The Executive Director, Chief Risk Officer and senior leadership group at UFS continues to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak. Along with the Synod Secretariat and Uniting Mission and Education leadership, we are taking precautionary measures to minimise the risk of exposure in our offices, with a view both to taking care of our staff as well as contributing towards the public health measures to limit and manage the spread and impact of COVID19.

We have, therefore, taken the precaution of enacting our business continuity plan, which includes measures to ensure on-going support of critical activities that our investors and borrowers require. These measures include:

  • Implementing a greater capacity for our staff to work effectively from multiple locations, including working from home;
  • Making greater use of conference call and video conferencing capabilities;
  • Quarantine protocols for staff who might have been exposed through travel or other forms of contact;
  • Increased hygiene protocols in our offices.

The health and wellbeing of the people who work for UFS is our top priority and we will continue to adjust our operations as required.

In view of the above, opportunities to visit our offices in person may be limited for the time being. If you do need to speak with someone from UFS in person, please request an appointment and we will endeavour to organise someone to be available for the meeting, or to arrange an alternative way of meeting your needs. Of course, we ask that you do not visit our offices if you are displaying flu-like symptoms – including cough, fever or shortness of breath.

We also ask that you try to minimise the amount of physical (snail) mail that you send through to us. Depending on the extent of any possible future enforced lock down, the collection of this mail will be disrupted. Our staff are happy to accept photos, scans and images of this type of correspondence, and they may call you to discuss the matter in need.

We will provide on-going updates via our website, Uniting Online messaging and the UFS Facebook page. If you have any questions, please contact our Partner Solutions and Support team on 1300 133673 or via email at contactus@unitingfinancial.com.au.

Finally, we believe this situation is serious because, although the health impact on many individuals who get coronavirus may be mild, that’s not the case for everyone. Many who contract it will need hospitalisation. If the spread of the virus isn’t slowed and contained, then there’s a genuine risk that the sheer numbers of people affected may exceed our health system’s capacity to treat. (This is what has happened in other countries, such as Italy.) This can in turn have consequences for people with other illnesses whose treatment is delayed by the number of coronavirus cases.

It’s incumbent upon all of us to treat this issue seriously and take appropriate precautions. Therefore, though you’ll have seen this sort of information before, we cannot stress enough the importance of following basic hygiene protocols such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, or better still do so into your elbow rather than anywhere near your hands.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Regularly disinfect all flat surfaces that you may come into contact with, as the virus can live for several days on flat surfaces (whether stainless steel, plastic or other materials).
  • Avoid large crowds of people (currently defined by the health authorities as groups of 500 or more). The risk of rapid spread of the virus is greater in large groups.

You can keep informed by accessing the Australian Government Health Department advisory service: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert