In response to the rapidly growing number of refugees settling in Greater Western Sydney, STARTTS opened a new office in Blacktown to help us reach refugees in this area. Officially opened by the Mayor of Blacktown, Cr Alan Pendleton, and attended by many local service providers, the Launch was a reminder of the great need for expanded refugee services in this part of Sydney.
I am writing to you at what is a difficult time for our community.
In view of the extent of transmission of the COVID-19 virus via person to person contact in the community, STARTTS has decided to modify substantially the way that we work in order to continue to offer vital assistance whilst safeguarding the health of clients and staff.
STARTTS will continue to provide critical services to our clients through individual counselling while making greater use of telephone counselling and telephone interpreting to conduct those sessions. STARTTS is observing social distancing in the conduct of any face to face client appointments.
In view of the requirements for social distancing and given the difficulties in achieving this in group settings, from Wednesday 18 March, STARTTS has suspended our groupwork and is making arrangements to continue to have contact with clients while groups do not meet in person.
STARTTS has also decided to suspend activities that bring together large numbers of people such as community consultations, camps and excursions. Training sessions will be conducted on-line where this is possible.
I am mindful that these are particularly stressful times for our clients who have already lived through civil disturbances, warfare and other strife that brought them to Australia as refugees and asylum seekers. STARTTS staff will be maintaining contact with our clients and providing support into the future through a variety of means.
We are making available information to clients regarding the COVID-19 virus through resources provided by NSW Health in community languages. Resources in further languages will be added as they become available.
STARTTS relies on information provided by NSW Health to inform decisions in relation to client contact and the other services that we provide. As the situation evolves it may be necessary for STARTTS to make further changes to the way that we work.
I take this opportunity to wish you well and encourage you to follow the advice provided by NSW Health to take precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
A/g Chief Executive Officer