Posted on Apr 14, 2021
This Wednesday was a most glorious morning with the sun shining after a few really chilly and wet days. The birds were chirping and our Guest Speaker, Anne Coughlan from Community Information and Support Services was cheerfully waiting to do her presentation. Karin was Chairperson and invited us to stand for a minute silence in honor of Prince Philip who sadly passed away last Friday.
We imagine that this was quite a shock as he was a much-loved Royal and was Consort to the Queen Elizabeth for more than 70 years. Karin invited Grant to present the Loyal, Royal Toast and Neville gave us Invocation. The GOOD and AMAZING news given to us by Pres. Geoff is that our IAN BALLANTINE has been made DG Nominee Designate for 2023/24! Congratulations Ian! We are thrilled and proud for you. Anne Coughlin is from a teaching background and was Principal of a Secondary College before joining CISS as Branch Coordinator. This is a local community information and support service. Its services assist individuals and families experiencing personal and financial difficulties by providing information, referral and support services including emergency relief. The professional staff and trained volunteers can help in a range of areas, including income or basic living essentials. They can also refer people to health, welfare, financial counselling, housing and support agencies. As with every other organization, COVID changed operations. The support continued to operate remotely from March 2020 and a process for provision of EFT and payments and e-vouchers was established. Volunteers were unable to work during lockdown so staff provide services. Keeping volunteers engaged and informed while not working and supporting them was quite a challenge. Other enormous challenges came in different forms. Completing assessments by phone especially when English was a second language or if the client has a disability that affects language proved to a great challenge. Meeting the needs of international students and asylum seekers who were not receiving government assistance and assisting clients who have lost employment and who have not yet accessed government payments and promoting the service to people who have not previously needed this. Contrary to the challenges, there were many successes in that services were provided throughout the lockdown and beyond only 2 days after the service was not provided. There was staff for available on the phone for clients in need to talk and who were experiencing anxiety and stress. Glen Eira CISS provided $72,000 to families to put meals on the table by providing food vouchers, EFTs and food parcels. More than $7000 towards essential services such as utilities bills, rent and phone. Provided $1000 towards prescriptions and medical expenses, provided 500 clients through 1593 contacts between March and December. Thirty six International students were assisted with income and 10 Asylum seekers also assisted in order to be able to live.  Phone calls could last up to 40-45 minutes, which were exhausting, but the outcomes were very often successful and therefore most helpful. Volunteers began to return in February and they are currently undergoing training and refresher courses, which include a review of interview process, on line training program such as  and the suicide prevention, and working with interpreters. Assessments are now undertaken by appointment with one person at a time. So what next? Assessment by appointment will continue to enable more in depth and support of clients. Refresher courses have led to a more positive approach and better all-round service for clients. The group expects an increase on demand as Job Keeper and Job Seeker payments are removed. Contact with community groups have been strengthened a to make sure that and make sure that the group will continue to look at strategies to make sure that the community at large knows about the support available from CIS Glen Eira. Thank you Anne for sharing these strong beliefs and the enormous difference that CIS Glen Eira makes to the community.  We have certainly learnt much about what really happens behind the scenes. People found life during COVID very, very hard and those who were at the receiving end must have felt relieved and a little bit valued. Ian continued the meeting informing us that his new position in Rotary as DG Nominee Designate is one that is not sought after but invited by the District Board who follows the invitation with a lot of grueling interviews. He mentioned that his childhood was very involved in Rotary as his Father was a hard working member of his club and had held various positions. As pleased, as we are for Ian’s success we are also sad for him over the loss of his beautiful 103-year-old Mother. He told us that he was able to share with his Mother who was thrilled. We offer our condolences and luck when the position takes place. Zilla also shared her news of it being April 29 years ago since she was inducted into this club and was proud to have been a Rotarian for so many years. Sergeant Tim as usual had some good facts, some made-up facts and some total fiction in order to fine us. All good fun and a terrific excuse for laughter. We would like to thank the chef and staff at the Virginia Park Café for hosting us for the past weeks and thank them for the wonderful breakfasts that they served to us Karin closed the meeting reminding us that ROTARY OPENS OPPORTUNITIES.
ZILLA (Bulletin Reporter)
A copy of Anne's presentation is available here.