VCOSS and DHHS are running a monthly discussion forum to guide community organisations through the COVID-19 pandemic.
This most recent forum was run on Thursday 3 September 2020, with:
- Debra Abbott (Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner)
- Nicole Brady (Public Health Commander – Strategy and Implementation, DHHS)
- Leah Van Poppel (CEO, Women with Disabilities Victoria)
- Simone Corin (Acting Deputy Secretary, DHHS )
- Phil O’Meara (Executive Director – Strategy and Planning, DHHS)
- Amity Durham (Deputy Secretary – Strategy and Planning, DHHS)
Emma King: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s VCOSS-DHHS COVID-19 forum. It’s fantastic to have you with us.
I’d like to begin by recognizing the traditional owners of the land upon which I meet today and the traditional owners of the land throughout Victoria and pay my respects to elder’s past, present and emerging.
I think we have some reasons to feel hopeful right now. While the COVID-19 numbers are jumping around a bit, we are overall seeing a decrease. We’re also looking forward to the press conference on Sunday when we’re gonna learn more about restrictions and hopefully some restrictions easing across the state of Victoria.
Hopefully in the not too distant future we will be able to reconnect with our family and our friends and our loved ones. But we know there’s still a long way to go. The harm in terms of mental distress, loneliness, financial hardship, unemployment and education gaps will continue to be with us for some time. And as we all know, this period is very much taking its toll on the community service sector both on workers and in terms of organizations who have been working day and night for months now to support our communities. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who are listening for all of the incredible work that you are doing for our communities.
Before we kick off with our first speaker, as well, I did want to let you know about an event that VCOSS is hosting tonight, alongside ABC Melbourne. We have a Facebook Live event at 7:30. And the priority of our band is about making sure that everyone has all of the information that they need to stay safe and to stay well. In it’s particular focus tonight on working throughout COVID-19 we’re translating into Arabic into Hindi and into simplified Chinese. So if you haven’t heard about it, please do jump on our Twitter or our Facebook and connect up it’s gonna be a great opportunity. I did also wanna let you know that we’re anticipating this will be the first time have three at least three in the series so we’re looking forward to that as well. And to have you all tune in.
I now have the absolute pleasure to have Nicole Brady join with us. Nicole is the deputy public health commander. And I’m just gonna check that she’s with us in the waiting room. So bear with me for a moment and I’ll see if she comes up on the screen. I’m just having a look. I don’t think she is with us. So bear with us, this is the reality of doing everything a little bit remotely. I do understand, however, that she’s having a few problems getting in. So I’m just gonna hold for just a moment because we’ve got Nicole with us and on my call, everyone’s working to time.
We do also have Debra from the Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner from emergency management, Victoria who is with us today. And I believe bear with me that we’re going to have her shortly. So what I might do because Nicole is having some issues getting in, I am gonna go straight to to Deb.
So bear with me, Deb, I hope that you can hear me here. So if I can introduce Debra. Debra is the Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner in Victoria. Debbie is responsible for capability and risk and emergency management Victoria, we are incredibly lucky to have her with us today. Of course, we had Andrew Chris with us on the last occasion. So it’s fantastic to see emergency manager Victoria who are working so incredibly hard to deliver for our community. And are always looking to stand up responses, et cetera, to be with us at the moment. So I’m just waiting for Debra to come up on the screen. And then I’m gonna throw to her for a general update.
While I’m waiting for her I might just mention as well one of the fantastic things we have about today is having Leah Van Poppel who’ll be joining us as well. Many of you will know Leah Van Poppel who is a CEO of women with disabilities Victoria. She is an absolute leader within our broader community as well and she’s going to be co hosting a conversation with me. So I’m just going to check whether Deb has joined with us. I’m not sure whether you’re able to hear me, Deb.
Debra Abbott: I can hear you, can you hear me?
Emma King: I can hear you Deb, but I can’t see you. So if it’s okay, we might just start. And then hopefully we’ll get some vision in very soon if that’s all right with you. So Deb, is it okay if I ask you to start with just giving us an update about the general priorities for your role and emergency management Victoria at the moment?
Debra Abbott: Look, thank you so much and thank you for inviting me. So as Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner, I have a key role in supporting Andrew Chris. But I’m also currently I’m performing a role directly in coordination and we have a significant amount of operations that are currently activated right across the state in response to this very unprecedented emergency that we have here now. So it is largely a coordination role. But again, I suppose to give comfort to everyone it also goes to my primary role, which is really around community being at the heart of everything that we actually do and–
Emma King: I might just stop you one second, could I get you to turn your camera on? I’m hearing from our reliable sources that that’s the issue that we’ve got in terms of vision. So if you’re able to look and switch the camera on that would be fantastic. Hopefully, we’ll have some luck. Technology does not seem to be a friend today, but I’m sure we’ll get there. Don’t worry, let’s keep going in the meanwhile.
Debra Abbott: I don’t think it’s playing.
Emma King: Thank you, sorry, apologies for jumping in. But I had thought the camera wasn’t on. I’m sorry about that.
Debra Abbott: And again, I think it’s possibly just a glitch, maybe it air waned. And again, as soon as I can get it up, or if it works, I’ll get that working.
But just to go back, as I said, it really is around the decisions start with community and the impact to community. And what it means in terms of those broader consequences. And it’s not just in the short term, it really part of our act in emergency management means that we actually have to and we’re compelled to think about the longer term consequences of decisions that we make now. So it’s quite a big role but it does mean that things as broad as the impacts to the industry and as you will have noted that there’s a lot of industry engagement going on this week. Particularly around what it means as we come out of stage four, et cetera. And whilst we don’t specifically deal with industry entities on an individual basis, we do deal through sector engagement through our critical infrastructure networks and through a range of other liaison points that we do have. So we continue to work with industry through that way. And it’s good links right through at state level right up to Commonwealth level. And again, it does draw us in ’cause we know that a lot of critical infrastructure does not just have a network that sits within a state. In terms of where we’re at with our operations, if you’d like, I’ll touch on a couple of those operations and what they’re actually doing.
Emma King: That’d be great, thank you.
Debra Abbott: We have 12 operations to live or 12 large operations currently running across the state. It’s a massive network of operations, to say the least. But I’ll just touch on a few of them. So operation EBI owner, that’s dealing with how we coordinate across some of those border closures. So primarily for the state of Victoria, of course, that means our northern border and our western border to South Australia. So we’ve got a very large coordination operation going on there to make sure that we can ease the way as best we can for the community of Victoria. We have an operation Chevron, which is a operation around the old things to do with mortuary management and what that actually means. And where it is that we’ve got some key links in with the forensic area and how it is we understand the implications of fatalities, et cetera. So that’s another big key one. Operation Drusy is a operation that is concerned with the testing regime right across the state. Operation Sentinel and Shooting are operations that are run by Victoria Police. And both those operations complement other operations that Victoria Police is doing, not just enforcement, but also in community engagement. And helping us work with our community. So the directions can be best understood.
Emma King: Thanks, that’s a right overview. ‘Cause I know there’s some key questions that people from the community sector are really keen to ask. And I’ll put aside the question that we could easily ask which is how to people come up with the names this one was asked better than maybe I had the other day. But I think people are really keen, one of the key questions I’ve had a number of questions that I need to ask prior to the forum and it would be great to have the opportunity to ask those two. So really came to thanks very much commentary lately about the state of emergency and what that means for the community. It would be really great if you’re able to briefly speak to that and just really, I guess, explain what extending the state of emergency means for the Victorian community.
Debra Abbott: So the state of emergency it really is there’s two different pieces, so I might just touch on that first. So what is the state of emergency and sometimes that’s misunderstood with the state of disaster. So I just make that first point upfront. Yes, so that means the state of emergency enables us to continue to operate effectively and it goes to the effectiveness of how we operate. And again, it understands really the difficult circumstances that we’re actually trying to manage this pandemic under. It’s a piece of legislation that sits within the Public Health Act as a set but it does really complement the operational footprint on the ground and how it is that we can actually manage to do what we need to do in order to keep Victorian safe and well. So again, it goes back to my earlier points around being community focused and why emergency management exists. It’s for the safety and protection of community.
Emma King: Thanks Deb, that’s great. And I’m wondering as folks, I know the government announced earlier this month that there will be additional funding to engage multicultural communities in the COVID-19 response including for a new cold taskforce. Is there a plan for how this engagement with multicultural communities will work alongside the emergency management response?
Debra Abbott: That’s a great point and a great question because again it’s thought of as though we would only look at it in a single entity or a single operation. When in fact, all those operations that I mentioned before have engagement with core communities within them. So if we were to just simply try and house things up as a single task force or a single operation, I think we would miss the boat in what we really need to do with core communities. And so we take more of a holistic position around engagement. And we look for within our assurance mechanisms and the coordination to make sure that it is covered within all operations. ‘Cause otherwise it’ll be a missing link or a gap that enables proper coordination to actually occur.
Emma King: It’s a huge and significant point, isn’t it? Particularly as you say, it comes to that very direct connection and communication with communities as well. So it’s such a critically important point. And just one last question as well for you Deb. I think it’s been announced this week that engagement is underway. We know and I think you mentioned this earlier engagement is underway around the pathway towards easing restrictions. I don’t know how much you’re able to speak to this. I know that we’re having now a community sector, industry group that’s meeting tomorrow. Just if you’ve got any initial observations around that. You may not at this point that just care for anything you might be able to share with us.
Debra Abbott: Yes, again, as I said, we’re probably not involved in the level of detail in those conversations. But as I said, it’s one of those things that we maintain ongoing working, and as I said, particularly throughout critical infrastructure networks. Because, again, it goes to the heart of what it is that communities rely on in terms of criticality. And again, it goes to the impact of community if we lose critical infrastructure. And that goes to the people within it as well. Then we know it has an impact down the track. And particularly in the long term. So it’s never far from our decision making at all.
Emma King: Thanks so much, and a huge thank you for your generosity in being with us today. It’s fantastic that we’ve got such strong engagement with yourself and the emergency management commissioner, we really appreciate it. And we just like to pass on my sincere thanks for the incredible and relentless work that you’re undertaking as well. So thank you very much for joining with us today. It’s much appreciated. Have a great afternoon.
Debra Abbott: And I thank you and I apologize for the video glitch that we appear to appear. And thank you to all your people and groups online. Without community we couldn’t do what we do, so thank you.
Emma King: Thanks again, Deb, much appreciated, thank you. It’s now my enormous pleasure to welcome Nicole Brady who’s with us today. Nicole is a Deputy Public Health Commander. And thank you so much for joining with us, Nicole. It’s wonderful to have you. I might just start by saying if you wanted to give again a sort of a general view on the current situation in terms of when it comes to public health. I know it’s a situation that’s changing and changing at pace, thanks.
Nicole Brady: Thanks so much, Emma, and thanks for inviting me to be here. It’s great to be here and to see you and various other folks on the call. And just to explain some of you know me from various roles in the past so my zoom title is probably safety care Victoria improvement, but I joined the Public Health Incident Management command team. I don’t know, COVID days are very different to other days. So it is a while back. So I’ve been working with the team with Brett and the rest of them since around May or something like that. Just to give you some context and perspective. I’m happy to answer any questions that I can but I fit into the system in regards to the group that I work with is working with the strategy, the policy, or the directions I job share with Dr. Finn Romanos, who’s name is probably known to you, he’s probably been on this can, yeah?
Emma King: He has, he has, yeah.
Nicole Brady: He finds the directions now. So just to give a bit of a scene sort of from my perspective, I’ll be quick in case there are questions. But just taking us back to why we went into stage four, just remembering that not so long ago we had those extremely high case numbers and we had positive cases penetrating right throughout work and homes. So we needed to do all we can to get people to stay at home and to only interact with their families and people that they live with. And acknowledging all the way that how extremely challenging that is for the economy and for individuals. So as we’ve now got the cases going in the right direction, were in the process, and you will be so aware of working to design the roadmap and to provide advice and the correct epidemiological triggers to be able to provide certainty as we come out. ‘Cause the last thing anybody wants to occur is to be back in the place that we’re in at the moment. And we have to do everything that we can to avoid a third wave, we know that would just be so crushing for everybody. So that’s very much the work at the moment. And I believe there’s gonna be other opportunities to speak about that roadmap. While I’ve got you, I just thought I’d also share that it will help maybe for those of you who are at work at the moment. But also as you think about returning to work and that is going to happen, that just some things where our research is showing what we’re finding in the workplace, people are more likely to lapse in their adherence to some of the COVID safe behaviors. There is evidence that they are more likely to take off a mask. This is probably because all of the social norms, people probably feel like they’re more likely to catch COVID from a stranger than someone they say at work every day. It’s about politeness, it’s about sociability, it’s about normal human behavior. So thinking about how we can keep impressing upon people the need to maintain the distance and the masks. People are still going to work when they’re a little bit sick. The current workplace outbreaks that we have at the moment, we do have that knowledge and it’s just how do we keep reinforcing to people so much as we can that there is support for them not to work when they’re sick. And the other things that we’re seeing as a constant theme across workplace outbreaks it’s what we would call innocent social interaction. So even workplaces that have really tight systems and processes that are very, very well understood by staff, employers, leaders, customers, clients. When people step outside, maybe to have a cigarette break, or to have a cup of tea in the lunchroom, the guard drops. And they the masks might come off and then they’re too close and then the interactions occur and away COVID can go. So that’s just a quick update in terms of where we’re at and what we’re dealing with at the moment. There’s surveillance testing going on, so reaching into all different areas of the community to be making sure that we’re not detecting cases at the moment that’s occurring across healthcare, across aged care. And in those much more higher risk settings where we’ve seen those very large outbreaks. So we’re talking about meat processing facilities. There are definitely plans to start doing more surveillance testing and to be beginning that quite soon in some of the sensitive settings that impacted in the work that you do. So there is recognition of a need for that. I’m sure a Gary has been along and spoken with you about the great work that he’s done. So you’re all well aware of that. So I’ll be quiet and–
Emma King: Thanks Nicole and thanks for that very comprehensive overview as well. I’m wondering as well with it, and I’m not sure whether you’re able to do this, but when there’s anything that you can share around I guess the plan for easing restrictions. So perhaps to go out you gave us a nice kind of overview. I know that the Premier is obviously making his announcements on Sunday, there may not be anything you can add to that, but I just wondered if there’s kind of key things that are really I guess, directing your thoughts around what the next stages might look like.
Nicole Brady: The real thinking and again, we can’t preempt as yet. But where we’re really working is to make sure that we’re extremely focused on on what the triggers are, what the positive case numbers need to be at. And where the transmissions need to be before we take some cautious steps out of the restrictive environment that we’re in. It’s that balance of that urgent need for people to be able to interact with their loved ones. Plus also get back to work that is being balanced up against the need to make sure that we’ve really crushed this virus before we allow and enable people to get back into the environment. We’ve heard a lot of concerns about the impact of very restricted activity and access to childcare in particular. There’s a lot of reasons that is something that comes up time and time again. I can say that that has been looked at extremely closely at the moment.
Emma King: Thank you, that’s very helpful. Thinking as well around in terms of looking at we know the fight against COVID has been really significant in terms of mental health challenges, and very much fueled locked down fatigue as well. One simple, safe and compassionate way to address this is to look at what New Zealand have done in terms of creating nebs sort of bubble system. As we know, the New Zealand bubble systems allowed people who are living alone to nominate one other person they can interact with. I guess the beauty of the bubble system is the fact that it’s also scalable. As restrictions ease earlier households bubble could be expanded. Can you let us know whether you think anything along these lines is being considered for Victoria?
Nicole Brady: We’re absolutely looking at that and we’re looking at what has worked successfully overseas ’cause you refer to fatigue and a compliance fatigue basically, and it is natural way. Where the research that we’re doing locally does show that people are most likely to breach restrictions so that they can reach out and say that that one person in their lives that they are missing so desperately. So we really do have to balance that in enabling people to do things that are the most important to them. Which will help keep them more in line with the other really important restrictions that we know will help drive the virus down. So again, it’s another balance of the risks and the tensions between those things. But it is also under active consideration.
Emma King: Thank you and in terms of I suspect, I know the answer to this, it’s a question we’ve had in, it would be good to get your thoughts in terms of you mentioned before as people start returning to work and other things and one of the great risks around people potentially taking their masks off. One of the questions we’ve had in is, I guess, do you think people will still need to wear masks and PPE after this lockdown eases?
Nicole Brady: I think masks are gonna be with us for a while because we know they work. We know that they really really do reduce the opportunity. And the evidence is growing. This is a constantly rapidly learning environment. And while the evidence about masks wasn’t as strong in the beginning, and it felt that it was more likely to just stop that one person who was positive from putting it out there. We now know it’s also a protective barrier for the people who aren’t positive. So while we’re still got virus circulating in the community, especially in situations where people are coming together with people that don’t live with, masks is gonna be with us, I would think.
Emma King: Yeah, thank you. And I guess that one of the other questions I’ve had a lot is in terms of, what’s the situation in regional Victoria right now? And again, I’m mindful around, I’m not wanting to preempt announcements that the Premier might make on Sunday. But I guess that sort of divide between Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria and I guess around sort of case growth and numbers and what sort of your observations are in terms of regional Victoria at the moment.
Nicole Brady: Regional Victoria a few weeks ago was definitely of concern. Some of the largest cities we did have concerning growth in the number of cases. We’ve have now six teams. The COVID response units operating out of six of the regional hospitals that have been enormously successful in being able to wrap a ring around those cases. They’re closer to the communities and the environments. They know how to get in and understand more about where the people might be mixing and where the risk might be. So we’re having really strong success in being able to reinvent regional Victoria and keep it safer. That said, the new cases that are coming into regional Victoria are coming out of Melbourne. So it’s not as though there is unknown sources circulating throughout there. Mostly at the moment it is in honesty through transfers from the healthcare system. We know there’s gonna be difficult to get it out of the healthcare system once it’s into that sort of setting. And we can’t restrict the people who are in health care at the moment really need to be there. So that’s gonna be a really big challenge in terms of protecting everybody but particularly regional Victoria. The Premier has said that there will be a regional map and a Melbourne roadmap and a metro roadmap. So they are being considered differently knowing that that risk of sailing out of Melbourne, especially into environments where people are more free to interact, has that risk aspect to it.
Emma King: Thanks Nicole and I guess just lastly, as well, I guess we’ve seen the numbers jump around a bit. So overall, I think it is really important to make the observation that they coming down. And I think there’s an emotional thing for the whole community around seeing them in double digits, then go back up to triple. And I think we’ve had the chief health officer and others make some sort of observations around that and expecting numbers to jump around for a little while. But I’m interested in your observations in terms of the numbers over the last few days and what that’s indicating from the perspective of yourself from within.
Nicole Brady: It’s indicating that we’re in the right direction. That we always have to look at those rolling graphs. So the data over time and not just to think, yeah, it’s a win today, oh my god, how depressing, we’re going backwards. We’re not, we’re headed in the right direction. But getting it down, I mean let’s take our minds back. About five weeks ago, we had 700 plus cases which was enormously alarming. I think even a couple of weeks ago, we’re in the 200. So now to be down and you know moving into under 100 more reliably, is a very positive sign. But it’s also a sign that it’s challenging. It’s not like you can just turn stuff off and away it goes. This is a really, really difficult virus to be able to stop the spread of.
Emma King: Thanks, Nicole, and I think it’s a good note to end on. As long as I think everyone feels, we know the community generally feels pretty flattened, a bit worn down. I think to hear that optimism is really important about the fact that we’re heading in the right way. And while we’ll see the numbers bounce around a bit to say that actually, when we look back not all that long ago, you can feel like a very long time, but it really wasn’t long ago. And decide, look, we’ve actually seen a significant shift during that period of time. So I just wanted to say a really sincere thank you as well for you joining us today, it’s great to see you. As you say we’ve had the opportunity to work together in many different ways before. So it’s fantastic to see you in the role that you’re in now. And for the incredible role of yourself and Finn and the public health team are doing, we know that you are working day and night to work for the benefit of everyone in Victoria. And just really wanna sincerely thank you for that and for also making the time to join with us today. It’s a great opportunity for the Victorian community to hear from you directly, have some of their questions answered, and it’s just very much appreciated. And I’m really impressed by your background, I have to say, I’m not sure if that’s real, but the books look incredible.
Nicole Brady: It’s my bookshelf, thank you.
Emma King: It’s so good, I’m gonna come over and visit when this is over.
Nicole Brady: And also I would extend the thanks to you and to VCOSS for your leadership. Everybody has a leadership role to play in this. We all have to do the right thing and to have the courage to call out people when they’re not doing the right thing. But to share the accurate evidence based information. So thank you for the opportunity to speak with your audience and to do that today. And happy to come back again.
Emma King: Fantastic, we’ll definitely hold you to that, Nicole. Thank you so much and have a great afternoon.
Nicole Brady: Thank you, bye-bye.
Emma King: See you soon, bye. Thank you. And it’s now my absolute pleasure to be inviting Leah Van Poppel who is gonna join with us and I suspect will come up on my screen any moment now. Fantastic Leah is here. Leah is well known and loved by the Victorian community sector as the CEO of women with disabilities, Victoria. also joining us is Simone Corin from the department. Simone is a deputy State Controller at the Victorian disability Response Center. And Phil O’Meara, who is the executive director of participation and inclusion at DHHS. And apologies for looking down while I introduce you both Simone and Phil but I know you are in high demand and have to, as everyone’s working at pace, you’ve had to kind of change your roles a bit to fit around the needs of COVID as well. So I just wanted to make sure I captured those correctly. Now I’m primarily gonna hand over to Leah, who will be leading this conversation. We’ll be kind of co-hosting the conversation but it will be very much led by Leah. And it’s great to have, I think we’ll have Simone first off the bat and then Phil, who’s with us as well. And we’ll take it from there. So Leah, I might hand over to you for the first questions. Thanks. I think you may be on mute, Leah. Thank you. We’ve got to say it on every call. I think there’s gotta be someone who’s on mute so that’s fine, let’s give it another go. And now we still can’t hear you. So if you can give it a go from there. If not, if you have, there you go. I was gonna say I can kick off with the first question but I will hand over to you. Thanks, Leah.
Leah Van Poppel: Thanks, Emma. It’s really great to be here today to be able to talk about disability and COVID. One in five Victorians has a disability. And for the disability community, COVID has bought a lot more than a deadly physical health trick. It’s bought anxiety, fear, and stress. And accessing services and support has become harder just at the time when we need the services and supports more, not less. I’m really glad to be here today. The disability community has a lot of questions and I’m hoping we can get some answers from use you Simone and Phil. First of all, what will the government do in the medium and long term in recognition of the different impacts of COVID for people with disability?
Simone Corin: Thanks very much, Leah and Emma. Hopefully, yes, I’m off mute. So I think one of the things that’s been really important during the pandemic has been the engagement and the discussion with people with disability and carers and support people throughout this period of COVID to understand the impacts, as you say, in relation to the significant impact, that it’s having the heightened anxiety that that’s creating for people. But also bringing that experience and how that informs both the solutions and the responses that we need to work to keep people safe together. So there’s a number of things that the government and ministers have been doing in engaging with people with disability that allows us to inform that decision. So the Minister for disability aging and carers has been meeting regularly with the Victorian disability Advisory Council and there has been a COVID taskforce that’s also been established to get that key input. The office for disability has also been in regular contact with our Victorian Disability Advocacy Program Agencies who continue to provide valuable insights and advice around the issues that are impacting people with disability. And really working in terms of what that looks like as we transition out of this current stage of restrictions. The other thing that we are hoping to kick off very soon is the next state disability plan. Which will recommence as soon as possible. And that will also provide a vehicle into the longer term to think about the impact of COVID 19 on people with a disability and the supports that are required and what that would look like over the coming years. So we’re looking obviously to do what we can over the short to medium term as well as build that into our longer term planning for the next couple of years.
Leah Van Poppel: Thanks Simone, how are you improving communications to reach and engage people with disability? Undertaking all of these actions but actually connecting with people with disability in the community?
Simone Corin: Thanks, Leah. There’s been quite a lot of work being done at many levels. But the work that is being done particularly around ensuring that through that connection that we’ve actually got accessible communication for people with a disability. And that’s been through the assistance of the COVID-19 accessible communications reference group that’s been established. Which has representatives from the disability, Victorian Disability Advisory Council, Victorian Disability Advocacy Organizations, as well as the broader disability community. And that groups really led some great work and development of a dedicated site on the department’s website, on the Coronavirus web page to give accessible information and resources. The advance on accessible products and key messages are also distributed out through the plan so that we’re reaching specific communities and how to reach groups. And there’s over 90 organizations that are part of that channel plan including the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit. There’s also been some funding that’s gone out through the NDA and funding of the Self Advocacy Resource Unit to support people with cognitive disability who are self advocates to support them to stay connected during the pandemic. And through the staying connected project we’re also providing or they are providing IT equipment online through a library and training as well as one on one phone support to enable the advocates to engage with their communities to reduce that sense of self isolation. Sorry, sense of isolation.
Leah Van Poppel: Thanks, Simone, that’s quite a comprehensive answer. One of the recent developments for some of the feedback that we’ve been getting has been the call to test option which allows people with disabilities or who aren’t able to leave their home to get a test to actually access testing at home. But it isn’t available in regional areas. What’s your message to people who need that service but who live outside of Melbourne?
Simone Corin: Thanks, Leah, that’s right. So since the start of August, the call to test has been in place and it’s available for Metropolitan Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula and southwest Victoria and there’s been a really strong uptake of that program. It is being expanded across the rest of the state over the coming weeks so it will be rolled out to give greater coverage. But for those who don’t have access at the moment, essentially you can contact their local GP or their community health center service in particular. Or their local hospital for assistance to discuss options for testing.
Leah Van Poppel: Okay, great, that’s really useful information for people to have. We’ve seen a lot of attention on disability residential services in recent weeks. Including the establishment of the new Disability Response Center. But most people with disabilities live in the community, what supports are there that are available for people with disability outside residential services?
Simone Corin: Thanks, so there’s been quite a bit of funding that’s been put out to support people more broadly outside the residential service settings. So there’s been funding that’s been put out for the Victorian Disability Advocacy Program Agencies to assist them to make the increased demand that they’re seeing. And to provide the individual self and systemic disability advocacy. Sorry, I’m just lost my place in terms of where I was responding. There’s funding and also for Disability Advocacy Outreach Programs, which has been commissioned in working through the design of those with people in the community with disabilities. So that’s something that will be available in the coming weeks we hope and will be considered. There’s also been some funding that’s been put out to establish disability liaison offices. And those liaison offices are there to support people with disability to access COVID-19 assessments and treatment services. Also to address some of the barriers that people have with accessing their health services. And ensure that people with disability can actually access the treatment and services that they need. So those are established. In addition to the Victorian Disability Response Center who also provide support to people with a disability who live in the community.
Leah Van Poppel: Thanks. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a heightened sense of anxiety for people with disabilities. Even as restrictions is, a lot of people with disabilities are gonna be isolated for longer especially if they’re immunocompromised or their disability means that they are at higher risk of complications from COVID. How are the rights of people with disability being considered in Victoria as we look at the roadmap for opening back up.
Simone Corin: It’s a good question Leah. And I think in part it goes to what I was referring to a little bit earlier around the engagement that we have sought to have over or during the period of the pandemic. So through the epic traceability Advisory Council also through the COVID task force that’s been established to understand and hear from people with disability. Also including the webinars that have been held through the NDSP. So that has taken into account people with disabilities perspective to build into the roadmap and any transition out of restrictions currently. But I will also perhaps hold over to Phil who speaks a bit later on about the social isolation impacts because he will pick that up, I think, in his responses.
Leah Van Poppel: Thanks, that’s fantastic to hear. We’ll look forward to that from Phil. I just wanna talk a little bit specifically about workplaces too. We know that for many people with disability going back to work, when it would happen will be a bit of a tricky thing to do because of those increases risks. So what protection will be in place to stop bosses from pressuring workers with disabilities from returning to the office before they feel it safe?
Simone Corin: So I think I mean, more broadly, obviously, we’ll all be informed about any return to the workplace being guarded. I think as Nicole Brady was referring to earlier around obviously the public health advice and the Chief Health Officers directions in terms of readiness in that transition back. Employers obligations to provide a safe workplace under the IHS laws will clearly continue to apply as those restrictions ease and people are able to return to the workplace. And employers obviously need to comply with all of the state and federal anti discrimination legislation. Which would mean that people can’t discriminate. Work places are also required to have COVID safe plans in place in terms of that transition back. So we would hope that through this roadmap as we transition back to the workplace, that we do have the right elements in place for people to feel that it is safe and appropriate for them to return to work. We will ensure that there is communication and information available out there, including what those continued requirements might be around people’s need to wear masks or face shields or those sorts of things at work and how they can have those conversations with their employers.
Leah Van Poppel: And will that information also target people with disabilities who might be feeling some pressure from their workplaces so that they know where they can go to get help if they need or comes across that situation?
Simone Corin: I think that’s absolutely something we can do. And have that available through this next round as we transition through the next phase of restrictions.
Leah Van Poppel: Fantastic. I suppose it’s a bit more of an immediate concern that the mental health of children and young people is front of mind for all of us. It’s been a tricky time for everybody but particularly for children and young people. Many parents of children and young people with disability they’re poor with their children’s behaviors and skills have changed or regressed. And that they in their children are experiencing kind of heightened anxiety and stress in particular. So how are you responding to the increased mental health needs for people and families with disability.
Simone Corin: Thanks Leah, it broke up a little bit at the end there but I think that was in relation to the supports for people with children and families in relation to their mental health needs. There’s a number of things that are in train at the moment. And I think in fact, Matthew Hercus might have spoken at the last webinar about some of the funding that has been put out to support the mental health and well being needs. So there are a number of things that have been put out more broadly in terms of social therapy, digital platforms that are available for young people between the ages of 12 and 25 years. Things like the virtual YMCA that’s been put in place to try to improve engagement with young people. So there’s a there’s a number of things that have been put in place as well as extending mental health practitioners to specialized schools for example, and expanding the lookout program in terms of the educational needs of children. But there are also a number of things in terms of connecting with schools as the way I guess of connecting with the needs of children. So there are regional health and well being key context, for example, who have been allocated to each of the government schools. To develop a plan and to respond to the needs of students who may be at risk or require additional support. There are the mental health practitioners now who are delivering remote support to secondary schools. Secondary students through teleconferencing and video conferencing. As well as a range of resources that have also been put out through schools for both students and parents in partnership with a number of other organizations.
Leah Van Poppel: Okay, and so the experts is that some of those border initiatives that are aimed at schools and students will actually be made. Will hit the ground with accessibility in mind and students with disabilities will be able to have access to those.
Simone Corin: Yes. And so that’s certainly something that we can have a look at, if we haven’t yet. And put them into an accessible format. We can absolutely have a look at that, I think.
Leah Van Poppel: That’s really good to hear. For students and young people with disability who are not in the family home there’s another set of particular issues. So can you talk to us a little bit about what might be happening for children and young people with disabilities who are in and out of home care or in youth detention. How are they being supported? Are they getting access to support at the moment?
Simone Corin: So the children and young people with disability in both out of home care and youth detention. There’s a significant amount of work that’s been done in both of those settings more broadly to ensure that there are private safe plans in place that there is an approach to ensure that there is both preparedness and readiness to support any potential outbreaks in those settings. So there are things that have been put in place to limit the number of visits and to make sure that the setting is safe and appropriate. We know though, that that also brings those issues with isolation and support. So that is being I guess, worked through in terms of making sure that children are monitored through those settings and that the appropriate supports are available for them if they are needed. And making sure that those workers I guess in all of those settings are also aware of the supports that are available for people with disability more broadly.
Leah Van Poppel: Yeah, and you may not be able to answer this question, but there’s been an impact for children, young people in those settings around being able to visit from their family or their friends. To have that kind of social interaction that children and young people are really craving at this time?
Simone Corin: It’s a difficult time that’s right and there are some formal limitations on some of the visits that are able to be made. But there have been some really good examples that I’ve been hearing about where people have been putting some innovative solutions in place such as the use of telehealth and being able to, telehealth is one, what I was really probably meaning to say there was using iPads and other virtual ways of connecting with families and friends to maintain that connection.
Leah Van Poppel: Okay, well, it’s good to hear what technology is being used to help facilitate that. And just one last question before I get you out of the hot seat. Thank you so much for answering all of these questions for us so transparently Simone, that’s been really helpful. Care for, we don’t know a lot yet about what term four might look like for students let alone students with disabilities, but are you able to give us any indication about the planning that might be done for students with disabilities leading into term four?
Simone Corin: Thanks, Leah, yes I think as you mentioned it’s being planned as we speak. But certainly, Department of Education and Training will continue to provide support for students with disability through term four. And in the context of the advice from the chief health officer. And certainly the schools will work closely with families to ensure that students needs are accommodated. And that that’s an ongoing discussion between parents and schools. It’ll also take, I guess, the learnings that they have from both term two end term three now into what that will look like for term four. So I think people will acknowledge that some of the learnings from term two were applied to term three, and that will continue to be the case as the planning evolves for term four.
Leah Van Poppel: Thank you very much Simone. I’m going to hand back to Emma now. But I’d just like to finish by saying it’s been great to be able to have some clear and transparent information about what’s happening on the ground for people with disability. And we’re all working really hard at a really fast pace at the moment and just wanna acknowledge that that applies to government too. So thank you.
Simone Corin: Thank you so much Leah.
Emma King: Thank you so much Leah and thank you so much, Simone. If I can just reiterate Leah’s comments as well with a very sincere thanks to both of you and I’ll be handing over to Phil in just a moment. But Simone, thank you for your incredible generosity as always, in terms of being with us today and really succinct clear answers as well. And Leah, if I can pass on my very sincere thank you to you. You’re an incredible advocate as always and we love working with you and I’m really appreciative of your involvement today. So a huge thank you and look forward to catching up with you soon so thank you. And I know Simone’s got to go to another event. And Phil is gonna jump in because people and I think it’s not versatile and so much appreciated. So have a wonderful afternoon Simone and Leah as well, thank you. Phil, thank you also for joining us. I guess a quick question I had for you as well was around social isolation. And we all know that people are very much struggling in terms of loneliness, and isolation. Just keen I know, I anticipate there might be some announcements about this on Sunday, but just in terms of what government is thinking the sorts of things you’re thinking through in terms of tackling loneliness.
Phil O’Meara: Thank you, Emma and thanks for the opportunity to join in today. Absolutely, we would acknowledge that isolation and loneliness has been an issue throughout course of the pandemic since the earliest days and has been obviously subject to much discussion in the recent phase. And I’ll come back to that in a moment. I suppose I did wanna say it was an acknowledged and emerging issue even prior to COVID-19. There was kind of an emerging literature about isolation and loneliness even before that was being heightened in some ways by the pandemic itself. I guess what I would say is in terms of government’s approach, first and foremost, we’ve been trying to kind of build on the good work that already exists. So we’ve been subconscious that there’s already much good work that goes on across the community sector in particular to provide connections for people and decide to connect people to one another. So it’s not just about kind of a provision of a service. It’s also about connecting people to one another so that they built their own networks of support. So we absolutely recognize that organizations like neighborhood houses and community health and other kind of online communities as well. So I guess we’ve seen through over the last year but particularly in the recent days other groups like Good Common Network and also one good straight kind of really emerge is leaders around this issue. We’re trying to build on that. So I guess we are consciousness that more has needed to be done to adjust the issues in the context of the pandemic, some of that started very early days. In effect, building on government’s capacity to reach people through its service footprint. So being able to reach out I get good information to people who are seniors card holders, for example. Or through public housing where there’s already kind of a relationship. Where we know that some people are at greater risk of isolation we’ve been keen to kind of use those points of connection that we have through government to do that. I suppose the bigger in terms of kind of the bigger challenges and the new way of thinking that we’ve been doing throughout the recent phase there’s probably two things I’d highlight. And then I’ll come back to the kind of question about the forward look. So two things to highlight one is, as part of the mental health package that the government announced in April this year. So the first kind of phase of a pandemic. One of the commitments in that was to establish a new initiative which was absolutely targeted in isolation. So this is known to be an issue that would be a real one for people this year and for as long as the pandemic was having its impacts. That was rolled out in June this year. And I’m gonna just step through a little bit because I think it’s starting to tell us some really interesting things about what’s being experienced. So that’s the community activation and social isolation initiative or CASI as we call it. So that is accessed by people either through kind of community level connections and I’ll come back to talk about community connectors. But in first instance people can call the Coronavirus hotline to get in touch with the CASI initiative. They’re connected through to volunteers at the Red Cross who will kind of talk to them about what their needs are. Typically can be a mix of social, emotional or kind of political needs that people have.
Emma King: So jump in, so that’s anyone who’s at home and feeling lonely, this is a line that people can call.
Phil O’Meara: Absolutely, yep.
Emma King: What’s an easy way if you’ve got, I don’t know, if you have a number with you at hand or you want us to share it afterwards. I’m just thinking around for people who perhaps might be listening today and think well, actually, I wanna reach out, I wanna make a call. There’s someone I’d like to have a conversation with. And I’m mindful of the point you made earlier around the roles the neighborhood have this plan community health plan and it’s not just a transactional role, it’s actually about a very genuine and deep connection. But also thinking for people who at the moment are finding it particularly tough, I think the fact that there’s been a line set up that people can call in, it’s kind of how we make that easy as well. So if you don’t have the information at hand, we can easily which is fair enough ’cause I’m just calling on you at very short notice, with no notice actually. So we can always put that up on our website after this. But I’m just thinking aloud, it’s really important, I think, for people to know and have access to that information.
Phil O’Meara: So I completely agree. This is just the normal COVID hotline, I don’t have it in front of me, but we can get that to you. So it can be disseminated. And if people call that number and just press number three in that kind of choice of options that they have there. It takes them through to that initiative. So just to give you a bit of a sense about what we’re learning. So there’s been since this was set up at the end of June. There’s been a large number of calls, I probably don’t have the number here, that they might enter that number for a variety of reasons. Some of them ultimately don’t end up being about isolation but are about other needs that people have. What I can say is that then, in terms of numbers of calls that have been being referred down to the local level, so this is the next part of what we’ve put in place. Which is in every local government area is an organization, either a council or another local organization who is good at kind of working with people and connecting them to one another. There’s been over 1000 referrals from the Red Cross to local level organizations to effectively put the person who’s reaching out for assistance, say the help seeker, in touch with someone who can help help them. That might be for food assistance, or it might be for a kind of a well being regular check in. Someone to give them a regular call. Someone to kind of collect their shopping or help them learn how to use mobile devices So they can connect to loved ones. Or to kind of connect them to social activities including online. We understand from our relationship now with these new local community connectors in HLGI that a similar volume of contacts are being made laterally. So they’re coming in from the community directly and not even through the Red Cross line. So that tells us that there’s a real need out there for this type of people. I can give you a few examples, if it’s helpful of the types of support that have been able to be provided through them. Is that useful?
Emma King: Yeah, I think if you give us a few quick examples, that’d be great. And I think it also shows, in terms of the things that you’re pointing to it shows I think, that importance of the role of those sort of frontline community sector organizations that are going to be so critical. Not only at this time and it’s challenging when a number of for example, neighborhood houses aren’t necessarily operable, they’re not operating the physical way that they would ordinarily be. And we also know some communities don’t have digital access for a whole lot of reasons. And looking at the variety of people that we have throughout our whole community and the fact that some of the digital access has been incredible for some people, for others, it’s really I guess, it goes to the point you made at the beginning around it’s actually really amplified. You put a spotlight on some of the very real issues that already existed in our community around loneliness. We’re seeing that around poverty and a whole host of other things as well. But around loneliness, as you say, pre existing work that had been done. And this is really amplifying the kind of really urgent need to address what’s a real issue in our community at the best of time but these are being amplified now.
Phil O’Meara: I completely agree. So just to give you a few quick examples. So through the initiative, just in terms of really practical ways that people have been able to be helped. So deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables and culturally appropriate meals to people who are self isolating. This is usually through community goodwill or other service. So it’s really trying to tap into people who want to help. And leveraging really volunteer efforts. So help families from cold communities to shop online. Delivering firewood to a family who otherwise didn’t have any heating. Helping older people to sign up for Facebook so they can connect with their grandchildren and so on so forth. So they’re just a few examples of the type of not only benefit but connection that is starting to be realized through the initiative.
Emma King: Yeah, and I know I heard one story today actually from a member who had someone contact them because they wanted candles. And it was because actually, their light bulbs were blowing but they weren’t able to replace them themselves and weren’t aware of the kind of assistance that was there. So I think it just points to the need that probably everyone on this call is acutely aware of as well and collectively, it’s how we do our very best to have us connected and close a community as we possibly can. I do want to just briefly touch on one other thing if that’s okay. I know as well your work has really also touched on sort of migrant communities, asylum seekers and temporary migrants. I was just curious to know if there’s any kind of particular things that you potentially wanted to share from that work as well. ‘Cause I know that’s been a really dedicated piece of work that you’ve been undertaking as well.
Phil O’Meara: Sure, I’ll be happy to. There’s probably a couple of different aspects which are worth highlighting as we know. There’s been a substantial amount of work particularly over the last two to three months to engage deeply with our multicultural communities and to do much more kind of joint work in kind of thinking through the rock responses for people across the community. But obviously in this instance, from multicultural communities. Some examples of that obviously include some of the work that was done just in the context of getting out and talking to people in their earlier kind of door knocking initiative. And in the need to make sure that people were equipped to engage with the breadth of the community and including, obviously, in a range of languages. The response around the public housing estates improved obviously, over that phase in terms of the responsiveness to multicultural communities. So there are probably a couple of pieces about that kind of outward engagement. I guess what I would also say is that there’s been other work to make sure that there’s also kind of practical support available. So two things that I would mention in that regard would be the program that was established by department of jobs precincts and regions in April or May this year to support international students. So that has provided a significant amount of support. I think it’s a $45 million program if I remember the number correctly. To meet that need which we know has been really significant and then the other one which was a known kind of gap to be addressed is the available support for in particular temporary visa holders who would not have been eligible for support through the Commonwealth initiative so through job keeper and job seeker. Where they were unemployed workplace obviously facing very, very difficult circumstances. So to respond to that, we, the department has funded the Red Cross to deliver a kind of extreme hardship support program. Details of that are available on the Red Cross website. And that’s been in operation now for a couple of months. And this helps now about three and a half thousand people at this time. So it’s been another critical part of the kind of jigsaw in terms of making sure that we have all of the available all of the required supports in place.
Emma King: Thanks, Phil, and I just think it’s really important to identify that as well. And as you say, we’ve got groups of our population who have been just so left behind in terms of not being able to access job seeker and job keeper. And it’s been a really important initiative that you’ve been working on. So I just wanted to acknowledge that it’s really important. And I guess the work that you’ve spoken about too it speaks to that really critical role of organizations such as Ethnic Communities Council Victoria, the Multicultural Commission. And the many different grassroots organizations that have been pivotal as well in terms of looking at the response. So I just wanted to say a huge thank you for being here today and tag teaming with Simone. We really appreciate the ongoing work that you have with your team and I know we keep saying this. If like, if someone’s playing bingo, they could easily knock myself out but there’s just this powerhouse of work that’s going on. And I’m acutely aware when I look at the timing that emails, et cetera, come through the incredible hours, et cetera that people are working with the very best of intention. Putting yourself in the mind. So really appreciate that. I really appreciate you being with us today as well and hope that you can join us for future forums too. So a big thank you and have a wonderful afternoon.
Phil O’Meara: You’re welcome. And it’s absolutely a partnership.
Emma King: Thank you, very much so. Thank you again Phil much appreciated, thanks. And it’s now my absolute privilege to have with us for our final session for today. with Amity Durham is joining us. I can just see her connecting to audio now. Amity is a deputy secretary of strategy and planning at the Department of Health and Human Services. And in the spirit of partnership, as Phil was just speaking about, we work very, very closely with Amity on an ongoing basis before COVID as well. And I think it’s placed us in really good stead as we’re navigating both, I guess, before, during and what will be post pandemic as well in terms of very close partnership arrangement. And many of you will be aware of the Health and Human Services partnership implementation Committee, which Amity and I co chair. So it’s great to have you here, Amity, really appreciate it I know how incredibly busy you are as well. I might jump straight into questions if that’s okay with you.
Amity Durham: Thanks, Emma.
Emma King: Thank you, so lots of organizations have had their contracts extended to September and they’re waiting to see what will happen beyond that. Given that the state budget might be delayed as late as November, and none of us are entirely sure when that might be, have you got any updates for the community sector organizations who are listening in to the webinar today?
Amity Durham: Thanks, Emma, and hello, everyone. And look, I can say with certainty that we are really conscious of this issue that it is very difficult we understand for organizations and for people working in community organizations to have that certainty without the funding set award. But unfortunately, at this point, those decisions are still subject to government to make decisions on the forward budget. So I’m hoping we’ll be able to advise the sector really soon about the continuity of that funding and those contracts. So I’m sorry, Emma today I can’t but we are working hard to get an answer as soon as we can.
Emma King: Thanks, Amity. I suspected you probably weren’t in a position to answer prior to any government announcement. But as it’s an issue of just such critical importance to the community sector. And I know you don’t need any convincing of that, but just important work that we will continue to advocate for us advocating for together as well. As we all know lots of people are struggling financially enormously through the pandemic particularly as unemployment is rising as well. I guess there’s a challenge that we’ve got around the Commonwealth supports like job seeker and job keeper which are tapering down. And just curious to know what conversations you and your colleagues are having around the sort of supports that might need to be put in place. We’re mindful in community sector organizations, we’re seeing a huge tranche of new people turn up to access services who’ve never needed them before by virtue I guess, of having job keeper and job seeker at higher levels, some people who have traditionally had to access services perhaps haven’t needed them so much. And we’re going to see that really shift. So really interested in any kind of thoughts that you’ve got around that in any work that you’re doing.
Amity Durham: Yes, look, and there’s a couple of issues in there. I think it’s fair to say that in terms of vulnerable Victorians, we’ve been really conscious through the pandemic response that is impacting on vulnerable people. Both those who were already experiencing hardship, but obviously there are a number of people who’ve come into hardship situations. And we also acknowledge, obviously, that many people are reliant on those Commonwealth income support payments. And while there’s been a commitment that they’ll remain in place for the first quarter of 2021, they are going to be aggressively reduced in October and then in January. So up to now, I think the Victorian Government has a lot to put in place some really clear safety net and hardship programs that I guess help fill some of those gaps. So some examples are certainly the rental relief grants that are available payments up to $3,000 to be trying to experiencing in the rental hardships. And the extreme hardship program. So for people who aren’t eligible for other forms of Victorian or Commonwealth government support there are payments available and financial assistance from the Victorian Government. We’ve also been providing loans, no interest loans available to eligible people through the good money program. So that’s providing individuals and families on low income with access to safe affordable credit. And they’re repayable over 12 to 18 months. As you know too there’s the large investment $500 million into the working for Victoria funds. Are really focused on getting people into work opportunities quickly. And utility bill hardship payments and the like. I think your question is beyond that as well. And look, I think there is work underway now to think about what are those ongoing impacts. And keeping a close eye and also strong advocacy with the Commonwealth, about the continuation of those welfare supports. But I guess it’s something that we’ll need to just be able to respond to as the situation develops. But I guess it’s fair to say it’s on everybody’s mind. We’re very conscious of the impacts on vulnerable people.
Emma King: Thanks, Amity, I think you’re right about the collective advocacy around job seeker and job keeper. And if I can also just call out as well. I’m aware that one of the things that we’re actually really pleased about was the rental relief in Victoria was due to stop reasonably soon. And we know that I believe as of yesterday, that’s now being extended through to the end of March. So that’s been a really, I think, a really great example of the recognition by government that the kind of hardship people are suffering and the recognition of that. So I really wanted to call that out in particular given that it’s changed so recently and perhaps not everyone is aware of the fact that. I think the needs of people have been very much listened to and then acted on on that front as well. So that’s been really welcome, as well. I guess just one other question for you Amity in particular in terms of subject to anything else that you wanted to mention, but I think one thing that we’re acutely aware of is community sector, workers and organizations that are really they’re tired and they’re potentially at risk of burnout. I guess some any advice you’ve got around supporting staff well being would be fantastic.
Amity Durham: Yes, look and I know organizations are also really conscious and doing a lot of great things in this space. And the department is really grateful as well for all of the efforts from community services organizations in the COVID response. Look, there are some materials and guidance that have been made available. I know WorkSafe Victoria has provided some specific guidance around the fatigue particularly and how organizations can help to manage fatigue. And really that goes to not just obviously clinical workforce, but all involved in the organizational efforts. Some of the things we’ve seen and really good examples have been looking at roster rotations and roster rules. So being quite strict about hours of work and thinking about rotating staff through three roles in a way that provides appropriate breaks between shifts and the like. So there’s a bit more guidance on there. But I’m sure you know organizations are well on top of rostering. There’s also I guess, we’re also seeing cases where people have been asked to step into roles that they might not have ordinarily done. So obviously training support and body systems are kind of really important in that space. We find too in our department, ’cause we’ve been under a lot of pressure as well so we’re quite focused on well being of our staff and some of the things we’re thinking and are working quite well are just regular team conversations, particularly people working remotely. It’s like how do you stay connected and feel connected with your organization and your team? And also celebrating achievements, milestones and successes is really important in this environment to keep people going. So look, I think as well, employees, system programs and the like. So there’s a range of materials there. I know as well Emma, you mentioned earlier, we are having some further conversations with community services industry representatives paid groups just about what more could be done to support organizations as we transition into the next phase. And I guess that can go to workforce as well and how we support our respective workforces through the ongoing months.
Emma King: Very much so, thank you, Amity. And if I can just say a huge thank you to you as well, Amity, as I said, the partnership that we have with you is very, very much valued. And you being a regular guest at these webinars which we’re now having monthly is very, very much appreciated as well. It’s my pleasure as well, just to thank all of the guests that we’ve had with us today. The webinars wouldn’t be possible without the willingness of people to come in and I’m mindful that some of the questions are not always overly easy to answer. But it’s really important, I think, to have the really kind of candid and good dialogue that we’re able to have and it speaks volumes as To the partnership that we have. I’ve got a few other things that I wanted to make as well today, I’d like to thank Mark and Paul who were our Ozline interpreters who are with us today. And I would also like to give a huge thank you to the VCOSS and the DHHS teams, who work incredibly hard behind the scenes in the lead up to today and during today. And also, I guess, I would like to give a particular shout out to Leah Van Poppel for joining us today to assist with the webinar as well. We will know shortly, I guess, around the roadmap for the community sector and the community. And we’ll be sharing everything with you as soon as we possibly can. As Amity referred to and our pitch at the beginning, we’re in the process of scheduling an industry taskforce, which I believe will be happening tomorrow. So we’re hoping to have more information to share. That will will feed into the the Premier’s announcement, I guess on Sunday and also beyond as well. If you haven’t signed up to out e-news bulletin to the VCOSS e-news bulletin, please do so already. It’s a great way to stay up to date with all information as is a DHHS funded agency channel as lots of great information comes through there as well. One last reminder in terms of the VCOSS ABC Melbourne Facebook Live event at 7:30 tonight. Make sure that you tune in, it’s gonna be a great event, one that we’re really excited about. And please look after yourselves. We very much look forward to seeing you at the webinar in another month time. And hopefully we’ll be progressing well and truly out of this stage and into a more positive stage in terms of the restrictions that we’re navigating at that point. Thank you again, and have a wonderful day.