Station Planning - COVID-19

Danny Chifley, 16th March 2020
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It is imperative that we as a sector work together to ensure safety and continued service to our communities. 

Our focus will be to share information to help you stay on-air and safe while doing so.

Please find below information and resources that will assist your station. Information provided will evolve in accordance with the situation, so be sure to check back on a regular basis. If you have queries or concerns that are not covered via the information below, please contact the CBAA on 02 9310 2999 or email us at support.officer@cbaa.org.au. Alternativley, you may like to join a Facebook Group that has been established by CBAA, simply click here.

Accurate public health updates

With constant media hype, and the contagious panic of the crowd it is easy to lose sight of the facts. Avoid thinking about the, “possible” or “maybe” problems that could occur in the future. Focus on what you can do now. To keep your responses helpful (and to minimise unnecessary stress) consider these tips: 

  • Aim to reduce media exposure as constant checking of media coverage is likely to keep you and those around you in a heightened state of anxiety 
  • For the latest accurate and approved advice and factual information please go to the Australian Governments Health Alert website and the World Health Organisation. Follow their recommended Health Guidelines to support your health, reduce the risk of infection and to inform you of what to do should you feel ill.

Keep up to date with the latest essential information on COVID‑19 - news, updates and advice from Australian Government agencies.

For health enquiries please call the Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus Information Line 1800 020 080 or the health direct hotline 1800 022 222.

Mental Health resources

Citizens around the world are monitoring the evolving impact of COVID-19. Columbia’s Global Mental Health community is a means of sharing information about COVID-19 and the associated mental health consequences.

Our role as media organisations

The media and in particular community radio should also play a critical role in preventing and addressing the social stigma associated with COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the Red Cross have developed a guide for preventing and addressing social stigma associated with the coronavirus disease which the CBAA encourages community radio stations to use in their messaging.

First Draft is a global non-profit that supports journalists, academics and technologists working to address challenges relating to trust and truth in the digital age. They have resources available to assist journalists:

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is dedicated to informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. 

Tips for maintaining business continuity
  • Communicate - start by talking to your board, staff and volunteers either online or in person.
  • Develop - a Contingency Plan to ensure you can stay on the air. 
  • Assess - real risk for your station and people. This means to think and talk about what are the possible scenarios that may eventuate. Keep it simple.
  • Think - about what technical options you have at your disposal to enable individuals to work remotely, What other mechanisms and options do you have on hand to continue broadcasting?  
  • Share - resources to help you facilitate this discussion with your board or station leadership, start with the Australian Government Department of Health website that is being continuously updated. 

Information for your board, staff, and volunteers 

  • For the latest advice and information for employers, visit the Australian Government Department of Health. You can also call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number of your state or territory public health agency is available at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts
  • Understand both your legal obligations to staff/volunteers. The Fair Work Ombudsman has updated resources for workplace entitlements and obligations.

Work, health and safety

Procedures to discuss at your station

  • Limit volunteer numbers and guests to the station - if you need to conduct an interview, do so via telephone.
  • For programs with multiple presenters, perhaps nominate an individual to present on a solo basis for the foreseeable future.
  • Implement any measure that allow presenters and producers to submit content remotely.
  • Consider allowing staff to work from home where possible.
  • Look out for your fellow broadcasters – this situation will be the cause of stress and anxiety and we need to ensure that our fellow broadcasters are coping.
  • Keep a list of everyone who comes and goes from the station including telephone number. This will make it easier to track people’s movements and easier to understand who to call if the situation warrants.
  • Support staff mental and physical health by sharing resources that support well being and boost immunity.

Review the situation daily and follow the advice of the relevant authorities. While our licence conditions and obligations to our community call for us to provide as much live and local programming as possible, the health of our community is paramount. Be prepared to limit access to your station should you receive advice from the relevant authorities to do so.

Does your station need additional content?

CBAA's Community Radio Network are offering stations access to their programs for the next six months, so you can get back on your feet, keep your audience engaged and maybe even discover a program your community really loves.

The transfer via FTP requires no satellite, can be flexibly set up, either accessed manually, scheduled to download in station’s automation systems or third-party software, or more advanced custom scripting. Community Radio Network can also provide some advice on these options to help you access the content. If you are unfamiliar with the broad range of content, have a look at our available programs.  

To find out more or to access this service for your station, please contact the Community Radio Network team at crn@cbaa.org.au or call 02 9310 2999.

National Radio News also has contingencies in place and has a multi-layered fallback plan to continue service through potential relocation and even expanding partnerships with other news stations. This is an important time for news, and we are committed to continuing the service to provide the best information to communities around the country.

The CBAA would like to acknowledge the significant impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on our communities across the world. Our thoughts go out to those who have been directly impacted by this crisis. As the situation progresses, the CBAA will do whatever we can to assist stations. Please reach out if you have questions

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