Salvos step up support as Melbourne lockdown is reinstated
9 July 2020
While most of Australia slowly and cautiously reopens, the Victorian government has renewed stage 3 lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire are once again facing strict COVID-19 containment measures after a record spike in cases earlier this week. Understandably, many Victorians are, yet again, feeling the anxiety and stress that followed the initial lockdown. Drawing on decades of experience working through crises and disasters, The Salvation Army stepped up its efforts nationally to support the community. As Victorians once again face these challenges, we remain on the frontlines to ensure we leave no one in need.
National efforts – a snapshot
As the COVID-19 emergency continues to grip the country, it is affecting individuals and families in unimaginable ways. The Salvation Army is working hard to continue providing essential assistance and services to communities across Australia.
Since March 2020, The Salvation Army has provided hundreds of households with support in the form of government-referred food hampers and shopping vouchers, household items, EFT payments, medication, information and spiritual assistance in the Northern Territory, NSW, ACT, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.
Our priority is the welfare of all Australians during their time of need. While we have had to adapt some of our services based on government directives, we continue to deliver care in any way we can to our thousands of existing clients and those coming to us for the very first time.
Support being provided to housing tower residents during strict lockdown
The Salvation Army have been working in the North Melbourne Housing Estate for several years, operating the Older Persons High-Rise Program (OPHR) and Housing support for the Aged Program (HSAP). Our teams provide practical and financial support to the community, which is culturally diverse and multilingual. Support includes working with residents to maintain their tenancies and providing a number of day programs on the estate for older persons.
With the onset of COVID-19, the team modified its operations while also conducting welfare checks on 234 older residents in the estate on a fortnightly basis.
When the Victorian Government announced and implemented hard lockdown at the estates due to the high rate of recorded coronavirus infections, The Salvation Army was asked to help with the coordination of support in the towers. Possessing extensive experience and pre-existing support relationships with the residents, our teams have been able to coordinate services immediately. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is working with six lead organisations to ensure the residents’ basic needs are met. This includes health, food security and welfare support.
The Salvation Army is focused on the support of the older (and identifiably more vulnerable) residents in the towers on the North Melbourne Estate. The provision of support coordination is a point of contact for the residents (via the DHHS call centre) and enables the residents to have their needs met.
In addition to assistance for elderly residents, The Salvation Army Emergency Services teams (SAES) are also supporting emergency personnel and health workers on the ground. Providing up to 600 meals per day, this service will continue throughout the coming days or until strict lockdown is completed.
In these challenging times, The Salvation Army, which has supported people living in the housing estates long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, is now playing a key support role under these difficult restrictions and will continue to do so – to make sure we leave no one in need.
Salvos connect with Vietnamese seniors
Panic buying at supermarkets following the first lockdown left countless vulnerable Australians without essential supplies. In these testing times, food hampers from the Salvos have become essential for thousands of Australians during isolation. But the team at Sunshine Corps (church) know it’s not always a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
To best support the diverse community in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Colin and Phuong Reynolds, officers at Sunshine Corps worked alongside the Vietnamese Community in Australia – Victoria Chapter (VCA Vic) to create customised food hampers for elderly Vietnamese residents living in lockdown.
“It’s a tough time for them. They would normally rely on the assistance and support of family, but within [the] Vietnamese community, a lot of people have been really cautious about visiting elderly relatives.”
With seniors unable to reach out for help, Colin and Phuong brought some of their ‘sunshine’ to doorsteps as far away as St Albans and Deer Park to Flemington and Brunswick – suburbs which were put under lockdown last week due to a concentrated spike in cases.
Preparing these hampers was not a straightforward task, as the ‘essential items’ they contained were unlike items found in typical hampers – pasta, milk and cereal.
Over two days, Colin and Phuong packed and dropped off 27 culturally appropriate hampers loaded with items like rice, noodles, fish sauce, soy milk and chilli, or as Colin says, “all the best stuff!”
Sunshine Salvos has a longstanding relationship with VCA Vic and many Vietnamese residents attended activities at the church before COVID-19 struck. So, when they reached out to Colin and Phuong with concerns about isolated seniors, they knew the Salvos could lend a hand.
“Its super important at Sunshine Salvos that we create and foster the community connections we have,” said Colin.
By simply knocking on a front door and leaving a customised hamper, Colin and Phuong reminded residents that were people in the community who cared.
“Some of these people are familiar faces to us, but most of them are people we met for the first time,” said Colin. “It was a great opportunity for us to make that connection. But more importantly for us to make sure those people are being looked after.”
Emergency relief available to those impacted
Some employment sectors and demographics have been more significantly impacted during this pandemic. The Salvation Army is one of several charities assisting with coronavirus emergency relief assistance. Government funding is now available through The Salvation Army Doorways teams for individuals and families who are experiencing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 shutdown and economic downturn.
Additional Salvos services can also help with financial counselling (Moneycare), advocacy with banks and utility providers, food vouchers, assistance on how to apply for government benefits and referrals to other social support programs. Visit our COVID-19 assistance page to find out more.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army has been connecting with communities to deliver the help they need. From hampers containing basic grocery essentials, to a much-needed wellbeing check, to financial hardship relief – we are here and will be here for the long haul.