As the COVID-19 pandemic loomed in early 2020, the Victorian Government turned to Anglicare Victoria to ask whether it could provide a safe place for homeless young people to self-isolate and recover if they were infected with the virus. Anglicare Victoria was quick to offer help to these Victorians who were expected to be hit the hardest.
One of Anglicare Victoria’s properties, Atrium Place, was made available to use as an isolation and recovery facility. The fit-for purpose venue can accommodate and provide around-the-clock care for up to eight young people.
Paul Rigg, Anglicare Victoria Team Leader at Atrium Place, said the preparation to accommodate COVID-positive cases was extensive and provided Anglicare Victoria with safe working expertise to run this new service.
“After the physical fit-out of the space we engaged extensively with the local police, pharmacy, GP clinic, Ambulance Victoria and specialised agency staff – that’s before we’d even accepted a referral. We worked closely with St Vincent’s Hospital and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr Rigg said the facility provides some major points of difference for those experiencing homelessness.
“A nurse visits Atrium Place every day, including weekends and public holidays. The young people are able to stay with us until the client is deemed ‘recovered’ by DHHS and the referring hospital. Two weeks is normally long enough for them to see to their health issues, before focusing on exit pathways and making changes to their situation.
“Those who are homeless generally have a very transient life. They are often moving between homes and endeavouring to find the next place to sleep – this means that health issues can be neglected or go untreated.”
Anglicare Victoria has owned the inner-city property for many years, before converting it to the CIRF (COVID Isolation and Recovery Facility). Previously, it has been used to meet a range of community needs, including palliative care and as a refuge for vulnerable young women and their babies. As it has throughout its history, Atrium Place is again providing a safe haven for those in our community who need additional support and assistance. Anglicare Victoria has stepped up to improve the lives of Victoria’s most vulnerable in the current and unprecedented crisis
Going further, the establishment of this facility by Anglicare Victoria is another example of stepping up for vulnerable Victorian’s in a time of crisis during 2019/20. There would be few agencies that would accept the request to establish a service for Covid positive homeless and vulnerable young people. Still, Anglicare Victoria’s mission is strong and we did not flinch at the request, now establishing a facility of significance for young people in this pandemic.