Public housing

The COVID-19 program put in place following the removal of social housing tower closures

Sheik also helped arrange the payment of utility bills and rent, as the family was unable to earn an income during the quarantine at home. And later she was able to get dental referrals for Bushre teenagers.

While workers say these dental and other services will still exist once they’re gone, their customers won’t necessarily be able to find or navigate them.

At the Richmond housing estate, the high-risk housing program has been credited with helping to achieve close to 100% vaccination against COVID-19 of the five apartment towers in November of last year.

A grassroots approach has spread information through baked potato nights, youth nights with slushies and takeout, playgroups and Zumba classes. Sometimes vaccinations were discussed or offered on the spot, other times they were not.

Nuraini Mahamud, who works at North Richmond Community Health, fears that if the program is dismantled and then needed again, it will take months to restore the trust that has been built with the community for nearly two years.

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In one example of the programme’s versatility, the community development worker said she managed to fix a cooker hood in one day for a mother who had been unable to cook at home for six months.

Symondson said he had received feedback from the Victorian government that he was focusing on recovering from COVID-19, but argues the program has discovered a critical link between vulnerable communities and essential health services, and should be retained indefinitely.

With thousands of COVID-19 cases being reported every day and a growing flu epidemic, he said now was “not the right time to cut a program that helps people stay healthy and apart. of our stretched hospital system”.

The Victorian government declined to comment on the cost of the program.

A spokesman for the Department of Families, Equity and Housing said the government was “committed to keeping Victorians living in high-risk settings safe during the COVID-19 pandemic” and highlighted a a number of ongoing commitments, including temporary accommodation for people with complex needs. with COVID-19.

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Symondson estimates around 300 people have been employed by the scheme, including those in their first job since arriving in Australia, who now face an uncertain future, learning after the state budget last month that the funding would not be continued.

“Community Health Services will obviously do whatever they can, but finding roles for dozens of people is not something we can do… which is heartbreaking but the reality.”

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