NSW Council of Social Service and Homelessness NSW are calling on the NSW Government to implement an urgent funding package for the social services sector to support those most at-risk from coronavirus.
NCOSS CEO Joanna Quilty said it is NGO social services workers who are providing vital services to at-risk people, and the industry must be supported during this time.
“The social services sector urgently needs resources to ensure it can appropriately support those most at risk,” Ms Quilty said.
“These are people who can have pre-existing health conditions, complex needs and other factors that compound the risk of coronavirus and can lead to devastating consequences.
“It is vital that governments step up and help the frontline workers and organisations who help so many during times of crisis.”
Homelessness NSW CEO Katherine McKernan said it was crucial that dedicated support be targeted at those sleeping rough and those in housing stress.
“High among those most at risk from coronavirus are the growing number of homeless people in NSW,” Ms McKernan said.
“Urgent action is required to enable non-government organisations to develop targeted and specialised strategies to prevent disproportionate impacts for homeless people.
“And for those in housing stress, a moratorium on evictions for people in private rental and social housing should be implemented for those impacted by loss of income.”
NCOSS and Homelessness NSW call on the NSW Government to:
- Provide rapid re-housing for the homeless that removes them from high risk environments.
- Roll out specialised, multi-disciplinary assertive outreach teams that can address health and other needs.
- Implement a moratorium on evictions for people in private rental and social housing for the foreseeable future, along with one-off payments to cover costs for people who are unable to pay their rent due to loss of income.
Separate to these housing measures, a range of initiatives need to be developed for people being supported in residential care in the disability, alcohol and other drug, mental health and out-of-home care sectors.
These should be aimed at:
- Boosting staff numbers and enabling the development of a contingency/back-up workforce to continue providing essential care as the virus spreads.
- Establishing alternative models of care for clients with COVID-19.
- Providing financial compensation for casual staff who are unable to work due to COVID-19.
- Upskilling staff in relation to infection control and provide compensation to allow staff to participate in training.
- Setting up a dedicated hotline to provide advice to organisations providing residential care to vulnerable populations.
- Providing priority access to personal protection equipment, including, but not limited to face masks and hand sanitiser.
“These measures are a starting point and address the most urgent issues being raised by frontline social services workers,” Ms Quilty said.
“We stand ready to work with the NSW Government on these measures which will ensure the most vulnerable in our community are best supported during this time. It is critical that NSW Government consults with and seeks the advice of the sector to develop the right responses”
To find out more about NCOSS, visit: www.ncoss.org.au
To find out more about Homelessness NSW, visit: www.homelessnessnsw.org.au
Media contact: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138 (NCOSS)