FOHT – Response to COVID-19

Announcement: All Friends events cancelled until the end of May 2020

Dear Members and Volunteers

FOHT has been monitoring the rapidly changing developments arising from the pandemic announcement for Coronavirus COVID-19 and especially the need to adhere to public health requirements issued by the Federal and State Governments.

As a member-based organisation that relies on the active support of our dedicated volunteers, we are most focused on the health, safety and wellbeing of our members and volunteers.  We have considered the public health requirements about social distancing as well as the related issue of avoiding non-essential activity and our specific demographic. We also wanted to make clear decisions that allow lead in time for our volunteer Walk and Maintenance Coordinators to organise necessary changes to programmed events.

The Friends Council has made the difficult decision to cancel ALL FOHT events: this includes all walks in our program, all trail maintenance trips and section work, all face-to-face meetings and to close the office.  This will have effect immediately until 31 May 2020. We recognise that the public health requirements may continue to change so Council has established a small response group to review the COVID-19 situation as it evolves and update members should changes occur.

Action from hereon:

  • Walk and Maintenance Leaders will contact groups about any specific details.
  • The Office will continue to be monitored by a small team of willing volunteers to ensure emails, phone and shop are managed.
  • Finance team will generally manage the bookkeeping by remote access.
  • We will apply the usual refund policy where members are already booked and paid on walks. If this affects you, you will not need to contact the Office. Please allow us 2 weeks to complete  your  refund.
  • Our Council and Committees will organise through email and phone discussion as needed.

Advice to our members

We encourage you to individually get out walking in nature for your own physical and mental well-being and where it aligns with the current public health requirements.

  • Practice social distancing i.e. keep at least 1.5m away from others;
  • Increase hand hygiene by washing with soap & water after sneezing, coughing, toilet and contact with doors, benches etc.
  • Dispose of tissues safely.
  • Use email and phone communication.
  • Stay home if you are unwell.

These decision will create challenges for the Friends and our partner bus companies, as the current situation is damaging many small businesses.  Please consider renewing your membership to continue to support the Friends and the Heysen Trail.

If you have any questions or concerns

Please email the office if you have any specific questions.  We will appreciate your patience as we may take longer than usual to respond.

This is an unusual time but mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus to protect community health is critical. You may find the following sites useful in monitoring developments:

Melanie Sjoberg
President

Easy membership renewals coming – we’re getting ready to upgrade our website

As a part the upgrade of our membership and walk registration system we will be temporarily suspending online walk registrations for a day or so.

What are we doing?

We are updating the software that we use to run the membership and walk registration system. These changes to the ‘back end’ are mainly going to affect our Office Volunteers and Walk Leaders, but the system will make it easier to renew your membership.

We’ve chosen a period of low demand to make the change. This will allow us to be ready for the period of increased website traffic during the walk season.

Will the change affect you?

Apart from the temporary reduction in services on our website, our members and frequent visitors won’t notice many changes.

Our website address will continue as https://heysentrail.asn.au.

After the upgrade, the Walk Calendar on the website will look slightly different. But the calendar will operate much the same as the one you are familiar with.

There will be a welcome change for anyone intending to register for our End to End 15 walk. Registrations for this and all other events will no longer have a set opening time of midnight. Bookings will generally open at 7am instead.

You can help make the change easy

Over the next week our Office Volunteers will be undertaking training in using the new system.

If you need to renew your membership or register for a walk, we ask you to use the existing website. It will be operating normally until late on Monday February 17th.

If you contact the Office before the shutdown, we may not be able to answer the phone immediately. For urgent enquiries, please send us an email which we will action it as soon as we can.