UPDATE: 20 MARCH 2020
Every one of us is being incredibly challenged by these uncertain times. EWB is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our entire movement, and to supporting every one of our staff and volunteers to navigate this challenge, both professionally and personally.
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us (and everyone around us) to change the way we work; on Tuesday the Australian government issued a directive which particularly impacts our physical presence overseas.
EWB Australia has prepared an Action Plan that is being implemented as the COVID-19 situation escalates. We have outlined the immediate implementation actions and next steps below.
Australian-based staff and Chapters
- All staff have been advised to work from home until further notice
- All travel, including domestic travel, has been placed on hold until further notice
- Chapter and National EWB events: physical events (such as Chapter meetings and social initiatives) must be held by video-conference or postponed until further notice.
Australian staff and volunteers working overseas
- All Australian EWB staff currently based in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu will be temporarily returned to Australia; the Australian Volunteers Program is doing the same for all EWB Australian Volunteer Field Professionals. This is based on the Australian Government’s directive issued on 18 March 2020 that all Australians overseas should return to Australia immediately.
Overseas national staff and partners
- All locally-based staff and partners in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu will continue to be supported by EWB Australia in their country of residence. We are currently working to determine what these needs are, but they will include working from home
- Extending leave conditions for symptomatic staff, those diagnosed with COVID-19 or those caring for family who have symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID-19
- If personnel require medical support, and where the local government are not providing appropriate medical support, EWB will support financial costs for adequate and appropriate medical assistance (ie. international facilities, if available).
- EWB is wholly committed to our staff and partners to continue our work where we can, and to provide ongoing support – whether working remotely, flexibly, or with reduced activities – during this challenging time, and beyond
- We will be connecting with partners to discuss project and partner priorities, to determine what we can continue to support remotely, and to put in place systems for ongoing activities with EWB staff and the Australian Volunteer Field Professionals
Australian Programs & Projects
- University Challenge & Research programs: EWB’s delivery mechanism for this is online – as such these programs will not be impacted
- Humanitarian Design Summits for a planned June 2020 departure have been postponed until end of the year – registrations will still be open to express interest in new dates as they are announced
- Impactful Futures Immersives for a planned June 2020 departure have been postponed until the second half of the year – registrations will still be open to express interest in new dates as they are announced
- Schools Outreach: delivery of this program will be postponed; we will focus on developing modules that could be delivered remotely/online, without requiring face to face facilitation or travel
- Regioneering: all Regioneering trips have been postponed until further notice
- Engineering On Country and Pro bono projects: all in-person community contact has been suspended until further notice. Many of the projects currently in progress in Queensland and Western Australia can be continued remotely, with deeper design and project thinking, prototyping and planning, whilst maintaining good connection with communities to ensure their priorities are met. We will be working with our partners to assess each project, case by case
- Volunteering & Mobilisation: our communities are still in need of support and the progression of projects amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of these projects can be progressed remotely. EWB is currently assessing these opportunities and will be liaising with our Chapter network to help shape these new ways of mobilisation.
Support and Wellbeing
- As part of our commitment to support every one of our staff and volunteers, EWB will be regularly connecting and engaging, including developing resources, techniques and mechanisms that ensure we are well-equipped to mentally and emotionally cope with these changes. This is of utmost importance as we all navigate this together.
New Ways of Working
- As we adjust to these new ways of working, EWB will be reviewing opportunities and implementing initiatives to ensure our movement can continue to engage, activate and contribute – please stay tuned for more information.
Good Hygiene Practices
- The World Health Organisation has outlined these basic protection measures for COVID-19 and we encourage all to adopt these good hygiene practices.
10 MARCH 2020
EWB Australia has prepared a Response Action Plan in order to be ready to respond as COVID-19 escalates.
Based on the current information at-hand, as a precaution and to ensure the safety and welfare of our personnel and participants, EWB Australia has made the following risk-mitigation decisions in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), effective immediately:
- Humanitarian Design Summits for a planned June 2020 departure have been postponed until further notice
- Impactful Futures Immersive to Vanuatu for a planned June 2020 departure has been postponed until further notice
- Non-essential international travel by staff has been placed on hold until further notice
- For EWB staff in Australia and overseas offices: if EWB staff have a pre-existing condition (such as an immune or respiratory condition) or feel uncomfortable that they may be at-risk, they have been advised to speak to their to Manager to explore their options. These might include working from home or, for Australian staff deployed overseas, it may include returning to Australia to work from the EWB Australia office until the risk reduces.
- For AVP volunteers working with EWB and EWB’s partner organisations: they will first and foremost follow AVP’s directive. Please speak with your EWB point of contact if you require any clarifications.
- Reinforcing good hygiene practices: the World Health has outlined these basic protection measures for COVID-19.
Please note, the situation is changing rapidly. EWB Australia will continue to closely monitor the situation using reliable sources. We will advise of any changes to our response if the situation changes.