At Uniting, we remain deeply concerned about the real and potential impacts of COVID-19 on our team, including our volunteers, the people we support and the broader community.

On 16 March 2020, we enacted our Pandemic Response Plan. This plan helped us keep the safety and wellbeing of our team – and the people we support – paramount in our decisions, while helping to clarify responsibilities and actions.

The Pandemic Response Plan remained in place throughout the remainder of the year, contributing to no known cases of COVID-19 among our team or the people we support.

Clear, consistent and timely communication of the situation, our policies and our decisions greatly assisted our team and the people we support in remaining safe throughout the period.

In consultation with funding bodies and our service areas, we developed and refined policies and actions based on public health advice. This ensured that we maintained critical and essential support in a safe and compassionate way.

In addition to implementing minimum public health directives and adopting best-practice personal hygiene practices, we took actions such as: Implementing flexible work practices and a Pandemic Leave Policy; careful rostering of teams to minimise the potential for cross-infection; replacing face-to-face with phone and online services wherever possible; restricting office access for visitors to appointments only; and postponing all non-essential volunteering.

Uniting remained fully committed and transparent throughout the pandemic response to provide certainty to all of the people we interact with, including our team. This included SMS, letter, phone and face-to-face contact with the people we support; public statements; a dedicated section for information on our website; dedicated non-public pages on the website for team members and volunteers who may not have continual access to our Intranet; internal posters and communications; and a dedicated Intranet page.

Throughout the ever-changing and rapidly evolving situation, we are proud that our team displayed incredible resilience and commitment to their work and our mission to stand for a just society.