Public housing residents who were employed during the COVID pandemic to support health measures at their own estate will today be farewelled at a community celebration at the Collingwood high-rise towers, as funding for their roles comes to an end.
With funding from the Victorian Government, cohealth employed more than 100 public housing residents as ‘health concierges’ to work alongside health professionals in high-risk accommodation settings including high-rise towers, boarding houses and caravan parks across the north and west of Melbourne.
Collectively speaking more than 15 languages, the Health Concierges brought their cultural expertise to deliver health messages and services directly to where people live. For many new cohealth staff it was their first employment opportunity since arriving in Australia.
“The Health Concierge model was a gamechanger in delivering culturally appropriate support during an extraordinary time in recent history,” said Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive, cohealth.
“cohealth has been front and centre of the pandemic response for more than two years, and we knew the key success was to empower the community in the response.
“As we emerge from the pandemic we must not forget the lessons learned about the value of community empowerment in improving people’s own health and wellbeing.”
“We are incredibly grateful to the residents who stepped up to work on the frontline to make sure communities hardest hit by the pandemic had the support they needed.”
“When most of us were safely locked down in our homes, the Health Concierges and other bicultural workers were delivering food and medicines, translating health information, updating residents on the latest public health advice, helping to dispel vaccination misinformation and connecting people with testing and vaccinations.
“We continue to work to ensure there are opportunities for the Health Concierges to become part of everyday health promotion activities and campaigns so their important work at the high-rises to help break down barriers to accessing health care and social support can continue.”
“These trusted and familiar faces will be greatly missed and their work will not be forgotten,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
cohealth was funded to employ the Health Concierges through the High Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR) program to help prevent and manage outbreaks during the pandemic.
Thanks to targeted vaccination information and engagement rollout at public housing, in concert with the outreach work of the Health Concierges some of the towers achieved higher vaccination rates than the general community
The HRAR program funding ends on 30 June, and the community celebration is an opportunity to farewell and thank the Health Concierges for their service.
More information: Lanie.Harris@cohealth.org.au or 0418 552 377
About cohealth: cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that provides low-cost and free local health and support services including medical, dental, allied health, mental health, aged care and counselling, and many specialist health services across Melbourne’s CBD, northern and western suburbs as well as statewide.