In early March 2020, as it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic was going to have extreme effects across Tasmanian communities, the state’s community services organisation moved into action, enacting crisis and pandemic plans, identifying gaps in services and emerging needs. In the interests of minimising our impact on public health and spread of the virus, TasCOSS moved all staff and services to remote and working from home delivery, making a phased return to the TasCOSS offices in Hobart in mid-June 2020.
It is testament to the resilience and dedication of TasCOSS staff members that the result of this major disruption was increased creativity and engagement with all people in the community services industry throughout the public health emergency period.
TasCOSS took on the role of coordinating and channelling information to and from the State Emergency Centre’s Recovery Partners Network from the start. Key to this work was consultation and compilation and of an Issues Register highlighting circumstances affecting people in need of support as well as those affecting the industry’s ability to deliver that support.
TasCOSS also managed delivery of $350,000 in essential technology grants to industry organisations required to change service delivery methods as a result of the State Government’s COVID-19 response.
As the crisis eased, support for the industry continued with TasCOSS acting as a conduit for information on COVID-safe service delivery and workplace health and safety requirements as workers returned to traditional offices.
Unprecedented engagement with the industry has meant many of the programs and delivery channels TasCOSS developed during COVID-19 have continued, in particular the 11am-12:30pm Monday industry-wide meetings featuring presentations from State Government representatives, the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC), research partners, key stakeholders and those working with and leading community service organisations.