A State of Disaster for Victoria, and Stage 4 restrictions for Melbourne were announced on Sunday 2 August. For many, this news brought groans of anguish at the prospect of a further six weeks of tightened restrictions. But for those who will be stood down or sent home due the forced closure of shops, offices and factories – the news will bring the added pain of uncertainty and financial pressure.
While the Victorian and Commonwealth governments have announced further provisions for businesses forced to close and for individuals affected by COVID-19, many families will find themselves in financial hardship.
‘Earlier this year, COVID-19 job losses resulted in a huge surge in demand for financial assistance,’ said Madeline Scicluna, Emergency Relief Manager for CatholicCare. ‘Between April and June this year, we saw nearly twice as many clients and the value of the assistances distributed was more than two and a half times that of the previous three months.’
‘With another 250,000 workers predicted to be affected by the tightened restrictions, we are anticipating another surge – and we are ready.’
At the end of March, CatholicCare pivoted to remote delivery for most programs and services, and between April and June recorded more than 6,000 phone or Zoom sessions with clients – and it wasn’t just Emergency Relief in demand.
COVID-19 has also had a profound impact on people’s emotional wellbeing, such as loneliness from being separated from loved ones, anxiety about one’s health and finances, and increased stress over the challenges of working from home or supporting children with remote learning.
Service data from March and June shows that coping issues (23%), relationship issues (22%), anxiety (12%) and stress/conflict (10%) featured as the major presenting themes for people accessing counselling services. Talking to a counsellor can help people make sense of the challenges they are facing, to find ways of coping and to improve emotional wellbeing.
‘I’m very proud of the way that CatholicCare has been able to continue to support vulnerable families during this very difficult time,’ said Netty Horton, CEO. ‘We may have closed our office doors to ensure safety of clients and staff, but that has not diminished our commitment or capability to help people in need.’
‘The next six weeks will continue to be a challenging time in our community as we all play our part in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in Victoria. I encourage anyone seeking support to contact CatholicCare.’If you would like to find out more about our Emergency Relief and Counselling programs, visit www.ccam.org.au/covid19response
Annual CatholicCare Sunday Appeal
Each year in August we celebrate CatholicCare Sunday Appeal in Catholic parishes throughout Greater Melbourne, Geelong and Gippsland, and this too has been impacted by the pandemic. With many parishes in lockdown for the safety and wellbeing of communities, 2020 will be our first-ever year conducting CatholicCare Sunday Appeal online. We ask that you join with us in helping to BREAK BARRIERS – this year’s theme – to help families overcome the barriers holding them back, so that they may live life to the full. Challenges like mental health issues or family and relationship breakdown can create barriers to leading a happy and fulfilling life. But with support, families, individuals, children and young adults break through these barriers for a brighter future.