ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

COVID-19 Update, 31 August 2021

31 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: If you were expecting funding that is critical to your service to be announced in the forthcoming ACT Budget, please send details to ACTCOSS by the end of this week via [email protected].

Contract variations: All organisations funded by ACT Health and/or the Community Services Directorate should have received a letter from the directorate(s) on contractual obligations during COVID-19 including reporting, contract flexibility and other service variations.  

Condamine Court and Ainslie Village: If you require information or wish to coordinate services relating to residents in Condamine Court or Ainslie Village, or if you have clients in these locations who are currently in lockdown and need support, please contact ACTCOSS through [email protected] who can provide you with relevant contact details in the ACT Government response team.

Policing: The ACT Chief Police Officer responded (pdf) to questions from ACTCOSS.

ACT Government Residential Tenancy Reforms: The consultation period is extended until 15 October 2021. Have your say on improving residential tenancies. Measures taken so far for COVID-19 residential tenancy.

Care financial counselling: Latest newsletter Care COVID-19 newsletter - August 2021 and new COVID-19 related factsheets. Anyone doing it tough financially are encouraged to contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

Mental health first aid courses: Mental Health First Aid Australia now have courses online. Next courses scheduled on 6 and 8 September.

Mental Health Month ACT expo cancelled: Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the Mental Health & Wellbeing Community Expo events scheduled in October will be cancelled.

Getting your vaccine: information for people with intellectual disability webinar: Hosted by the Department of Health for people with intellectual disability and supporters. Easy English flyer (docx), (pdf). Wednesday 1 September, 11am – 12pm. Register via Eventbrite.

Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI) update: Includes AFI priorities during lockdown, easy English COVID-19 resources and Staying Connected Podcast.

NDIS COVID-19 Update for NSW/ACT Resource Pack: Following from a meeting with the NDIS NSW/ACT Community Engagement Team, they have sent through a summary of helpful resources for NDIS providers and their service users (pdf).

Lockdown newsletter for kids: Lock it down! – 26 August 2021(pdf) is produced by the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner and Public Advocate.

Vaccinating young people: The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has produced recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in all young adolescents in Australia.

COVID-19 lockdown and your rights: This factsheet from the ACT Human Rights Commission also includes as section on vaccinations as a mandatory condition of employment.

Free infection control training: Skills Canberra have extended the enrolment period for free infection control training (pdf) for customer-facing workers in the ACT.

Updates for Organisations Supporting Multicultural Communities - 27 August 2021: Newsletter produced by ACTCOSS for organisations supporting culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Contains important COVID-19 support information.

ACT Multicultural Community eNews: Edition 17 - 27 August 2021 (pdf): Produced by the ACT Government, includes grants and awards, ACT Government notices and community notices by and for multicultural communities.

ACT Government Office for Women continue to maintain their services, including the Women’s Information Line and the Return to Work Grants program. ACT Women’s Grants will open for applications later this year. They also produce a document which contains useful links in simple English (pdf).

artsACT eNews - 26 August 2021: Includes COVID-19 support, grants, coaching and more for arts practitioners.


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 has written to the ACT Chief Minister advocating for financial support, including rent relief, for community service organisations (pdf).
  • ACTCOSS has written to the Justice and Community Safety Directorate (JACS) to request that it sends a letter to JACS-funded organisations on contractual obligations during COVID-19 including reporting, contract flexibility and other service variations.
  • ACTCOSS convened a meeting for community stakeholders with ACT Corrective Services, JACS, Justice Health and CSD to discuss measures in place in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), Bimberi and Community Corrections to protect detainees.
  • ACTCOSS coordinated a meeting between community transport providers and ACT Health to improve access to testing and vaccinations for people facing transport disadvantage.
  • ACTCOSS is continuing to advocate for legislation to protect vulnerable tenants including hosting a meeting with JACS and relevant community sector stakeholders.
  • ACTCOSS has worked with CAHMA, ATODA, ACT Shelter, Directions, HCCA and other partners to advocate for residents in Condamine Court and Ainslie Village.
  • ACTCOSS continues to advocate to the Chief Minister’s Office for an increase to the 2021-22 level of indexation for funding contracts and details of other expected budget announcements given further delay to the 2021-22 ACT Budget. If you were expecting funding that is critical to your service to be announced in the forthcoming ACT Budget, please send details to ACTCOSS by the end of this week via [email protected].

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.

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.

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.

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 roundaboutcanberra.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

[New!] Services Australia Centres: A reminder that all Services Australia Centres are open 8.30am – 4.30pm. During lockdown people are encouraged to use the self-service function or phone. If assistance is required for payments and services, please contact [email protected].

[New!] Conflict Resolution Service Safe and Connected Youth Program will be providing services virtually and over the phone during lockdown. For services call 02 6189 0590 to speak to one of their program staff.

[New!] Standby After Suicide Support is open during lockdown. 1300 111 400 or email [email protected]. Free books and resources also available.

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 FAQs - 27 August 2021 here (pdf).

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

[Updated] Contractual requirements: CSD will be taking a flexible and understanding approach to organisations whose service delivery is significantly impacted to the extent that contact deliverables are not achieved. If this applies to your organisation, please let your Relationship Manager know by email at [email protected]. Reporting requirements will also be deferred for all providers for the time being. Payments will not be affected.  Invitations have been sent for the next Sector Update Forum scheduled for Monday 13 September.

[Updated] Commissioning update: Timeframes may be impacted. CSD continue to welcome feedback regarding the Roadmap. Reduction in service capacity or reduced ability to deliver outcomes will not be considered in any needs analysis work that informs future commissioning processes.

How to contact CSD: The ACT Community Services Directorate 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

COVID-19 info and health

Domestic violence

Disability

Other resources


< Past ACTCOSS COVID-19 Updates