The COVID-19 outbreak means that Orange Sky is operating in a world where things are changing daily, but what remains the same is the commitment of our team to continue innovating and supporting our friends on the street. After recently pausing our shifts, we are excited to be back operating with increased health and safety measures. We currently have more than 53 active shifts being run by over 380 volunteers. 58 new shifts are currently being scoped and in final stages of planning. To access the latest shifts information, please go here.
Currently, 30% of our existing service providers remain closed limiting our opportunity to recommence regular shifts. Our team are working hard to source new locations in all of these areas. All volunteers now complete additional training modules to be able to volunteer safely and we continue to stay up to date and collaborate with state health departments, local councils, police and community partners. We have also introduced a new ‘volunteer wellness check’ to ensure our volunteers are feeling well on shift.
As we roll out more shifts we need more volunteers and are currently recruiting volunteers in the following areas: Darwin, SEVIC, Canberra, Newcastle, Townsville, Mackay, Port Mac, Wollongong, Geelong, Northern Rivers & Adelaide.
We will continue to provide information on our progress as it comes to hand. The complexity and risk that we are undertaking is huge, so want to make sure our community is kept up to date and can engage in conversation with the team.
There has never been a more important time to dig deep and utilise our ability to innovate and find ways to keep the most vulnerable people in our community connected over this time. This does not change our focus on ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our friends, volunteers, fellow service providers and the general public.
It is amazing to see our remote services in Palm Island, Lockhart River and Maningrida continue to operate as normal. We will provide updates in these regions as they come to hand.
We will continue to be guided by the most up to date and reliable information from the Australian Government. We are on a massive journey of innovation and we are incredibly grateful for your support to help us deliver our mission and support our friends doing it tough.
Orange Sky Headquarters closure
From Monday 25 May, 2020 Orange Sky HQ will reopen after the COVID-19 closure. We are encouraging people to attend the office by appointment only. Please ring (07) 3067 5800 or email email@example.com for approval to visit before attending. Orange Sky is also not accepting any physical donations at this time. Please go to our FAQs section of our Covid-19 response page to see alternative charities that are collecting donations at this time. Thank you for your understanding.
To all of our wonderful friends who use our service, we are thinking of you at this extremely difficult time. We are excited to say that we are progressively rolling out shifts across Australia. To find out if there is a shift near you click the FIND A SHIFT button below to access our updated shift location page. We are working as fast as we can to roll out more shifts, hope to see you all back on our orange chairs really soon.
We are hope you are all keeping safe and well at the moment and managed to have a relaxing Easter long weekend.
We wanted to provide you with a bit of an update on shifts and what’s been happening at HQ. Over the past week, we operated 10 shifts (with another 10 in the pipeline), concentrating on bigger cities first before starting to look at regional areas. Our selection process is based on which of our existing shift sites are still open, which sites can accommodate our new shift set up model and most importantly, if we have enough volunteers to start at least one shift.
There are several stages that go into building these new shifts, including ensuring our operating space is safe, reducing the risks, recruiting volunteers that meet the requirements of the new volunteer role, and working with councils, government bodies and in some places, the local police.
As we progress, we will reach out to the local leadership teams to assist in some of these stages. For those services that we may not have any viable site options, we are exploring potential new sites as an alternative. If you would like to get involved and help out, please get in touch with your Service Leader.
We want to acknowledge all of our volunteers – those who have put their hand up to support us during this time and those who have decided to take a break for the moment. We appreciate every one of you and respect whatever decision you have made when it comes to volunteering with Orange Sky. We also empathise with those volunteers who want to help out, but don’t meet the current requirements.
Thank you all for your support and we hope to see you back on shift soon doing what we do best – laundry, showers and genuine conversation.
Remember that you can find the most up to date information about our COVID-19 response on our website. We have also updated our locations page, so you can have a look at what shifts are operating across Australia at any time.
Yesterday we shared the news with you that we would be running a trial shift in Brisbane today to coincide with the launch of our #continueconnection campaign. We’re so happy to share that the trial shift was a success and today, we’d love to take that one step further.
Orange Sky is seeking expressions of interest from volunteers to participate in COVID-19 Community Response shifts.
We are currently working on multiple plans to roll out Orange Sky community response shifts across Australia. The locations we operate in have changed due to restrictions and regulations that have been put in place by our government, but the needs of our communities have only increased. Orange Sky is committed to finding ways to continue connection and support for our friends during this difficult time.
So to make this happen, we need your help!
We are seeking expressions of interest for volunteers who are willing to assist in operating community response shifts within the current COVID-19 community restrictions.
In line with government advice, we are specifically looking for:
Volunteers who are physically fit and have no pre-existing medical conditions that put them in the higher risk category for COVID-19 (if unsure please consult your medical practitioner);
Volunteers under 55 years of age;
Volunteers who are comfortable with, or happy to, learn how to utilise PPE (personal protective equipment), i.e gloves and masks, safely and effectively;
Volunteers who are able to participate in all activities on shift for a minimum of two hours.
What we need to get things happening:
– 5 volunteers per team;
– Ability and willingness to drive the van is preferred but not essential;
– Commitment to adhering to all safe work practices set by Orange Sky.
At all times, the safety of the Orange Sky family is paramount, and we will be working closely with local authorities to ensure we maximise our impact in each community while operating safely.
It’s been one week since we made the incredibly tough decision to pause our shifts in their current form around Australia and New Zealand. Our orange chairs may be packed away for the moment, but we’re not going anywhere. We are more inspired than ever to innovate and find ways to deliver our service in this new COVID-19 world.
We acknowledge that every day might look different, and the way we operate our service will continue to evolve, but what remains the same is our mission to positively connect communities. We have been so inspired by all of you and how you have found your own unique ways to continue the connection during this time.
Our team has been working incredibly hard to develop a community response model that can operate in a COVID-19 world to help our friends doing it tough. Just like how our service began five years ago, we will be giving things a crack and trialing this new model tomorrow in Brisbane. Our team is committed to finding innovative ways to keep the most vulnerable people in our community connected and supported during this time. This trial shift will help us to determine key learnings for how we can replicate this across the country. Stay tuned for more details.
Now, more than ever, we need the community’s support to help us to continue connecting with Australians experiencing homelessness. We know there are going to be more people doing it tough as a result of COVID-19, and more of a need for access to free laundry, warm showers and genuine connection.
We hope you are all staying safe and looking after yourselves. A reminder that VESP (Volunteer Employee Support Program) is available to you at any time, information can be found on the portal.
These are challenging times for all of us as we come together to fight the spread of COVID-19. Now more than ever, we are reminded about the importance of keeping our community safe, as well as the care and compassion of the people around us.
The Orange Sky Board, Senior Leadership Team and COVID-19 response team have made the difficult decision to pause shifts in their current form for up to the next three weeks. There is potential for this to be extended based on government advice.
Our remote services in Palm Island, Lockhart River and Maningrida will continue to operate as normal.
We are proud and inspired by our team everyday and are committed to finding innovative ways to keep the most vulnerable people in our community connected over this time.
You have all have been doing such amazing work keeping our friends connected to our shifts, and we hope you know that this decision was not made lightly. Our main responsibility at this time is to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our friends, volunteers, fellow service providers and the general public.
Any future decision about recommencing shifts will be guided by the most up to date and reliable information from the Australian Government. If you’ve been volunteering with us for the last few years or following Orange Sky’s journey, you will know that something like this will not stop us from delivering our mission to positively connect communities.
We also want to send a clear message to our friends – we know this is going to be an incredibly challenging time and we want to assure our community that we will be working everyday to get conversations happening again on our six orange chairs.
We will be keeping our lines of communication open, so please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Service Support (0488 851 113) if you have any questions or concerns. We understand that these are uncertain times and that you may be feeling heightened levels of concern and anxiety. We’d like to remind you that you are able to access VESP if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you again for all your support as we navigate this new environment. We will be in touch with more information soon.
In these challenging times, we ask for your trust and support as we face this ever-changing environment. Our mission to positively connect communities is as important as ever right now; we remain focused on ensuring we can deliver our service to friends in safe environments, while playing our part to help ‘flatten the curve’ to slow the speed of transmission. There is much still unknown about the COVID-19 virus. Global experts are working to gain a full understanding about how the virus behaves, transmits and impacts those who are infected. At Orange Sky, we are experts in washing and conversations, so we are relying on expert and up to date knowledge to build recommendations that will support the continuation of as many shifts as possible for our friends. Please find below the latest update, how we are managing our response for Orange Sky and what this means for you.
Volunteer Participation and Attendance on shift
Firstly, as a volunteer with Orange Sky, if you feel concerned about attending shift due to your own personal health, we encourage and support you in making this decision not to attend shift. If you are someone who identifies in a higher risk category as per the government’s guidelines, we recommend you don’t attend shift. Please ensure you are communicating with your Team Leader and Service Leader if you are not able to attend shift. (If you are unsure who to contact, please call Service Support for assistance on 0488 851 113) We understand that shifts will need to be cancelled due to this reason, please know we support this decision. You are still supporting our friends by not attending shift and keeping yourself well to return to volunteering at a later stage.
Shift Operating Decision Framework
We have provided your leadership team with a framework around deciding which shifts are safe to operate in line with current recommendations from trusted health authorities. Shifts will continue to operate if the below measures can be met:
Shift has access to hand-washing facilities (soap & water) or hand sanitiser (over 60% ethanol or 70% alcohol);
Shift has effective disinfectant (bleach) to clean contact surfaces available for use;
Shift environment attracts less than 75 friends, service providers or members of the public (e.g. high pedestrian zone);
Service provider partner is operating for entire shift scheduled time; and
Full volunteer team available in good health (minimum 3).
If you have questions about the suitability of your shift operating, please contact your service leader or service support. We are currently assessing each shift on a time priority basis.
Staying safe on shift
If your shift meets these current requirements, the below control measures should be followed to operate safely:
Do not come to shift if you feel unwell;
Wash hands frequently and thoroughly before, during & after shift;
Wear gloves at all times during shift and change frequently;
Remember to cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue which you throw away and wash your hands straight after;
Avoid touching your face;
Use disinfectant and a cloth to wipe all contact surfaces during and after shift (follow process below);
Practise 1m physical distance between friends and volunteers;
Do not shake hands or high five volunteers or friends;
Set orange chairs up 1m apart or not at all; and
Encourage all friends to also wash their hands frequently on shift and offer hand sanitiser if available.
If your shift has been cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19 and you are fit to volunteer, please let your Service Leader or Service Support know if you are available to help out on a different shift.
Disinfectant Cleaning Process
A number of reliable and high quality sources were reviewed for the following recommendations. As your safety is our priority, we ask that you implement these as soon as possible.
– Wipe all contact surfaces* with approved disinfectant solution and a disposable cloth;
– Dispose of gloves after use; and
– Put gloves and cloths in a bin which should be disposed of at the end of each shift.
*Contact Surfaces refers to:
Drivers and passengers: When you collect the van, wipe down steering wheel, indicators, door handles, hand brake, seat belt. When you return to base, ensure you repeat this wipe down of all contact points in the van.
After every wash and dry: Spray and wipe down inside the washing machine, the washing machine door handle, baskets, dryer door handles, side door handle.
After every shower: Spray and wipe down all contact points in the shower cubicle including handrails and door handles. When cleaning the showers wear gloves, a mask and protective eyewear (wipe over glasses after use).
Keeping up to date
We are working daily on keeping up to date with the latest recommendations by the government. We are communicating regularly with Service Leaders as things progress. We encourage you to continue to reach out to your local leadership team or Service Support if you have any questions or queries. Orange Sky’s successful response relies on all of us working collaboratively and communicating regularly. Keep an eye on your local team messenger groups and local Facebook page, as well as the website for the most up-to-date information,
As many of you are aware, Coronavirus(often also referred to as COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2) was recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The Orange Sky Operations and Leadership teams have been monitoring and developing early stage approaches to the development of Coronavirus. Due to Thursday’s escalation in the categorisation of Coronavirus, we will now commence a more active campaign to both prepare for, and take action, to mitigate risk to volunteers, your families, staff, partners and friends. An internal Health and Safety Group focused on Coronavirus has been formed and will be touching base each morning to discuss operations, communications, health and safety. Regular updates can be found on the Australian Government Health website.
We will be putting out more regular communications identifying measures we would encourage you to take, and measures Orange Sky will take, to safeguard your health and wellness and minimise chances of both catching and transmitting the virus. These updates will be communicated to your local leadership team. Please reach out to Service Support on 0488851113 or your local leadership team with any questions.
Volunteer Health & Wellbeing
In line with government advice, if you have recently travelled to an at risk area, please ensure you don’t go on shift for 14 days. If you feel unwell, make sure you are following the advice of health authorities and communicating with your Service Leader and Team Leader. Your safety and wellbeing always comes first.
We are also opening our VESP program to anyone who wishes to use this service for psychological help during this time. You can access this information on the Portal.
Keeping you safe on shift
We will likely see a decrease in shifts being able to operate with many service providers suspending operation as well as OSA assessing shifts that might be at higher risk in this pandemic. Lots of our shifts however will remain safe to operate. Below are some tips of what you can do to stay healthy on shift:
Use hand santizer on shift;
Cover your sneeze or cough with your arm not your hands;
Wear gloves on shift; and
Use disinfectant spray and a cloth to clean all surfaces that friends and volunteers have come into contact with throughout shift.
Please, have every confidence that we have been assessing options for a measured approach for some time now and would encourage open communication and questions from the team at any time. Communication is key to ensuring we take a well proactive and measured approach to looking after all of you whilst still being able to, where safe to do so, provide washing, warm showers and conversations for our friends.
Flu season can be a particularly hard time of the year for our friends. While we continue to offer free laundry, warm showers and great conversation out on shift, we wanted to take the opportunity to keep you informed with recommended preventions you can take to protect yourself this flu season.
These suggestions are useful to help limit the spread of germs found in the common cold, flu and widely publicised Covid-19(Coronavirus) currently in the headlines. We don’t want to create alarm, rather we want to ensure that you – our volunteers – are kept informed and can make sensible decisions around your health this flu season.
While we intend for our services to continue operating, if you do feel sick please stay at home and inform your Team Leader. Resting up and consulting your GP is advised.
Tips to help limit the spread of germs
• Remember to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior to commencing work or volunteering, after sneezing and coughing, going to the bathroom, or after touching objects that may have been in contact with people exhibiting flu-like symptoms;
• Use hand sanitiser available on shift;
• Wear gloves while on shift and handling any washing or cleaning items.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick;
• If you feel sick, please stay at home, rest up and visit your GP;
• Know the signs of a flu – fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath; and
Be mindful of physical contact with people displaying flu-like symptoms – consider replacing handshakes with the Orange Sky approved fist bump!
• If you have been in, departed from, or transited through mainland China, Iran or South Korea in the last 14 days, you should:
Self isolate yourself from others for 14 days from the day you departed China, Iran or South Korea. Feel free to roster yourself back on shift at the conclusion of your 14-day self-isolation period; and
Stay safe this flu season, please do not panic, look out for yourselves and each other and if you have any questions, please contact your Service or Team Leader or Service Support on 0488851113 for guidance and advice.
Pending Volunteer Applications
With the latest updates from health authorities due to COVID-19, Orange Sky has made the decision to suspend any training sessions for new volunteers until further notice. We love welcoming new people into the Orange Sky family and we’ll need volunteer support more than ever when our shifts are back up and running at full capacity.
Once we are ready to open new applications for volunteering, applicants will be notified via email when a session is scheduled in your local area. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.