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Serving to folks with disabilities throughout COVID-19

For Jodi Cassar PSM, public service is all about coming collectively and dealing in direction of a standard aim.

“All the things’s about groups and creating good groups,” Cassar informed The Mandarin.

“In the event you can create good groups, you possibly can create good outcomes.”

A department supervisor for Australia’s Incapacity Technique at Social Companies, Cassar was awarded a public service medal as a part of this yr’s Australia Day honours.

The award was a recognition of her portfolio response inside the COVID-19 taskforce. In that position, Cassar targeted on supporting folks with disabilities, their employees and caregivers through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The taskforce helped ship 2.5 million vaccine doses and incapacity help pensions to NDIS contributors and help the distribution of three.3 million speedy antigen checks.

She was stunned by a real willingness throughout all sectors to attain a optimistic final result for folks with disabilities, even when “issues weren’t all the time good”.

“Folks had been very understanding that, within the time of a pandemic, there have been new conditions day by day that we weren’t essentially anticipating,” Cassar mentioned.

The pandemic was a complicated time with rampant misinformation. Cassar’s taskforce targeted on how that affected folks with disabilities.

They believed having good relationships and communication throughout sectors helped throughout a disaster.

A key a part of the portfolio response was linking again to the supply of reality, referring folks to federal or state and territorial departments to make sure that they had related, factual and well timed data.

Cassar mentioned collaboration between governments and other people with disabilities was an important expertise.

“I am an enormous believer in iterative change to make a distinction,” she mentioned.

“Actually participating with folks that the change will impression on, [by] listening and understanding what it’s that that neighborhood or that sector or that individual wants, you may make positive they’re receiving the best companies and help.”

Responding to COVID-19 was not the one time in her 20-year public service profession Cassar has labored in emergency response: she has labored in bushfire, flood and cyclone responses.

“It is a part of not simply the general public service tradition however simply the Australian tradition usually — we genuinely do need to assist folks once they most want it,” Cassar mentioned.

“[It’s] the essential a part of any catastrophe restoration, not simply the fast response — how will we guarantee that publish the catastrophe or the occasion that these help companies are nonetheless there?”

Cassar started her public service profession in Centrelink’s Maitland workplace, working there for about 12 years.

She then labored on main transformation tasks inside what was referred to as the Division of Human Companies. She spent 4 years on the welfare cost infrastructure program earlier than turning into NSW ICT state supervisor at Social Companies in 2019.

Whereas engaged on a user-centred welfare program, Cassar spent a weekend in Redfern speaking to a gaggle of high-school and tertiary First Nations college students about modifications to ABSTUDY.

“There was one explicit participant of the design session, Sam, who was only a unbelievable younger child,” Cassar mentioned.

“His parting phrases to us all had been if we might simply make a few of these modifications, and actually fire up the mud, that can make a major distinction within the lives of First Nations folks.

“His remark has all the time caught with me.”

Collaboration and teamwork underscore Cassar’s work. She mentioned “open, frank and trustworthy conversations” helped when coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One individual’s concept should not simply be shut down,” she mentioned. “If we are able to actually collaborate, and add layers to a selected concept, you really find yourself with a greater final result.

“It truly is about these relationships, and the way you’re employed collectively and hold communication open and trustworthy in good instances and in tougher instances.”

Cassar mentioned receiving the general public service medal was a humbling expertise and an honor.

“If I might share the award with all my staff and take them on that journey with me, I completely will,” she mentioned.

“It wasn’t simply me. There have been plenty of different individuals who had been a part of this response that helped obtain outcomes.”

This perception in teamwork extends to Cassar’s private life; she was awarded the Netball NSW Dot McHugh OAM Administrator Award in 2022.

“Something in life can be a staff effort.”

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