Ask Izzy gets government funding boost amid rising service demand
8 July 2020 at 5:39 pm
The website is being upgraded to better help people navigate social support services
A website connecting Australians in need with nearby support services is getting government funding to better deal with a surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ask Izzy – which lists more than 370,000 health and welfare services across Australia – recorded over 450,000 searches during March and April, a 60 per cent jump since the same time last year.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Morrison government was providing $685,000 in funding over the next six months to enhance the site, which is powered by not-for-profit social enterprise Infoxchange.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said that Ask Izzy was offering a vital service to the community during the pandemic.
“During these unprecedented times it is important people know what support is available to them,” Ruston said.
“The Morrison government is committed to helping Australians through the pandemic and by supporting the Ask Izzy website we’re connecting Australians with a variety of crucial government, charitable and other services, such as emergency relief providers, housing services and counselling.”
This funding for Ask Izzy will go towards ensuring those affected by the coronavirus pandemic can connect to support easily, especially if they have never had to navigate social services before.
With a lot of organisations adapting their services during COVID, the site’s directory technology will also be updated to make changing service information quicker and more efficient.
Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs told Pro Bono News he was extremely grateful for the government support.
He said it came at a time when there was expected to be another surge in demand for services, given the second Victorian lockdown.
“We’re anticipating another increase in searches of support over the next six weeks, and even just in the last couple of days, we’ve started to see an increase in people looking for emergency relief and food services and money help services,” Spriggs said.
He noted that the upgrade would also involve sharing data insights from Ask Izzy searches to help the community and government better respond to the crisis.
“These insights are really valuable at being able to look at – by geographical area – what sorts of services people are looking for and then making sure that we’re responding as a sector to those needs,” he said.
“So, for example, some of the biggest increases we’ve seen is for food and emergency relief… but we’re expecting to see a further increase in demand in areas like mental health and family violence.
“And so we’ll be able to provide close to real time insights on what those needs are, and service providers and governments will then be able to respond to those needs in a more active way.”