Chris Hazelman, Manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District Inc., gives one Annual Report for year 2021 on 30 November 2021. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the Ethnic Council’s activities for the year 2021, and response to Covid-19 along with allocation of staff to the Vaccination Centre.
In summary our grants position is as follows:
- Settlement Services Program funded through the Federal Department of Home Affairs will continue until end December 2022. The Department has advised that funding will be extended by 12 months and negotiations around a new funding agreement will commence in the new year.
- Regional Strategic Partnership Program funded through the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship. In February 2018 the Department supplemented the existing funding to create a Strategic Partnership Coordinators position to operate across the Goulburn Region. This funding has been extended as a Covid response until September 2021 and has been further extended until June 2022.
- Social Cohesion Program funded through the Department of Education and has been extended several times and will be finalised by the end of 2021 however a new initiative is being negotiated for the funding to continue through 2022.
- Family Violence Pilot Program was a new state government initiative offered to the Ethnic Council to develop strategies to prevent Domestic Violence in multicultural communities. This program was for two years until September 2020 however the core program was able to continue until December 2020 and a Covid initiative provided funding until December 2021. A replacement Family Violence Program called Safer and Stronger Communities has been funded to continue through 2022.
- In a direct response to Covid we have been successful in achieving funding under the Working for Victoria Program, Covid Seniors and Covid Safe Health messaging to employ people on short term contracts for six months as outreach workers engaging the new arrival communities.
- Connecting Employment Connectors is a state government initiative to facilitate employment for multicultural communities and funding has enabled the employment of three bilingual workers for 12 months.
- Cultural Competency Training is a state government funded program which will enable us to deliver cultural awareness sessions focusing on multicultural and indigenous communities.
- Regional Vaccination Hub is managed by Goulburn Valley Health at the Showgrounds with a combination of Greater Shepparton Council, GV Health and Ethnic Council staff. We are employing bilingual workers to assist in customer service and by agreement we supply three people per day and the wages are reimbursed by GV Health. This has been an Australia wide initiative and has been hugely successful in encouraging multicultural people to be vaccinated. The bilingual workers have also been engaged at the testing centres and vaccination buses.
Covid has continued to impact our service delivery and we have been in extended lockdown on several occasions throughout the year including a period of quarantine as a Tier 1 infection site.
Staff working from home which required a significant change in the delivery of our services. All of our services went online, and we provided software to enable our staff to operate remotely and have capability of accessing their work computers from a remote location. The commitment of staff throughout is acknowledged and working from home has relied on the use of personal equipment. As we open up there will be a combination of remote and office located work.
Significant time and resources have been expended on supporting staff through the pandemic and we meet regularly in a virtual medium to maintain contact and mutual support.
Reopening the office has required a major reshuffle of the desk layout to ensure we comply with all Covid requirements, and we will maintain a locked door and double vaccination standard to gain access. As a mandated work place all of our staff have needed to be double vaccinated and all staff have complied.
Covid has also provided new opportunities and we are now directly involved in forums convened by FECCA and ECCV which gives access to agencies across the sector. One initiative has been the creation of a Multicultural CEOs network and all of these forums have brought the sector closer together and the people we only saw at conferences we now meet with on a regular basis.
The Board continues to focus attention on financial management and at each meeting receives a detailed report containing Profit and Loss, Budget to Actual comparison, Balance Sheet, Cash flow Spreadsheet, Transaction Summary and copies of Bank Statements. This information provides the Board with appropriate data to make decisions and to effectively monitor the operation of individual grant areas and the broader organisation.
All of our staff have contributed enormously under very difficult conditions to maintain and grow our service delivery capacity. A further complication has been the engagement of short-term workers under various Covid funding initiatives when we cannot provide a regular office space and many people have worked remotely and still delivered at a high standard.
Covid will continue to dominate our activities and we will maintain many programs assisting people to get vaccinated and increasingly helping people to be able to show their vaccine status. As government rolls out the national booster program, we will have a prominent and expanded role to encourage participation.
Staff and I are confidently looking forward to another successful year working as a team with Board, members, funders and clients to grow and develop our programs and services.
Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District Inc., Regd. No A6321
30 November 2021