LONELINESS and anxiety is emerging among residents in the Hepburn and Macedon Ranges, but there are also pockets of hope among individuals facing the pandemic.
Early data emerging from a Central Highlands Rural Health survey is showing low mood and a sharp rise in people seeking emergency relief in communities across the region.
Central Highlands Rural Health officers Taletha Rizio and Belinda Buck said while there had been undeniable hardship under lockdowns and restrictions, there had been great community support with people pulling together to help each other.
They pointed to programs like Daylesford's Good Food Grub where out-of-work chefs had stepped in to help prepare meals for the region's most needy.
"People are reflecting anxiety but there are pockets of positive things, like some people who have been lucky enough to save money by not going out," Ms Rizio said.
"It's nice to get positives coming through as well."
People are reflecting anxiety but there are pockets of positive things...It's nice to get positives coming through as well.Taletha Rizio, Central Highlands Rural Health
Central Highlands Rural Health's Health During COVID-19 and Beyond survey has canvassed more than 200 residents across its communities, including Kyneton, with a 100 per cent completion rate to date.
The survey explores residents' views on health and well-being in a bid to better inform and direct health and broader community needs coming out of the pandemic.
Ms Buck said the survey was based on a similar project by Wimmera Health Care Group and this would allow a chance to compare data between regions.
The survey was initially ready to launch when the state's pandemic restrictions had started to ease. Ms Buck said conditions changed so quickly the early data was shaping up to reflect both initial and ongoing concerns and opportunities through the pandemic.
Hepburn mayor Licia Kokocinski and Daylesford Macedon Ranges tourism chief Steve Wroe have both told The Courier of heightened concerns from residents as tourism started to boom early last month.
They detailed the fine balance in re-opening the region's tourism while keeping communities safe in popular tourist destinations.
There are no active COVID-19 cases in Hepburn Shire and have only been two for the pandemic.
It is a different picture in Macedon Ranges, where there are 19 active cases and have been 30 confirmed cases. Macedon Ranges also includes Gisborne, Woodend and Riddells Creek.
Central Highlands Rural Health community operations director Phil Catterson said it was important the survey have wide reach for a clearer picture of the whole region and all communities.
"This COVID-19 situation has shown how well we can work together to face a common crisis and the importance of remembering to do our best to be kind, be tolerant and act responsible to improve all our futures," Mr Catterson said.
Central Highlands Rural Health survey is open until August 15.
More details: chrh.org.au.
IN OTHER NEWS
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.