26 March 2020
CEO message: COVID-19 update
We understand this is a highly stressful time for many of the young people and communities we work with.
The situation is changing rapidly, and with the shutdown of non-essential services and closure of schools in Victoria this week, we are increasingly concerned about the impacts the current situation may be having on young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
Our staff are working hard to respond to the needs of clients and find out more about how individuals and communities have been impacted, particularly by social isolation measures, business and school closures. We’re especially concerned about how the current crisis may be impacting the mental health of young people we work with.
We are monitoring the latest information regarding support packages and resources, and will continue to share updates regularly as the situation changes.
There have been a few changes to the way we work which I will outline below.
Stay home, stop the spread
One thing remains clear: it’s absolutely critical that we all work together as a community to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Young people are at risk too. For your own safety and that of your family and community, please stay home, unless it is absolutely essential (for example, food or medical supplies). The more we can do to stop the spread of the virus, protect high-risk groups, and keep the pressure off our hospital systems, the better.
If you suspect you may have coronavirus disease, call the dedicated hotline open 24 hours, 7 days on 1800 675 398.
Changes to the way we work
Since my last update, and following the latest Government advice, CMY has increased measures to ensure the safety of both our staff and clients. Our offices remain open as an essential service with skeleton staff, and we are practising “physical distancing” (also known as “social distancing”). I want to stress that while we are ensuring there is the required physical distance for everyone’s safety, we want to do everything we can to prevent people from feeling socially isolated. Connection is key.
As many of our team are now working remotely, drop-in access is no longer available at our offices, however our staff are still available. We encourage clients and those looking for support for young people to please contact your case worker directly via phone or email, your nearest CMY office, or connect with us on our social media channels.
CMY has paused recruitment of new staff and volunteers for the time being; and we have cancelled or postponed all of our upcoming events and trainings until further notice.
Our focus remains on responding to the complex challenges facing our young people and the communities we support; please bear with us as we continue to navigate new ways to provide this support during this unprecedented time.
Advocating for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds
We know many of the young people we support in employment settings are facing reduced work or unemployment, and welcome the increased Government assistance being offered, such as the Emergency Relief Packages.
In the past week, we have heard about the impacts of loss of work for Pasifika families and young people, who because of their residency status are unable to access much-needed Government assistance; we have heard of the challenges facing international students who are unable to return home but whose student visas may be affected; and how the current situation is affecting young people whose families are on temporary visas. We are concerned about the increased risk of family violence due to the current isolation measures.
We understand the shift to online learning will create further educational challenges for young people and families who are from migrant and refugee backgrounds, and the schools, educators and homework clubs who support their learning.
We urge the Victorian and Federal Governments to consider young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and their families, as governments are developing support packages to assist these groups during this time of crisis.
International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination
21 March marked the United Nations International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the beginning of Cultural Diversity Week in Victoria. In these difficult times, we understand that anxiety levels are high, and our multicultural young people are especially vulnerable.
Since COVID-19 began, we have heard countless stories of racism while young people are going about their daily life. I encourage you to act with kindness and compassion, and call out racism when you see it playing out in our community. Now more than ever, we need to look out for one another and ensure that all young people feel connected and supported.
Welcome to new Minister for Youth
Following a reshuffle of the Victorian cabinet on 23 March, we welcome Ros Spence MP, State Member for Yuroke, as the new Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Community Sport & Youth. See the full release here.
We are looking forward to working together to ensure the issues facing young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds are heard at every level of Government. We thank Gabrielle Williams MP for the incredible role she has played in advocating for multicultural young people during her time as Minister for Youth.
Resources and information sharing
Below are some links to resources and information that may be helpful to young people, families and community sector workers during this challenging time.
If you have resources you would like to share with our networks, or stories of how young people are being impacted by Coronavirus, please email our team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest information and advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Australia
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert – Australian Government
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Victorian Government
- Translated resources in a range of languages – Victorian Government
Financial support and assistance
- Emergency Relief Packages for Victorians who need it most (22 March) – Victorian Government
- More financial support for people affected by coronavirus (25 March) – Australian Government
- Information and services to help you if you’re affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) – Australian Government
Supporting young people
- Keeping yourself and your family well – Royal Children’s Hospital
- What young people and the youth sector can do about COVID-19 – YACVic
- Supporting children and young people to cope – Royal Children’s Hospital
- How to talk to your child about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – UNICEF
- Youth Work in the Digital World – Youth Work and You
- Information for international students regarding COVID-19
Protecting your mental health