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Mental Health Framework supports Intereach staff

Human and community services provider Intereach today (Thursday September 10) launched its Mental Health Framework.

The occasion was a significant milestone for Intereach, as it provides a framework that supports its staff and highlights the organisation’s ongoing commitment to their wellbeing. The Framework was developed by a specialist company through significant consultation with staff via a whole of staff survey, focus groups, and opportunities for feedback to be provided prior to endorsement of the Framework.

“At Intereach our staff are our greatest strength,” said CEO Keryn Fox.

“The dedication and commitment of our staff, who often live in the communities they serve, is what allows Intereach to make a real difference in our regions.

“The Intereach Mental Health Framework is a commitment from the Intereach Board and Executive to provide, to the best of our ability, a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. This framework was developed from feedback from our staff and acknowledges the mental stresses we can all face in our day-to-day duties at Intereach.

“Some of these duties include working with and supporting our communities, and quite often some of the most vulnerable people within those communities. We want all of our staff to feel mentally healthy, regardless of their role here, and this framework provides the foundation to work toward this goal,” Ms Fox said.

She said the framework was “not the beginning nor the end of our journey toward a mentally healthier staff and workplace – it simply offers a set of objectives and outcomes which we can check and reflect upon”.

Intereach encourages employees at all levels to engage in self-care, look after each other, develop their resilience and support their psychological health at work. This can be achieved by following the four objectives of the framework which are:

  1. Demonstrate supportive leadership for our people and our communities.
  2. Promote and support growth, wellbeing, resilience and self-awareness.
  3. Intervene early, support, and keep staff at work.
  4. Support employee return to work after injury and illness.

“We all have a part to play on this journey because all of us deserve a healthy mind, at home and at work,” Ms Fox said.

Intereach has a staff of more than 400, operating from 17 offices across the NSW Murray and Riverina, northern and central Victoria and the Mallee. It supports children and families, people living with disability, mental health, and older people. 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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Intereach asks: R U OK?

Intereach staff from across the organisation’s 17 locations will come together on Thursday to virtually participate in RUOK? Day.

RUOK? Day is a national day of action when we remind Australians that every day is the day to ask ‘are you ok?’ if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.

As part of the Intereach recognition of RUOK? Day, a Community Linker in each office will facilitate discussions with staff about ‘being okay’.

There will be a video address by all members of the Intereach executive team at which it will be acknowledged that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and circumstances have made it even more important to stay connected.

CEO Keryn Fox said Intereach was ensuring staff have access to resources to help them know what to say when someone says they are not okay, and guide them through how they can continue a conversation that could change a life.

“You don’t have to be an expert to keep the conversation going when someone says they’re not okay. By knowing what to say you can help someone feel supported and access appropriate help before they’re in crisis, which can make a really positive difference to their life,” Ms Fox said.

As part of Thursday’s activities Intereach will launch its Mental Health Framework and the implementation of a partnership project with Bendigo Community Health called ‘5 Ways To Wellbeing’.

The five ways, or ‘steps’, revolve around five key platforms: Connect; Keep Learning; Be Active; Be Aware; Help Others (give).

Ms Fox said this campaign had been developed on evidence-based best practice, and staff would be provided with material to help them follow this campaign.

“The evidence shows happier people can add 7.5 years to their life, people with higher wellbeing are more likely to be in work or full-time education, and that each of the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ has been shown to improve personal sense of wellbeing across the lifespan and regardless of their starting point in mental health.

“The day presents an opportunity for the executive and management to undertake an additional check with Intereach staff during COVID-19, giving staff the chance to connect and pose the question: RUOK?” Ms Fox said.

All staff will receive a gift which links to the ‘5 Ways To Wellbeing’ campaign.

At Intereach’s Deniliquin office, the Out of School Hours (OOSH) program will celebrate RUOK? Day with younger participants.

 

 

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Intereach Family Day Care recognised in awards

Intereach Family Day Care (FDC) has very strong representation in the national 2020 Excellence in Family Day Care awards

We are honoured to have a total of 22 FDC educators nominated for the Educator of the Year category in their respective state.

Our congratulations are also extended to the entire FDC team for the nomination of Intereach Family Day Care in the category Service of the Year (NSW), and to Marie Broadbent and Rebecca Fitzpatrick who have been recognised with nomination in the Coordinator of the Year (NSW) category.

The annual awards recognise the amazing work carried out by educators, coordinators and services in the FDC sector to deliver high quality early childhood education and care to children across Australia.

Intereach CEO Keryn Fox said the high number of nominations was testament to the quality of education and care provided by the organisation’s FDC service.

“I would like to personally congratulate every person who has been nominated, and the entire FDC team. To have so many nominations is an outstanding achievement and I would like to extend best wishes to everyone involved in the awards,” Ms Fox said.

The nominations are especially significant for the Intereach FDC team in Wagga Wagga, which has recently undertaken expansion when its existing 50 educators grew by 20 who had previously operated under a local government service.

The six Wagga Wagga educators nominated for the awards are Antoinette Balding, Marita Coote, Robyn Grimson, Yvonne McAlister, Leanne Smith and Sandra Stewart.

 

The full list of nominees from Intereach Family Day Care in the 2020 Excellence in Family Day Care awards is as follows:

Service of the Year (NSW) – Intereach Family Day Care

Coordinator of the Year (NSW) – Marie Broadbent and Rebecca Fitzpatrick

Educator of the Year (NSW)

  • Antoinette Balding (Wagga Wagga)
  • Marita Coote (Wagga Wagga)
  • Robyn Grimson (Wagga Wagga)
  • Yvonne McAlister (Wagga Wagga)
  • Leanne Smith (Wagga Wagga)
  • Sandra Stewart (Wagga Wagga)
  • Rowena Bawden (Moama)
  • Diane Leech (Moama)
  • Jo Hart (Moama)
  • Belinda Shaw (Moama)
  • Annette Fisicaro (Deniliquin)
  • Lynda Grimison (Deniliquin)
  • Ashlee Huntly (Deniliquin)
  • Amanda Rhook (Deniliquin)
  • Tammy Townsend (Deniliquin)
  • Vicki Smith (Finley)
  • Delicia Smith (Berrigan)

 Educator of the Year (VIC)

  • Maryann Gardner (Swan Hill)
  • Mary Saul (Swan Hill)
  • Judy Simpson (Swan Hill)
  • Kristy Cakebread (Echuca)
  • Michelle Oellermann (Echuca)

Nominees are invited to make a supporting submission against specific questions, and once submissions are completed a number of judging phases take place.

Regional winners and star award winners will be announced on October 6, with National winners announced on November 21.

 

 

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Purple celebration

Intereach will celebrate Wear It Purple Day on Friday, August 28.

Wear It Purple highlights the importance of encouragement, empowerment, and emphasis on making effective change for LGBTIQQA+ or rainbow young people and other disenfranchised groups of people.

Intereach will send a clear message of support to rainbow youth by decorating its Deniliquin office space and the Napier St window in purple. During COVID-19 restrictions some staff are working from home, so the purple theme will also be celebrated virtually so everyone can be involved.

“This year marks the fourth time Intereach has formally celebrated Wear It Purple Day, but the organisation has been supporting local rainbow youth for far longer than this, especially in the Deni area,” Intereach project officer Guy Hussey said.

Along with staff being encouraged to wear purple outfits on the day, the celebrations will be supported with a pre-recorded introduction by a member of Intereach’s PRIDE Reference Group, a reading of Todd Parr’s ‘The Family Book’, and other presentations and resources that staff can view at their leisure.

Staff dress-ups are sure to provide some inter-office competition across Intereach’s 17 sites, with categories including:

  • Best dressed individual
  • Best dressed team
  • Best head dress
  • Best dressed office
  • Best drag outfit

Wear It Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers suffering heartache about being ‘outed’ and the real responses they experienced. In 2010 several rainbow young people took their own lives following bullying and harassment resulting from the lack of acceptance from family and friends of their sexuality and/or gender identity.

“The celebration of Wear It Purple Day is even more significant in regional and rural locations where there are minimal or no formal organisations or groups to support rainbow youth to live their authentic lives,” Mr Hussey said.

Wear It Purple strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people.

Anyone requiring crisis support can contact NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511, Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

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Office boost for Intereach in Seymour

When access to the Seymour office of Intereach is permitted after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, visitors will be in for a pleasant surprise.
The human and community service provider has taken over the long term lease of its premises at 22 Station Street, Seymour and renovations are currently being undertaken.

They are due for completion at the end of October, and staff are hoping an office opening and welcome back to participants and the general public can take place soon after.

Intereach Senior Manager Community Links Ashley Lythgo said it was an “exciting and welcome development in the Intereach commitment to the Seymour district community”. However, she said it was important for local people to be aware that during the pandemic they are still able to access the vast range of support services provided by Intereach.

“While we have our restrictions due to the pandemic, that does not mean we are not all still busy helping our community in numerous ways. Our staff have continued working from home at full capacity, so if you need to access our services, please contact our toll-free number on 1300 488 226 or visit our website,” Ms Lythgo said.

She said existing participants or anyone with a new inquiry is encouraged to contact Intereach and talk to one of its Community Linkers who, as the name suggests, is the person who can ‘link’ you with the services and supports that you need.

The Seymour office upgrade is the latest in a series by Intereach as it extends and improves its service delivery across a large footprint in Victoria and New South Wales. Apart from the Seymour office upgrade, this year it has opened new offices in Gisborne and Balranald and relocated to improved premises in Bendigo

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day: ‘We are the Elders of tomorrow, hear our voice’.

Intereach chooses to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, its history and significance of the day for Children within our service area. The day was first established in 1988, with a backdrop of protests by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the lead up to Australia’s bi-centennial. It was heralded as a day for the inclusion of their children where they could be celebrated, in order to allow them to feel confident and special.

Prior to 1988, the fourth of August was used to communally celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children who had been historically forcibly removed from their parents, family, kin, and country at an age when they could commonly not remember the day of their birth. These children would go on to be known as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with direct experience of ‘Stolen Generations’.

Some people may ask why is it still important to celebrate this day whilst the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children today are thriving, growing up strong and connected to their Country and Culture, with the support of their kin, extended family and communities. There are still a significant number of children that face the realities of discrimination, racism, poverty, intergenerational trauma, connection to ‘Stolen Generation’, systemic removal and dislocation from kin, family and Country, shame and community disempowerment.

Only through days that highlight and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture may we actively seek to combat these negative experiences whilst working towards equality for all children that is supported holistically when considering positive impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s wellbeing, safety and development.

Intereach has previously celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day both as an organisation and within its services and supports which work to deliver family-centred practice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and their Families. A key example of this is through the Intereach Indigenous Advancement Strategy program, where school uniforms and other educational resources are offered to Aboriginal Families with children getting ready to go to school.

Intereach Indigenous Advancement Strategy family worker Danica Reeves said not all Aboriginal Children have access to a school uniform.

“Being able to provide uniforms to these children gives them great pride and excitement about starting primary school.

“Children and their families come along to Playlink, where they interact with other children, sharing cultural stories and learning together through play; they begin to build the skills needed for reading and writing in readiness for commencing school.”

 

 

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Website development Expression of Interest (EOI)

Intereach is seeking expressions of interest from website designers to develop a new, modern, and feature-rich website to be used as the primary source of information for community members.

If you are a great web design agency and are interested in this exciting new project, please find our Expression of Interest attached below.

For more information please call 1300 488 226

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Intereach staff return to office

Intereach staff in NSW are starting to gradually transition back into the office after several months of working from home.

The human and community services organisation continues to update its COVID-19 Safe Plan, reflecting changing situations across its broad footprint.

CEO Keryn Fox said at the NSW locations the Intereach Community Linkers – those who ‘link’ participants with the various services they need – were back in their office environment from Monday this week. Staff working in areas to assist families and children and those who provide mental health support returned to the office on Wednesday.

Ms Fox said due to the ongoing lockdown situation in Victoria, the majority of Intereach staff in that state remain working from home. Offices in both states remain closed, however, services are still available by calling 1300 488 226. At this stage there are plans to reopen NSW offices to the public sometime in August, once staff have settled back into the office environment and the necessary COVID protocols are in place, Ms Fox added.

“We have a different situation in Victoria compared to New South Wales, so it is appropriate that we have the flexibility to deal with this,” Ms Fox said.

“We are confident we can safely and more effectively serve the needs of our communities in New South Wales with a gradual transition back to working from our offices.

“This has been a challenging time for our staff, participants, and communities and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and understanding. Our team members have done an outstanding job over recent months, sometimes in difficult circumstances. They need to be commended for their effort and commitment.”

In keeping with state border closures, NSW Intereach staff are presently unable to travel into Victoria. This includes staff and volunteers who provide Community Transport services. However, transport services within NSW are continuing but are being assessed on a “case by case” basis, Ms Fox added.

The Intereach COVID-19 Safe Plan continues to be flexible, adjusting to changing regulations across the two states in which the organisation operates.

Ms Fox said it was imperative that everyone remains vigilant and follows the Government’s COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing and wearing masks where necessary.

Anyone with queries should visit the Intereach website, www.intereach.com.au, or phone the toll-free number on 1300 488 226.

Intereach operates from 17 offices across the NSW Riverina, northern and central Victoria, and the Mallee region.

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Aboriginal Driver Project

A collaboration between Intereach and Transport for NSW (TNSW) is providing a valuable Aboriginal community transport service in Deniliquin and Griffith.

Drivers have been employed under the 12-month program, transporting participants to various destinations and activities, including vital medical appointments.

The program was initiated with Intereach by TNSW under its Aboriginal Driver Project, which encompasses goals in the Intereach Reconciliation Action Plan.

Intereach CEO Keryn Fox explained they “gladly accepted the project” when it was offered by TNSW. It was originally for one full-time position over 12 months, however, they decided it would be best split over two locations – Deniliquin and Griffith – with two permanent part-time positions at 15 hours a week each.

“Our Community Transport team met community groups in both sites to discuss the best ways to utilise our drivers under the program, and schedules were developed,” Ms Fox said.

In Deniliquin, Jaimarlee Atkinson has been employed and has transported clients to medical appointments in Melbourne and various regional centres across Victoria and NSW, as well as trips to and from Moonacullah Mission for shopping and family visits.

In Griffith, Robert Monaghan is the driver, transporting to Wagga and Albury for medical appointments after a schedule was compiled in conjunction with the local Aboriginal Medical Centre, plus local shopping and personal trips.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the number of Community Transport trips being booked in both Griffith and Deniliquin, however, the foundations have been laid for what is expected to be a successful project in the future.

Both drivers are highly regarded, with one client advising Intereach that Jaimarlee was “very polite and helpful” and that she “felt comfortable, as he drove in a sensible manner, to the conditions” when they were driving back from Albury through a storm.

Jaimarlee said the Aboriginal Driver Project had provided the opportunity to work consistently in a welcoming, friendly and supportive environment.

“I enjoy travelling to different locations with different people and supporting them to attend their appointments,” he said.

Robert said he enjoys travelling around the Griffith area, as well as further afield to places such as Wagga and Albury.

“I have met some lovely people and have benefited from the employment and the support provided by Intereach. This is an important service for the Aboriginal community and I hope it can continue. I have been telling people about my job and how they can use the transport service.

“I have been getting excellent feedback, which is appreciated,” Robert said.

While the original funding is for 12 months Robert and others involved, especially those taking advantage of the transport, would like to see it extended.

To speak to the Community Transport team, you can call Intereach on 1300 488 226.

 

 

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Successful start, despite challenges

The outstanding success of a program designed to link community members with various support services that are available is being celebrated by the team at Intereach.

The community and human services provider is justifiably proud of its new Community Links program, which started in October 2019. As its name suggests, the program’s staff are trained to ‘link’ people with the supports that can enhance their everyday lives.

In each of its 17 offices, there are now ‘Community Linkers’, playing a vital role that is providing a valuable service to those who seek assistance from Intereach.

CEO Keryn Fox explained that the Intereach Community Links team provides a ‘no wrong door’ approach for community members to be able to access services that they are entitled to.

“Our thorough understanding of the communities in which we operate enables us to support linkages to local and outreach community and mainstream supports provided by a range of organisations.

“Since October, Community Links has doubled in size and continues to grow as it meets the needs of our participants, communities and the organisation,” Ms Fox said.

Although the Intereach offices are presently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, in ‘normal times’ every office operates from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm, with Community Linkers available to discuss services with anyone seeking information or support.

Statistics compiled by Senior Managers Mardi Chartres and Erin Smith highlight the level of assistance that has been provided. For example, in the nine months to June 30 ‘linkers’ represented Intereach at 586 Community Engagement and Capacity Development (CECD) activities and were involved with a further 727 conversations with community groups and organisations.

‘Linkers’ welcomed and supported 1,124 new participants to ‘link’ with their community via intake forms, with more than 1,000 referrals made to community organisations. After the initial intake, they had nearly 4,000 additional conversations to ensure appropriate support services were being delivered. On top of this, one-off support for simple requests was provided to more than 7,000 new participants.

A further 26,000 calls were answered and triaged across the Intereach footprint, more than 1,900 entities were added to the Asset Map, there has been growth in the Intereach Reference Groups, and seven Observance Days have been celebrated and recognised. A successful artwork campaign has also made offices more welcoming and inclusive for participants and communities.

Additionally, staff have been trained and practices modified, all while dealing with the challenges of bushfires and COVID-19.

“It has been a fantastic effort by our team to transition to Community Links in such a successful way, despite the challenges that have been faced,” Ms Fox said.

“I have no doubt that the first nine months of the program has laid the foundation for future growth. Community Links is the way forward, and at Intereach we are proud to be leaders in developing this program,” she added.

Intereach provides support for children and families, older people, people living with disability, mental health and carers. It has 17 offices and employs over 400 staff across a footprint that covers the Riverina and western NSW, north and central Victoria and the Mallee.

If you, or someone you know, needs support you can contact the team at Intereach by phoning 1300 488 226 or go to www.intereach.com.au

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