Thursday 26 August 2021
Dear sector colleagues,
Support for Afghan refugee arrivals
Like so many of you, I have been heartbroken by the reports coming out of Afghanistan and seeing the real fear and desperation of the people in Kabul seeking a path to safety for themselves and their families.
DHS is doing our part to help as South Australia welcomes 100 arrivals from Afghanistan into hotel quarantine. Our department’s Interpreting and Translating Centre is providing both male and female accredited interpreters to support the people arriving in Adelaide. This is a vital service at a critical time that will enable the Afghan arrivals to access the range of supports they need.
Proudly, DHS is part of South Australia’s cross-government effort to support our new arrivals in a sensitive way during their quarantine period and as appropriate into the future. We are working through the best ways to provide support and I have no doubt that many of you will also have a strong role to play. We look forward to engaging with you further on this when we know more about the next steps.
Safety and Wellbeing Taskforce
Some of you may have seen a story that aired on the ABC about a pop-up street kitchen operating without a permit on Whitmore Square. The story touched on the work of the South Australian Government’s Safety and Wellbeing Taskforce. This is an important opportunity to talk about the positive work of the Taskforce and how we address very complex social issues and why we need to innovate longstanding service models if we want to truly make a difference in people’s lives.
The Safety and Wellbeing Taskforce was established by the Chief Executive Council following direction of Cabinet. Its mandate is to improve the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable visitors to Adelaide from remote communities and reduce anti-social behaviour across a number of areas in the CBD and Port Adelaide. The ultimate aim is to keep both visitors and residents safe and facilitate the return to country for those people who wish to go home to their community.
The Taskforce is made up senior staff from state and local government agencies, including the division of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Crucially, the Taskforce has spoken with Aboriginal elders who provided advice that they are very concerned about people being caught in cycles of severe alcohol consumption and unable to return to country. The Taskforce has also engaged the services of Iwiri, an Aboriginal Corporation for Anangu (Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara) people in Adelaide, who are providing cultural advice in policy development, service coordination and cultural outreach. Iwiri provides the Taskforce with an important perspective through a lens of family, community, culture and knowledge, ensuring the work and recommendations of the Taskforce meet the unique needs of remote Aboriginal visitors. I believe strongly that the only and best way to better meet the needs of mobile and visiting Aboriginal populations is to facilitate Aboriginal leadership and partnerships, like these, that empower the Aboriginal community.
The recent lockdown and ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 make it more urgent than ever that we discuss longstanding service models and consider new and better ways of making a truly positive impact for the people we serve. The Taskforce has piloted some innovative service models to fit with the current trends and assist people with health needs, court matters and opportunities to return home.
There was recently a fantastic first meeting with APY Executive and Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation members, with support raised for a Memorandum of Understanding that will make it clear how these two nations can work in partnership. Elders agreed they, and their respective board members, need to be at the table to work in collaboration with government agencies when service mapping conversations occur. The Taskforce is in the process of identifying and contacting relevant services, including those not part of the funded service system, to discuss service models and new approaches.
Contrary to suggestions in the media, neither I nor the Taskforce asked for Council to move the street kitchen. Adelaide City Council has since informed us that they had told this group in June that they would need to move during the redevelopment of Whitmore Square.
I want to thank all the elders, community leaders, staff, agencies and service providers that have been involved in this important work to date. I reiterate my deep commitment to this work.