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Knoxbrooke Talk

From the CEO

Welcome to Knoxbrooke Talk.

In previous editions, we have focussed on the Knoxbrooke values of: Respect, Inclusion, Continuous Improvement and Accountability. In this edition, I would like to bring to your attention Knoxbrooke’s final, fifth value of:

CULTURE –We provide an inclusive supportive environment to inspire people of all abilities to realise their full potential.

Culture in any organisation is critical, particularly so for public charities that provide support to often vulnerable members of our community. The unfolding and expected prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us on many levels and it is very important that public charities are here to ensure vulnerable people do not fall between the cracks. These past few months has really seen Knoxbrooke step-up through care, compassion and understanding.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Knoxbrooke team has re-invented services to ensure that the people we support continue connections with friends, colleagues and team members. Very early on, team members identified people we support who would be especially vulnerable due to prolonged periods of isolation. Without a second thought, these same team members responded by implementing regular telephone welfare checks, twice weekly ZOOM sessions for individuals and groups, and in-home support assistance for cooking, cleaning, exercise or providing respite for families and carers. This is simply Knoxbrooke culture at work. The Knoxbrooke team love their work, love supporting people of all abilities and being a valued part of someone’s life.

Throughout this crisis, we have applied the necessary gravitas to COVID-19. We understand all physical supports need to be provided in a safe manner for everyone, and to this end all team members have completed COVID-19 infection prevention training.  The Knoxbrooke COVID-19 taskforce meets regularly to review the latest advice and Knoxbrooke has a strong program of COVID-19 safety practices in place including social distancing, hand washing, temperature checking and mask wearing across all supports including social enterprise employment.

I would like to thank the people we support, families and carers for your understanding, flexibility and generosity in continuing with our services during these turbulent times.

We are very much in this together and are here for you. Should you have any needs that are not currently being met during this pandemic, please do call on us.

Kristian Dauncey

Basecamps

2020 has thrown us lots of challenges.  The year started well with our Basecamps thriving and everyone enjoying the activities. In March COVID-19 changed the landscape.  Not to be deterred, our Basecamp team moved to Zoom and Facebook.  We have been offering Zoom sessions in Performing Arts, Karaoke and Yoga since May and everyone is loving it.  Our Facebook community has grown to 153 members and our ‘Live in your Loungeroom’ program is booming!  When restrictions were lifted we were able to begin our Performing Arts, our Bushwalking and our Arts & Crafts again.  Sadly COVID-19 has come back and we are again enjoying our Facebook and Zoom activities.

Many of our participants were able to purchase laptops which has added to the Zoom experience.  Our bus drivers were delighted to see the happy faces when we delivered all the laptops.

We are looking forward to the time when everybody can be back together safely and enjoying all the activities we have to offer from our Basecamps.  In the meantime our 365 service is supporting families in their homes and helping participants log in to zoom sessions and Facebook.

For 365 enquiries, please contact Paul McDonald on 0499 501 008 or paulm@knoxbrooke.com.au

Achieve

Our Achieve program has seen some changes this year.  We farewelled our Team Leader, Belinda Allwood, in late May and we now introduce Mike Beavis leading the Achieve team.  Like our Basecamps, Achieve has transitioned to Zoom and most participants were able to keep going with the program.  We were able to offer face to face sessions at our Hub in Ringwood for both of our Achieve groups for a short period of time and everyone enjoyed being together.  Our Boutique group has been in hibernation during COVID but we are hoping to offer zoom to this group as well shortly.

We have had two very successful zoom Information Evenings for possible new Achieve students for 2021 and we were delighted with the Expressions of Interest that followed the session.  We will be holding another zoom Information session shortly.

For Achieve enquiries, Mike can be contacted on 0475 300 505 or michaelb@knoxbrooke.com.au

Gai Campbell

Mawarra

It’s been an interesting few months to say the least, but in true Mawarra style we have gotten on with it. I have nicknamed us the Ma-Warriors because we are stronger as a team and we don’t give up!

The COVID pandemic has challenged us to think outside the box, and rethink how we provide services. We have made some really exciting inroads and best of all ensured our little family stays as connected as possible.

We have done some wonderful community trips and programs. Our Zoom sessions were fun, inclusive and interactive and our 365 in-home support and centre respite continues to grow from strength to strength. Our reinvigorated MAC now MSN (Mawarra Social Network) has been wildly successful and we have added another day. We are so excited to continue to grow this.

Our program review committee has been hard at work developing a wide range of programs to engage, empower and challenge participants, with a focus on fun, health and friendship. Staff continue to amaze me with the innovation and I can’t wait to see what the future hold with these programs.

The op shop continues to be a wonderful community resource as well as an endless support to the centre. The volunteers are really appreciated for always going above and beyond

In this time of uncertainty, here at Mawarra we are excited for the future. We continue to work hard on remaining the benchmark service for the Gippsland region and looking at ways to innovate and continue to provide quality service.

Claire Cutler

Knoxbrooke Enterprises

I would firstly like to thank all employees across all of Knoxbrooke’s 8 social enterprise businesses.  In extremely challenging times you have been resilient, caring, respectful and supportive – of each other and of Knoxbrooke.  Your understanding and support helps to provide our best opportunity to ensure we remain operational during very trying economic and employment conditions.  Let’s continue to stick together, look out for each other, stay positive and look forward to a strong future.

In late 2019 the Mawarra group joined Knoxbrooke.  This includes Waratah Garden services, Jigsaw and Mawarra Community Works, all located in Warragul. It’s been great getting to know the 25 employees that make up these enterprises and we look forward to working together and developing the enterprises into the future.

In January 2020 Bushland Flora joined Knoxbrooke.  Bushland Flora is a very well established native plant nursery and adds capacity, skills and a customer base to compliment the already strong offering from Yarra View Nursery.  Thank you to all the Bushland staff for your support in the transition to Knoxbrooke ownership.  It’s been great to see a number of opportunities for the 2 teams to work together to achieve positive outcomes for our staff and customers.  There will be many more to come which will only make both enterprises stronger into the future.

All of Knoxbrooke’s enterprises have performed exceptionally well over the last few months, given the very challenging conditions.  After short shut down periods, all are currently open, but on reduced operating hours due to restrictions.  We are very hopeful of a return to normal trade and operating conditions in the not too distant future however will be guided strongly on the circumstances we face at the time and the advice of the authorities.

A few news items to highlight:

Yarra View Garden Centre has a new operating model, selling only plants produced by Yarra View Nursery and Bushland Flora and other products from Knoxbrooke’s enterprises – in a direct to public type model.  The change has been a lot of work, but very successful thus far.  In the future we will be expanding the model to include products from other social enterprises.  Watch this space!

The long awaited Gazebo area at Yarra View Nursery is finally under way.  With the persistence of the amazing members of Lilydale Rotary to work with council to obtain permits etc the project commenced early July.  This continues the 50+ year association for Knoxbrooke with Rotary and we are greatly appreciative.

Stay safe everyone.

Scott Buckland

Quality and Performance

The new Quality and Performance Manager role was created to focus on several key areas. The first is in relation to safeguarding people who use Knoxbrooke’s services now and responding to allegations of poor practices in the past.  Knoxbrooke’s Board and Management have a zero tolerance to any behaviours or practices that represent the abuse, neglect or exploitation of people with disability. Part of my role is to make sure we have excellent zero tolerance systems and that the Knoxbrooke Community have information about safeguarding and responding to allegations.

The second area of focus is preparation for Knoxbrooke’s audit under the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission practice standards. It has been wonderful to visit many of Knoxbrooke’s services. It has given me an opportunity to see and hear first-hand the good work that staff are undertaking to support participants. We have a lot to be proud of. As part of the audit preparation we are looking at practices across Knoxbrooke and seeing how the best practices can be extended across the whole organisation. Having consistent systems and using streamlined computer systems will reduce paperwork and allow staff to spend more time providing support to participants.

If you want more information on Knoxbrooke’s zero tolerance or are having difficulty making a submission to the Disability Royal Commission you can contact DRC@knoxbrooke.com.au and we will connect you with services that may assist you.

Anne Bavington

Thanks for reading! If you would like further information on anything you’ve seen here you can phone 9758 3666 or email info@knoxbrooke.com.au or 9737 0400 for Knoxbrooke Enterprises.