The 2019/20 year will be a year to remember for many years to come. As we weathered the impact of a global pandemic, Uniting Communities, like every other organisation and citizen, needed to adjust our way of life and the way we delivered our services.

At the same time, this past year also heralded one of our most significant achievements as we began our occupation and operations at U City.

We were fortunate to have the Governor General open U City on the last working day before restrictions on gatherings came into place in SA in March 2020. We celebrated the hard work that had created such a beautiful building for those who use our services, for our staff and for the new community who will live and work in U City.  In his opening address, the Governor General affirmed the respect for our service users that is expressed through the creation of this space, as well as the uniqueness of the vertical village we have created. U City represents a bold vision of very unique place-making that has created a new genre of high-rise mixed-use development.

With recovery from the bushfires still a significant focus, attention turned to how we could continue to provide our services in a way that was COVID-safe for our service users and staff. With exceptional nimbleness, services moved to using phone and internet for service delivery and, where appropriate, staff started to work from home.  Our staff in our residential care services, both aged care and for young people, were exemplary in their commitment to keeping residents safe, cared for and engaged. This included maintaining connections with family members in a safe and respectful way throughout the height of restrictions.

In addition to making adjustments to every service we provide, Uniting Communities also contributed to the State’s COVID response initiatives. At the request of the South Australian Government, a specialist COVID mental health phone response service was established to respond to community needs; special support was provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members stranded from home; a new fresh food delivery service in partnership with Blanco Horner was created for older people; a virtual family support service aligned to our Family by Family program was trialled; and facilities in U City were made available for government use to ease the pressure on our health and hospital systems.

Uniting Communities has acknowledged its responsibility to play a leading role in helping the South Australian community deal with the extraordinary impacts of the pandemic. Through the establishment of these new responses – together with changes to our existing services and programs – we have helped our community through these challenging times.

No member of staff has had their working life untouched over the 2019/20 year and we acknowledge the generosity of spirit with which all of our people have responded. This has included the countless volunteers who continued to help us deliver essential services to the community including through our Lifeline Adelaide services, which have needed to deal with more crisis calls than ever before.

We acknowledge that the pandemic the world has experienced will change our way of life and society for a long time to come. We stand ready to play our part in helping our most vulnerable members of the community through the changes and impact on their lives.

 
Dr Sue King
Chairperson
  Simon Schrapel AM
Chief Executive