2020 continues to deliver both challenges and moments of insight. The impact of COVID-19 has brought many issues to the forefront. As an organisation who serves and supports vulnerable or often marginalised communities, one of those key issues is how we temper responses to our CALD communities in times of crisis.

We have, in particular, seen unfair blame and vilification directed towards migrant communities during the pandemic. This is why we are proud to be a part of the “Better laws for Safe QLD” Campaign – an initiative that aims to strengthen the legal protections of Queensland’s diverse communities from vilification and hate crimes.

We want to see changes to the law which fix the gaps in the current laws, address the distribution of hate materials/symbols and the lack of charges/prosecution for offences.

We can, and should be doing more as a community to stop the abuse and work towards a cohesive society. You can read more about the initiative and how you can be involved here.

On a lighter note, I know we are all pleased to hear that Queensland is still avoiding large outbreaks of coronavirus and our compatriots in the southern states are getting things back under control as well.

I recently saw a report which compared Queensland’s coronavirus cases to cases in South Carolina, USA (the Google Mobility Report.) These two states have roughly the same population – around 5 million people – but while Queensland has had 1,161 cases, South Carolina has had over 157,000.

Personally, this really helped put things back into perspective, and made me so grateful to live in Queensland, and Australia, where most of us – the public and politicians alike – have taken the advice of health professionals. Because of this, and our collective willingness to do what is right and safe for the good of everyone, we are in a far better place than many other countries in the world.

Results have been encouraging on a local level, and with that in mind, we have decided, , together with Settlement Services International, to postpone a return to office until early next year (2021).

I know for many of our clients and stakeholders this will be unfortunate – but just because office doors are closed, does not mean we will leave our communities behind. I have spoken many times about the incredible work Access staff did during lockdown to ensure our clients could access services remotely. They will continue to do this with the same dedication and commitment they have displayed since the start of the year.

Things may look a little different at Access for a while, but I assure you we are still here for the communities we serve. Please visit our website to stay up-to-date with how things will operate until next year.

Take care,
Gail Ker