Vision Australia Radio (VAR) continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and will continue to follow directions from all levels of government to support efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
As a community broadcasting service for the blind, low vision and print disabled communities, we are committed to continuing to provide access to information and our specialised programming across the VAR network in line with the strict guidelines outlined by the authorities to minimise the impact of the virus on our volunteers and staff.
At present, we are operating the service from our Melbourne and Adelaide stations with two staff at each site with a significantly reduced volunteer team and a roster that minimises the amount of people on site at any one time.
The remainder of our staff and volunteers are self-isolating and working from home while still contributing to the service using online resources and remote recording to do so. Unfortunately, due to the size of our studios and preparation areas in Perth, Albury, Bendigo, Geelong and Shepparton and the inability for us to be able to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, alongside the feedback we’ve been receiving from staff and volunteers in these locations, means we are taking the necessary steps to suspend all local broadcasting in these locations until further notice.
It is a difficult decision but the safety and health of our volunteers is our foremost concern and we will continue to broadcast the VAR service from Melbourne & Adelaide in these areas thanks to the networking infrastructure we have in place.
During this time we have had to make changes to our on air programming, specifically live to air reading programs, to accommodate the current restrictions. During the weekdays, Melbourne will continue to bring you the Morning Paper Round from 7.30am – 10.30am followed by The Australian live program from Adelaide from 10.30 – 12.30pm. The Afternoon Live program is resting and in its place is a selection of great pre-recorded programs from across the VAR Network. Many specialist programs will continue to air as is with presenters producing these programs solo or offsite but some programs are suspended until further notice and replacement programs have been scheduled in their place. At this time this schedule has not been finalised but on air announcements will indicate which shows are affected and a comprehensive list will follow soon. We are also continuing to explore programs to cover local news in Perth, Albury, Bendigo, Geelong and Shepparton and will provide an update on those in the coming weeks.
From Monday March 30, we will also commence in bringing you the latest local news bulletins from ABC Radio for Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin at 7am and 9am. This will allow us to provide the latest news from across the country in line with our more in depth coverage via our newspaper reading programs of the day. We sincerely thank our colleagues at ABC Radio for allowing us to provide these important news bulletins to our audience during this time.
We also extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our volunteers and staff for helping to keep this vital radio service on air during this difficult time and also send our support and best wishes to our listeners and those in the blind, low vision and print disabled community. Be kind, be safe, take care of each other.