COVID-19: Adapting during a crisis

While it seems much of the world has now been put on hold, the harsh realities our young people face daily have not, and in many cases their disadvantages have been heightened by COVID-19.

The impacts of COVID-19 have made young people more isolated and interrupted their daily routines and support systems. This has required our staff to deliver support in completely new ways to help our young people to stay strong while dealing with these increased challenges.

Our Schools:

During the lockdown our students had to move to home-based learning. For many of our young people this was very difficult given their lack of equipment and resources as well as a difficult home environment.

Our teachers moved quickly to support their students in completely new ways providing counselling and pastoral care as well as ensuring that students had access to the learning equipment and educational resources they needed. With the help of the Federal Government’s Local Schools Community Fund Program, we purchased 90 laptop computers for students who were not able to afford to them.

Steve Armstrong, School Principal, said that this was important but keeping in touch with students on a daily basis was also vital for their emotional welfare.

“We are used to dealing with variables when teaching students with such extreme circumstances. We have put these problem solving skills to use and adapted to still provide the same level of support from a distance, because we know our students need us now more than ever.“

Our teachers are using technology, such as Zoom and FaceTime, to stay in regular touch with students and their parents to provide the best support possible and our students have shown great engagement using these platforms.

Classes are being delivered remotely including wellbeing classes like yoga and art therapy, which students can stream online.

Our Outreach Services:

Our front line staff needed to make significant changes in order to meet social distancing requirements during the last lockdown. While our Outreach offices in Canley Vale, Bankstown, Fairfield, Hunter, Logan (Qld) and Wyndham (Vic) remained open, our Outreach teams adapted how we engaged with young people, providing one on one case support with daily phone calls and face to face meetings to maintain connections.

Ben Stevens, our Outreach Services Manager, commented that the negative effects of self-isolation were very evident in the young people approaching us for help.

“The social interactions our young people would normally get at our Outreach programs and events were often their main or only social events of the week, and now they’re in isolation and it has led to some very poor mental health outcomes that demand extra attention from us.”

Our youth workers are continuing to focus on providing individual case support, giving young people help in navigating a range of issues, including finding accommodation, accessing financial support and referrals to our counsellors. They are working hard to keep young people positive and resilient.

Our services will continue to adapt their practices to meet government requirements, and we all look forward to being able to have our young people meet together at Outreach activities and events in the near future.

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