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Celebrating our essential workers

1 May 2020

Among the fear and uncertainty of a global pandemic a new phrase and hero emerged, our essential workers. Members of the community who remained on the frontline providing essential needs and services.

Very few people could have predicted that 2020 would have panned out the way it has. For some life has flipped upside down as they adjusted to life in lockdown and working from home. For others life has had to continue as normal, showing up to their work place every day.
 
Among the fear and uncertainty of a global pandemic a new phrase and hero emerged. Our essential workers. Members of the community who remained on the front line providing essential needs and services.
 
Essential workers like our teachers and medical staff continued to work every day to provide for our communities.
 
To show our appreciation, we sat down with some of our heroes to hear what the pandemic has meant to them.

Teachers

Education provides a pathway of opportunities and our teachers play a pivotal role in helping shape the future of our next generation.
 
Recent changes have meant that teachers have had to adapt to the traditional way of learning. Some teachers have remained in the classroom for kids that can't learn remotely. Other teachers have had access to online portals to facilitate remote learning.
 
We spoke with Travis, who remained on site to provide support for children that couldn't learn remotely. He understands the importance of education and feels chuffed that he was able to be an essential resource in a time of need. “Education is super important and as teachers the essential element is to ensure we can continue to let kids learn no matter what. Knowing that we’re all in this together is really important and if we can support that in any way we need to do that" he said. 
 
 
Karen, adapted to her new normal by taking her teaching online. While it proved to have some challenges, she’s hopeful there are lots of key lessons to take forward. “We have all learned how to be adaptable, resilient and resourceful and hopefully, grateful for the things we have” she said.

Medical Staff

In many ways our medical staff faced the toughest challenge of all. Managing the reality of a global pandemic while keeping us safe and healthy.
 
We spoke with Jess, a doctor at a local hospital. Jess admitted the uncertainty of the pandemic created some fear among her colleagues. The courageous approach her team took to tackle the uncertainty inspires Jess.
 
“The attitude from my colleagues of, 'this is scary', 'we don’t know what’s going to happen', 'but how can we help', was really inspiring. We have turned up each day and done our job like normal, while learning new policies and ways of getting things done. I’m inspired by the adaptability and dedication of the healthcare industry” Jess said.
 
 

Bank employees

As an essential service, our branches remained open for business to assist our customers with financial help. “I am proud to be an essential worker. Playing our part by offering assistance, peace of mind and someone to talk to during a time of need. Helping a customer who has fallen into financial hardship through no fault of their own is important to me” said Ashley, branch manager, Seddon Community Bank Branch.
 
 
Our branches remain open and are operating under strict measures to ensure our customers and staff are safe.

Community workers

The heartbreaking reality of COVID-19 saw our most vulnerable community members become even more vulnerable. In many cases community groups had to suspend their services that people rely on for essentials like food.
 
West Footscray Neighbourhood House is a community service provider helping the community feel valued and supported. Their new norm proved to have its barriers but as they adjusted to meet the needs of their community, they were able to see the positives. “The way the community has come together to support each other has been really encouraging. For the first time in a long time people really know who their neighbours are because they’re checking in to make sure others are ok and supported” said support worker, Suzanne.
 
If there is one lesson Suzanne hopes we all take moving forward it's to “make sure you connect with people, say hi and be aware of who is around us” she said.

Business owners

Many small businesses have felt the brunt of social distancing measures and lockdown laws. with many having to innovate the way they provide their services. Restaurants have moved to take away only. Patrons aren't allowed in pubs and clubs. And the demand for many products has reduced.
 
So how are small businesses dealing with the change?
 
We spoke to chocolatier owner, Christos who was able to see the light in an otherwise dark situation. “The fact that people appreciate and enjoy your product through difficult times is great and knowing our product gives them comfort is humbling” he said.
 
 
As restrictions start to ease across the country, it’s never been more important to support our local business. Christos added “stick with your community even more moving forward and work with each other to build on the strength of it."
 
While the effects of COVID-19 are likely to be felt for the remainder of the year, it's important to take time to check in on yourself and your community. If you or your business needs financial assistance, we’re here to help with financial packages available. If you’re feeling the effects on your wellbeing take time to reassess and seek help if needed.
 
Note: This article contains general advice only. Readers should seek a trusted professional’s advice on financial matters.

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