Please find the following information providing staff with an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given the developing government announcements on the easing of restrictions across Australia, our internal Pandemic and Infection Control Working Group is developing an incremental strategy that will ensure an appropriate balance of increased social connectedness (for families / guardians and participants) at our facilities and programs, with the ongoing need for preventing an outbreak (COVID-19 and / or any seasonal flu) over the coming months and beyond.
To that end, we are committed to providing staff, participants and families / guardians, within the coming fortnight, a plan that will outline our staged approach to the eventual relaxation of restrictions.
I know families / guardians are very keen to commence visiting their loved ones, and this inevitably places increased pressure on local staff / teams to accommodate such requests. My thanks go to everyone continuing to act in the best interests of all our participants and staff by ensuring interim rules and procedures are being upheld. Please note that any such requests received must be forwarded to Caroline Cummins / myself for consideration, and approval (where appropriate). It is essential that our decision making around these matters remains consistent and in line with our risk management plans.
Whilst saying ‘no’ to families / guardians is hard, saying ‘sorry, we didn’t do enough when we could have’ is even harder. We have already witnessed the general public ignoring important social distancing requirements as some of the restrictions have been relaxed since the weekend. As highlighted last week, we will not get a second chance to introduce preventative measures if a COVID-19 outbreak does occur within our offices, accommodation, day programs or outreach services.
The real concern is the potential for a ‘second wave’ of infection, which has already occurred in other countries including Japan, South Korea and now again in China. You can read about this issue at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-11/coronavirus-update-australia-covid19-death-toll-brendan-murphy/12233110.
Therefore, any approach we do take needs to align with our already cautious, and agile, approach meaning that further changes may be enacted (or reversed) as we receive further notifications of COVID-19 (or seasonal flu) cases.
As previously announced, Mercy Connect has received confirmation that it is eligible to participate in the JobKeeper Scheme and registered with the ATO.
We have lodged our first JobKeeper claim, with a total of 116 forms received from staff. My thanks go to those who have already lodged their forms, and would again encourage all eligible employees to nominate, even those who earn $1500 per fortnight or more (gross, including salary sacrifice amounts). We are pleased that this first claim has enabled Mercy Connect to pass on a substantial amount of payment top-ups to staff who normally earn less than $1500 per fortnight.
While the impacts of COVID-19 on Mercy Connect may not be obvious to everyone, we have already experience a reduction of funding across SILS and day programs have already led to financial losses. This is why Mercy Connect is eligible for the JobKeeper Scheme.
As it is unknown how long COVID-19 will continue and the JobKeeper payments aims to support businesses like ours to survive and ensure that jobs are maintained.
While this is not compulsory for employees to nominate, your support is welcomed and appreciated.
Eligible employees are employees who:
Are currently employed by Mercy Connect (including those stood down or re-hired).
Were employed by Mercy Connect at 1 March 2020.
Are full-time, part-time or long-term casuals (a casual employed on regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020).