VACRO's COVID-19 response The COVID-19 pandemic presents all of us with new challenges and different circumstances. VACRO is continuing to operate almost all of our regular services, in slightly different ways. This means that we are continuing to meet the needs of our clients and their families at this challenging time. Key points Almost all VACRO services are still operating, with some changes made to meet government health requirements The health, safety and wellbeing of all program participants and of our team is paramount to us We are working together across the criminal justice sector to come up with creative solutions that support our clients and their families in these unprecedented times For more information about COVID-19, please visit gov.au For information about health in Victoria’s prisons, please visit vic.gov.au/covid19 ReLink update Our ReLink program, which prepares participants for reintegration to the community, is still operating, with remote delivery. We have made changes to the way this program is delivered to ensure the health and safety of all participants. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the community entering prisons, our facilitators are now delivering ReLink remotely, via video and phone links, to reduce the health risk to participants Both levels of the ReLink program continue to operate remotely. ReConnect update Our ReConnect post-release casework program continues to offer the full range of support to participants. Following the directions issues by Victoria's Chief Health Officer, our staff and participants are wearing masks and practising physical distancing. All ReConnect outreach between our staff and participants is now being conducted by phone or video link. Many of the services we refer clients to are closed to foot traffic; however, most are still taking phone referrals. Our case workers are helping participants to make and attend phone appointments with these services. We continue to offer our day-of-release pick-up service from the prison gate, however we have protocols in place for the safe transfer of participants via a third-party provider where they have, or may have, the virus. In each case where we pick up a participant, our vehicles are cleaned and sanitised before and after the trip. Video Visits support Corrections Victoria has decided to temporarily suspend in-person prison visits. They have introduced a Personal Video Visits program, to enable people to continue to visit their family members in prison, through a video link. VACRO is drawing on our expertise in organising video visits for families to provide technical support to this new program. If you would like to arrange a video visit with a loved one in prison, please visit Corrections Victoria's website. Second Chance Coffee update We’ve chosen to temporarily close Second Chance Coffee. The Sunshine Magistrates Court has adjourned most non-urgent matters to mid-June, and is a lot quieter than usual. To allow us to continue providing a good, safe experience for our participants and team, we’ve closed the kiosk for the time being. We’ll let you know as soon as we can when it re-opens. Second Chance Cycles update For the health and safety of all participants, Second Chance Cycles is temporarily closed. We’ll let you know as soon as we can when it re-opens. Head office update Our Melbourne head office continues to operate as usual, with all our staff now working from home. We’re supporting our team with the tools and technology they need to work comfortably and safely from their homes. The office at Hardware Street is temporarily closed to visitors. Our phone is still operating as usual. You’re welcome to contact us on (03) 96051900 at anytime. Going forward While the current situation means we are unable to visit program participants at home, repair recycled bicycles in our workshop, or facilitate group goal-setting sessions in prisons, we’re still working every day to support our clients and their families. Our work has been disrupted, but our ambition hasn’t. We’re adapting to these unprecedented circumstances in a number of ways. Using technology to connect people with their family members in prison, and to link program participants with housing, health and financial services Collaborating with others to provide services and support to people in quicker and more useful ways than we could do alone Promoting health, wellbeing and safety for all clients, their families, and our staff We know everyone is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. All Victorians are making sacrifices and taking steps to ensure the health and safety of every member our community. We are proud of our community and deeply appreciate this work. This crisis is showing us some of the most urgent challenges of transition and reintegration for people leaving prison. We are all connected in myriad ways, and each of us has something to offer. We must not forget prison leavers when we protect and support our communities. We hope that these times will help us to improve the way we deliver our services, support our clients, and work with the justice system. The safety and strength of our communities is, and always has been, our goal. We continue to carefully operate our services to support clients and their families, while meeting health and safety requirements in these unprecedented times.