ACWA’s thoughts are with our sector colleagues, and with the children, young people, families and individuals you work with, as we continue to deal with the fallout of COVID-19. We acknowledge and appreciate your ongoing commitment to maintaining essential services to support and protect the most vulnerable people in our community in the face of this pandemic.
ACWA has established a small response team to work with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and other non-government peaks, including AbSec and NCOSS, on practical initiatives that will support the service system to respond to the rising demands and challenges which are currently being placed upon it.
Our work is being informed through regular consultation with our member agencies and DCJ. We are fortunate to have a sector with such an enormous depth of knowledge and experience to draw upon in this regard. The Children in Care Collective has also committed support to enhance our joint efforts with DCJ.
ACWA is also working alongside DCJ to try to progress and directly resolve a range of specific issues which have been raised directly with us by agencies, that are impacting on their ability to provide an effective response to their clients.
Below is a snapshot of our current areas of focus:
- In the residential care space, ACWA is working with agencies and DCJ to develop options to supplement existing agency staffing, and to maximise the current agency workforce via an emergency accommodation model aimed at maintaining service continuity in the event of both clients or workers being symptomatic or given a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
- We are also advocating for streamlined approval processes for payments to support emergency placements; clear and consistent guidance on meeting contact and other face-to-face obligations; and the provision of protective personal equipment for agencies.
- ACWA is working with agencies and the Children in Care Collective to identify good examples of business continuity plans developed to respond to the risks posed by COVID-19 (with a focus on WHS and broader safety issues) for endorsement by DCJ, and wider adoption across the sector to avoid duplicated effort.
- ACWA is working with Justice Connect to develop WHS case scenarios tailored to suit the foster and residential care environments to inform the development of a training webinar for the OOHC sector.
- To help meet the unprecedented demand for safety advice and training, CCWT is exploring how it can host NSW Health endorsed training modules on infection control to increase its accessibility.
- ACWA is working with DCJ to progress the development of training scenarios tailored to suit residential care settings with related health and safety advice which will be released in the form of fact sheets, and potentially, companion learning modules delivered by CCWT.
- CCWT is exploring with My Forever Family ways to provide foster carers with safety training and other support advice, including increasing the number of potential carers participating in the Shared Lives training course, and working on broader initiatives that seek to strengthen the support for, and the capacity of, our foster care community more generally.
- We have been engaging with non-government services who are keen to develop innovative strategies for improving coalface responses to particular vulnerable cohorts and vulnerable communities, such as the provision of tele-counselling and support services.
- We have successfully advocated for DCJ to provide regular briefings to residential and foster care agencies, and we will also seek to establish governance arrangements to ensure that ACWA is regularly interfacing with the DCJ executive on significant developments and any areas of concern.
In the meantime, ACWA has set up the following designated email address for all your COVID-related questions and feedback: email@example.com
In addition, we have established a dedicated COVID-19 webpage to provide a central access point for the latest information, advice and resources on issues critical to the sector.
Our CCWT team is also working hard to develop online solutions to ensure the training and development needs of our sector continue to be supported throughout this period. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for your training enquiries.