ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

COVID-19 Update, 25 August 2021

25 August 2021

If you would like to share any gaps or issues affecting your organisation, or any services that require increased funding to meet an immediate need in the COVID-19 response, please get in touch with ACTCOSS through our general email address [email protected] or email someone from the team.


Key Updates

ACT Budget: The 2021-22 ACT Budget will now be presented by the Treasurer on Wednesday 6 October 2021. The ACT Community Sector Budget Forum and the ACTCOSS Members and Peaks Budget Briefings will be rescheduled. Further details to be released shortly. 

Contract variations: The ACT Government directorates are in the process of preparing letters for community sector organisations to allow for contract variations related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

ACT Government announces further financial support for Canberrans in need. Including extension of a range of existing mental health supports; crisis and emergency financial aid and ongoing access to emergency food relief.

Community Partner COVID-19 Update – 21 August 2021: Includes reminders about checking exposure locations, definition of close/casual/secondary contacts, reminder for health, aged and disability care workers to vaccinate, disability workforce matching service, and COVID-19 info in alternative formats. Subscribe to the Community Partner Update here.

Updates for Organisations Supporting Multicultural Communities - 20 August 2021: Updates for ACT organisations and groups supporting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. Includes important information about COVID, health and interpreter/translation services, vaccination, emergency relief, financial support and more.

Strong Families Portal – service info for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people:  Strong Families (act.gov.au) provides information on whole of government services, initiatives and events to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. They have recently included links to key COVID-19 information such as exposure sites, testing, vaccination and school arrangements.

Residential tenants and landlords: Tenants can negotiate rent repayment plans with landlord if in arrears or negotiate a temporary rent reduction. Refer to the ACT Government Renting Book (pdf) for information on tenants’ rights and obligations. The ACT Government also funds the Tenants’ Advice Service provided by Legal Aid ACT. Tenants can call their advice line on 1300 402 512 or go to the Tenancy Advice Service website to access legal advice. Canberra Community Law can provide you with free legal advice – if you need advice with regards to Housing ACT or a community housing provider in the ACT, tenants can call their advice line on 02 6218 7900.

Joint Pathways Update: The Joint Pathways group represents all Specialist Homelessness Services in the ACT.  Following the Joint Pathways meeting on 18 August, the following documents have been shared by OneLink and Housing ACT:

NDIS COVID-19 information for NSW/ACT: On Thursday 26 August, 1pm, NDIS will host an online meeting (join the NDIS meeting via Teams here) to share the following:

  • the latest advice from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)
  • information for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities
  • temporary and on-going pricing arrangements and supports
  • workforce services and the withdrawal of supports by an NDIS provider.

NSW Southern Region Patient Exemptions: NSW Southern Region patient exemptions – what you need to know | Health (act.gov.au)

Protecting Older Australians COVID-19 Update – 23 August 2021: Latest newsletter from Australian Government Department of Health. Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

ACT Health will be at the Early Morning Centre (EMC) to give COVID-19 vaccinations: EMC is liaising with Havelock Housing Association to organise transport to EMC so that their residents/clients can also receive their vaccinations.

Week 1: (First dose)
Monday 23 Aug: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Tuesday 24 Aug: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Thursday 26 Aug: 9:30am to 12:30pm

Week 2: (First dose)
Monday 30 Aug: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Tuesday 31 Aug: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Thursday 2 Sep: 9:30am to 12:30pm

Week 3: (Second dose)
Monday 13 Sep: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Tuesday 14 Sep: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Thursday 16 Sep: 9:30am to 12:30pm

Week 4: (second dose)
Monday 20 Sep: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Tuesday 21 Sep: 9:30am to 12:30pm
Thursday 23 Sep: 9:30am to 12:30pm

Vaccine registration open for 16 to 29-year-olds: More younger Canberrans can now register at Digital Health Record (DHR) (health.act.gov.au) so they are ready to book a COVID-19 vaccination in the weeks ahead. You will need a Medicare card and an existing patient record at an ACT public health facility. If you do not have these, you can call 02 5124 7700 (7am-7pm) for assistance.

New website: Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout: This page contains data about Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Updated daily by the Department of Health.

ACOSS outlines urgent measures to support vaccination rollout and people most at risk and in distress: View briefing papers to National Cabinet here: Coronavirus Information Hub – ACOSS.

Centrelink offices in the ACT: Commonwealth Department of Social Services has confirmed that Centrelink services in the ACT will service customers if they attend a Centrelink office, however, they are not taking bookings.

Updated bus timetable during lockdown: The ACT Government will introduce an interim weekday bus timetable from Wednesday 25 August. More information can be found at Transport Canberra (act.gov.au) or by calling 13 17 10.

Canberra Sex Workers: Can apply for the Emergency Relief Fund with the Scarlet Alliance. Apply via COVID-19 Impact and Response for Sex Workers (scarletalliance.org.au).

artsACT: Has summarised a range of support in their artsACT eNews - 18 August 2021.

Young Thinker Forum and COVID info for kids: The ACT Human Rights Commission is keen to hear from children and young people about how they are doing in lock down and what information and support you need. Share your views at Young Thinker Forum. The Commission also provides COVID info for kids.

ACT Commissioning Project: The ACT Government has confirmed that work on commissioning and procurement reform is continuing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

ACT Corrective Services (ACTCS): We have received the following information:

  • Detainees continue to access health services as required. Additional health services are being delivered by telehealth or deferred.
  • Psychological and psychosocial support services can be accessed by detainees.
  • Access to legal advice and other professional visits are facilitated via the phone system, mail and AVL if booked in advance. 
  • Arrangements are in place with the Courts to hold Court appearances by AVL where possible from the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) to minimise movement of detainees. 
  • Official Visitors can enter the AMC. Even if they are not in attendance at the AMC, detainees will be able to contact Official Visitors via phone and email.
  • Zoom and phone calls are available to detainees to keep in touch with family.
  • Community Corrections Officers have contacted clients by phone to advise of the change in arrangements during the lockdown period and reinforce public health directions. In accordance with the ACTCS Pandemic Response Plan, contact with offenders is generally limited to phone contact so offenders are able to comply with their community-based corrections orders without violating public health orders.
  • Measures are in place to enable those serving community corrections orders to meet obligations under Community Service Work without breaching public health orders.
  • Throughcare will provide people exiting the AMC with information, advice and support regarding current public health directions. Linkages with Community Corrections officers will provide information on reporting requirements during the lockdown period.  
  • As of 12 August 2021, 61% of detainees currently in custody have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and 55% their second dose. All correctional officers at the AMC are eligible for the vaccine under phase 1B. They have been encouraged to be vaccinated at an ACT Government clinic or through a participating general practice.

ACTCOSS COVID-19 Advocacy

ACTCOSS has been advocating on behalf of community organisations and people experiencing disadvantage during this COVID-19 pandemic period through the following:

  • ACTCOSS and the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum recently co-hosted a meeting to facilitate information sharing and to listen to current and emerging issues faced by Canberrans from culturally and linguistically diverse communities during this COVID-19 period.
  • ACTCOSS and partners are engaging with the Justice and Community Safety (JACS) Directorate to put in place appropriate protections for vulnerable tenants including an eviction moratorium.
  • ACTCOSS has written to the ACT Government to request measures including rent relief and other financial support for community sector organisations impacted by COVID-19.
  • ACTCOSS has written to the Chief Minister’s Office for updated advice about the 2021-22 level of indexation for funding contracts and other expected budget announcements given further delay to the 2021-22 ACT Budget.

ACTCOSS Meeting with Members and Peaks on COVID-19: If you are a member of ACTCOSS or an ACT peak body for the community sector, you are welcome to attend our regular COVID-19 online meetings. Please email [email protected](link sends e-mail) for more information.


Helplines

ACT COVID-19 Helpline - 02 6207 7244: 8am -8pm daily.  Or visit the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.

Disability Information Helpline - 1800 643 787: Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-7pm. The Australian Government has established a Disability Information Helpline. The helpline is not available on national public holidays. 

National COVID-19 vaccine helpline - 1800 020 080: This line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Older Person’s Advocacy Network - 1800 700 600: Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support could contact the network.

[New!] Access and Sensory Vaccination Clinic - 02 5124 7700 (select option 3): Call between 7am-7pm daily. The Access and Sensory Clinic is based at the Garran COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8am-3.30pm. This clinic offers clients a quieter space; longer appointment times; a separate entrance vaccinations for support staff, volunteer or carers attending the appointment at the same time as the person with disability; an accessible entry point for wheelchairs and other mobility equipment.


Emergency relief and financial support

  • Emergency Food Relief – call 1800 43 11 33, 9am-5pm: The ACT Government has partnered with VolunteeringACT and the State Emergency Service (SES) to provide emergency food relief to those in need. Any Canberran who is significantly and adversely impacted by the lockdown and is unable to feed their family is encouraged to call.
  • Emergency relief information guides: Volunteering ACT Community Info Hub have created useful information guides listing resources including free meals, laundry and showers, as well as emergency relief services. Find the latest guides here.
  • Emergency Relief Support: MARSS is providing emergency financial and food relief to anyone in financial distress residing in ACT and surrounding regions. Relief includes supermarket vouchers, culturally appropriate food hampers and essential home items, can pay outstanding bills and support clients to refinance or restructure payment plans to alleviate financial distress. Please refer anyone in need to MARSS on 02 6248 8577.
  • [New!] UnitingCare Kippax: Currently operating 9am to 4pm daily (Cnr Luke Street and Hardwick Cres, Holt) for the distribution of emergency items (food, hygiene products and prescription support) and financial aid. Call 02 6254 1733 or visit Uniting Care Kippax.
  • [New!] Roundabout Canberra – essentials for babies and children: Open during lockdown for social agencies to pass on to their clients. Includes essential items for babies and children. Not open to the public. Contact [email protected] or call 02 6193 6452 for more information or visit org.
  • [email protected]: Our community pantries at Tuggeranong and Gungahlin are now OPEN. While in lockdown, we’ll have a ‘Tick and Collect’ system. Clients select their food and essential items, wait at the door of the pantry, and our staff to collect and bring items to them.
  • Carers support: Carers ACT has resourcing available during this time to support carers through the provision of in-home help, emergency respite, financial assistance, advocacy supports, counselling, etc, so please direct any carers to Carers ACT for support.
  • COVID-19 Disaster Payment: Canberrans unable to earn an income during the lockdown may be able to access the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment.
  • Support to isolate while waiting for a test result: ACT Government COVID-19 Test Hardship Isolation Payment (pdf): A payment of $270 will be made to eligible workers who isolate while awaiting their COVID 19 test result. Apply for the isolation payment here.
  • Support if you have COVID-19, are a close contact, or have to care for someone with COVID-19: The COVID-19 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is available if an individual has been directed by ACT Health to self-isolate or quarantine and has no leave entitlements. Apply over the phone or by completing the claim form here.

Service changes and updates

OneLink Operating Hours: Normal hours of operation will continue throughout the lockdown period. These are Monday to Friday 8.00am – 6.00pm, and Saturday and Sunday 12.30pm – 5.00pm.  Service users are encouraged to make contact with OneLink by phoning 1800 176 468 or via www.onelink.org.au. OneLink has access to funding to support the most vulnerable members of the Canberra community, including temporary hotel accommodation for residents in homelessness and community housing who need to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19. Call Jacinta Bishop, Acting Manager on 02 6207 6885 or email [email protected] for more information.

Housing ACT Support for Rough Sleepers, Domestic Violence Crisis Service, Canberra Rape Crisis Centre Operating Hours:

Organisation

Operating hours

Service delivery during Lockdown

Early Morning Centre,
Uniting Care Canberra

Monday to Friday, 7.30-8.30am, and 9am-1pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Take-away meals.
Program activities on hold until further notice

Blue Door,
St Vincent de Paul

Monday to Friday 9am-2.30pm, with breakfast served at 9am and lunch at 12pm.

Take-away meals.
Social inclusion via phone.
Outreach for essential needs.

Roadhouse,
Australian Red Cross

4.30pm to 5.30pm Saturday to Thursday.
Soup Kitchen 12.30pm-2pm Friday.

Take-away meals.

OneLink,
Woden Community Services

8am-6pm Monday to Friday
and Saturday and Sunday 12.30pm-5pm.

Staff currently working from home,
Need appointment for a face to face appointment.

Winter Lodge,
Argyle Housing

9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

No change.
Staff onsite.

McKillop House,
CatholicCare

9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

No change.
Staff onsite

Domestic Violence Crisis Service

24/7 service, Telephone line on 62 800 900.

No change.
24/7 crisis F2F intervention, safety planning, emergency accommodation,
respond to Police and Hospital requests.

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre

Crisis Phone Line 7am-11pm.
Call Out provision to Police and Hospital 24/7.

Intake / Crisis Appointments, Counselling Sessions (including advocacy) via phone or google/zoom. No client attendance at CRCC during the lock down period.

Everyman Services Update: EveryMan will continue to support men, their partners and families already accessing accommodation and support services, counselling services, violence prevention services and Indigenous support and accommodation services. There office in the Griffin Centre will remain closed until further notice. In the meantime, enquiries and referrals can be made by:

Anyone at risk of violence, call Connect & Support Service on 1300 261 610.

Domestic Violence Crisis Service: Will remain available, 24/7, throughout the lock down period. The following operational functions will remain in place:

  1. 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and access to emergency accommodation remains available via our telephone line on 62 800 900.
  2. DVCS will respond to Police and Hospital requests as per usual, we are working to understand access requirements during this time for our staff to attend the Hospitals.
  3. Clients can engage with DVCS during regular business hours via email, SMS, social media and online chat.
  4. DVCS will continue to meet face to face with clients who require urgent safety planning, crisis intervention, emergency accommodation or other supports with COVID safe practices; Where clients do not meet a safety threshold for a face to face we will work with them to ensure we can meet their needs through contact limited accommodation check in, parcel drops, voucher exchanges and phone or online consultations.
  5. Case management ([email protected], Room4Change and Young People’s Outreach Program) will continue to support clients during regular business hours remotely via phone and video conferencing.
  6. In line with the Court’s operation we will not be working from the Court from Monday 16 to Friday 20 August 2021 inclusive.
  7. DVCS will increase their community advertising across social media, radio and other media outlets to ensure our community is aware of DVCS’s presence and availability.

Toora Domestic Violence & Homelessness Services: Will continue to do assessments and intakes as usual.  Case management support will be conducted via phone or video. Rostered staff will be checking in with clients in shared houses. All group activities will be suspended until further notice. For more information on Toora AOD service and counselling service please call 02 6122 7000.

Karinya House: Will as much as possible continue to provide support services to women who are pregnant and early parenting. We have implemented the following:

  • Residential support
    • Ongoing support to the women residing at Karinya House. This includes face-to-face contact and support with babies and children.
    • Supporting residents through the lockdown period, understanding that facing lockdown in a supported accommodation facility has its unique challenges.
  • Outreach support
    • Continuing to provide support through phone or video.
    • We will not be making face-to-face visits but have capacity to deliver material assistance as available to the women we are working with.
    • Continuing to support with essential appointments for which the women we are supporting have no other support person, including antenatal visits and other medical appointments.
  • Phone support
    • Karinya will continue to be staffed 24hours and will continue to provide phone support across this time as normal. Ph: 02 6259 8998.

Mental Health Foundation ACT: Whilst our office in Chifley will close, it is business as usual, and we will continue to provide our participants the necessary supports. For enquiries, please email [email protected] or phone 0438 207 798. There are many different ways we can provide our participants support so we urge everyone to stay connected and continue with your supports.

Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services (MARSS):

  • Casework, counselling and emergency relief support will be available over the phone to clients 00am – 5.00pm Monday – Friday by calling (02) 6248 8577.
  • MARSS' Civic office will continue to open from 00am – 4.00pm Monday-Friday. During lockdown we are requesting clients not to walk in and to initially contact us on (02) 6248 8577 for support. We will continue to provide in person support following a COVID risk assessment when necessary.
  • Our Belconnen office is closed, and all classes, workshops and group activities suspended. Some activities continue online.
  • Emergency Relief Support: MARSS has funding to provide emergency financial and food relief from the Commonwealth, including supermarket vouchers, culturally appropriate food hampers and essential home items, can pay outstanding bills and support clients to refinance or restructure payment plans to alleviate financial distress.
    • Note: We can support anyone in financial distress (not only migrants and refugees) and this service is also available to people residing in surrounding ACT regions including Southern Highlands, Queanbeyan, Cooma, Bega etc. Please refer anyone in need to MARSS on (02) 6248 8577.

ACT Community Services Directorate and ACT Health Updates

Latest news at the Community Services Directorate website.

[Updated] NGO FAQs: The ACT Government has gathered questions from NGOs about the current COVID-19 situation in the ACT and have collated these in an FAQ document.  Weblinks in response to questions are included. Find the NGO FAQ at 20 August 2021 here (pdf).

COVID Response Casual Pool Jobs: Find job openings for the ACT Government’s COVID response casual pool here.

How to contact CSD: The ACT Community Services Directorate (CSD) has set up a branch to respond to the COVID-19 situation. Outside of existing engagement, networks or contacts with relationship managers, you can contact CSD via CSD’s [email protected] inbox. Organisations can send their COVID-19 queries to this email if they need advice or have any questions.


Resources

Domestic violence

Disability

Other resources


< Past ACTCOSS COVID-19 Updates