A Message from our CEO, Tracy Adams
At yourtown we see ourselves as very much part of the community. Today that means we, like everyone else, are involved with the challenges that COVID-19 has presented and will continue to present.
I want to share with you what we are doing to ensure that our staff and those who turn to us are protected as much as possible, and how we have adapted our services to ensure we are still there for vulnerable children, young people and families.
We are committed to ongoing service delivery during this time and to this end we have developed comprehensive service continuity plans to ensure that we can do so.
Kids Helpline continues to provide counselling, support and information to children and young people 24x7. We have taken steps to ensure that the service remains operational regardless of any isolated health or lockdown situations. Our counsellors are working across different locations and that will increase again as we bring a new permanent Counselling Centre location online in NSW at the end of April.
Kids Helpline is seeing significant growth in contacts as a result of COVID-19, this is currently impacting our response rates. With increased funding support from the Federal and NSW Governments we are in the process of recruiting additional counselling staff which will increase our capacity to respond.
Our accommodation services that support young parents and their infant children, and families escaping domestic and family violence, remain fully operational. In line with social distancing requirements there have been changes made, which primarily relate to limiting any external site visitors to essential only and ceasing group work activity. Importantly, individual supports continue to be provided.
Employment programs continue to be fully operational, however in accordance with Government requirements we have largely moved support for jobseekers and those recently placed into employment to be delivered via virtual means. All jobactive and Transition to Work (TTW) sites do remain open to ensure that those who cannot participate virtually have the means to connect with an employment consultant.
Education re-engagement, early childhood, parenting and family mental health programs continue to provide supports, both virtually and face to face. Sites remain open to those who require individualised face to face support, however all group activities have ceased.
The work of yourtown is reliant on the dedication and commitment of our people, and we are taking every precaution to protect each other and those we come into contact with. Extra steps have been taken with regarding site cleaning, and there remains an ongoing focus on personal hygiene i.e. hand washing and sanitising, and social distancing. Where it is possible, many staff are now undertaking work from home.
To date we have had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst staff or our clients. However, we have well developed business continuity plans and clear protocols in place should we have to manage either a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst staff and/or clients These are reviewed and updated to ensure at all times compliance to Government/s requirements.
We are promoting our Art Unions and fundraising activities, with House and Car draws and donor communications continuing. We are very conscious of the economic impact of COVID-19 and that for some of our loyal and valued supporters this will be a time that they cannot financially support us. However, we are committed to continuing to provide services to those who are vulnerable, and to that end we are maintaining as best as possible a business as usual approach to fundraising given the significant role our supporters play in enabling our services.
We are also conscious that other community supports have had to reduce their services because of social distancing. The virtual and 24x7 nature of Kids Helpline enables many to promote our service to their client groups and we continue to work with other agencies in regard to that.
These are unprecedented times, however it is important that we provide as many means as possible for children, young people and families to get the support they need when they need it. We are very aware that not all homes are safe places and we must continue to provide support and work with others in our communities to do what we can to protect those most vulnerable.
Be assured that we are committed to our services being there, and to ensuring the safety and well-being of our staff, clients and the community.