Now, more than ever, as our whole community faces challenging and uncertain times, we renew our focus on empowering the people and communities we work with.
Ever present in our minds, is the reality that many of the vulnerable families and communities we work with – will be faced with compounding challenges.
In particular we acknowledge the significant health and life expectancy gap for Aboriginal community members as a result of colonisation – we are extremely motivated to lessen and minimise the impact of COVID-19 for the Aboriginal people we work with across Nepean Blue Mountains and Western Sydney. Across all our program areas, the NCNS team are working hard to explore new ways to provide continuity of connection and care.
At NCNS – Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services – all our focus and commitment is to our local community. More than a community service, we are here alongside you in your neighbourhood, locals with you. Celebrating your strengths and achievements; sharing ideas and the hard work to make our neighbourhoods more connected, safe places where everyone is respected. Empowerment through opportunity and access – whether that’s child development; youth advocacy; Closing the Gap health services; or any of the activities running everyday across our centres.
Whether you connect with us through Breakfast Club at Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre, an Aboriginal Supported Playgroup at Kooly, a home visit from your Closing The Gap Outreach Worker, a school holiday activity, parenting support or family therapy, or even booking South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre for your mum’s 60th – the common thread is connection, strengthening social bonds, reducing isolation. We are here for everyone, but are always focused on empowering our most vulnerable community members.
Guided by the latest information and directives from government we are adapting the ways we work with our communities. We are still open but working differently. This will adapt as we develop new modalities of service, so we will update our website and social as we progress different models of working with you.
NCNS continues to provide services to new as well as existing clients. This may be provided by phone or internet, as we are following guidance and reducing face-to-face contact. Some of our group programs – such as SMART Recovery and Keeping Children Safe – are being offered through live video streaming sessions with our facilitators. A limited on-site, appointment only, emergency relief service will be available in the coming days.
We are following advice from the NSW and Federal Government Health authorities and the World Health Organisation in relation to exercising social distancing and hygiene measures and self-isolation where appropriate. Clients are also screened for particular risk factors.
An update on our services through this, all Community Centre group activities have been suspended – including Breakfast Club, Aboriginal Women’s and Men’s groups, Kooly Deadly Kids Dance, KP Kids, Aboriginal Supported Playgroups, Youth Drop In and other workshops and community programs.
We are in continuous phone contact with the young people and families that would normally be at our groups or activities. Online social spaces have been set up by Joe and Sami on Instagram for our young people to connect.
For these and all our programs we are working on innovative and creative ways to re-connect. Watch this space as there will be some news as we progress our ideas and develop new online groups and workshops.
Across our programs – we are continuing to work with our community partners to ensure a coordinated approach to supporting the most vulnerable members of our community at this highly challenging time. We will be commencing a new emergency relief program at Cranebrook in the coming days. Keep an eye on Facebook for developments. This will be developed within the guidelines including screening, and a strictly limited number of people in the centre at any time, to access the emergency relief.
Like everyone else, we have also had to suspend all groups, programs, events and workshops until further notice. Sadly, our NAIDOC events will be postponed – we are hoping for a September or October date for NAIDOC Cup.
Parenting programs and some facilitated group-work will be provided through video conferencing in the near future.
The work for our Closing The Gap Aboriginal Health teams across Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains have continued seamlessly. We are receiving new referrals daily from GP’s and community, and our existing clients are getting their usual friendly, caring and informative service from their Care Coordinator and Outreach Workers, who are doing an incredible job to keep up the vital work of keeping this most vulnerable group – Aboriginal people with chronic and complex diseases – safe and well in the community through this time.
Our Functional Family Therapy Team (FFT-CW) and Aboriginal Family Support have also switched to phone and video therapy sessions – and have managed this with a full capacity caseload and a waitlist. We are extremely conscious that families referred by DCJ to FFT-CW will be facing enormous challenges in this time – with the added pressure of kids at home and the strain of food and financial insecurity. This team are using their advanced engagement and relational skills to maintain connection with families with a focus on keeping vulnerable children safe through this time.
We are keeping a close eye on developments and will act appropriately following advice from the Australian and NSW Governments. Our priority continues to be to provide continuity of support and connection to our community and to protect the safety, health of wellbeing of clients, community, and staff. Resilience is a word we use a lot at NCNS, it’s a word that embodies hope, perseverance in the face of hardship, an intrinsic belief in our own and our community’s strength and an optimism for the future, despite todays’ struggles. I hope we can all carry that meaning in our daily life – for everyone doing the vital job of Staying Home – as well as for all the essential workers, parents, carers, kids and young people.
Don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the team to share your ideas, and opportunities for working collaboratively through the challenging times now and ahead, for our most vulnerable community members.
Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services