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Kate Talks // 11 August 2020

Week Two:

Dear Friends,

As promised, I’m delivering the next weekly update. When I say I hope it finds you well, I really do mean that, my Melba friends.

I’d’ really like to explain about, well… Melba’s growth. You could be a Melba client in Gippsland, or on the Mornington Peninsula, or in Lilydale, or in Dandenong, or in Ballarat - which I’m a bit biased towards Ballarat myself.

What this means, is, that even though Melba is one organisation, it is delivering a lot of different services to a lot of different areas. On top of that, each area has its own COVID-19 restrictions that can literally change day-by-day. It’s why some clients are receiving services that others aren’t, and it’s why those people aren’t receiving services and other clients are. It is confusing, and it can be frustrating.

So, for this update, I am very deliberately putting the clients front-and-centre. I’m encouraging all clients to speak up, or ask their friends or family members to do it on their behalf, to ask for services that they need at this time.

If you don’t get a proper response, keep asking! Honestly, my Melba friends, I can’t stress this point enough. That’s why it is at the start of this update. Melba loves to have your complaints as much as your compliments. Really! So if you’re not happy with what you have been told by a support worker, or by your local office, please email the person on the list below who looks after your area. They’re not just there to look after that area – they are there to look after you:

General Manager Outcomes, Central Highlands & Wimmera: Rachael Jones (

General Manager Outcomes, East: Aaron Fry (

General Manager Outcomes, Gippsland: Kerrie White (

General Manager Outcomes, South: Angela Quero (

This week’s suggestion of something new to do is an important one. As a person of disability, sometimes I feel like I have a more stressful time in some ways. In a lot of cases, isolation during COVID-19 restrictions can make that even harder for many people. Beyond Blue has launched its new Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service and you can chat online, join a forum or speak on the phone if you need to. It’s such an important time to reach out and look after your mental health. Whatever you are feeling during these challenging times, you can talk it through with one of Beyond Blue’s councillors. The phone number is 1800 512 348.

Now, to the topic that is on everyone’s lips. Well, technically, on their faces. Masks. Wearing a mask is easier for some people than others. Victorians are being advised to wear a mask or face covering when they leave home.

But there are exceptions. If you are not able to wear a mask due to a physical or medical condition, such as a person with an autism spectrum disorder, you can still go out. Melba can arrange a kind of ‘exception letter’ that can be provided to authorities to explain why you are exempted from wearing a mask. It can be a delicate situation when you are out and about and not wearing a mask or face covering in a crowded place though. So if masking up is not possible, please try to stick to areas where social distancing is easy.

If you are having trouble getting hold of a mask, ask your support worker and they will be able to find one. The current advice from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, is that anything is better than nothing, so even a scarf covering your nose and mouth will do if you don’t have a mask.

Before you go, please check out the video posted on Melba’s Facebook page by John, a fellow client. He’s the most charismatic person you’ll find doing an online demo of good hand hygiene and the video has more than 30,000 views so far. It’s at:

The next update will be on Tuesday 18 August. In the meantime, you can visit, like us on Facebook, and follow Melba on Twitter and Instagram using @melba_support

Thanks, stay safe and try to have fun,

Kate Taylor


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