13 March 2020

Since news of COVID-19 first broke, VSA has been working behind the scenes to ensure the health and wellbeing of all our staff, volunteers and partner organisations.

This is a challenging time, and we need to ensure that everything we do is appropriate and carefully considered and in the best interests of all our people and the communities in the Pacific where we operate. We also want to make sure that we can continue to support our partner organisations and the fantastic work they are doing. 

The health and wellbeing of our volunteers is of paramount importance to us. We have a duty of care to all our volunteers which means we need to take all factors into account and make decisions based on these and the information we are getting from others. 

We have been working closely with our medical advisers, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and have been receiving advice, information and recommendations from them.  

We have considered factors such as potential susceptibility of certain groups having more serious symptoms if they contract COVID-19. All our volunteers who have been identified as being more susceptible to serious symptoms of COVID-19 have either returned to New Zealand, had their deployment delayed, or are about to return to New Zealand (or in one case redeployed to Australia instead).

We are monitoring the situation daily, both in programme countries and here in New Zealand, and will do everything possible to keep staff and volunteers safe while continuing our important work (including volunteer recruitment and briefings).