Since the Coronavirus pandemic, GROW Australia has quickly transitioned its traditional face-to-face Grow Groups to a digital platform. We’ve been operating eGrow, our online program nationally since July 2019, originally to assist those who weren’t able to physically attend a meeting. From this experience, we were able to move our physical groups online in a matter of days so that our members were able to support each other and continue their recovery during this uncertain time.

Now, as restrictions around the country start to slowly ease, we’re exploring how our members prefer to attend our programs, and how we can facilitate this while still protecting the health of the community.

At a glance, most States and Territories (with some exceptions) are now at a stage where groups can meet, providing they are able to maintain social distancing regulations and have a COVID return or safety plan in place. However, before we return to face-to-face meetings, we need to ensure the health and safety of our members and staff. This includes making sure all the group venues comply with State and Territory regulations and restrictions.

We also are seeing a welcome return of Get Growing, our schools based program for students at risk, into face-to-face meetings in some state and territory schools.

Our Residential Rehabilitation Centre in in western Sydney is returning to its new ‘normal’ slowly. The centre was placed in lockdown and had its intake suspended in mid-March. This prevented our residents from taking part in a number of regular program activities, including having visits from their families and scheduled off-site excursions. As our residents adhered to social and physical distancing and increased hygienic behaviour, the staff focused emphasising on the positive aspects of lockdown.

Interestingly, the program has remained at almost capacity during this time and the impact of the lockdown has been encouraging. We have seen residents engage with the Grow program and each other, resulting in positive personal development and progress in their rehabilitation. As we start to emerge from the lockdown, we are looking at implementing some of these changes to the residential program as a result of the beneficial impact we’ve seen on residents’ mental and physical wellbeing during this time.

We will continue to monitor the situation, and as restrictions are eased across the country, we will continue to provide our Grow program to our members in the safest way possible.