Fams met with The Hon. Alister Henskens MP, NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services on Wednesday 11 August 2021, after writing to him on 27 July in regard to our concerns for vulnerable children and families during this latest lockdown.
In the intervening two weeks, numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community continue to rise at alarming rates, and they are spreading further than Greater Sydney. It became increasingly clear that we all need to limit all but critical movement in order to get the pandemic under control.
Fams’ Chief Executive Officer met with the Minister, two of his Ministerial advisors and three senior DCJ representatives. We used the meeting to raise the issues you have brought to us during our weekly conversations.
Fams advocated strongly for an injection of brokerage funds for services to directly purchase pre-paid data to give to households who aren’t connected. Frankly, we were underwhelmed with the response.
We were, however, pleased to learn there is joint communication coming from the Department of Education and DCJ about accessing devices and dongles for online school. We will make sure services know how to connect families you are supporting to this offering.
On Thursday morning our CEO received a call from Simone Walker, DCJ Deputy Secretary Strategy, Policy and Commissioning, to reassure us that the Department was working to investigate what solutions could reasonably be delivered.
Fams is not going to back away from fighting to get frontline services the resources you need to do your job, even if that means accepting incremental wins in the face of overwhelming demand. We will keep you posted as more information is received.
The Minister was concerned to hear children are still being turned away from school grounds, with a preference they participate in online learning. DCJ needs to know where this is happening so they can address it directly with their Department of Education colleagues and School Principals.
Please talk to your DCJ District so they can advocate on behalf of children in their local area.