West Java, Victoria, Melbourne: governments respond to coronavirus

All levels of government around the world have been grappling with the COVID-19 crisis on two key fronts: public health and the economy. This Thursday’s webinar will be a discussion between two  government leaders: West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil and Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp.


While national governments deliver policies at the macro level, regional and local governments often formulate and implement policies which have the most direct impact on citizens’ lives. This is reflected in the public health and economic response to COVID-19.

Regional government policies can be completely in line with the national government, completely contradictory, or somewhere in between.

Below, we take a look at how this dynamic is at play in Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Governor Ridwan Kamil’s regions, which are both among the most affected by COVID-19 in their respective countries.

West Java

West Java, Indonesia’s most populated province, has recorded the second highest number of confirmed cases after Jakarta.

However, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil has been lauded for his response. Surveys show that his government is viewed as more trustworthy than the national government in responding to COVID-19.

The West Java government runs an online hub for official statistics and guidance on the spread of COVID-19. The latest official figures for the province are 1,437 confirmed cases and 95 recorded deaths, out of Indonesia’s 14,032 confirmed cases and 973 deaths.

Before implementing policies around social distancing, known in Indonesia as PSBB (pembatasan sosial berskala besar – large scale social restrictions), regional governments are required to propose the policies to the national government’s Ministry of Health for approval.

West Java’s social distancing restrictions were first applied on 15 April for Bogor, Depok, and Bekasi regions, and 22 April for Bandung region. The latest social distancing policies are in place across the entire province for the period of 6 to 19 May.

The provincial government has been strictly enforcing these restrictions, which include a ban on completing the annual journey to hometowns, or mudik, during Ramadan.

The Governor has highlighted that while West Java’s population of 50 million people is comparable in size to South Korea, the province’s annual budget accounts for only 0.6 per cent of South Korea’s. As he seeks to protect his province he has outlined five key principles underpinning his COVID-19 response:

  1. Proactive: Acting swiftly
  2. Transparency: Communicating the full complex picture
  3. Evidence-based decision-making: Policy responses driven by the latest science
  4. Innovative: Establishing industry partnerships to increase public health capacity in testing and ventilators
  5. Collaborative: Inviting all stakeholders to focus on tackling the crisis


Similar to the West Java Governor, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has also been widely lauded for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, with 85 per cent of voters approving of his coronavirus response.

The state announced stage three restrictions at the end of March, which only allowed residents to leave home for four reasons: food and supplies, exercise, medical care, and work and education.

With the restrictions, a state of emergency was declared giving authorised officers increased rights to detain and fine those caught violating social distancing restrictions.

The state allocated $1.7 billion to an economic stimulus package to support small and medium sized businesses, including $45 million in funding for international students.

Victoria’s approach has been more cautious than other states. While Queensland, Western Australia, ACT and Northern Territory have already either announced or implemented an easing of social distancing restrictions, Victoria has only just announced its easing of restrictions following the federal government’s three-step plan to a “COVID Safe” economy.

Victoria’s stage three restrictions now include a fifth reason to leave home: to visit family or friends, but with only up to five visitors per household. These restrictions, originally due to expire on 11 May, will now expire on 31 May.

Over 160,000 Victorians have been tested in the last two weeks as part of the state’s efforts to inform how it will ease its stage three restrictions.

City of Melbourne

The City of Melbourne’s role in responding to coronavirus has been predominantly to support its 16,500 local businesses, while supporting adherence to the Victorian government’s stage three restrictions.

The local government’s economic support includes, among other measures, $5 million in funding for businesses that have been affected by COVID-19, $2 million for local artists, rent relief for tenants in government-owned buildings, and a COVID-19 Business Concierge Hotline.

With over 200,000 international students residing in the city, the local government has also called on the federal and Victorian governments to provide increased financial support to international students.

Register for our webinar with the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and the Governor of West Java

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