Neighbourhood Centres and COVID 19
Neighbourhood and Community Centres are on the front line responding to natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, drought and bushfires. However during the current COVID19 pandemic they have been impacted in a number of ways.
1) Neighbourhood and Community Centres in Queensland are open to the general public as part of Stage 2 easing however under certain conditions requiring physical distancing. They will continue to provide essential services such as emergency relief.
2) Neighbourhood and Community Centres will continue to follow hygiene and physical distancing procedures in accordance with the COVID Safe Roadmap.
3) Neighbourhood and Community Centres are also continuing general operations using online and telephone resources. Neighbourhood Centres are socially connecting with their communities and providing information and referral using:
Online tutorials and webinars
Other creative methods (that observe all public health directives).
4) It is acknowledged that Neighbourhood and Community Centres operate differently, each having its own arrangements to meet local need. I encourage you to continue to familiarise yourself with the road map information provided previously and again attached. It’s important that you continue to consider and understand what the advice means for your organisation and its service delivery. This includes understanding how each Stage will impact on your service offering and business requirements. Page five of the ‘Roadmap to easing restrictions (Stage 1) provides specific information about community centres.
We appreciate that the information does not necessarily cover all questions you may have, which is why we have developed answers to the 5 most commonly asked questions by NCCs as advised by QFCA. The responses have been developed in collaboration with Queensland Health’s Public Health Restrictions Team:
Q: Can Neighbourhood and Community Centres open for up to 20 community members from Monday 1st June?
A: In line with the guidance provided by the Queensland Government and as outlined in the Non-Essential Business, Activity and Undertaking Closure Direction (No. 10), Neighbourhood and Community Centres can continue to provide community services without being subject to the 20 person limit on gatherings as long as social distancing and hygiene measures are observed and maintained as per the direction. The 20 person limit applies to Neighbourhood and Community Centres where they provide seated dining in their capacity as a restaurant/cafe (in compliance with a COVID SAFE checklist), offer outdoor sporting-based activities (e.g. lawn bowls) or undertake any other activity that would not be considered a community service.
Q: Can volunteers who are over 65 years old return to supporting the work of Neighbourhood and Community Centre’s?
A: Queensland Health guidelines still strongly recommended that all people 70 years and over, anybody 65 years and over with a chronic disease, and Indigenous people over 50 years with a chronic disease exercise their judgement and consider the need to go out for their own protection where possible and continue to take extra precautions to reduce their risk, like strictly adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidelines and avoiding situations where they may come into contact with a lot of people.
Q: How many staff/volunteers can be on site at a Neighbourhood and Community Centre in addition to the 20 community members?
A: As outlined above, Neighbourhood and Community Centres are not subject to the 20 person limit when providing community services. The total number of staff/volunteers allowed on site is determined by each NCC through consideration of the activity being delivered and environmental factors but must always adhere to social distancing rules and hygiene measures. As part of each NCC’s planning, social distancing requirements need to be planned for and communicated for any common areas such as reception areas, bathrooms and kitchens.
Q: Can a Neighbourhood and Community Centre have 20 people involved in inside activities within the NCC and another 20 people involved in outside activities at the Neighbourhood and Community Centre making the total 40 rather than 20?
A: Common sense and good judgement is encouraged and if the outdoor space permits, outdoor gatherings must be limited to a maximum number of 20 people within any one group. This is to enable the maintenance of social distancing and hygiene measures. Whilst some centres may have separate spaces within and outside of their building, it is recommended that activities are staggered to limit the possibility of contact between community members via access points and car parking areas.
Q: Can we hold a playgroup at a NCC?
A: Group activities including playgroups can be carried out within a NCC as long as social distancing and hygiene measures are observed, including appropriate cleaning of any play or other equipment. Community facilities may continue to operate if they provide formal out of school hours care, with social distancing observed. We recognise that all NCC’s are different and that each Management Committee will need to assess their individual circumstances as they go about their planning and decision making.
The Department will continue to work closely with the Queensland Families and Communities Association (QFCA) and with Neighbourhood and Community Services to assist you to plan and deliver services for Queenslanders during the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. I encourage you to stay in contact with QFCA and contact your contract officer to confirm arrangements under your revised BCP and your COVID-19 Safe Plan. Other organisations providing information that may be of relevance are the QCOSS (https://www.qcoss.org.au/) and the CSIA (https://csialtd.com.au/).