Due to its deep connection with Community, Oonah Health and Community Services Aboriginal Corporation has been agile and innovative during COVID-19 restrictions. This has enabled Oonah to successfully deliver many of its programs and services and introduce new services to support Community.
Ongoing engagement with Community is embedded in Oonah’s DNA and even more so during lockdown to maintain everyone’s wellbeing. Programs have successfully transitioned to online via Zoom meetings. These include:
- Koorie Catch Up, a fun session of yarning and sharing stories, helping people to have a laugh during trivia and game sessions
- Oonah Youth Club, where the kids got to make native hot chocolates, tried making some embroidery art on canvas, and over the holidays with their families participated in a challenge to build deadly huts (see photo)
- Who’s Your Mob, with a range of guest speakers and Community sharing their stories.
The Yumarrala Ngarrdji Aboriginal NDIS Access Program team commenced in January 2020 and has already assisted 53 clients along their NDIS journey. Educating Community on how NDIS operates and advocating on behalf of clients is a key component of this project. Already 14 applications for funding have been approved and a number are waiting on funding decisions. Clients with existing plans have been assisted to receive increased funding, change service providers, and obtain much needed supports to assist with improving their day-to-day lives. One of our Community Members, who was assisted by our project to apply for the NDIS and then approved, has told us he was at rock bottom a couple of months ago and now feels like he’s on top of the world!
Working with partner organisations, Oonah has introduced a Mental Health Stepped Care Program to support the social and emotional wellbeing of Community by building resilience and assisting people to plan and shape their own journey of recovery. Oonah’s worker does one-on-one cultural wellbeing narrative sessions, cultural wellbeing narrative group sessions, or walk the journey with Community members.
Also working with partner organisations, Oonah has played a role in developing the Lilydale youth health hub, which includes a number of Oonah Youth working on a Youth Reference Group to advise on youth issues and the design and development of services for youth in the area.