Changes to ACON services, programs and events due to COVID-19

APN ACON LogoFollowing government instructions and public health advice, ACON has been implementing and will continue to enact a range of measures to safeguard the health of our communities, clients, staff and volunteers.

“We are closely monitoring developments relating to COVID-19 and we continue to take guidance from state and federal health agencies,” said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill. “We urge our communities to stay informed and keep up to date with the latest health information and advice. The safety and wellbeing of our clients, community members, employees and volunteers are our top priority.”

“Due to the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19, we are enacting a range of measures, whch will impact the provision and delivery of various ACON services, programs, initiatives and events. It is crucially important we follow advice on social distancing. We must do all that we can to help efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“ACON is closely monitoring the situation, which is evolving daily, and we are constantly reviewing our activities. We will update our communities as information comes to hand,” said Parkhill.“In these uncertain times, we remind our community of ACON’s statement released on Friday 20 March to not engage in casual sex at this time.”

The following measures have been implemented, effective immediately:

ACON Counselling, CareCoordination and Intake Services:
“We know that some people may find the constant stream of stories about COVID-19 challenging and overwhelming,” said Parkhill. “And others, such as older members of our communities, those who are socially isolated or in self-quarantine, may experience difficulties with their situation. We are reminding everyone that support and assistance is there for those who need it.”

ACON counselling, care coordination and intake services are still operating with services now being delivered online. Contact ACON on (02) 9206 2000 or visit www.acon.org.au for more information.

ACON HIV and STI Peer Testing Service:
ACON’s a[TEST] Oxford St will continue operating and provide our communities access to rapid HIV testing and STI screenings.

  • Hours of operation will be modified from six days a week to five days a week.
  • It will operate from Monday to Friday from 11.00am – 6.15pm.
  • Saturday service will be suspended.
  • Testing will be done by appointment only. Until further notice, walk-in service has been suspended.
  • For more information, visit the Ending HIV website here.

Other ACON testing services will be temporarily closed until further notice including a[TEST] Kings Cross, a[TEST] Surry Hills, trans[TEST], a[TEST] Chinese Clinic and Check OUT: LGBTIQ+ Sexual Health Clinic. a[TEST] Newtown is currently suspended due to clinical partner staff shortages.

ACON Needle & Syringe Program:
ACON will continue to run the Needle & Syringe Program in Surry Hills, Newcastle and Lismore. Social distancing measures are now in place to limit face-to-face interaction. Services may be revised as the situation develops.

ACON HIV Meal Service:
ACON’s HIV meal service is still running and will now operate on a takeaway basis. Service may be revised as the situation develops.

ACON Head Office:
ACON Head Office in Surry Hills will continue to remain open with limited staff.

ACON Communications:
ACON will continue to inform our communities of the latest health advice and information. To get the latest ACON news:

Other ACON Services & Programs:

  • All non-essential ACON events, in-person meetings, social meet-ups, information forums, peer education workshops, training sessions, community gatherings and awards presentations have been cancelled or postponed until further notice.
  • The ACON Meeting Centre (Level 3, 414 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills) will be temporarily closed until 31 March. It is likely this closure will be extended.
  • All temporary closure periods and suspension of events may be subject to extension.
  • All other programs and services are running as usual for now, but the situation may change.

ACON Social & Community Events:
As directed by the Government, all non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100, and all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people, are no longer permitted.

ACON has cancelled or postponed all ACON events of that size until further notice, including:

ACON will provide updates on new dates and developments as they come to hand.

ACON Staff:
ACON’s Head Office in Surry Hills remains open with limited staff, and key services such as a[TEST] Oxford St and the ACON Needle & Syringe Program are still in operation.

All other ACON staff in Sydney are working and providing services from home until further notice. This will be reviewed as the situation evolves.

ACON Hunter and Northern Rivers Offices remain open, delivering essential health services in line with government instructions and advice. We are continuing to work with partner organisations on putting in place support systems for local community members. We will provide updates regarding our regional services as they come to hand.

Across ACON, staff will be excluded from work for 14 days if they have:

  • Recently returned overseas
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • Have respiratory illness

ACON staff have been reminded to practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol hand sanitiser and by covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow.

Social distancing measures are in place, with staff encouraged to not to shake hands, keep 1.5 metre distance from others, moving all external meetings to online and catching public transport outside peak hour. Public health information and signage have been distributed and installed at all ACON offices and facilities.

“These are uncertain and challenging times, but our community is resilient,” said Parkhill. “History shows how strong our communities are when we come together in times of adversity. We are all in this together and we will overcome it if we all do our part. Let’s continue to stay informed so we can look after ourselves and each other.”

For more information, visit: www.acon.org.au for details

Image: courtesy of ACON

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