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Supporting vulnerable communities to understand and access COVID-19 vaccination

Supporting vulnerable communities to understand and access COVID-19 vaccination

Better Chances Forum (BCF) is a collaboration supporting better chances for children, young people and their families to lead safe, happy and healthy lives.

On 20 October we held a zoom conversation about how we can support our vulnerable community members to understand the risks and benefits, make an informed choice and access COVID-19 vaccinations.

While COVID-19 vaccine supplies are now more plentiful in Northern NSW our vulnerable communities are facing greater risk if they are not vaccinated and may face barriers in taking up their choice to be vaccinated.

The conversation included a discussion panel with:

  • Carolyn Lloyd, Immunisation Coordinator Clinical Nurse Consultant, North Coast Public Health Unit, NSW Health
  • Dr Brett Lynam, General Practitioner and Healthy North Coast Population Health Clinical Adviser
  • Georgina Cohen, CEO Rekindling the Spirit.

What did we learn?

Many community members are keen to understand the technology behind different COVID-19 vaccines. Medical professionals have never seen this level of interest in vaccine technology, types or brands for flu vaccines or other population-wide immunisation programs.

The panel helped us unpack some of the questions that community members are asking. Here are some of the issues we discussed keeping in mind when supporting vulnerable community members to understand the risks and benefits, make decisions and access vaccination.

  • COVID-19 is a new disease that humans have not been exposed to before, unlike the flu, which we have some resistance to. That’s why it poses so much risk to our community, and particularly vulnerable community members.
  • mRNA technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has been around for about a decade now. Although these vaccines are new, mRNA technology is not unknown and research and development for these types of vaccines has been going on for decades in the scientific community.
  • Studies in 2020 saw more people participate in testing than for other vaccinations we have been using for decades. COVID-19 vaccines were developed faster using existing technologies, but without cutting corners in development, testing or approval. This was possible because of the massive number of people infected and available to participate in testing, and a huge input of time, funding and resources with most experts in the industry working intensively on COVID-19 vaccine development in 2020-21.
  • To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines visit the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccines website.
  • Our vulnerable community members who are not vaccinated, and young children who cannot access vaccination, will carry a big share of the burden of risk in the coming weeks and months.
  • History, past policy, and past and some current practice has eroded some community members’ trust in governments and services. This can affect how some people think and feel about vaccination for COVID-19.
  • Some BCF members work with vulnerable young people who have no Medicare card and are reluctant to visit health services. Some collaboration between services, over time, may be needed to support some young people to understand and access vaccination. Contact BCF if you need support linking young people with relevant services.
  • A Medicare card is not essential to access COVID-19 vaccination.
  • We do not offer individual advice that we are not qualified to give. Seek medical advice for yourself and your family when you need to. Encourage your staff, participants and customers to seek individual medical advice when they need to too.

Contacts and links



Are you supporting families transitioning back to school after lockdown?

Are you supporting families transitioning back to school after lockdown?

Returning to School – K – Yr 2There are some great resources available to support families with children and young people returning to school on campus after lockdown. Please find downloadable children’s activity booklets and other links below.

NSW Education – care and connect page

Supporting children returning to school – Nip in the bud fact sheet

BRAVE – online program for the prevention and treatment of anxiety in young people

If you or anyone else needs support click here for a list of 24/7 emergency contacts

Strengthening trauma responsive support

Strengthening trauma responsive support

In 2019 Better Chances Forum (BCF) began exploring opportunities to enhance and strengthen trauma responsive support in Northern NSW. 

Despite commitment to trauma-informed service delivery across the sector and opportunities for trauma-informed practice training, professionals who work in the sector continue to tell us that they often struggle to deliver genuinely trauma-informed care and support in their day-to-day work. So, we asked 90 workers and managers from 33 organisations in Northern NSW what they need to be more responsive to trauma. 

Organisations that implement a trauma informed system see lower staff turn-over, better outcomes for clients and a stronger bottom line. What’s holding your organisation back? If you could do one thing to strengthen trauma responsive support, what would it be? 

Download the brief from Better Chances Forum to learn more.

BCF Brief: Strengthening trauma responsive support


Request for proposals: Trauma informed practice training

Request for proposals: Trauma informed practice training

Social Futures is calling for proposals from trainers to deliver trauma-informed practice training workshops for early intervention services in Northern NSW. Please see the attached brief and share it with colleagues who may be interested.

Proposals need to be submitted by close of business Tuesday 27 April 2021. For further information please contact [email protected] or 0438 005 798.

Coordinator position – Goonellabah Transition Program (GTP), YWCA

Coordinator position – Goonellabah Transition Program (GTP), YWCA

YWCA is re advertising the GTP Coordinator position. Part time – 22.5 hours per week.

This is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander position and the application must have a Diploma of Early Childhood or be working towards their diploma.

Applications close 19 April 2021.

For more information or to apply click here.

Draft NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy 2020-25: Virtual consultation opportunities on now

Draft NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy 2020-25: Virtual consultation opportunities on now

NSW Health is inviting Aboriginal community members, Aboriginal Medical Services and NSW Health Staff to participate in virtual consultations on the Draft NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy 2020-2025.

Consultation sessions are being held between 24 September and 7 October 2020. These will include scheduled group sessions and you can request a group or individual session by phone or video at a time that suits you. Please see the flyer attached to this news post for contact details and further information.

PPE training modules available to aged care workforce

PPE training modules available to aged care workforce

NSW Government Health Education and Training (HETI) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training modules have been made available to the aged care workforce. To find the three modules go to the HETI site to log in and access the PPE Modules page.


The HETI Moodle is an open access site and self-enrolling.  The site cannot save access or completion information for courses. For staff to maintain a record of completion they must register correctly when they first create an account for accessing the site; and then print and/or save their certificates.

logo NSW Gov - HETI
405,000 older women at risk of homelessness in Australia

405,000 older women at risk of homelessness in Australia

Social Ventures Australia, Housing for the Aged Action Group, Aged Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson, YWCA and hundreds of participants, including women with experience of homelessness, came together online on Tuesday 4 August for the launch of two new pieces of research highlighting the older women’s experience of housing in Australia, and older women’s risk of homelessness.

Researchers from the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning at The University of Adelaide used data from the HILDA* survey to analyse household characteristics and experience over time and a build a model of At Risk of Homelessness post-Global Financial Crisis.

They estimate 165,000 females aged 45 to 55 years and a further 240,000 females aged 55 years and over are at risk of homelessness (+/- 10 per cent).

Access the report here: Older women risk homelessness without urgent policy reform  

The School of Social Sciences and Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University investigated older women’s experiences of housing affordability and housing insecurity.

They found affordability of housing drives challenges finding appropriate, quality housing and notes affordable housing is often low or degraded quality, and housing costs impacting ability to buy sufficient nutritious food and manage utility bills and driving housing insecurity.

The report highlights women’s experience of rent increases and evictions requiring them to move housing and how the challenges of moving compound over time through multiple experiences of unchosen, unplanned relocations – driving interconnected financial, physical and emotional costs.

Access the report here: Older Women in the Private Rental Sector: Unaffordable, Substandard and Insecure Housing

*Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey.

Share your experience: Impacts of Short Term Holiday Letting (STHL)

A team of researchers led by Dr Tania von der Heidt of the School of Business and Tourism, Southern Cross University (SCU) is investigating residents’ views of Short-term Holiday Letting (STHL) including Airbnb, across all local government areas (LGAs) of the North Coast of NSW. They would like to hear your views and invite you to participate in this survey.

Sharing your experiences will facilitate better understanding of the impacts of Short-term Holiday Letting (STHL) in your residential street, your neighbourhood and your local government area (LGA). This new knowledge will contribute to locally informed civic decision-making. For instance, in the near future your Council may be considering a short-term letting cap of 180 days for off-site managed properties. Such a policy amendment is now possible under the whole-of-government framework for STHL in NSW. For more information regarding the framework please visit the NSW Government site: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Under-review-and-new-Policy-and-Legislation/Short-term-holiday-letting.

Aggregate findings will be shared with your Council and with you through a community report also made available through your Council’s website.

The Survey is open until 29 September. To take the survey go to:https://scuau.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0iDgjbBdqRaD2ND