SA Health exemption backlog needs extra resourcing, Independent MP says

Wednesday October 13, 2021

​​​​​​​Media Release published by The Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has requested extra resourcing for SA Health to deal with a growing backlog of exemptions to enter South Australia.

In Question Time this week, the Independent MP asked Premier Steven Marshall to clarify whether extra resources would be deployed to deal with the issue.

“People are waiting too long for travel exemptions into South Australia. These are husbands and wives, essential travellers, people who have genuine reasons for wanting to enter our state,” he said.

“They are returning or relocating, or sometimes it’s for urgent medical or compassionate grounds.”

Mr Bell’s question comes as SA Health Chief Executive Dr Chris McGowan told a budget and finance committee this week the average time for processing an exemption was ’20 days’.

“Our experience is somewhat different to that timeframe,” Mr Bell said.

“One case our office is dealing with waited for nine weeks to get their exemption approved and that was after numerous calls and pressure from my team to resolve the matter.

“We currently have people who have been waiting for more than 35 days, so that’s two weeks over that stated timeframe.

“I understand that SA Health is under pressure to deal with the case load, but people’s lives are on hold due to this backlog. It’s unfair and upsetting to go through weeks of waiting for an exemption just to travel into our state.”

The ability to check the status of your application through the SA Health portal is a positive step, however Mr Bell said he expected the situation to escalate in coming weeks.

“This is only going to get worse in the lead up to Christmas as our state begins to open up, students return and people want to visit relatives and travel again,” he said.

“Action is required now by this State Government.”

In August, Mr Bell was the instigator of a successful amendment to see the state’s emergency powers reviewed before the end of 2021.

The amendments also contained a provision that travel exemptions are to be dealt with within 21 days after they have been received.

Mr Bell said he would fight to ensure the amendments came into effect.

“If SA Health is struggling, let’s get the resources for them to deal with it and move on.”