Sacred Heart Mission’s Response to the coronavirus (Covid-19)

Sacred Heart Mission’s Response to COVID-19 (coronavirus)

26 March 2021

This statement reflects how Sacred Heart Mission is monitoring and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including activating our Business Continuity Plan.

SHM is following the advice of the Australian Government before activating changes to provision of services and operations in response to COVID-19. Modified arrangements are being implemented to make sure we can continue to provide critical services to our clients while maintaining the health and safety of our staff, clients, residents, volunteers and community is paramount.

Our procedures, processes and systems are being reviewed and modified to prevent and minimise the risks of COVID-19 community transmission, and are ready to adapt to ongoing changes as required.

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Coronavirus updates

To find out more about the coronavirus restrictions in Victoria, limitations to domestic travel as well as COVID-19 symptoms and testing, please visit the COVID-19 website of the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria.

The Department of Home Affairs also provides essential information about Covid-19 in 63 different languages.

Entering a Sacred Heart Mission site 

In Victoria, you no longer have to wear a face mask or covering in public settings from 6pm on Friday, 26 March 2021. But our frontline workers and visitors in our residential facilities will still need to wear one.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Our aged care and disability care residents and frontline workers will receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the national vaccine rollout strategy.

Sacred Heart Mission, along with our housing and homelessness partners are advocating directly with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) for appropriate and tailored responses for people experiencing homelessness and the effects of deep, persistent disadvantage and social exclusion to be included for priority access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and voluntary but we highly recommend our staff, residents, clients and volunteers receive it to keep Sacred Heart Mission free of the virus. More information about the vaccine can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services vaccine website.

Provision of client services during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Our accommodation and homelessness services are essential services. With appropriate spatial distancing, PPE and other necessary service modifications, our focus is to continue to safely provide critical services as far as practicable, because our clients will be the most impacted by the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. They include older people, people on low incomes, people with a disability and those without a home.
  • Service modifications have been implemented in different ways across service types and aim to maintain the health and wellbeing of staff and clients.
  • We will be focusing on critical support to make sure our clients have their needs met and are as prepared as possible in this changing environment.

Engagement Hubs (Dining Hall, Central Services and the Women’s House)

  • We are offering our Dining Hall clients a combined breakfast and lunch takeaway. Our meals service has been modified, to reduce the need for vulnerable people to gather as they wait for their meal. This service will occur between 10am-1pm, outside the front gate of our Dining Hall (87 Grey Street, St Kilda).
  • To support physical distancing, we have marked chalk lines in front of the op shop at 87a Grey Street, St Kilda, to indicate the 1.5 metres of distance people are required to keep between each other.
  • Access to the GP is available four days a week from Monday to Thursday.
  • Essential outreach, case management, and duty support will occur face-to-face. Current clients receiving case management have been supported with mobile phones.
  • We currently offer clients from the Women’s House takeaway meals from outside the front gate of our Dining Hall on Grey Street.
  • The Women's House will continue to offer crisis and housing support from 8:30am to 11am.
  • Open-house access, showers, laundry and the sleep room are temporarily closed.
  • The Wellness Place has moved services such as our physiotherapy pain clinic and dietetics services onto an eHealth platform with other services being put on hold at this time.
  • The Health and Wellbeing group activities have also been placed on hold.

Hotel Response Teams

  • Our COVID-19 Hotel Response Teams are providing a reduced security and safety response at three hotels accommodating GreenLight Heart clients in the inner city and will continue to operate until March 31.

Hotel Emergency Accommodation Response Team (HEART)

  • Our Heart response has integrated into our individual planned support programs including GreenLight, as Heart clients have been allocated case management support from across client services.

GreenLight Supportive Housing Program

  • We have recommenced provision of case management and service coordination to clients face-to-face with appropriate social distancing and PPE.
  • Will accept new referrals, and continue close work with housing partners to sustain housing for clients.

Journey to Social Inclusion

  • J2SI will continue essential outreach and are providing case management and service coordination to clients, with social distancing and PPE, while working with housing partners to sustain housing for clients.  

Homefront Crisis Accommodation for women

  • As a priority homeless service, we will continue to provide on site support directly to clients with distancing and universal infection controls etc.

Bethlehem Community

  • As a priority homeless service, we will continue to provide on site support directly to clients with distancing and universal infection controls etc.
  • Outreach to women housed independently in Sofia's Place, My Place and case management have recommenced face-to-face work.

Sacred Heart Community

  • Visitors are now allowed back into SHC’s residential care in our newly purpose-built, 97-bed facility 
  • Residents and staff are adhering to spatial distancing principles 
  • We have distributed hand sanitisers and implemented staff education.
  • Where possible, medical reviews are undertaken remotely using eHealth.
  • Cleaning services have been reviewed and increased.

Rooming House Plus Program

  • As a residential service offering bedsit accommodation for 67 people living with mental health, drug and alcohol-related issues, visitors are not allowed during the new five-day lockdown. 
  • We have placed information around the facility to ensure current recommendations are accessible by all staff and residents.
  • We have created discrete staff teams and rosters to reduce staff contacts and implemented the use of PPE as well as training for all staff.

Sacred Heart Local

  • As a service offering in-home support to 200 people both aged people and people living with disabilities, we implemented daily welfare checks by a phone for all clients.
  • Hand wash and gloves have been distributed to all essential, community-based support staff alongside online education.
  • Office isolation principles have been implemented and reduced office-based staff to a minimum to avoid contact between front line and office staff.
  • We have implemented technologically based communications and tools to reduce the need to access the central office.

Operational changes

  • We’ve been using technology to conduct meetings, events, and training since March, 2020. Our Working for Victoria staff commenced in September for our op shops, office sites, and client services.
  • We have improved our collection of contact tracing data through the implementation of QR Codes for all essential workers and visitors attending any SHM site.

Op shops

  • All of our op shops are open and we’re accepting donations; our free collection service is also available.
  • You can shop at our new online store from the comfort of your home
  • Our 12 stores fund more than 30 per cent of Sacred Heart Mission’s programs and services, including our Meals Program and the Women’s House. Without our stores running at full capacity, the various services we provide are underfunded. 


Our fundraising events

  • We cancelled both our Dine with Heart campaign and the Women for Women Light up a Life Lunch in May 2020. Our Heart of St Kilda concert was held digitally in early December 2020.
  • We will continue to communicate future decisions about other upcoming events with our key stakeholders.

For further information about our services during the coronavirus pandemic please check out our COVID-19 FAQ:

Covid-19 FAQ

Sacred Heart Mission acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal owners of country throughout Victoria and pays respects to them, their culture and their elders past, present and emerging.


Sacred Heart Mission has always aimed to be a place that embraces a sexuality and gender diverse community; everyone is welcome at our table and we believe a diverse community is good for everyone.
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