A message from the CEO
May 12, 2020
I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on recent announcements by the State Government, and on BCYF’s response to these announcements.
Victorian Government Announcements
Following the meeting of National Cabinet last week, and the three stage process for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Australia, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed Victoria will gradually ease restrictions. Under the changes, there will be five reasons that will allow any of us to leave our home or residence. These are:
- shopping for food and supplies that you need
- care and caregiving
- exercise and outdoor recreation
- work and education – if you can’t do it from home
- visiting friends and family – if you really need to (new) – limited to 5 individuals only.
With these new arrangements in effect, a renewed State of Emergency has been declared and will be in place until 11:59pm on Sunday 31 May, 2020.
The Premier has also made it clear, as per his previous advices, that if you can work from home, you must continue to work from home.
In addition, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that Victorian Government school students will begin a phased return to classrooms before the end of May, following advice from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer that it is safe for the community to do so.
From Tuesday 26 May, all Prep, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students, specialist school students, as well as VCE and VCAL students, will return to on-site learning at government schools. At this stage, children in Grades 3-10 are expected to return on 9 June, subject to ongoing evaluation. Further information about the return to on-site learning is available here.
Frequently Asked Questions about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria are available here.
The BCYF COVID-19 Governance Group continues to monitor the guidance of both the Federal and Victorian State Governments, as well as that of the health authorities to ensure that BCYF’s responses to those measures remain appropriate and relevant. Based upon the Victorian Government’s advice, there are no immediate changes proposed to BCYF’s current service provision or working from home arrangements.
That said, the recently established BCYF Recovery Group is developing plans to restore BCYF’s services but only at a time when the Victorian Government advice deems it is appropriate for that to occur. In restoring services, the key priority for BCYF, as it has been throughout the duration of our COVID-19 response, will be the health and safety of staff, students, volunteers/Carers, clients and of our wider community.
BCYF welcomes the update from the Victorian Premier and strongly encourages all BCYF staff, students and volunteers to continue to comply with the directions and guidance of the State Government and relevant health authorities.
Stay safe and take care,
Chief Executive Officer
May 1, 2020
While BCYF’s response to COVID-19 has presented a frequently changing situation and challenge, our commitment to supporting the safety and wellbeing of the children, young people and families, and that of our BCYF workforce, has remained our priority. Due to the social restrictions and the consequential impact of those restrictions, the clients and community we serve need our support more than ever.
Our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) has been a key component of our ongoing response to supporting staff and maintaining service provision, the overview of which follows.
BCYF Business Continuity Plan
As an essential service, BCYF must continue to operate throughout this crisis due to the critical role we play in supporting vulnerable children, young people and families.
The BCYF BCP has largely been developed and adopted to ensure BCYF’s preparedness to respond to the crisis or emergency situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the BCP defines the role and responsibilities of those at BCYF that need to effectively respond to the emergency situation as well as the appropriate audit trail and administrative processes to be followed. Our BCP continues to be guided and shaped by the latest government and public health expert advices and directions and will be revised from time to time accordingly.
Good results evident in COVID-19 Modelling
Since the pandemic was declared, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has released a daily data update describing the spread of COVID-19. Our COVID-19 Governance Group reviews this information and the accompanying DHHS recommendations to ensure our decisions are consistent with this advice. In addition to this daily update, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has recently released a detailed analysis of the spread of coronavirus in Victoria. The modelling shows very clearly how the approach in Victoria is achieving the intended outcome of protecting the health system and saving lives. I recommend this information to you.
Coronavirus testing blitz
On April 27, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that up to 100,000 Victorians will be tested for coronavirus over the following two weeks as part of a major testing blitz across the state. Expanded testing across the community will help Victoria to better understand how the virus is spreading in the community and prepare us for the potential easing of restrictions. Anyone who has any symptoms, however mild, is encouraged to get a test. Further details on testing sites can be found here or by calling 1800 675 398.
Australia Government ‘COVIDSafe’ App
The Australian Government has launched a new voluntary coronavirus app, COVIDSafe, as part of the strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19. Having confidence that we can find and contain outbreaks quickly will mean governments can ease restrictions while still keeping Australians safe. The BCYF Executive Team have downloaded the COVIDSafe App and supports the advice that this will speed up the process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus, quickly stopping further spread of the virus in the community.
To find out more about the COVIDSafe App, read the Australian Government information here.
Planning for a return to normal
We are beginning to see State and Territory governments across Australia gradually lift the Stage 3 ‘lockdown’ restrictions which have enabled us to successfully manage the spread of COVID-19. However, the easing of restrictions we have seen in Australia to date do not yet include return to work or school on a full-time basis. The state of emergency in Victoria is in place until May 11, however, the Premier has flagged that the expansion of the COVID-19 testing campaign currently underway is intended to help our public health officials to better understand how the virus is spreading in the community and set us up for the potential easing of restrictions.
As welcome as the change to our current circumstances will be, it does require us to plan and implement a carefully staged and supported ‘return to normal’ for our services and our workforce. This will be done in the context of the BCP as highlighted above. The BCYF COVID-19 Governance Group has commenced our recovery planning, with the work we have done so far during the COVID-19 pandemic holding us in good stead.
Until then, BCYF continues confidently in our efforts to maintain high quality services during this period. We are thankful to our staff, to our funders and partners, and to the community and our client groups in general for their support and understanding and flexibility in the current environment.
Stay safe and take care.
March 27, 2020
Needless to say, the past month, and recent weeks and days have certainly been, and continue to be, a challenging time for us all.
Together with the rest of the world, as BCYF adapts to what is becoming our ‘new normal’, it is timely to reinforce BCYF’s vision of “a community where people are safe, connected and empowered to live well”. This vision has never been more relevant than it is today.
In this current environment of COVID-19, the health of BCYF employees, service users and the wider community remains our top priority. BCYF remains open for business and is continuing to provide services to our clients, albeit that we are doing this in a more remote way and by allowing our staff to work from home where possible. There are, of course, inevitable changes being implemented in the way BCYF delivers these services given that many of our clients do rely on, and respond to, that personal contact.
The BCYF executive team has initiated a COVID-19 Governance Group and from which we have commissioned a series of steps to manage staff wellbeing and service delivery throughout the period that COVID-19 is active. The ‘BCYF (COVID-19) Governance Group’ continues to meet daily via video-conference to consider the latest public health advice, the wellbeing of our staff, the status of our services, and any related issues as they arise.
At all times, BCYF will be guided by the advice of our State and Commonwealth Public Health experts, noting that, where this may be at odds, the State advice and jurisdiction will take precedent. In response to the latest advice from both the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, BCYF is incrementally activating its business continuity plan. As touched on above, we have commenced the final stages of rolling out measures to enable staff who are able to work from home to do just that. We are also actively moving towards delivering primarily phone-based services delivered by staff located remotely (in their homes) wherever it is deemed safe and practical to do so. Our various work sites, therefore, are also being rearranged and consolidated where possible, and this will be complemented by appropriate external signage at each site. Further details will be provided on our webpage as details are confirmed.
Additionally, holidays have been brought forward for BCYF’s Kindergartens. Term 1 concluded at the end of session on Monday, March 23, 2020, but noting that Wydinia Early Learning Centre in Colac remains open. Educators at BCYF’s kindergartens will provide families with ideas and activities to continue children’s engagement in play-based learning while at home, and BCYF will continue to communicate with parents and caregivers as further developments and advice is received.
Finally, I want to recognise and acknowledge our BCYF workforce. I must say how impressed I have been with the BCYF staff response to the current changes and their continued focus on maintaining services in support of the BCYF Vision. I remain most grateful to each and every one of our staff for their work efforts, understanding and flexibility at this time. This is a meaningful demonstration of our BCYF values and of their character and resilience.
I will continue to keep you informed on BCYF’s service response to the Coronavirus as it evolves over the coming weeks and, if required, months.
In the meantime I would urge you to continue to look after yourself and others during this challenging time, and I thank you for your continued support of BCYF.
Where can I get further information about COVID-19?
The Australian Government Health Information Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 020 080.
The Victorian Government Coronavirus hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 675 398.
10 ways to reduce your risk of Coronavirus poster – DHHS (PDF)
Wash your hands regularly poster (PDF)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources (Australian Government)
Novel coronavirus confirmed case – What you need to know V1.3 (Word)
Novel coronavirus suspected case – What you need to know V1.3 (Word)
Novel coronavirus close contact – What you need to know V1.3 (Word)
Self-Assessment for risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) (PDF)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information on Social Distancing
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Isolation Guidance
Ten ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus Poster – DHHS
Wash your hands regularly poster