Diamond Valley Community Support (DVCS) is an independent, not-for-profit community organisation providing emergency relief, material aid, information and referral supports to people in hardship, financial and/or personal crisis in the north-east Banyule and Nillumbik regions and surrounds. Each year we assist more than 5000 local residents. We are funded through various sources, the largest of those being our social enterprises, grants and fundraising. We rely heavily on a volunteer workforce to undertake the support services we provide.
DVCS embarked on this study because we wanted to capture the full impact of covid lockdowns on our local community and to advocate on behalf of our communities for more support through grounding community needs in empirical evidence. From anecdotal evidence, through our client base and statistical data, and through our networks with other agencies we work with, we felt strongly that the impacts of COVID lockdowns were far greater that what we were seeing in presentations through our office, which is one of the few services that are (under) funded to provide emergency relief and report back to government on the numbers of people reaching out for help. Based on this evidence we suggest that many people were not reaching out for help, had been reaching out for help in diverse ways that often went unreported or underreported, and therefore the “known” impact of the crisis was largely underestimated.
The methodology of this Impact Study aimed to ground assumptions in well-rounded multi-level and multi-agency data collection. We did this using our own intake data, obtaining data, information and stories from other local support agencies at various levels (funded/unfunded/ community based etc) and through an online survey of the public. We hoped that this would provide both confirmation of trends that DVCS data and other industry data showed, and also tells us the ‘unknown’ impact that is hidden within the community, to enable us to prepare more effectively to meet potential future needs
Secondly, we felt it was crucial to raise awareness of the fragility of the sector – what might happen if agencies like ours and most others in the Emergency and Food Relief sector, who rely largely on the good will of volunteers and independent fundraising, were unable to service the level of need in the community.
“I have walked past your office 15 times before I got the courage to ask for help”
“I did not want my friends to know I am struggling”
Melbourne has seen a “cascading effect of disadvantage increasing through each lockdown” (SBS News 2021), with many seeking emergency relief and food relief services for the first time, leaving many under-funded and under-resourced groups and agencies facing overwhelming demand (VCOSS 2021). Relief agencies and the community are worried about what comes next, especially with the federal government set to reduce disaster payments once Australia hits its vaccination targets.
Our counselling and advice services, our community development services such as the Volunteers hub, and our referral services extend across all of Banyule and Nillumbik, however our Emergency Relief is only for the Northeast Banyule and Nillumbik, this is the area the report is based on. Those postcodes are all of Nillumbik and within Banyule,
3083 (part of), 3087, 3088 (part of), 3093, 3094, 3095 (part of).
To read more about the Impact Study, you can download it here.
Diamond Valley Community Support Inc.
Shop 378a Level 3
Greensborough Plaza, Greensborough, Vic. 3088