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Intereach Victorian Offices to Reopen

Intereach’s Victorian offices will reopen to the public from Monday, February 22, after the Victorian Government’s five-day COVID-19 Stage 4 lockdown ended on Wednesday.

The organisation’s Victorian offices are located in Bendigo, Gisborne, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Maryborough, Mildura and Seymour and are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Intereach CEO Keryn Fox thanked her staff, participants and local communities for their understanding during the week-long office closures. She also praised her staff for continuing to deliver services during the Stage 4 lockdown, mostly via phone and video technology.

“Our staff, especially in Victoria, must be commended for the way they have handled these challenges. I’d also like to praise our participants for their understanding of the situation and for the courtesy they have shown our staff during these times.”

Ms Fox said Intereach would continue to monitor and follow government and health department advice around COVID-19 and that the organisation was well placed to respond thanks to its comprehensive COVID-19 Safe Plan.

Anyone with queries about Intereach’s COVID-19 response, or any other matter, can phone 1300 488 226.
Anyone showing symptoms of Coronavirus – such as coughing, fever, flu-like symptoms – should self-isolate and contact the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

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Intereach Victorian Offices Closed

Intereach’s Victorian offices will be closed to the public from Monday, February 15 to Wednesday, February 17, following the Victorian Government’s five-day COVID-19 Stage 4 lockdown directive issued today.

All Intereach offices will still be available via telephone on 1300 488 226 during office hours (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday).

Intereach CEO Keryn Fox said the organisation will act on the advice provided by government and health department officials going forward.

“We are still available via telephone and we will continue to deliver services and supports to our Victorian communities with reduced face-to-face contact. We’re encouraging phone or virtual meetings be undertaken where possible. Face-to-face meetings can only proceed in circumstances where phone or virtual servicing is not an option. For our New South Wales offices it’s mostly business as usual at this stage.”

Ms Fox said Intereach has implemented the following:

  • Victorian offices are closed to the public until 11.59pm on Wednesday, February 17 (at this stage).
  • Victorian staff will work from home where possible during the lockdown period.
  • Most participant meetings in Victoria will be conducted over the phone or virtually during the lockdown.

Ms Fox said Intereach recognises that some programs such as Community Transport, Aged Care Services and Children’s Services have unique needs and considerations. She said the executive will work closely with these programs to ensure reasonable and appropriate action is being taken.

Ms Fox said Intereach has also advised staff that all non-essential work-related travel into Victoria would be cancelled during lockdown.

“We’re well prepared as an organisation to respond to this directive, given we’ve been through this before, and we developed a comprehensive COVID-19 Safe Plan which we’ll continue to follow.”

Anyone showing symptoms of Coronavirus – such as coughing, fever, flu-like symptoms – should self-isolate and contact the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398. Anyone with queries about Intereach’s COVID-19 response, or any other matter, can phone 1300 488 226 or email community@intereach.com.au.

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Intereach gets extension of Family Preservation program

A program designed to improve the safety, placement permanency and wellbeing of children will continue to be delivered by Intereach in the Albury region.

Intereach has been advised that it has been given a six-month extension for the Intensive Family Preservation program, provided through funding from the NSW Government Department of Communities and Justice. Intereach provides this service in the Albury area and this extension continues the program until at least June 30, 2021.

The Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) service is based on the understanding that it is in the child’s best interests to remain in the care of their family, wherever this is a safe option. The service targets families with children aged from birth to 18 years. It supports in building the capacity of families through a three-month period of intensive support followed by a less intensive level of individually tailored services.

Intereach General Manager Operations Michelle Tai acknowledged the commitment and quality of work from team members who supported families through the program.

“The funding extension is short term while the program is considered within the broader context of Family Services funded by the NSW Government, however there is strong sector support for its continuation”, Ms Tai said.

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Rotary jumps at Family Centre fundraising opportunity

The children attending the annual January Vacation Care program in Deniliquin are enjoying playing on a new trampoline, thanks to the combined efforts of local organisations.

Intereach purchased the trampoline for its Family Centre, where Vacation Care and After School Care is held. It co-opted members of Deniliquin Rotary Club for the challenging task of assembling this latest acquisition to its vast range of activities for participating children to enjoy.

Rotarians gathered at Intereach on a Tuesday evening late last year, in warm conditions, where the trampoline was carefully put together, much to the delight of the Family Centre staff.

This week Intereach made a $500 donation to Rotary as thanks for its efforts in assembling the trampoline, as well as its overall contribution to the local community.

As a local human and community services provider, Intereach is always looking for opportunities to work collaboratively with the numerous community groups that operate in Deniliquin.

“We are extremely grateful to the Rotarians, led by Tony Kew, who ensured out latest equipment was ready for our January Vacation Care program. At Intereach we appreciate the work of organisations like Rotary for our community,” Intereach Out of School Hours program manager Cath McLean said.

“The children are having lots of fun on the trampoline,” she added.

Mr Kew thanked Intereach for the opportunity to help out, and for the generous donation.

“Fundraising for all service clubs has been difficult in 2020, so we welcomed the chance to assist another community organisation and at the same time raise some money,” Mr Kew said.

The Intereach Out of School Hours and Vacation Care programs provide a vast range of activities for children including art, sport, craft, cooking, drama and excursions. Participating children are under the care of professional educators.

OOSH and Vacation Care are based at the Intereach Family Centre at 366 Trickett St, next door to the Intereach Neighbourhood Centre. Vacation Care runs from Monday to Friday during NSW school holidays, but is closed on public holidays.

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10 year celebration for Volunteer drivers

Four volunteer drivers who have each served the Deniliquin community for a decade were last week recognised by Intereach.

Daryl Whateley, Barb Finn, Neville Lester and Barry Macauley all started as volunteer drivers for Community Transport in 2020.

Their contributions to the service were highlighted at a dinner in their honour, held at the Globe Hotel on Wednesday (December 9) and hosted by Intereach CEO Keryn Fox and General Manager Operations Sam Hall.

The drivers each received a personally inscribed drinking glass which included recognition of their 10 years’ service.

It was a special evening for Barb Finn and Daryl Whateley, who have retired from their volunteer roles with Intereach Community Transport.

Barb Finn:
Over the past 10 years Barb has supported Community Transport as a volunteer driver, taking clients on trips for medical appointments, especially to regional centres such as Albury, Shepparton and Bendigo.

Barb admitted that in the early days of her driving it was a challenge “to get up so early”, in particular when a client had to be in Albury by 8am. However, more recently appointment times are set to ensure a driver doesn’t have to start before 6am.

“I used to have the alarm set for 4.30am … but I got used to it,” Barb said.

She is full of praise for the Community Transport service and the way it is administered by Intereach. Vehicles are constantly updated and so are the ‘little things’ like uniforms and badges. Barb also appreciated the training

provided by Intereach which included various courses in first aid, work health and safety, and basic counselling, teaching drivers to “be a good listener”.

“Intereach always reinforced how valuable we were to them. Being valued was important. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the organisation,”

Barb said. She also appreciates the relationship built up with clients, especially those who she regularly transported to their appointments.

“I made a lot of good friends, so there are many positive memories. This includes the wonderful times when socialising with other volunteers and the Intereach staff; we all got on very well,” she said.

And while Barb appreciates that a Community Transport volunteer needs patience, as there can be long waits while clients attend medical appointments or sometimes undertake small procedures, waiting around was not something she had a problem with. In fact, she would request taking clients who were likely to take quite a while as it allowed Barb to enjoy her passion of ‘op shopping’.

“I love the opportunity shops. There are 23 in Bendigo. I’ve had a wonderful 10 years as a driver and I know every ‘op shop’ in every town,” she said.

Although Barb has retired as a volunteer driver, her community work is far from finished. She has now taken up a position as a volunteer at Deniliquin Hospital so she can continue helping her
fellow citizens.

Daryl Whateley:
Daryl is well known for his service to the local community, in particular with Deniliquin Lions Club and Deniliquin Collector’s Club. In 2010, after retiring from his position with Australia Post in Deniliquin, he decided to volunteer as a Community Transport driver because “I wanted another challenge”.

Over the next decade he mainly drove the town bus, and became the regular driver for the Men’s Group which gathers each Tuesday at Intereach. For many years his life has revolved around this Tuesday commitment – if Daryl and wife Lyn were going away they would leave Wednesday morning or return Monday afternoon, to ensure he was there for the group.

During these days out he told many stories, including about his days at the Post Office, and heard many in return.

“Some of the stories these men told me were quite phenomenal … they were amazing,” Daryl said.

“When I started with Community Transport I said I would do 10 years, and that’s what I’ve done. I have really enjoyed the camaraderie and being able to serve the community. I met some very interesting people and was able to help some of them get around and make them a bit happier.”

While Daryl has enjoyed his role driving the Men’s Group around, they also have received great benefit from the service he provided.

“I took them to various places that they might not otherwise have been able to see. That was the advantage of being in the bus … they were up high and got a good view.”

Occasionally someone would ask, “what’s down that road?”, and Daryl would go and have a look, even though it might not have been on the original route.

“We worked on the theory, ‘what happens on the bus stays on the bus’. For some in the group, Tuesday was their only outing for the week.”

Like many programs, the men’s group has been suspended during 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and Daryl says he “hopes it starts up again, because it’s a valuable service and good fun”.

While he primarily drove the bus for the Men’s Group, Daryl also volunteered as a Community Transport driver, taking clients to medical appointments in regional centres.

“Community Transport is an excellent service, especially for older people who don’t have family and have to get to appointments in places like Albury or Shepparton. It’s fantastic to have a service like that in Deniliquin. And Intereach has been great to work with,” he said.

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Intereach office closures over holiday period

Human and community services provider, Intereach, has advised its office closure times over the Christmas and New Year period.

Intereach operates from 17 offices across central and northern Victoria, the Mallee, and the Murray/Riverina regions of New South Wales.

Its offices will close for the holiday period at 5pm on Thursday, December 24 and re-open at 9am on Monday, January 4.

However, Intereach will have procedures in place over this period to ensure the needs of participants are catered for if an urgent situation arises, as follows:

  • Anyone who requires emergency aged care services or respite will be able to contact Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737.
  • Anyone seeking essential information about the Out of School Hours care program can call 0428 554 478.
  • You can call the NDIS contact centre on 1800 800 110 between 8am and 8pm, or urgent enquiries for a Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood Early Intervention Coordinator can be directed to 0467 963 400.
  • If you require urgent assistance in relation to Family Day Care you can call 0427 814 288.

Intereach advises that for any other program, staff are unavailable and will return on January 4.

If you require emergency assistance, you can call emergency services on 000. For support with mental health, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

The team at Intereach would like to thank all participants and community members for their support throughout a difficult year.

The Board of Directors, management and staff of Intereach take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas, happy holidays and New Year.

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Phased re-opening for Intereach offices

Intereach offices in Victoria are gradually re-opening as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The phased opening has been taking place since mid-November, in conjunction with the Intereach COVID-19 Safe Plan.

“It has obviously been a difficult year and we are extremely grateful for the support and patience shown by our staff, participants and the community in general,” Intereach CEO Keryn Fox said.

“We are relieved that as the year draws to a close we are able to work through the process of re-opening our Victorian offices.”

As each office re-opens, it abides by the Intereach COVID-19 Office Transition Plan, which is a three-phase process.

Intereach Victorian offices which are at Phase 1 include: Echuca, Mildura, Shepparton, Seymour, Gisborne, Swan Hill and Bendigo. The Maryborough office re-opening will take place on January 4.

Under Phase 1, all visitors to the office will be screened for COVID-19 with standard questions. Doors are locked, so visitors must ring the doorbell and wait for a staff member, then be screened on entry. There are sanitising stations at all entrances, with compulsory sign in and sign out and numbers limited to the office, subject to Government advice on density quotients.

Face to face meetings for participants are available by appointment only.

When Phase 2 is permitted there will be appointments where possible, doors will be unlocked however monitoring of numbers, sanitising stations and compulsory sign in/out will continue. Phase 3 will be a return to business as usual.

Prior to opening, a risk assessment is conducted for each separate office in consultation with staff.

Intereach staff who have been working from home throughout COVID, are also gradually returning to work in the office, subject to State Government advice and in line with the Victorian Regional Roadmap to Recovery.

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New schedule for Community Transport

A new trip schedule has been developed for the Intereach Community Transport service in Deniliquin.

It is designed to provide the most flexible and accessible transport services for clients, while at the same time prioritising the safety of the Intereach drivers, many of whom are volunteers.

The new timetable will be effective from Monday January 4, 2021, with out-of-town trips now on specific days to Albury, Bendigo, Shepparton, Echuca and Melbourne. Community Transport will be available to Wagga Wagga, Finley and other destinations upon request.

The Deniliquin schedule will be as follows:

  • Albury – Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Bendigo – Monday and Friday
  • Shepparton – Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Echuca – Monday and Thursday
  • Melbourne – Tuesday and Thursday

Intereach General Manager Operations  Sam Hall said regular clients will be sent a letter advising of the new schedule, and anyone else interested in using the service is encouraged to contact Intereach.

“Our aim is to help people living in Deniliquin to stay independent and connected to the local community,” Sam said.

“While we will have a schedule, there will still be some flexibility for community members. However, we’re asking that people work in as best they can with our new schedule.

“If you’re transport disadvantaged, I’d encourage you to contact our team to discuss your eligibility for Community Transport. There is a good chance that you’ll be eligible for the service.

“We have modern vehicles and can help you do your shopping, attend social events, or cater for group bookings.”

The service operates Monday to Friday, usually between 9am and 4.30pm. In special circumstances, clients can be accommodated outside these hours.

To book Community Transport or learn more about the service, you can phone Intereach on 1300 488 226, or visit the Intereach Neighbourhood Centre in Trickett St, Deniliquin.

It is recommended that anyone using Community Transport should book at least a week before they need to travel.

“For new clients, we will develop an idea of your needs and book the transport to suit you. After your first trip, it’s just a matter of making a booking when you need it,” Sam explained.

Community Transport is one of many services provided by Intereach in Deniliquin.  The organisation supports children and families, older people, people living with disability, mental health and carers.  If you, or someone you know, needs support you can contact the team at Intereach on the toll free number 1300 488 226, or go to www.intereach.com.au .

 

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Celebrating International Day of People with Disability

When International Day of People with Disability is celebrated this Thursday (December 3), the staff at Intereach will be able to reflect positively on the contribution they are making in their communities.

For example, there’s the story of Tommy (not his real name) who was showing developmental delays in multiple areas. He was referred to Early Childhood Intervention support after his family expressed concerns about Tommy’s development compared to his peers, especially in the areas of social skills and communication.

Tommy’s assessment indicated he met developmental delay criteria, and as a consequence, he was supported by the Murrumbidgee Early Childhood Early Intervention team to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme and develop a funded plan.

The ECEI team worked with Tommy’s family, helping them understand the importance of early childhood intervention. This included identifying the areas where Tommy was doing well, and also those which needed development. The team worked with the family to identify priorities for Tommy, helped them navigate NDIS access and linked the family to appropriate early childhood intervention providers. Throughout the entire process, a family-centred approach was adopted.

Tommy reacted positively to the supports he received. He started school and was able to quickly develop strong friendships – which was important to his family – and was fully participating across his school environments, including having no trouble with communication. In fact, Tommy’s improvement was so significant that his family wanted to transition out of the NDIS as all their goals had been met.

It is this type of success that makes the Intereach team proud of the work they do across a large footprint in southern NSW and northern Victoria.

On International Day of People with Disability, team members will receive a range of resources and content, enabling continuing discussions with peers and networks on the way we think about disability and to see the ability in disability.

Intereach believes every person with a disability deserves to live their life as an equal and valued member of the local community. It works alongside its participants, their family and carers to identify a person’s dreams, goals and hopes, and put practical actions in place to achieve this.

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Intereach expansion, despite challenges

Despite all the challenges over the past year, Intereach has continued to increase services to its country communities, the organisation’s annual general meeting was told this week.

In her annual report, CEO Keryn Fox said bushfires and COVID-19 had delivered “challenges at a new level”.
However, the community service provider continued its significant expansion, to now operate from 17 offices with more than 440 staff and 120 volunteers.

“With the support of our corporate services teams we were able to respond to the exceptional challenges, though this required extensive modifications to the way we delivered services to participants and the community,” Ms Fox told the AGM.

She said changing circumstances presented an opportunity to consider new ways of operating that would not compromise the quality and effectiveness of our supports.

Intereach chair Pat Fogarty, in her annual report, congratulated the entire staff team for their outstanding efforts during a difficult year, and for “taking care of each other”.
She said the team had “lifted Intereach to new heights … the manner in which you have overcome the challenges presented has been exceptional”.

“As I have frequently said, Intereach delivers ‘from the cradle to the grave’,” Mrs Fogarty said, citing the New Parents’ Group and aged care services, adding

“Intereach serves its communities and thrives on diversity”.

This year had also seen strengthening of Intereach’s work with Aboriginal communities through its Indigenous Advancement Strategies.
Mrs Fogarty said a highlight of the year was being recognised with the Deniliquin Business of the Year Award, which was “brilliant recognition of CEO Keryn’s leadership and the team’s work together”.

Other significant achievements which were noted at the annual meeting included:

  • Being awarded the tender as the Partner In The Community (PITC) to deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the Murrumbidgee area for Local Area Coordination through to 2023.
  • Successfully expanding Family Day Care Services into the Wagga region with an additional 20 FDC Educators.
  • Being awarded the tender to deliver the Commonwealth Home Support Program in Campaspe Shire which equated to a 75% expansion of this program, supporting an additional 800 participants.
  • Commencement and implementation of the Aboriginal Drivers project, and employing Aboriginal drivers in both Deniliquin and Griffith to enhance the ability to deliver culturally appropriate services.
  • Opening new offices in Maryborough and Gisborne, and relocating to a new office in Bendigo.
  • Expanded services with a community linker now based in Balranald, to bring more services to this area.

At the meeting an impressive annual report was tabled, with Mrs Fogarty describing it as an exciting format that showcases the outstanding work achieved across the diverse range of programs delivered by Intereach, which are of quality and have value.

The annual meeting re-elected three directors to its Board – Pat Fogarty, Robert Brown and Andrew Johnstone.

 

Click here to read the 2020 Intereach Annual Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

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