COVID-19 Director’s Update – 23.03.2020

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Good Afternoon,

This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical.

We’ve changed our office-based services to work-from-home arrangements and I am confident that our IT business continuity plan we’ll see us through this unprecedented crisis. We’re providing a vital service to people who are most vulnerable. They are depending on us.

I’m not alone in being grateful for the work our team are doing. We have received several heart-warming emails and calls from participants and their families, and we will keep engaging with our community through social media. Our team’s efforts are being noticed at the highest levels: not only of our organisation, but also peak bodies like the NDS thanking support workers profusely for all their amazing work.

Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better. Some of us might not be rostered on as many hours as before, and sadly some of us will need to rethink ongoing employment with VPS, as our usual participants either go into lockdown or decide, for their own health, to self-isolate. There is no sugar coating, hard times lie ahead.

It is critical that we all know what supports the state and federal governments have in place for those who will inevitably face issues in the coming weeks. Please take some time to familiarise yourselves with Centrelink’s job seeker benefits and stimulus package, as well as the State of Victoria’s plan to absorb those who have lost their jobs due to the CO-VID19 crisis. There’s also a very concise summary on the SBS website.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/government-s-66-billion-coronavirus-stimulus-to-provide-relief-for-small-business-casuals-and-welfare-recipients

https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria

There is some great news that we are still receiving referrals for new participants and until we receive further notice from the Agency, we are committed to providing all the support we can to current and new participants.  At the same time, other businesses like restaurants and pubs are being forced to shut their doors and we sincerely hope that once this crisis is over, we can play our part in helping our community get back on its feet.

Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home. We’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees- everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting our delivery of supports to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines. We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures.

A word on PPE- Masks and hand-sanitizers remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics. It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line. When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our team working to get essential services to people.

My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how VPS can best play its role. I want you to know VPS will continue to do its part, and we won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.

There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already very sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know that we’re going to get through this, together.

– Avi

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/government-s-66-billion-coronavirus-stimulus-to-provide-relief-for-small-business-casuals-and-welfare-recipient