NSW is starting to relax restrictions throughout the State. Youth services may be starting to think about moving back into offices and resuming more regular service delivery. Based on our conversations with the sector, we have developed some steps for you to consider to ensure staff and young people are safe but can also receive the support that they need. Remaining up-to-date with health regulations is important. Find updates here via NSW Health.
Step 1: Create a business continuity plan
How Do I Begin?
If you do not have a business continuity plan but you’re changing service delivery at this time, make sure you reach out to your contract managers or funding body to let them know about any changes you are making.
A business continuity plan is a system of creating processes to protect your business and allow for any changes to occur when a disaster hits. It outlines the procedures and instructions which an organisation must follow in the face of a disaster including business processes, assets, human resources, partnerships etc.
This document is a long-term document and can be created to take into consideration any type of disaster that may affect your service delivery.
What is a business continuity plan business.gov.au/New-to-business-essentials/When-things-dont-go-to-plan
Business continuity plan template publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/business-continuity-planning-template/resource/63f7d2dc-0f40-4abb-b75f-7e6acfeae8f3
Is your board and senior management of staff aware of the continuity plan?
Who is responsible for actioning the plan is a disaster happens?
How will you inform your staff, partners, and community?
COVID-19 has changed the ways we work. Some people are now working from home, doing video calls with young people, and providing support in other ways while retaining physical distancing.
Step 2: Service delivery changes
Planning for the future
Amazing and innovative ideas have been implemented by the youth sector during isolation. You may choose to keep some of these running online or revert back to previous methods for others. This is a great time to reassess your service delivery methods.
You may need to update policies and procedures for your organisation to reflect changes in delivery methods
Create new social media policy guidelines or guidelines for online collaboration
Create an epidemic/pandemic policy ommunitydirectors.com.au/policies/epidemic-pandemic-policy
Update your working from home policy safework.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/COVID-19-Coronavirus/working-from-home-under-covid-19
Consider your equal employment opportunity policy (including arrangements for those who may be carers and how to best support staff mental wellbeing) business.gov.au/People/Hiring/Equal-opportunity-and-diversity
Update any in-house procedures to suit the needs of the current climate (this could include drop-in spaces, extra regulations around cleanliness, additional support for staff, outreach, home visits, driving clients etc).
Also consider how you will communicate these changes with staff to ensure that they are aware and can implement any changes which have occurred.
For any service delivery online, it’s important to consider online safety for young people and staff. The eSafety Commission has some useful resources available to help.
Step 3: Returning to the office
You may be considering working from the office again or preparing for when it's possible to open up. Restrictions are regularly changing, stay up to date by visiting nsw.gov.au/covid-19
Things to consider
Is your office being cleaned more regularly by an appropriate service?
Do you have enough PPE for staff and clients if they are coming in?
Do you need to rearrange the space to remain 1.5m away from each other?
What is the protocol around someone being sick?
Do clients know if they are sick they shouldn't come in? Do they need to be assessed over the phone prior to coming in?
If you have a large team would a rotating roster be useful?
What work can happen online to reduce face to face contact?
Are you able to organise an online booking system of rooms for staff to use in the office? (Google calendars work well).
How will you communicate any changes to procedures to your staff?
NSW Health funded Non-Government Organisation process for providers to request Personal Protective Equipment health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Documents/COVID-19-ngo-ppe-order-process.pdf
Safe Work NSW has an excellent resource to support businesses through changes safework.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/COVID-19-Coronavirus
Update from Fair Work Ombudsman about COVID vaccinations and the workplace https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws/health-and-safety-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations-and-the-workplace
Step 4: Staff wellbeing
The pandemic has had an impact on everyone. Workloads may have increased, demand on services is getting higher and staff still may have been affected personally. It’s important to keep in mind that staff may need additional support at this time.
Flexible work arrangements, additional internal and external supervision and opportunities for a check-in may need to be considered within the scope of the organisations structure.
If you do not have an EAP provider, DCJ is offering their EAP provider for DCJ funded services until June 30. EAP provides an opportunity for staff confidentially be able to debrief about what is happening for them at work.
Returning to work can be stressful and overwhelming for some people. Relationships Australia also has useful resources. Time 2 Talk is a free telephone counselling service for anyone in NSW.
NCOSS has developed some specific trainings to support organisations ncoss.org.au/news-and-events/events
Employment Rights & Obligations
- Coronavirus & Australian Workplace Laws information from the Fairwork Ombudsman.
- FAQ: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Employer rights and obligations.
- COVID–19: Workplace Checklist for Union Delegates and Health and Safety Representatives.
- Recent media releases from Treasury.Gov regarding employee, employer economical support during COVID-19 pandemic.
Resources for young people during COVID-19
Youth Action has developed a young people's COVID-19 resource page for young people on our website to help inform and empower their choices and opportunities at this time.
The Office of ACYP NSW Advocate for Children and Young People has created the Digital Lunchbreak website to help young people find things to do in their spare time. There are a list of digital resources to access.
AIME is an Imagination Factory that since 2005, has been creating pop-up Imagination Factories on university campuses around the world to unlock the internal narrative of young people, taking them from a world that tells them they can’t to a world that tells them they can.
emergency.volunteer.org.au was created by the Department of Communities & Justice together with The Centre for Volunteering to link people to volunteering opportunities during times of emergency such as COVID-19 and the recent bushfires. There are many opportunities to provide extra support to organisations that need a hand during an emergency, not just RFS or emergency services. If you are an organisation that needs assistance you can register your interest on the home page.
resilienceinkids.com.au in order to support families in the current challenging environment and to celebrate Youth Fest, City of Sydney in partnership with Resilience in Kids and Dr Kristy Goodwin, has put together a series of free workshops.
oneeighty.org.au has made their support program Open Up available online. Open Up is a free local peer support program developed by One Eighty to fill a gap in the mental health care sector. A time and space created by young people for young people to practise skills of sharing, listening, connecting with others, and asking for help.
For an example of a model epidemic/pandemic policy for your organisation visit Our Community
For current health advice on COVID-19 keep up to date through the WHO website, and the NSW Health Website
Call Youth Action
If you require extra support or just need to talk it out with someone external to your organisation. Call Youth Action's Youth Sector Development Manager Freya for support or assistance (02) 8354 3700
Helping children cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic
Hand washing advice
Ways to stop the spread
When to notify the doctor
Frequently updated World Health Organisation information on COVID-19
Frequently updated NSW Health information on COVID-19
Australian Association of Social Work Corona Virus info
Department of Communities & Justice together with The Centre for Volunteering have created a page to link people to volunteering opportunities during times of emergency. There is also a form to register your organisation if you need volunteer support