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Stories into Evidence Policy Library Community Sector

Stories into Evidence

Stories into Evidence

Covid-19 adaptations in the Victorian community sector


This research was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (2020), and produced in partnership with the Future Social Service Institute.


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound social and economic dislocation.

This report documents the Victorian community services sector’s response to the first six months of the crisis. In particular, it identifies adaptations to service delivery and practice, and emergent changes in service-user demand and community need.

The purpose of the report is to inform recovery and reform, including opportunities to embed or scale innovation, and identify areas requiring deeper investigation and co-design between government and the community sector.

The report draws on qualitative data gathered from interviews with over fifty Victorian community service organisations across all sub-sectors, conducted between July 2020 and September 2020, across family violence, housing and homelessness, alcohol and other drugs, child and family services, young people and justice, mental health, community health, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), aged-care and disability.

The most significant adaptation to emerge from the crisis is the sector-wide shift to primarily digital service delivery to minimise the risk of virus transmission. In order to ensure continuity of services, organisations moved with incredible speed and agility to a range of digital modalities.

While this has worked effectively as a short-term measure in response to a crisis situation, and many organisations have advised that they are likely to move to a blend of face-to-face and digital modalities as restrictions begin to lift, they also said there is an urgent need to understand more about the situations and cohorts for which digital service delivery is appropriate.

More research will be required to fully scope the impact on service users in terms of accessibility and cost, alongside investigating digital service delivery’s effectiveness and impact.