ECLC Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is evolving by the hour so Eastern Community Legal Centre’s (ECLC) priority is the safety and well-being of its volunteers and staff, partner agencies and of course the community and clients it serves. ECLC is also playing its part to ‘flatten the curve‘ of this highly infectious disease.
ECLC has now:
- Closed all of its physical offices with all staff working from home or off-site
- Asked staff to work remotely and talk to each other and all clients, community and partners via phone or other technology.
- Conducted nearly all client work by phone or other technology. This includes:
- All client intake and referral – often using a ‘call-back’ system to respond to new client requests
- Intervention Order support service at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court ;
- Deakin, Mabels, HEAL and all location-based outreach services are continuing, (using phone or other technology); and
- Contacting existing or upcoming clients to explain new arrangements;
- Continued to prioritise help to clients experiencing family violence, elder abuse or other vulnerability;
- Suspended its night service indefinitely to focus on priority clients;
- Maintained close connection with its community group and agency partners, while developing plans for increasing and support and community legal education
- Commenced advocacy for groups experiencing particular disadvantage from the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic
- Worked closely with legal assistance services and courts as they adapt to the crisis
- Suspended planning for the annual Volunteers & Partnerships dinner scheduled for May 28th as it is unlikely to proceed then.
Go to the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) website to find out more about COVID-19 and the community sector.
Update: 16 March 2020
I am writing to update you on Eastern Community Legal Centre’s (ECLC’s) plan as it relates to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This pandemic is evolving by the hour, and we want to affirm that our top priority is the safety and well-being of our volunteers and staff, our partner agencies and of course the community and clients we serve.
First and foremost: please take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Our personal lives, our professional lives and our world in general are stressful enough without a global health crisis, so we completely understand that this can all be quite a bit to handle at such a rapid pace. The work we all do is certainly important (especially at times like this), but we can’t do our collective work if we aren’t taking care of our own health.
While none of us know how this will evolve over the next few weeks, we do want to share the following information:
- ECLC is continuing to provide legal help to its clients as much as possible.
- In some circumstances, a telephone or video-call appointment may be more practical or appropriate, including by client request.
- Priority clients, including family violence and elder abuse victim/survivors will remain a priority.
- ECLC has suspended its volunteer-based Night Service sessions for this week. The team are exploring options for future services.
- Currently the Intervention Order Support Service at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court and most outreaches are operating as normal. ECLC will work closely with its partners and advise of any changes.
- ECLC is considering its community legal education and group sessions on a case-by-case basis. If in doubt, check with the team.
- As you would expect, ECLC has applied strict policies to its staff and volunteers who may be experiencing illness. This may potentially impact some services.
- The Volunteers & Partnerships Dinner is scheduled for Thursday May 28th. It has not been postponed yet, but registrations will not open until the situation becomes clearer.
These are uneasy times for all of us and for those we serve. The one thing that we do know, though, is that our community always comes together to support our people in need. While we expect to experience significant emotional and logistical strain in the weeks ahead, our commitment to those we assist remains strong.
Michael B. Smith
Chief Executive Officer
Eastern Community Legal Centre Inc.