Charity organisations, frontline staff to receive $47,000 wellbeing grants
Over 540 staff across 15 charity organisations throughout Australia will receive support from SmartCare, a new initiative from Streetsmart that provides mental and physical wellbeing programs targeted specifically for the challenges of frontline work.
This first round of grants totalling $47,000 is funding a variety of programs and responses such as mental health and wellbeing workshops, clinical supervision and debriefing sessions, reward and recognition programs such as personal care and wellness packages, and specific professional development.
Frontline employees of charity organisations often suffer secondhand trauma as a result of being regularly exposed to distressing material or stories.
Recent research shows that 35% of people interviewed at the community service sector feel overwhelmed and admitted they were not taking as good care of themselves as they did pre-pandemic. Many charities have lost the capacity to fundraise through traditional channels and their workers are having a tough time fulfilling their roles.
Alex Cross of Bolton Clarke, an aged care facility in Caboolture, QLD said that their nurses and frontline workers have had to stretch themselves by taking on additional clients.
“This increase in workload, coupled with physical distancing and other social restrictions in Victoria has seen our teams deal with increasing levels of anxiety and loneliness impacting on their health and wellbeing,” he added.
StreetSmart Australia created the SmartCare program to provide small, grassroots homeless charity organisations with the tools and resources they need to support the wellbeing of their employees and combat staff burnout.
“The workload on our frontline, essential, community workers have been relentless over the past seven months. They are the careers that have kept some of our most vulnerable community members safe, yet they are often people who do not prioritise their own wellbeing. SmartCare allows organisations to focus inwards and give back to their staff,” said Geoff Hills, Chief of Operations and Fundraising, StreetSmart.
For his part, Cross said they will use SmartCare’s grant to give their team much-needed recognition.
“Each team member will be presented with a gratitude hamper for their hard work and dedication at a recognition event. With all available funds at Bolton Clarke being directed to people sleeping rough, this will be a way for us to genuinely thank our front-line workers and to acknowledge how this continued pandemic had affected their health and wellbeing,” he said.
Mandy Booker, CEO of Wollongong Emergency Family said the grant would allow her to reward her staff who demonstrate passion and dedication every day.
“We can truly say that clients are the centre of all decisions made in the service delivery. To be able to reward them by giving to them when they give so much would be a highlight in a very difficult year,” she said.