2020 Blue Mountains backburning, courtesy ABC
Simply coping with the added challenges of Covid over the past two years has been a huge issue for most disability service providers. For Dare Disability, in the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney, the problems began with a frightening prelude with bushfires threatening its group houses a year earlier.
“The mountains are a wonderful place and we’re surrounded by the bush”, says CEO Andrew Daly. “At Christmas [in 2019] that suddenly became a huge danger.”
Blue Mountains megablaze from Katoomba lookout, courtesy of BBC
Fortunately none of the organisation’s supported living houses were lost in the blazes that engufed the wilderness around Sydney, although the fires licked at the edges of a couple of properties.
* Editor’s note- Nic, who wrote the column, is at his essence a journalist. He couldn’t resist the image of the flames circling around the bare ground close to the properties. Daly, however, being a stickler for factual accuracy added a comment after this story was posted: “not sure it matters the flames didn’t lick at a house, we evacuated before it got to that stage and roads would be closed.” Nic says he should have realised that Dare wouldn’t risk the safety of its supported residents!
Cleaning up after the fires and getting the grounds teams back to work was a long and difficult task. Photo courtesy ‘Dare’
Then came Covid.
Daly says the biggest problem at first was sorting out reality from fiction and preparation; attempting to get ready to face a challenge that was, at that stage, still uncertain.
“At the forefront of our concerns was the need to keep people safe. We began taking precautions in March 2020. We began closing the businesses as we concentrated on supporting those individuals we were caring for”, Daly says. “Our ADEs ended up being closed for a huge part of 20 to 21.”
Dare CEO Andrew Daly. Photo courtesy ‘Dare’
“The great thing was being able to get everyone vaccinated early.”
Daly says the local Hazelbrook Medical Clinic in particular came to the rescue in a big way.
“We were able to get our people double vaccinated with Pfizer right at the beginning or the roll-out. It was critical.”
Daly himself didn’t push into the line for the scarce vaccines, instead waiting to recieve the Astra vaccine he was eligable because of his other work as a volunteer in the community.
Dare’s Australian Disability Enterprise business’ are getting re-starting. Photo courtesy ‘Dare’
It’s taken a long time, but the operations are now finally getting back to normal.
“Covid did recently get into two houses but by then everyone had recieved their boosters” says Daly. “We had a lockdown for nine days and two people bacame sick . . . but there were no major problems.”
“I can’t speak highly enough of our staff’, he adds with genuine feeling.
CEO Andrew Daly in front of one of the organisation’s 36 vehicles. Photo courtesy Qantas
There are two ways to finish this story – so let’s try both. The first is inspirational.
Dare shows what determination can achieve. Even the huge Qantas Business Rewards program is keen to hitch itself to this, the little disability organisation ‘that can’ (to use the words of the little engine). Qantas has chosen Dare as a ‘Member Success’ story, demonstrating the advantages of belonging to its program.
That’s not the full story, though. Huge challenges remain. The implementation of the NDIS hasn’t been smooth and there are added complex problems entering the frame with changes to supported disability employment (as highlighted yesterday).
The challenges aren’t all over yet by any means.
Qantas Member Success Story about Dare Disability.