Information: COVID-19 update 24 March 2020

Update from Liz Cosson AM CSC Secretary Department of Veterans’ Affairs to ESORT members for distribution

As I outlined in our teleconference last Friday, I will continue to update you at our weekly Friday COVID-19 teleconferences. You should also now have back in your diaries, our fortnightly teleconferences where we can discuss broader issues impacting on the veteran community.

Maintaining continuity of services to the veteran community is a priority, together with ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and we want to make it as easy as possible for veterans to find the latest COVID-19 news, health advice and economic support available. 

A special edition of e-news will shortly be distributed to the veteran community with articles and links to important information regarding COVID-19 and available support and services. The DVA website www.dva.gov.au is also being updated regularly as new information comes to hand.

Government shopfronts are classified as essential services and, for the time being, DVA’s VAN offices remain open to members of the veteran community. However, we strongly suggest that members of the veteran community should consider their need to visit a VAN office in person. If the query can be managed over the phone, email or internet please call DVA on 1800 555 254 or lodge a query via the website. This is also relevant to your advocates who are encouraged to continue services to veterans and families.  Just a reminder that appropriate social distancing arrangements need to be in place and using telephone or on-line may be best at this time.

Our staff are following strict social distancing and personal hygiene practices to protect your health, and theirs.  To protect staff and the community, we ask that you do not enter a VAN office if:

·         You have returned from overseas within the last two weeks,

·         You have had close contact with someone suffering from the COVID-19 coronavirus, or

·         You are feeling unwell.

Going forward, meetings with National Consultation Forum will be conducted in a virtual environment.  A number of you mentioned a range of platforms utilised by your organisations for your meetings and Charles McHardie will come back to you with further information on how we can remain connected in this way.

We are experiencing a growth in counselling requirements with Open Arms.   We are measuring the increases so we can regularly message the ESO community.  Counselling services across Australia are working together to ensure that where surges are experienced, resources are shared to provide support where necessary.   

Given the challenges we are all facing at this time, I asked you at the meeting last Friday to provide me with any ideas you may have that the Government may wish to consider on how your ex service organisations could be helped more, should I be asked that question in the future.  Any thoughts you may have can be emailed to the ESORT Secretariat mail box.

We also undertook to provide you an update on plans to commemorate Anzac Day 2020.  You may have seen the announcement that the AWM has now closed to the public in response to the latest health advice. https://www.awm.gov.au/media/press-releases/memorialclosure.

I can assure you the Anzac Day National Service at the Australian War Memorial, without public attendance, will proceed and I will update you further on planning as soon as possible this week.

This is a rapidly evolving situation.  I would appreciate it if you could please remind your members to keep themselves informed through the DVA website and I will continue to provide you with information at our weekly Friday teleconferences.

Take care, ”
Liz

For what they have done, this we will do.

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