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Intereach continues to deliver important community programs

Two important community programs delivered by Intereach will continue after contracts were issued by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.

The Children and Parenting Support (CaPS) program has been extended for a further two years to June 30, 2023, and the Reach Out And Relax (ROAR) program as part of Family and Mental Health Support Services will continue for at least a further five years to June 30, 2026.

Intereach General Manager Operations Michelle Tai said it was “with great pleasure” she could confirm the extension to the programs.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to continue delivering these valuable support services to our local communities. I would like to thank our Family and Mental Health team for their efforts in successfully delivering the programs, which has been instrumental in achieving these extensions,” Ms Tai said.

The Intereach Children and Parenting Services (CaPS) program offers in-home or centre-based services, including parenting groups, one-to-one parenting support, outreach programs, peer support groups, workshops and information sessions. The Parenting Program is available in the local government areas of Edward River, Murray River, Murrumbidgee and Berrigan.

“Under our Parenting Program, Intereach works alongside parents and carers to develop their skills and confidence as a parent,” Ms Tai said.

Reach Out and Relax (ROAR) supports young people, aged up to 18, and their families, who are showing early signs or are at risk of developing a mental health issue. ROAR is delivered across the local government areas of Balranald, Wentworth, Berrigan, Hay, Edward River, Murray River, Federation, Murrumbidgee, Narrandera, Wagga Wagga, Lockhart, Leeton, Temora, Griffith, Carrathool, Coolamon, Cootamundra-Gundagai and Junee.

Ms Tai said ROAR is a free and confidential program that provides important supports to young people and their families.

Intereach 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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Victorian Intereach offices to reopen

Intereach’s Victorian offices will reopen to the public from 9am on Monday, June 7, following the Victorian Government’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions in regional Victoria.

Intereach has offices in Seymour, Shepparton, Bendigo, Echuca, Swan Hill, Mildura, Gisborne and Maryborough, open 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.

Acting Intereach CEO Yvette Buhagiar says the organisation will continue to follow government directives to ensure the safety of Intereach participants and staff and the wider community.

“Our offices will reopen and operate under the government restrictions that are in place. We’re still encouraging our staff and participants in Victoria to utilise phone or virtual meetings where possible, and only have face-to-face when necessary.

“We understand that this is a tough time once again for Victorians and we encourage everyone to look out for each other and stay safe, especially our city cousins in Melbourne.”

Yvette said Intereach recognises that some programs such as Aged Care Services and Children’s Services have unique needs and considerations. These programs continue to operate under appropriate COVID-19 precautions.

“We’re well prepared as an organisation to respond to COVID situations, 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 contact@intereach.com.au.

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New parent / carer support group in Yarrawonga

Intereach is facilitating the formation of a new peer support group for parents and carers of children aged 0-6 living with developmental concerns, living in the Yarrawonga area.

It’s a great opportunity for those involved to meet other parents / carers in a supportive environment, while sharing a cuppa and a chat. There is also the potential to exchange ideas and stories.

The group will meet every second Tuesday, from 10.30 to 11.30am, and there is no cost attached. The first catch-up will be held Tuesday, July 13 at the Country Women’s Association Yarrawonga & Border Branch (21 Hovell Street).

It’s anticipated that the meeting place will move around, and toys and books can be made available if you’re planning to bring your little ones along with you.

Please contact either Sharon Soule or Shobhana Sreetharan if you would like more information, or you’re interested in being part of the group. They can be reached on 1300 488 226 or email community@Intereach.com.au

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Intereach congratulates Migay Allawah women’s gathering organisers

Intereach has congratulated organisers of the Migay Allawah event, held at Four Post Camp near Deniliquin on April 29.

Migay Allawah – which means ‘Women’s gathering’ – is an annual event where Aboriginal women from across the Riverina-Murray region gather to connect, network and renew friendships.

About 150 women attended the Deniliquin event, which had been scheduled for last year but had to be cancelled due to COVID.

The event’s planning and organisation was overseen by the Riverina Murray Regional Alliance (RMRA) with support from an organising committee, various other groups and not-for-profit organisations and Aboriginal Affairs NSW.

Intereach Aboriginal Health and Family Support Worker Jill Owen was part of the organising committee, which also included RMRA project officer Melissa Bilney, RMRA delegate Heather Bramich and local representatives Karen Mobourne, who was the MC on the day, Lorraine Parsons and Anita Mobourne.

Jill said it was a great day held in a beautiful bush setting next to the Kolety River (Edward River).

“There were a lot of women who benefited from the event, accessing service providers who were there on-site offering information, advice and support. There were speakers on health and wellbeing, legal advice, business opportunities, mental health, environment and other topics; also available were counselling and screening appointment opportunities for women which were well received on the day.

“Everybody enjoyed a wonderful lunch, and there were raffles and a spinning wheel with wonderful prizes and live music from Madi Colville-Walker who was a beautiful voice. Everyone had a good time …. there was lots of laughing and joking.

“We had women travel from Griffith, Albury, Wagga, Darlington Point, Narrandera, Leeton and many more places; the social aspect was a main focus of the event, especially after a year of COVID restrictions which were pretty isolating.

“Well done to all involved and especially Melissa Bilney who did a wonderful job bringing it together.”

Jill said Intereach is extremely grateful to be involved in Migay Allawah and is proud to have supported the event with transport arrangements and a small amount of funding.

Intereach’s Community Transport team arranged transportation from Griffith, Narrandera and Leeton and also transported Deni High students to and from the event.

Migay Allaway is held at a different town each year, and next year moves to Cootamundra, where Intereach also has an office.

Intereach 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.

 

Caption: Intereach staff members (from left) Lee, Jill, Mardi, Emma and Gerry all helped with the Intereach information stand at the Migay Allawah event.

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Course helps maintain Intereach driver safety

There is no priority that is higher than safety for any Community Transport driver.

To ensure all its drivers are kept refreshed with the latest safety tips, Intereach recently held a one-day ‘Low-Risk Driving’ course, with staff and volunteers.

It was conducted by Ross Banno, a director and facilitator from National Driver Education.

Intereach Community Transport Program Manager Sonya Perlowski said there was excellent feedback from those who enjoyed the training and she received positive comments about Mr Banno’s approach and messages.

“It revolved around a theme that ‘low risk thinking leads to low risk driving’,” she said.

Some of the driver safety elements included in the day were:

  • Fatigue insight and management, especially self-management, as 20 per cent of fatal crashes are fatigue-related.
  • The concept of ‘low-risk thinking – low-risk driving’, including motivation, behaviour and insight.
  • Vehicle appreciation and safety devices.
  • Identification of where and how crashes occur.
  • The three-second gap, validated by braking distance and reaction time, including crash avoidance space.
  • Intersection safety, incorporating vision, anticipation and three-second gap skills.
  • Country driving and night driving, including collisions with animals.

In a recent survey, the participants who use Intereach Community Transport rated the service very highly and said it was one they “appreciate and value”.

Sonya said to maintain the high standards it is important to ensure ongoing training for all Intereach drivers.

“Our participants have told us they feel safe with our drivers, and courses such as ‘low-risk driving’ will help us continue providing a service that has safety as its top priority,” she said.

Community Transport operates out of Intereach’s DeniIiquin and Griffith offices.

Intereach 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

 

Photo caption: Community Transport Coordinator Emma Edwards and volunteer driver Lindsay Dalzell both completed the driver training course.

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Intereach Victorian offices closed

Intereach’s Victorian offices will be closed to the public from 5pm today (Thursday, May 27), following the Victorian Government’s seven-day COVID-19 Stage 4 lockdown directive.

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

Acting Intereach CEO Yvette Buhagiar says the organisation will act on the advice provided by government and health department officials going forward.

“Our staff are still available via telephone and we will continue to deliver services and supports to our Victorian communities, but it won’t be face-to-face contact unless absolutely necessary. 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.

“We’re hopeful that our Victorian offices will re-open and staff will be in a position to return to working from the office at 9am on Friday, June 4. We will be monitoring this situation very closely and will advise our staff, participants and communities if there are any changes to this information as we progress through the next seven days.

“For our New South Wales offices, it’s mostly business as usual at this stage.”

Intereach has implemented the following:

  • Victorian offices are closed to the public from 5pm on Thursday, May 27.
  • 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.

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

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,” Yvette said.

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 contact@intereach.com.au.

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Robert’s ‘remarkable’ role as Intereach volunteer

During National Volunteer Week last week, Intereach acknowledged and thanked the more than 110 volunteers who play a vital role in its service delivery.

They help out across Aged Care Services, Community Transport, Out of School Hours (OOSH) care, Community Links and Early Childhood Early Intervention, and there are also the dedicated Board members who oversee the community service provider’s strategic direction.

One of the many Intereach volunteers whose efforts are greatly appreciated is volunteer driver Robert Martin, who takes OOSH youngsters on excursions.

Robert is described as being “very reliable”. Due to the nature of his volunteer driving there is no defined schedule, yet when he is needed it is never a problem and he always manages to swap around other commitments to join the team, whether it’s for an hour, an afternoon or a day. And he always makes sure it is a fun and safe excursion for the children and OOSH educators.

Excursions bring on increased energy from the children and when a bus is involved it’s even more fun. However, this can also mean heightened noise and excitement, yet Robert is always patient and accommodating as he helps the educators keep children attentive and safe. Educators describe his tolerance and ability to ensure the children’s safety throughout the journey as “remarkable”.

He complements this by actively completing safety checks and, if necessary, helping the children to remember their safety travel guidelines, while always being aware of the need to meet time deadlines. He is a cautious driver who always checks his vehicle and reviews the pre-prepared excursion risk assessment, and also contributes to this planning.

OOSH program manager Cath McLean said: “Robert is interested in the children and their enjoyment and safety during our excursions. Children and educators identify him as one of the team, and an extension of the OOSH family.”

And it’s because of his commitment that the children look forward to seeing Robert, which they express when upcoming excursions are being discussed. They say he is “clever to be our driver” and “he knows all the places to take us”.

In fact, in their eyes Robert has been described as “like a movie star”.

It is volunteers like Robert Martin who are so important to Intereach and other community organisations, and they deserve to be recognised for their efforts during National Volunteer Week.

To learn more about volunteering with Intereach go to www.intereach.com.au or phone 1300 488 226. The community and human service provider offers support and assistance for children and families, older people, people living with disability, mental health and carers.

 

Caption: Bus driver volunteer Rob Martin with OOSH Educators Steph Maher and Karen Martin heading off on another fun excursion with the OOSH children.

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Stop Mental Illness Stigma Charter

Intereach has reinforced its commitment to stopping the stigma of mental illness by signing on to a Stigma Charter.

The charter was created by the Murray Primary Health Network with Hume and Loddon Mallee Murray Partners in Recovery (PIR) programs to encourage organisations to adopt the right behaviours and practices, and build an environment where employees and customers feel supported and understood.

It contains seven commitments that, when addressed, help to reduce stigma. The commitments are:

  • We will be informed
  • We will listen
  • We will be mindful of our language
  • We will be inclusive
  • We will challenge the stereotypes
  • We will be supportive
  • We will promote recovery

The Stigma Charter complements the Intereach Mental Health Action Plan. Intereach, as a signatory, will print the Charter Certificate and have it prominently displayed across its 17 offices, which are in the NSW Murray/Riverina, as well as northern and central Victoria.

Signatories are also encouraged to workshop, plan and implement the Charter within their organisation by using resources provided to ensure each of the commitments is met. This can include reviewing policies and procedures, a health and wellbeing noticeboard, having trained medical first aiders, an employee assistance program, getting involved and promoting mental health

week and R U OK? Day events, or providing fruit and healthy food options at events.

Participating organisations are also encouraged to review and assess how they continue to meet all of the commitments, ensuring staff and visitors feel supported and not stigmatised.

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Community Transport gets the ‘thumbs up’

Our Community Transport program has received a giant ‘thumbs up’ from the most important people … those who use it.

A record number of respondents indicated through a recent participant survey, that Community Transport is a high-quality service that they appreciate and value.

When asked if they are “better able to manage their day to day responsibilities” with Community Transport there was a 98% positive response.

The response was a massive 99% when asked if they were “better able to access necessary health services”, 84% positive to “better able to manage day-to-day shopping needs” and 81% positive to “better able to manage banking and financial needs”.

Intereach Community Transport achieved even better results in questions under the heading ‘How well do we do?’

This included a 100% ranking for ‘participants who feel they are treated respectfully’, and either 98 or 99% for other questions such as ‘participants who feel listened to’, ‘participants who report we communicate well’, ‘participants satisfied with cleanliness and maintenance of vehicles’ and ‘participants who feel safe and secure’.

While the number of trips for Community Transport was down on previous years in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, there were still nearly 14,000 across the service in Deniliquin and Griffith, travelling just under 300,000 kilometres.

Intereach Community Transport program manager Sonya Perlowski said the organisation was “absolutely delighted” with the survey results.

“Community Transport is all about helping people in our towns, especially making it easier for them to attend medical appointments or manage every day needs such as shopping and banking.

“Great credit for the result must go to our drivers, including the many volunteers who help us provide this valuable service.

“I would encourage anyone who wants to know more about Community Transport to phone 1300 488 226,” Sonya said.

Intereach Community Transport operates out of its DeniIiquin and Griffith offices.

Intereach 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 .

 

Caption: Intereach volunteer drivers Dawn McMillan and Barry Macauley.

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Positive changes in Jenny’s Intereach career

During her 16 year career with Intereach Jenny Bright has worked in numerous areas and seen many positive changes.

She described it as “a fabulous time, meeting so many different people with such varied needs”.

Jenny spent much of her time in various aged care programs, including case management of aged care. She also managed a Community Options program, worked in Compact which provided support for people who had been discharged from hospital, helped volunteers and was involved with Ability Links and then Community Links.

“We are so lucky to have Intereach in Deniliquin and the various programs it supports,”Jenny said,

adding that while team members are the ones identified as helping participants it is the work of the CEO and management to obtain funding that allows this to happen.

She has seen many changes at Intereach, which has grown from a one-person operation in the 1970s to an organisation that now has more than 450 staff and 150 volunteers.

“The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) made a huge difference at Intereach. There was a total change to the outlook on disability with a greater focus on the individual, which has been a real positive. We were able to spend more time listening to their needs and designing a program around what they need.”

Jenny has many happy memories of her time at Intereach, especially those that have involved helping others. She fondly remembers working with a young man who had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being attacked in a Melbourne service station.

“He came home to live in the country with his parents, who didn’t know what to do. When I first met him he wouldn’t leave his bedroom, but at the end of the program he was volunteering in an aged care facility and then got a job. It took 16 months, but was a wonderful outcome. I received a beautiful thank you card from his mother, but it was only possible because of Intereach and what it provides,” she said.

Her final role at Intereach was working as a Community Linker, which is a key activity across the services that Intereach delivers. It involves ‘linking’ participants with the services they need.

“It’s a terrific program because it supports a lot of people, especially in relation to NDIS, linking them into the community as well as community activities.”

Jenny has enjoyed lots of travel over the years, especially to the United States and Europe, and with more spare time on her hands is hoping to now “see more of Australia”.

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