9/07/2020

MDAS innovations supporting community in COVID-19


Innovation and effort leading the way


Mallee District Aboriginal Services is reminding local community members that COVID-19 is not over, and to continue protecting themselves during the pandemic.
MDAS Acting Chief Executive Andy Charles said although there are no known cases of the coronavirus in the Mallee, there was still concern about the increased risk from school holidays.
“We’re obviously concerned about what’s happening in Melbourne, at least in some suburbs, and in the school holidays people are travelling to Mallee communities, and people from here are travelling elsewhere to see family and friends,” Mr Charles said.
“We really don’t know the extent of community transmission that’s happening in Melbourne or anywhere else, but what it does present is real potential for the virus to pop up here down the track,” he said.
“We won’t know for a few weeks, but what we definitely do know, is that this is not over and it won’t be for the foreseeable future.” 
MDAS Swan Hill Primary Health Care Manager Zah Thebe said the Aboriginal community was among the groups more vulnerable to the virus, because of higher rates of chronic illness.
“It’s just so important, particularly for our Elders and people with chronic illness that we’re all doing the right thing,” Ms Thebe said.
“Washing hands often, using sanitiser, sneezing into your elbow, keeping social distancing measures, they’re things we need to do all the time and by doing them, we’re reminding others to do the same – those safe practices become habits.”
Mr Charles said he was proud of the way MDAS teams had adapted to ensure service delivery continued to reach community, despite the limitations and challenges.
“We had things like Telehealth well and truly on our radar before COVID-19, and we were one of the first health services in the region to shift to that platform when the shutdown happened,” Mr Charles said.
“We’ve continued to have face to face appointments and consultations wherever they’re needed, with safe practices in place, but it’s been exciting to see how the community has engaged with new ways of doing things.”
Mr Charles said across the organisation teams innovated quickly to continue engaging with their clients.
“Our teams worked from home, they hit the phones, they used facetime, Zoom and other platforms to engage with community and connect with each other,” he said.
“Although we have had to cancel things like face-to-face playgroups, our Koori PreSchool Assistants are doing weekly book readings and activities on our Facebook page, and we’ve started a weekly Music Live Playgroup on Wednesdays with Sunraysia Arts and Learning,” he said.
“Our Family Wellbeing team has also done a weekly Wellbeing Live session on our Facebook page, and that’s actually meant the facilitator Darlene Thomas has connected with new people or reconnected with former clients.
“Some of these innovations, I’m sure, will be things that continue post-COVID-19, because they have allowed us to broaden our reach.
“It’s been a challenging time, but the enthusiasm our teams have shown to keep supporting Aboriginal community during a critical time has been so inspiring,” Mr Charles said.

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MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: Generations of vibrant, healthy and strong Aboriginal communities”
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MDAS - Quality Innovation Performance Accredited
MDAS - Quality Innovation Performance Accredited