Throughout the past 24 months there has been a lot of behind the scenes work going on at Swan Hill District Health (SHDH) to keep our residents safe from COVID-19. Included in this is the implementation of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing High Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR) Program.
A small team of SHDH staff have been working with over 40 Caravan Parks, Rooming Houses and Public Housing settings across the Swan Hill, Gannawarra and Buloke Local Government Areas to prevent, prepare for, and respond early to COVID-19 infection in these accommodation settings. These settings are considered high risk because of factors like multiple shared spaces and facilities, and high density living.
The initial phase of the program involved property audits where staff assessed the potential risks in the event of an outbreak. Recommendations were made and resources provided to both owners and residents to make them more COVID safe. The SHDH team were impressed with the initial efforts of these local settings and all they had already achieved in making their premises COVID safe.
The HRAR team is also utilized to support residents who need to safely isolate in their setting including if they are awaiting COVID-19 test results, are a confirmed COVID positive case or primary close contact, or have arrived in Victoria as a red zone permit holder. This includes appropriate public health measures to protect the health and wellbeing of residents, as well as adequate, culturally appropriate and accessible service supports including health and social services, food and essential supplies. This work is done in partnership with premise owners/staff to ensure the safety of all residents is considered.
The second phase of the project has had a strong emphasis on COVID-19 vaccination and community engagement. Residents were door knocked with vaccination information and support being provided, as well as additional resources for COVID safety. The HRAR team also worked in partnership with the SHDH Vaccination Clinic to conduct HRAR specific COVID vaccination days where priority groups were engaged including Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities, Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Farm Workers and local transport operators. Throughout these clinics so far over 800 vaccinations have been provided and more clinics are planned in the near future.
As work continues and we head into a new phase of the pandemic, the SHDH HRAR team in partnership with other local service providers will continue to support these settings and their residents. The links and partnerships that have been formed allow for ongoing service provision and improved health and wellbeing for all.
High Risk Accomodation Response Program (HRAR)