LEIGH SINCLAIR is the executive officer of Imagined Futures (formerly South West Metropolitan Partnership Forum, which brings together a range of support services and government department to support people in need. She says everyone’s stepped up to the challenge
THE Covid-19 pandemic has honed our collective attention on some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
As often happens in times of crisis, the worst of times has brought out the best in us. Indeed we are witnessing a beautiful display of community spirit.
The challenges wrought by this pandemic have moved the dial on perceptions of people needing help. We have now moved from considering social disadvantage an abstract concept to one that is very much in the forefront of our minds.
Over a very short period of time we have all become acutely aware that most of us are only ever a couple of steps away from being in the Centrelink queue, or needing help to feed our families.
With this reality, comes an appreciation of the many people who have based their careers on assisting others: medical staff, police and community workers. These people are clearly the heroes of the moment, working tirelessly to get us through this.
They are admirably rising to the challenge that this once in a generation crisis is heaping upon us.
We’ve had the opportunity to glimpse what can happen when we all come together – political and collective-will combining with the community agencies, business and philanthropy to deliver on supporting our community through an exceptional challenge.
This, the coming-together of many parts to serve the whole, is clearly on display across the South West Metropolitan region.
The Imagined Futures partnership brings together human service agencies, businesses, philanthropists and community members to tackle social disadvantage in our region.
In recent times the group has been meeting every two weeks to share and coordinate their approaches to Covid-19. The meetings provide insight in to how all parts of our community are mobilising and it is truly humbling to see what is being achieved.
We’ve seen government and philanthropists move quickly to ensure funding and support packages are in place. Public servants are working closely with other agencies delivering front line services to make certain that they have the funds and the flexibility to meet the needs of the community in a fast changing environment.
Local governments are also facing many operational challenges, however, it is evident that supporting their communities remains at the forefront of their minds.
They are working hard to ensure people can remain connected even if they must be physically distant.
The cities of Cockburn, Fremantle and Melville are calling each and every concession card holder in their municipalities to check on them and link them into services. Each of these Councils have developed neighbourhood programs and directories to support local businesses.
The City of Cockburn has set up a Covid-19 helpline that is being well used by residents.
They’ve emailed 46,000 people and sent out more than 44,000 letters to households in Cockburn.
The City of Fremantle has a whopping 700 volunteers registered on its Neighbour to Neighbour N2N database! The City of Melville has launched a generous “Happiness Stimulus Package”.
Not for profit agencies are leveraging their wealth of experiences, extensive relationships and flexible approaches to develop innovative responses in the knowledge that in the months to come many more people will be requiring support.
Like many others, Anglicare WA has moved swiftly to roll out virtual counselling and support services. Their recently developed digital transformation strategy, planned to take several years to execute, has quickly progressed with most services pivoting towards online delivery over the last two weeks in response to the Covid-19 challenge.
The agency has already seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of people accessing their therapeutic services across the region. Early indicators are that many of these are new clients who are seeking assistance for the first time.
Doorstep Dinners is another fantastic example of innovative service delivery.
restaurants making meals for the vulnerable in our community. Volunteers then distribute these meals to people’s homes.
The program is the brainchild of St Patrick’s Community Support Centre’s CEO, Michael Piu, and it has been realised through a collaboration of service providers, philanthropic trusts and individual donations.
In the first 10 days Doorstep Dinners has seen 2000 meals cooked and delivered, and four restaurants kept open.
With so much activity going on, it is imperative that we continue to keep talking and look for opportunities to work together. This is our best hope of making sure all of this extra assistance gets to those who need it most.
We’ve still got a long way to go but if the last few weeks are anything to go by we are in safe hands. Our collective challenge is to keep the momentum going.
Looking forward, these changes in our ways of working have the potential to deliver long lasting benefits to the community.
OUR Council is strapped for money, and for them to stay in their present offices would save the move and fit out costs of our new civic centre (budgeted $500,000+).
The civic centre can then be used to show off our art collection which would be an enormous cost saving and give Fremantle ratepayers a building to enjoy until the world gets back to near normal. Not only that, a minimal entrance fee would help cover the cost.
It may incur a cost to hang and light the painting, however, it will draw people into Fremantle to see the collection that has not been on show for at least 20 years.
Not only that if the council stayed where they are for say two years while the budget recovers a little , it will also save the cost of storing the artworks.
While local blogger Roel Loopers believes the collection is mediocre, we should be able to express our opinions as well. That requires that we are able to view it.
His option of our art collection is an insult to the artists that created them!
Brian Shearsmith, Mosman Park