After years of drought, fierce bushfires and now COVID-19, everyone in the community has been severely tested in 2020, not least Challenge Community Services disability community.

‘The need over the past few months to be physically apart drove the organisation to find other ways to build an inclusive community for our Disability Services clients,’ says  John Harries, General Manager Disability Services. ‘Our Day Program of group recreational and life skills activities was temporarily closed during the lockdown earlier this year. But whatever was going on in the outside world, our amazing support workers were there for our clients - particularly those needing extra support as a result of restrictions, such as individual welfare checks.’

Challenge Community’s Services’ enthusiasm to create a world where everyone belongs and everyone grows is stronger than ever. Under their new COVIDSafe plan, Challenge was able to reopen their Day Program from Monday 1 June. Safety measures include limiting the number of people in indoor areas to the legal maximum, and checking temperatures before entering a site, after lunch and before leaving the site. All sites now feature a hygiene station, and staff undertake regular disinfection between activities.

‘As COVID-19 wears on and we approach another summer of high temperatures, we will continue to support our clients to find their inner strength,’ says John Harries. ‘In our traditional spirit of resilience, our Disability Services clients and staff have faced these recent events with courage and innovation. Our organisation has evolved, become more responsive, and our services have been enhanced for the better.

‘We fully appreciate how difficult it has been for many of our clients and staff to have had to adapt to so many changes in such a short space of time. We recognise that for many people, the emotional burden of isolation has become heavier and we will continue to provide our clients with the appropriate supports to help them with this.

‘The health, safety and wellbeing of our community and our staff have been at the heart of all the changes we have made over the year. Everyone has worked so cooperatively and with true caring spirit to protect each other. We know the time will come to reconnect with lots of hugs and joyful occasions. Challenge will continue to walk by the side of those most vulnerable members of our community, as we have done for over 60 years.’

For further information about Challenge Disability Services during COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Response Page, contact disabilityservices@challengecommunity.org.au or call 1800 679 129.