February 2021 Update
VIC/NSW – The 2021 school year has commenced with new volunteers being trained and placed in schools and current volunteers returning to schools for their volunteer sessions.
WA – WA school students were set to start the new school year from 1/2/2021. Due to a COVID related lockdown, schools in the Perth Metro, Peel and South west regions will be closed until 5/2/2021. Schools in other regions have returned and volunteers will soon be volunteering in these schools.
EdConnect continues to recruit, screen and train new and existing volunteers to meet the growing needs of our member schools.
January 2021 Update
We continue to recruit, screen and train new and existing volunteers to ensure we are well prepared to return to schools for the upcoming 2021 school year. We are working with partner schools to prepare for volunteer placements and student support starting Feb of 2021.
August 2020 Update
WA – New volunteers are being trained and placed in schools and returning volunteers have now returned to school for their volunteering sessions.
VIC / NSW – Volunteers are not able to actively volunteer in schools during Term 3 and will be reconsidered in Term 4. We are continuing to recruit, screen and train new volunteers to be placed at schools when possible. We continue to support new and existing volunteers and are utilising their skills to help support schools digitally and remotely.
July 2020 Update: WA & VIC
Term 2 of the school year is nearing completion and onsite learning has returned across the country. We have witnessed schools making a huge effort to establish new routines and structures for students and staff, ensuring they have safe and robust practices in place.
Each jurisdiction has made decisions about volunteers returning to schools on the advice of state government and the health authority. EdConnect Australia has been in communication with Education Departments to better understand what may be possible regarding volunteering during each phase of the restrictions.
In WA the majority of schools have already welcomed back volunteers with a few waiting until Term 3 to recommence. In Victoria, schools are working with EdConnect to determine what is possible with many schools working towards EdConnect volunteers recommencing at the start of Term 3. In NSW, volunteering will be reconsidered in Term 3.
Keeping strong engagement with our volunteers has been our priority and a rewarding experience for everyone. This has been achieved through virtual morning teas, online training, frequent email and phone communication and organisation updates as restrictions have shifted. Volunteers have actively participated in events, the highlight being the first hosting of our annual awards event in a virtual environment. If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch the event here is the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb5xxXJtank.
The message “Thank you for volunteering for EdConnect” resonated clearly!
There will be further training opportunities in the months ahead including a series of resilience and child and youth mental health webinars to support students and school communities. These have been made possible through small grant funding from the Inner North Community Foundation and Meami National.
Staff based at EdConnect’s head office in Maylands WA are transitioning to a mix of office based and working from home practises as of 22/6/2020. The Liaison Officers have been busy recruiting, screening and training new volunteers and we have a healthy number ready and eager to be placed in schools.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like further information or we can be of assistance. 1800 668 550
14 April 2020 Victoria Update
To increase physical distancing across the population and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), children in Victorian government schools will move to remote and flexible learning and care at the commencement of Term 2.
This means that from the start of Term 2 all students who can learn from home must learn at home. All of term 2 will be delivered by remote and flexible learning, with skeleton staff at schools for students who have a disability, those who are vulnerable and those who can not receive an education at home. It is hoped that schools will re-open in term 3 or 4. School staff return on Tuesday 14 April. This will be a pupil free day.
Students resume classes on Wednesday 15 April.
For more information about learning from home, see:
27 March 2020 Update
As of Monday the full EdConnect team are now working from our home offices, which was just in time as The Rise, in Maylands WA (where we normally work from) has been closed until April 30. We are all set up and look forward to continuing to provide support, connection and care to all of our volunteers during this difficult time.
VIC NEWS – Schools are on school holidays. Updates to come.
WA NEWS – Our Premier, Mark McGowan, has announced that from Monday 30/3/2020, schools will remain open but if possible, families should keep their children home from schools. Formal classes will officially close a week early from COB Friday 3/4/2020. Schools and staff are asked to plan and prepare for a different teaching model for term 2.
Many of our WA volunteers have already put their volunteering on hold and everyone will be stopping from 3/4/2020 until further notice.
We are asking you to let us know if you are feeling worried or do not have family or a support network who can assist you through this time, to please reply to this email. EdConnect works with a number of local community organisations and if we can connect you to locally based support services, then we are happy to arrange this.
How can we help each other during this time?
Would you like a weekly call from an EdConnect volunteer or staff member to say hello and make sure that you are ok? If yes, then please let us know. If you are happy to be linked to another volunteer and to make that weekly call, then let us know. We are happy to facilitate this process.
As a team we are committed to regularly communicating with you and if you have any ideas or suggestions for EdConnect to consider during this time, please let your Liaison Officer know.
Please be assured that we will contact you as soon as possible with any further updates as we receive them from the WA Department of Education or Health, relating to your volunteering role during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Please stay safe and healthy and if EdConnect can assist in any way, do let us know.
23 March 2020 Operational Update
At EdConnect the health and safety of our volunteers and staff is of the highest priority. We have been carefully monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation as it is evolving.
The Department of Health (DOH) is the lead agency, managing the Australian response to COVID-19. Based on the information available from DOH, we understand that some people who are infected may not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily, and others may become very ill, very quickly. The people at most risk of serious infection are;
- people with compromised immune systems (e.g. cancer)
- elderly people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they have higher rates of chronic illness
- people with diagnosed chronic medical conditions
Due to this information and in the interest of protecting the ongoing health and safety of our volunteers, EdConnect is suspending the delivery of any volunteering activities by any volunteer aged over 65 or who has a chronic medical condition, until further notice. This will take effect from Monday 23 March 2020.
We understand that this will be disappointing / perhaps upsetting for many volunteers who value and enjoy their volunteering role each week. However, we hope that you understand we are taking this prompt and well considered action, to support the ongoing health of our older volunteers or those with chronic medical conditions. If you do not have the opportunity to let your mentee know face to face during this week, you are very welcome to contact your Liaison Officer and discuss alternative options, such as writing the child a letter.
We also understand that you may not fall into the above category, however, feel that you would like to put your volunteering on hold during this uncertain time. If you decide to do this, we ask that you contact your EdConnect Liaison Officer and School Coordinator with this information and we will be there to support and help you when you wish to recommence volunteering.
EdConnect will be communicating with our member schools today and realise that some schools may already have chosen to suspend volunteering. The increased pressures and workloads within school communities is significant as preparations are made for potential schools’ shutdowns in the future. This is at the discretion of each school and we will ask the school to contact you and provide you with this information as necessary.
Many schools will continue to welcome volunteers understanding the value that our volunteers have to school communities, especially during difficult and uncertain times.
EdConnect’s head office in Maylands is now preparing to transition staff to working from home. This model already works very well for our staff based in Victoria and will take effect for all staff from Monday 23 March 2020. During the working from home period, we will continue to support our volunteers and ensure that we keep EdConnect running and are well prepared to recommence full operational activities as soon as is possible. Our email and phone contacts will remain unchanged.
Until further notice any EdConnect training or events have been cancelled. We are committed to continue to engage with our volunteers and develop training opportunities during this time, using alternate platforms.
We will be reviewing the situation weekly as a management team and will keep you up to date in a timely manner with any changes.
We thank you for your patience and understanding and know that during this uncertain time you may need some additional support. Please feel free to contact us via the telephone or email and we will do our very best to provide you with any support and practical help that we can.