cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported, the bulk of which are in Melbourne, and authorities say the border will remain closed indefinitely until the health risk has abated.

Fear surrounding the potential spread of COVID-19 has resulted in division and isolation, an unfortunate predicament for small communities in the throes of bushfire recovery.

Peter Whiter, president of the Eden Chamber of Commerce said we all need to look after each others' health.

"If you see someone that you personally think might be in the wrong place, the only business you have is to not interact with them," Mr Whiter said.

"There are a lot of people visiting this town trying to help us through this - so if If you see someone you don't recognise as being a local, it doesn't matter where they are from.

"It's blatantly obvious we all need to be more vigilant than ever, what's happening in Melbourne and Batemans Bay point to that... but it is simply ridiculous to pick on number plates," Mr Whiter said.

Have you also been targeted because of your Victorian licence plates? Email leah.szanto@edenmagnet.com.au