Sarah's Soundbite: December 2021
We are marking the end of another tough year in Victoria and in our disability sector. Many of us started 2021 having gathered our strength and resources over the summer break, anticipating the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 was behind us and the rebuilding would begin.
Instead, we faced four more lockdowns, a belated vaccination rollout, the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, and, in many instances, widespread fear and anxiety giving way to exhaustion.
The disability sector in Victoria has again shown its extraordinary capacity to meet the challenges of COVID-19 and the indirect impacts of the pandemic. People at all levels within organisations continued to step up in 2021, willingly sharing resources and support to help each other navigate outbreaks and lockdowns. The sector readily adapted to new technologies, and new collaborative networks were built through online sector meetings, communities of practice and webinars. NDS prioritised the delivery of key, current information, and resources to assist, and facilitated people coming together. This week we achieved the milestone of 10,000 total attendees across our Safer and Stronger online events since July 2020!
Critical to NDS’ work this year has been our advocacy, ensuring that the voice of disability service providers has been heard at both state government and national levels. We have liaised closely with both the Victorian DFFH and Department of Health, highlighting the needs of our sector in relation to vaccines and the vaccine rollout, and the need for clear and timely disability-specific guidance on restrictions. We have also been actively lobbying on behalf of providers with the NDIA, the Federal Minister and Departments.
The efforts, resilience and collaboration of the sector has meant that the incidence of COVID-19 outbreaks in our services has been kept relatively low in 2021.
While many of us are looking forward to a break over the Christmas period, disability services continue to operate.
There is the emergence of the new Omicron variant, which signals the pandemic still has some way to go. Living with COVID will look different to the previous two years, with Australians adapting to a virus being endemic in our community; relying on strategies other than lockdowns and long quarantines.
NDS will be available to support the sector throughout January and provide advice to providers. Our online COVID-19 resources have been updated and are well viewed each month. They include the Guide to a Snap Lockdown, First 24 hours Checklist, Vaccine FAQs for the disability sector and the NDS COVID-19 Toolkit for information on IPC, business continuity, mental health and wellbeing and emergency management. Our popular Personal Protective Equipment training for workers is available in an online format, free for Victorian providers.
Heather McMinn, our Disability Sector Consultant, Safer and Stronger, NDS Victoria, is available during January to lead the Safer and Stronger response and provide advice on IPC and vaccinations. Heather McMinn can be contacted by email submit enquiry/feedback For urgent situations, phone 0448 395 495
Congratulations on your work in 2021. I look forward to seeing everyone in the new year.