Responding to COVID-19
The bushfires were followed by an emergency entirely unforeseen: the first global pandemic in a century. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic required a resource-intensive response to ensure the health and safety of our members, volunteers and employees and the people we serve. We had to respond to the effective management of our workforce, including working from home arrangements, the flexible operation of our retail and commercial enterprise network, and continuity of services where safe to do so.
Continuing to assist the people we serve was of utmost importance. We know that our services are essential to so many Australians doing it tough; food, shelter, clothing, financial assistance, healthcare, domestic violence support, disability services, and drug and alcohol addiction programs are critical to people’s wellbeing.
We are immensely proud to report that most Society services did remain open, with stringent health and safety precautions in place. We worked with the NSW Government and hotels to find safe, alternative accommodation for some of the people we assist in our homelessness services, helping to reduce capacity on-site and implement physical distancing. Meanwhile, we were able to move some face-to-face services to online or phone-based models, with a focus on keeping people connected and combatting isolation during COVID-19.
The pandemic had significant financial impact on the Society, exacerbating the urgency of addressing our underlying financial challenge. Key factors contributing to the financial challenge included the closure of our shops from March to May 2020 and the cancellation of key fundraising events.
The Strategic Plan 2020-2022 and enabling structure were designed to empower us in being agile and responsive for the future. Who could have known how quickly the future would arrive?