Meeting COVID-19 challenges through collaborations and partnerships
CSIA advances the Community Services Industry through doing business better, even in times of unprecedented pandemics.
This year, we have been sharing how through strong collaboration and partnerships with Industry and Government, we were able to help shape the wider response to COVID-19.
While the resources, tools and information are available on our website, this is what we did to empower organisations and government to face the unknown.
From the start
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, organisations needed to find a way to plan ahead while also being agile enough to respond to this unprecedented event.
Two things emerged for us as we needed to:
- be practical and highly pragmatic, to think about what needed doing immediately.
- think strategically with an openness to learning as we faced the biggest challenge: uncertainty.
It was through our strong relationships across Industry and government that led to solutions in the rapidly evolving situation. This was key to identifying the big issues and working together to share solutions.
While Industry has experience in a range of disasters, facing a global pandemic required looking at how we do business and a focus on undertaking rapid transformation.
The Power of the Taskforce
The way to do business better in these uncertain times was to bring organisations together for shared learning, insights and information gathering.
That’s why the CSIA Community Services Taskforce, comprised of representatives from across Industry and our Government colleagues came together.
The Taskforce met weekly for two hours – no mean feat for CEOs and senior executives. It was that commitment that saw us come together to collaboratively share issues and try to solve the new challenges as they presented themselves.
This group also helped shape the government response around the community services industry. The key themes, issues, challenges and Industry-led solutions were wrapped up into a communique and shared with senior government partners who were planning their COVID-19 response.
Doing this gave the Government direct insights into the real issues and the solutions we proposed to support their strategic planning.
The Taskforce met week after week, returning to talk about the biggest issues. For us, it was about valuing their time in the collaboration, thinking about what we can do to advance Industry towards meaningful solutions.
In particular, the strength of the Taskforce was in the group’s willingness and commitment to the conversation, to listening, learning, sharing and reaching across their organisational divides.
The taskforce big issues included:
- Business continuity and scenario planning
- Infection prevention and management, as well as the need for PPE
- Rapid digitisation in organisations and for service users
- Communications with staff and service users
- Workforce: Industrial Relations changes and surge workforce
- Mental Health and Wellbeing
- The costs of meeting COVID-19 restriction requirements
The main focus was on responding to immediate issues on the ground that were mostly about keeping their people, their workforce, and also the people that they served, safe and well.
From this Taskforce, we were able to deliver
CSIA Industry Hotline
An Industry specific hotline for organisations to call to share their issues that were collated for government planning and preparedness.
Planning and Preparation Resources for rapid readiness
While organisations had various levels of disaster planning and preparedness, a global pandemic needed something different. Here at CSIA and through our Taskforce, we developed a suite of resources – tools, templates and policies and procedures. These downloadable and accessible materials were created to fast track the effort of organisations to rapidly develop business continuity plans, infection management plans, pandemic response plans for clients and scenario planning.
We had incredible intelligence from Industry itself, from organisations, about what they needed. We also had the value of their effort in already delivering all of that and an inclination to share.
And then, really importantly, we had clinical support from Queensland Health to meticulously check every single one of those resources. This ensured when they were out on the ground being used by the organisations, that they had been checked from a health point of view.
So, a really simple but highly effective partnership.
Solving the critical issues – when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) became paramount
At the peak of the concerns around COVID, one of the things that organisations were worried about was access to PPE. And we, through our discussions with the Queensland Government, managed to secure a very decent supply of hand sanitizer.
CSIA then formed a partnership, in the space of about two weeks, with Uniting Care Queensland, because they have a statewide logistics capability that we didn’t possess. We had the capacity to engage across Industry and communicate about the availability of this. And over the course of a number of months, we distributed that PPE across the state of Queensland.
The resources landed in the hands of some of the smallest community organisations across the state. It speaks to this kind of orientation to doing things that are highly pragmatic in a really rapid way, but that draw on the enormous strengths of people in partnership.
The ongoing delivery of services – meeting surge workforce needs
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted on Industry’s biggest asset – its workforce. Through the Taskforce, we:
- Joined with Industry and unions around temporary changes to Industrial Relations so organisations and workers could work together to continue service delivery.
- Shaped the Replacement Workforce Paper and Model which led to the launch of the Community Services Job Match.
What we learned and how to take it into a future of doing business better…
Our collaborative approach enabled:
- The rapid aggregation of incredible intelligence from Industry itself, from organisations, about what they needed.
- A clear channel into government where we raised the big issues, as well as proposed solutions, quickly.
- The fast development of key resources and tools, as well as the right input and reviews.
- The value of Industry’s individual effort in meeting the challenges of the pandemic and an inclination to share.
- Real solutions to immediate needs – sourcing and sharing PPE.