"The thing that is holding us together is collaboration"
Ben Rimmer - DHHS (VCOSS Covid-19 Digital Forum)

From the Director

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the demand for services across the community sector. The pandemic has also transformed – at least temporarily – the way in which many community service organisations deliver their services. Right now attention is understandably focused on addressing the recent spike in cases in Victoria, including increased rates of community transmission, and people living in hotspots are adjusting to the reinstatement of strict lockdown restrictions.

It is also important at this time to look back over the experience of the last few months to see what we have learned. How has demand for services changed and what are the short, medium and long term implications of these changes? What service adaptations have organisations made and what are the effects of these adaptations – both intended and unintended – on people who access services?

FSSI and VCOSS are partnering on a new project that seeks to address these questions. As part of the “Stories Into Evidence Project” – funded by the Department of Health and Human Services – FSSI and VCOSS will gather, test, analyse and interpret critical intelligence from a diverse range of front-line service providers working across a range of service areas including disability, mental health, homelessness, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), children and families, family violence, aged care, youth and justice.

This project will help to provide a comprehensive picture of the service adaptation and innovation that has taken place so far, the contribution (or otherwise) of those adaptations to ‘future state’ goals, and deeper insights into “felt demand” and its implications. In-depth interviews with sector peaks have commenced this week and FSSI and VCOSS will continue to engage with community sector organisations to capture learnings and insights.

If you are aware of service or practice changes that have had a positive impact, please get in touch with us.

While the news about increased cases is disheartening for all and devastating for many, it also underscores the need to ensure that Victoria has the infrastructure and workforce to provide critical, high-quality services to our diverse community. We acknowledge the incredible efforts of front line staff, and those from DHHS and other government departments who have pitched in and worked incredibly long hours to support our community. Thank you.

Micaela Cronin

What are we hearing?
Leading through change
In this edition of FSSI Link, Micaela speaks with Fiona Still, State Manager at National Disability Services. As Fiona is stepping down from this role this week after working with NDS for three years, Micaela is so grateful to have been able to interview her to discuss some important issues.

Micaela and Fiona discuss collaborating during the COVID-19 pandemic and what the one thing she would like to see us hold onto.

All of us at FSSI wish Fiona the very best for her next adventure.
Click here to view the vlog featuring Fiona Still
What are we doing?
Disability Advocacy Sector Project

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is transforming the way disability services are delivered in Victoria. 

FSSI is undertaking research to provide the Victorian Government with robust evidence of the impact of the NDIS on Victorian disability advocacy and self-advocacy organisations.

FSSI will produce recommendations for NDIA, Commonwealth and Victorian Governments and the Victorian disability advocacy sector to address systemic issues identified in the research, including recommendations to address demand drivers.

As part of this project, FSSI will also provide research findings to the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit (DARU) and the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU), to support the development of resources and tools for advocacy and self-advocacy organisations to alleviate pressure arising from increased NDIS related activities.
Find out more about the Disability Advocacy Sector Project
What are we seeing?

Supporting front-line leadership during the pandemic

Rick joined FSSI in August 2019 and leads the Higher Apprenticeships Pilot Project in the Social Services Sector.

“The Higher Apprenticeships Pilot Project itself is a response to what we are seeing around the emerging demands on the social service sector; from the increase in client needs, around the massive increase in demand for services, in terms of the need to build the capability and capacity of the frontline support workers in the sector and the need of the sector to really build its leadership and management capability to help them to adapt to all of these changes.

What we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic is a really good example of how resilient and adaptive leadership is needed to cope with such an unexpected and massive shock.

We had to make a massive switch from face to face to online delivery through virtual classrooms and the students have responded incredibly well to that. The teachers have been working out what the right intensity is around the delivery and how we can adapt the delivery of the program around the students work needs and the needs of their organisations. Everyone has responded positively so far.”

When he's not working to create new pathways, Rick enjoys exploring nature and riding his motorbike.

To find out more about Rick and the rest of the FSSI Team visit the 
FSSI Team webpage
Are you interested in a career in the social service sector? COTA Victoria is leading an innovative project to support jobseekers to re-skill and launch a new career in the aged care and disability sectors. 

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