BUSHkids Annual Report 2019-20

ANNUAL REPORT 2019–2020 TOPIC SECTION 7 CARLTON MEYN CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER COVID-19 has overshadowed 2020, impacting our lives, our families, our work, and our personal freedoms. However, out of the darkness cast by the pandemic, a strong theme began to shine through as we collated the stories for this year’s Annual Report – the theme of connection . Through the challenges, disruptions, the isolation and the innovation, the resilience of BUSHkids communities was strong. Connection was the common thread driving our combined response through unprecedented adversity. Creativity, technology and the innate human need for connection enabled BUSHkids to respond to the challenges and to continue to provide support to our children, families and communities. As Queenslanders worked together to flatten the curve, our teams reluctantly closed the doors to our Centres and moved our services online. BUSHkids teams were well placed to transition our face-to-face (F2F) services to teleHealth as a result of our three-year research project with The University of Queensland . Existing training modules were supplemented by a ‘Lunchbox Learning’ (LBL) session for all service delivery staff, existing technology was redeployed, and task cards developed to support staff to implement and troubleshoot technological solutions. With a much-appreciated grant from the Queensland Government , we were able to top-up our IT resources to facilitate this transition. We knew it would be a challenge, but continuing to deliver our services was essential at a time when so many families were experiencing increased vulnerability due to economic hardship, isolation, and a myriad of other challenges. We connected with our families online – by videoconferencing and by telephone. Shortly after our successful transition to online-only services, we moved our workforce to remote Working from Home (WFH) arrangements. This decision was not taken lightly but was considered necessary for the health of our teams, families, and communities. To do this safely and successfully required a combined effort between our teams, our leaders and our business support staff. We worked together to develop comprehensive resources, guidelines and processes. We built new ways for our teams to virtually connect in this new WFH environment – check-ins, coffee catch-ups, online celebrations and modified, more frequent all-of-staff meetings. At an online meeting, one of our Early Intervention Facilitators recounted a story about two little daycare friends connecting online through a children’s group she was conducting – Playing And Learning to Socialise (PALS). They spotted each other online and the first little boy started shouting his friend’s name with delight – “Zac, Zac is that you? I can’t believe it’s you!” – as he stood right up close, his hands pressed flat to the computer screen. They caught up with what had been happening in their lives before the group activities could begin. The determination and creativity of our teams came to the fore as they shared and implemented ideas to maintain connection and support for our BUSHkids families. Virtual storytimes based on the evidence-informed Read and Grow Program were implemented across the state – with children and parents attending not only for the shared stories themselves but also learning about other supports we could offer during this time. Our playgroups went virtual, with our staff connecting and sharing ideas and successes so that we could provide the best virtual experience for the families and children. Prior to the pandemic our clinicians were utilising teleHealth to support geographically-isolated families – about 5% of our services were already being delivered using this modality. The surge in teleHealth services resulted in huge practice changes and our teams were certainly up for this challenge. CEO As I reflect on this unusual year and prepare my 10th annual report, I am at once both humbled by and proud of the organisation BUSHkids has become. We now support many, many more children and families with a far greater reach across Queensland. In my first report in 2010-11, we supported approximately 600 children by providing over 3,000 sessions. This year we have supported nearly 5,000 children by providing more than 22,000 sessions from 32 locations across Queensland.

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