Helping people in need

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all of us but for the most vulnerable people within our communities, many of whom were already struggling, the past 12 months have been particularly challenging.

16 Nov 2021

In a year where community support services have never been more needed and many providers were forced to reduce services or even worse close their doors, St John of God Health Care’s community-based Social Outreach services supported a record number of clients, delivering $24 million of free or low cost services across 67 locations to 6,243 people in need. 

 Graphic showing end of year highlights for St John of God Social Outreach services

This represented a 13.5% year-on-year increase in the number of clients supported across the organisation’s community mental health, homelessness and support and capacity building services. 

St John of God Social Outreach CEO Susan Cantwell said the ability to meet unprecedented levels of demand had come down to the services’ commitment to quickly adapting and pivoting to adjust to rapidly changing conditions. 

“Without the extraordinary commitment of our caregivers and the significant amount of extra work that our teams put in, we would not have been able to do what we’ve done to support those most in need within our communities,” Susan said. 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic it has been humbling to see how our teams have responded to every challenge thrown their way to ensure that no client slipped through the cracks.” 

St John of God Social Outreach’s community mental health services quickly moved to introduce telehealth at the start of the pandemic and delivered more than 17,000 sessions via phone and secure video-chat last financial year. Through a combination of telehealth and face-to-face, collectively these services supported more than 6,000 clients. 

Despite operating in locations across New South Wales and Victoria that were subject to extended lockdown periods, Social Outreach’s homelessness and support services (which also operate across metropolitan and regional Western Australia) provided over 25,000 nights of stable accommodation to vulnerable people at risk of homelessness, including 30 young mothers and their babies. 

Across the Pacific, in Timor-Leste, the St John of God International Health team assisted with the national hospital’s COVID-19 response; providing infection prevention and control training to 289 nurses, midwives, doctors and cleaners, supporting the establishment of a COVID-19 triage system and providing vaccination training and support to assist with the country’s vaccine rollout. 

“As an organisation, St John of God Health care has a proud history of allocating a percentage of our eligible revenue to the provision of free and low cost Social Outreach services and those services have always been targeted towards areas of need,” Susan said. 

“I don’t think there has been another time in the history of these services where the need has been greater and I am immensely proud that we were able to rise to the occasion and provide high quality, respectful and compassionate care that has positively impacted a record number of people.”