20 March, 2020
As the COVID-19 crisis intensifies in Australia, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia is committed to keeping its doors open to help those who need it most.
“Our mission is to serve the most vulnerable in our communities,” says Paul Rubessa, ADRA Australia CEO. “We are seeing that vulnerable people are likely to be the most affected by the restricted movement, isolation, and difficulty accessing essential goods and services.
“We’ve already seen demand for our food pantry services go up,” he says. “Keeping ADRA projects operating is more important now than ever.”
ADRA Australia is seeking innovative new ways to meet people’s needs.
In Victoria, Vive Café, an ADRA community meals program, is now offering take-away meals instead of its usual sit-down service. In Sydney, the ADRA Centre in Blacktown is continuing to offer its free counselling services via phone or online.
“As the situation develops, we will continue to find ways to fulfil our mission of service,” says Mr Rubessa.
These new approaches may include responses in partnership with local Adventist churches after all Seventh-day Adventist churches in Australia cease meeting to exercise positive social responsibility.
ADRA projects and Op Shops in Australia are implementing a range of hygiene and sanitation practices to continue meeting the needs of their community, while keeping everyone safe.
“As an agency we take our duty of care for our staff, volunteers, clients and the general public seriously,” Rubessa says. “We will do all we can to keep our doors open with the appropriate precautions in place. For example, we have hand sanitising or handwashing stations set up outside the doors, social distancing is enforced, and regular sanitisation of the facilities is occurring.
“Of course, if there is need or cause to temporarily close a project, we will do so.”
As part of the agency’s social responsibility to protect staff and prevent the spread of COVID-19, ADRA Australia Sydney Office staff are presently working from home.