As you know, COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in Allowah Presbyterian Children’s Hospital having to close some of our programs and has also significantly reduced our general admissions. Many of the children we care for are extremely vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, and over the past 18 months we have had to put in place precautions to ensure their safety during the pandemic, particularly for those children with very complex medical needs and disabilities who spend most of their lives in our care.
These programs have, in the past, provided funding to cover the costs of the hospital. The income loss has had a huge impact on us financially. We have been able to absorb the losses of the past few years from our reserves. Funds raised by our generous supporters — and you may be one — have made a great difference. JobKeeper provided some relief last year, but is no longer available. We are applying for JobSaver which should help a little, but our situation remains difficult.
So why persist?
We persist because we believe all children are made in the image of God, including children with disabilities. We believe that every child is precious and every child should be able to access the health and disability supports they need. We believe that every family should have the support they need to stay together, and to be supported to raise and love their children. We persist because we want to show God’s love to these children and their families.
Running Allowah is difficult. It’s a costly ministry that poses many challenges. The fact that we, and the Presbyterian community, persists with the work shows we don’t merely say we believe the doctrine of the image of God, we are demonstrating that belief. We support children at Allowah, and their families, even though their struggle is often unseen and unheard. In the present situation with COVID-19 it would be very easy for these kids, and their need to “fall between the cracks”. With our faith, we need to help them, so they are seen and heard.
What are we doing?
For the longer term, in order to address the financial vulnerability caused by setbacks such as COVID-19, we have been discussing ways that Allowah could better partner with NSW Health to meet the needs of children with complex medical needs and disabilities. We have had several discussions with Senior Policy Officers from the Ministry of Health and the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, and hope to progress a number of partnerships with NSW Health.
The reality is though that these longer-term initiatives will not address our immediate and urgent need for funds in 2021 due to COVID-19. We need $1.6M emergency funding to see us through 2021. We have talked to our local member, Dr Geoff Lee, and a number of other NSW government ministers to this end. We are also hopeful that Minister Henskens and Minister Perrottet who announced changes to JobSaver and a fund to support the Social Support Sector will come to visit Allowah and discuss what that Support Fund could provide.
Dr Lee has kindly agreed to take a petition to the NSW government on our behalf. We will be asking the Legislative Assembly to ask Ministers to provide $1.6M in emergency funding and $1.6M in annual block funding for Allowah, so we can recover from the setbacks of COVID-19 and continue caring for children with complex disabilities and medical needs.
What can you do?
First, you can pray. Give thanks to God that he has protected the staff and children at Allowah during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pray for the children and their families, that they would find times of peace and that we would be able to support them the best we can during this time. Please give thanks for our resilient staff. Please give thanks to God for opening a number of doors within NSW Health and the NSW Government, and thank Him for the warm reception we have received. Please pray that we would have wisdom as we seek government support and as we manage our own resources. Please give thanks for the many individuals who continue to support Allowah in prayer, in practical ways and financially. Give thanks for God’s faithfulness to Allowah over many years and pray that Allowah can continue for many more.
Second, we would love you to sign, and share, our petition. You can find it by clicking the link below. It’s very upfront about what we believe and what we need. It has to take a very specific format, and we only get 250 words to explain a complex situation. They might not be exactly the words you personally would have chosen, but they are carefully chosen to give us the best chance of being heard. With enough signatures, Dr Lee will be able to speak to parliament on our behalf and give a voice to you and the children we care for.
To support this petition, please click the link below. Make sure you enter your details and place a tick in each of the check boxes or your signature will not count.
If you are comfortable doing so, please share the link to the petition with as many people as you can. Signatories need to reside in NSW to be able to sign.
While we don’t know the outcome of these efforts, we are confident that we are on the right track to securing funding. We also know that our great God, who has sustained Allowah for so many years, knows what we need.
Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to ensure that Allowah can continue to provide the wonderful service it does well into the future.
Thank you for your support, and as always if you have any questions or concerns please get in touch with me.
Chief Executive Officer
Link to the petition https://jerichoroad.org.au/imageofgod/