What a challenging year we have all had, and it’s only half over.
Our parents, their children and all of our wonderful staff have had to face major life disruptions with the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). And let’s not forget the droughts, fires and floods that devastated the country in the first part of the year.
It is widely acknowledged that “Teenagers have amplified innate, developmental motivations that make them hard to isolate at home. The hormonal changes that come with puberty conspire with adolescent social dynamics to make them highly attuned to social status and peer group.” Generally, teenagers are now not only anxious, they are upset. (Psychology Today March 2020)
Isolation, sport and movie closures, school closures and physical distancing; it’s a lot to take in and it’s difficult for everyone in the family. It is even more difficult when you are a teenager already trying to work out your own anxiety and anger management.
So my best wishes are with everyone as we do our best to navigate these, the most extraordinary of times. Term Two has seen the return of face to face education and skill development for our students. Dunlea Centre has continued an increased cleaning routine which began as soon as we were first made aware of Covid 19 in Term One. We have strived at all times to ensure both the school and residential sites are places of safety.
As a part of our commitment to a safe Agency for everyone, we have also continued to have a strong focus on personal hygiene and social distancing. Our staff have also continued their aim of trying to make the environment as normal as possible so our young people and families can focus on their goals. I would like, on behalf of the Board and the whole Dunlea community, again congratulate all of our staff and community members for their incredible effort during and post the shutdown including the rapid resumption of our face to face service.
Our staff have worked above and beyond, organising for example wi-fi to staff desktops to ensure lessons and skill development could occur at home, with teachers and support staff offering daily support – and they also worked hard to ensure families who did not normally have access to the internet at home could participate in all of our on line activities.
Support has also been available from youth workers and counsellors daily during our lockdown and then during our transition back to full face to face support. Therapy has continued for young people and their families, who have been provided with access to either face to face sessions or online sessions through Telehealth. All families received “care packages” by post, with important information in regard to financial assistance and parent skills and strategies with the Common Sense Parenting Group program being posted on You Tube as well.
Of course, some of our young people did struggle without face to face structure and support. Our numbers have continually increased since our return to school and residential services, indicating just how difficult young people can find daily survival with the “new normal”.
Well done to all our staff and volunteers on the way that you have worked above and beyond during what has been a very difficult first half of the year. You make me and all the Board members feel very proud to be associated with you and the Agency.
I hope everyone really enjoys the holidays and we all return refreshed for what we hope will be a peaceful and uneventful Term Three.