- GSLP Story of Change -
GV Cares, a rapid response initiative
COVID19 outbreak in Shepparton (beginning 19th August 2021) led to many schools being Tier 1 sites and close to 20,000 Greater Shepparton residents being placed into 14 days of mandatory isolation. The flow-on impact of a third of our population being in quarantine created a shortage and over-demand for grocery deliveries leading to a crash of the local supermarket’s online services. With school students being in isolation, further pressure was placed on essential services that rely on a casualised workforce.
The vulnerability created by this did not discriminate, with families from across our community experiencing high levels of stress and food insecurity. On our first night of GV Cares, our Triage team received 300 requests for support, from there requests were consistent for 10 days, tapering off as people were released from isolation after their day 13 tests.
In response to this crisis, Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project was established and was the backbone driver of GV Cares, a rapid response for food relief and essential item supports, such as medicine and baby items.
An estimated 20,000 residents
or one-third of Shepparton's
population were required to
isolate for 14 days
A unique aspect of the local outbreak was an overrepresentation of our multicultural community in positive cases. Lighthouse staff and Board members played an essential role in understanding the outbreak in Iraqi community members by acting as the conduit between community members and GV Health’s COVID monitoring team. Lighthouse’s Multicultural worker and Executive Officer provided support directly to our multicultural community leading a sub-group of community members to support the Iraqi and Arabic speaking community. Culturally appropriate food and essential items was provided to over 200 homes, with each family contacted to also ensure they were aware of the rules of isolation, that they were getting tested as required and stayed home as directed. This work was significant in contributing the control of the outbreak as over 80% of the people infected with COVID-19 in Greater Shepparton were from the Arabic speaking communities. Chris Hazelman, Manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton says that he had direct communication from GV Health that ensures that the work that was done with the multicultural community had a direct impact on the number of cases in the area was culturally safe.
Contributing to the rapid control of the local COVID19 outbreak GV Cares, volunteers and other local organisations were commended on their collective efforts by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Zoom call was facilitated by Damian Drum MP and was shared with all volunteers and community members that contributed to supporting the outbreak response.
Through the Facebook page, messenger, the designated email or through the Lighthouse phone community members were able to make contact to request support. Many people were referred directly through services or community groups.
Examples of communities and organisations referring
- GV Health – relief for Covid positive cases
- Greater Shepparton Secondary College
- Lulla's (Aboriginal pre-school)
- Shepparton and District Ethnic Council
- Congolese, Iraqi, Afghani, Aboriginal communities
- Primary Care Connect
- Community Hubs x 3
- Primary Schools – Gowrie St, Wilmot Rd, St Georges Rd, Bourchier St, Mooroopna, St Mels
Factors facilitating success
- Diversity of the collaboration and consistent activities aligned to the goal
- Activation of community leaders and influencers including leaders from the Aboriginal. Multicultural and business communities
- Rapid response and immediate action
- Continuous communication through Facebook as a means of promotion and engagement of community
- Large network of dedicated volunteers
- Donations from across Australia
- The rapid development of systems to assess volunteer eligibility
- What’s App used to streamline communication
- Daily briefings with GV Cares were undertaken
- Development of database and shared measurement systems
- Skilled staff on triage team chatting with community
- Activated community with a shared agenda
- 10 August 2021
Routine testing of Sheppartons wastewater detects the presence of Covid-19. Residents were urged to get tested if they feel unwell.
- 20 August 2021
Shepparton identifies a case of Covid-19. Throughout the day further cases are detected with a total of 17 cases emerging.
- 21 August 2021
21 active cases in Shepparton
Tier 1 exposure sites are identified including numerous schools. Those exposed were required to test and isolate for 14 days.
- 22 August 2021
GSLP initiates a zoom meeting to discuss how to assist residents in lockdown. The meeting included staff from GSCC, GSSC, POD, Rumbulara, Ethnic Council, Food Share and C4GS. It was decided to set up a Facebook page to reach out to residents and gauge the need for assistance.
- 23 August 2021
37 active cases in Shepparton
The GV Cares Facebook page is launched at 5pm. Over 200 requests for assistance were received in the first 24 hours.
- 24 August 2021
44 active cases in Shepparton
37 boxes and 12 special orders are compiled at The Haven in Wyndham St and distributed by GV Cares. Limited space highlights the need for considering an alternative distribution site in order to increase capacity.
- 25 August 2021
It becomes evident that there is a need for essential items such as medication, baby care and sanitary items and pet food. GV Cares engages a small group of volunteers to manage these deliveries.
- 26 August 2021
GV Cares opens a packing and distribution site in High Street. This is in addition to, and a backup for the Shepparton Foodshare site. Special deliveries commence being managed from this site.
- 27 August 2021
Woolworths donates 1200 boxes of goods. Additionally, food supplies, packing boxes and ready-made meals are continually being donated. Extensive media results in an influx of donations from around Australia.
- 28 August 2021
The High Street site commenced the distribution of food boxes. With both Foodshare and the High Street site distributing boxes the backlog of food requests is alleviated. Demand remains consistent.
- 30 August 2021
99 active cases in Shepparton
GV Health reports testing 21,000 residents for COVID-19 over the last 11 days.
- 01 September 2021
As people near the end of their quarantine period demand for food relief decreases. The GV Cares High Street processing site closes. GV Cares continues to distribute a smaller number of food boxes from The Haven.
- 02 September 2021
126 active cases in Shepparton
Day 13 testing commences for a majority of those in isolation with 6,271 people being tested for COVID-19 across Shepparton and Mooroopna.
- 04 September 2021
112 active cases in Shepparton
The 14-day quarantine has ended for a majority of residents. GV Care continues to refer food requests to existing services.
GV Cares Timeline
Members of GV Cares
Lisa McKenzie, Chair and Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project EO
Sam Birrell – Committee 4 Greater Shepparton
Felicia Dean – Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooporative
Robyn McCully – Greater Shepparton Secondary College, Wellbeing Team leader
Sharon Hensgen-Smith – Department of Education and Training
Chris Hazelman – Ethnic Council
Rob Priestly – Gouge and GSCC Councillor
Bree Findlay – GSLP Early Years table member and CAF Consulting
Jeremy Rensford – Shepparton Foodshare
Kaye Thomson & David Booth – GSCC
Steve Ayton, Sarah Pain, Kathy Fuller, Amy De Paola - GSLP