ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

COVID-19 Update, 6 October 2021

6 October 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

[NEW!] The ACT Government has offered Rent Relief to not-for-profit organisations who are tenants of ACT Property Group if they can demonstrate a 15% reduction in revenue from any time after 1 August 2021. Please read the letter from Minster Chris Steel (pdf) for more information. Organisations should complete a Rent Relief Application Form (docx) to apply.

The ACT Government announced on Monday 27 September the ACT’s COVID-19 Pathway Forward. To assist us in our advocacy, if you have any questions regarding the re-opening of the ACT, the roadmap and implications for your service and your clients, email Heather Fitt, Senior Capability Officer ([email protected]) and we will collate these to raise with the relevant ACT Government Directorate.

Invitation for public submissions on the ACT Government’s response to COVID-19: A Select Committee has been formed to ensure that the ACT Government decisions made in response to the pandemic are transparent and open to appropriate public scrutiny. Submissions close 19 November 2021. Further information on lodging a submission is available at: Inquiry into the COVID-19 2021 pandemic response - ACT Legislative Assembly

Business Support Grants are now open for not-for-profit organisations: Not-for-profit organisations may apply for the grant if they meet the eligibility criteria and their turnover has significantly declined as a result of COVID-19 restrictions in place since 13 August 2021.  Not-for-profit entities with annual turnover between $75,000 and $150,000 that are not registered for GST and are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission are eligible to apply by 7 October 2021, 5pm.

Winnunga News – September edition: Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services most recent newsletter. Includes COVID-19 updates for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, collective punishment in the Alexander Maconochie Centre, homelessness of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, and more.

NDIS participants vaccination update: The NDIA and Pharmacy Guild Australia are making it easier for NDIS participants to book and access COVID-19 vaccinations through local pharmacies. Read the media release.

Lockdown newsletter for kids: Lock it Down! No. 7 – 30 September 2021 (pdf) is produced by the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner and Public Advocate. 


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 gave evidence to the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Inquiry into the COVID-19 2021 Pandemic Response where we highlighted the importance of partnering with community sector organisations to reach vulnerable communities.
  • ACTCOSS continues to support the cautious reopening to ensure vulnerable communities who are not yet vaccinated are protected. We have also highlighted the need to carefully balance risk of contracting COVID-19 with the rights of vulnerable people in closed spaces such as prisons, congregate care settings and mental health facilities to access family and engage with external services.
  • ACTCOSS met with Skills Canberra to provide advice on JobTrainer. JobTrainer is funding from the Australian Government as part of COVID-19 stimulus. The majority of the funding will fund vocational training places for community sector pathways. ACTCOSS provided advice in partnership with its members on which skills and training pathways should be prioritised.
  • ACTCOSS has provided the list of questions so far received regarding the ACT’s COVID-19 Pathway Forward to the Community Services Directorate and ACT Health and will share answers through our member meetings, ACT Government FAQs and other appropriate channels.
  • ACTCOSS has met with Minister Gentleman’s Office to discuss issues including protection of detainees in the Alexander Maconochie Centre from COVID-19 and the impact of the ACT’s Pathway Forward on detainees and opportunities for visitors and other external services to enter.
  • ACTCOSS continues to meet twice weekly with the Community Services Directorate and ACT Health to raise issues regarding the COVID-19 response.

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 weekly COVID-19 online meetings. Please email [email protected] for more information.


Helplines

Care Financial Counselling National Debt Helpline - 1800 007 007: Appointments via phone, Zoom and telephone interpreter services if needed. Financial abuse during COVID-19 fact sheet also provides critical information and contact details for services that offer relevant assistance.

NDIS - 1800 800 110 and press 5: For escalating COVID-related plan review requests.

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 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.

  • The Access and Sensory clinic has moved to Weston Creek Community Health Centre, 24 Parkinson Street, Weston. Accessible parking and entry are available at the Weston Creek Community Health Centre. Appointments are available Mon-Fri, 8am-3.30pm.

Emergency relief and financial support

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.

Assistance from Vinnies Shops: Following the recent relaxation on non-essential retail stores, Vinnies Shops will be providing material assistance by appointment via its Emergency Relief Helpline. Call 02 6282 2722 (Mon-Fri, 9am-3.30pm) you will then be asked to complete the Vinnies Shop Order Form (pdf via Google Docs).

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 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-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.

Respite Effect and Recovery Grants: Applications close 15 October 2021. These grants are for up to $250 for carers of an individual living with a disability or for the individual themselves (one person/family/household). Fill out the application form (docx).

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.

[Updated] Rent relief for not-for-profit tenants of ACT Property Group: Not-for-profit organisations who are tenants of ACT Property Group if they can demonstrate a 15% reduction in revenue from any time after 1 August 2021. Please read the letter from Minster Chris Steel (pdf) for more information. Organisations should complete a Rent Relief Application Form (docx) to apply.


Service changes and updates

[New!] Additional appointments at Weston Creek Access and Sensory Vaccination Clinic: An additional 120 appointments each week have been allocated. To book an appointment or move an appointment to an earlier date, call the vaccination booking line on 02 5124 7700 (select option 3), 7am-7pm.

Weston Creek Walk-in Centre returns to usual health service operations: The centre has undergone a deep clean and the testing clinic has been moved to the Surge Centre in Garran.

Free interpreting services to non-Medicare patients receiving COVID-19 vaccine extended: Private Medical Practices, Pharmacies.

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].

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.

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.

Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services (MARSS):

  • Casework, counselling and emergency relief support will be available over the phone to clients 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri by calling 02 6248 8577.
  • MARSS' Civic office will continue to open from 10am-4pm, Mon-Fri. 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 Updates

 

Latest news at the Community Services Directorate website.

[NEW!] ACT Community Partner Update – 1 October 2021: Read for resources to support families, young people and women, information on the GIVIT relief program for those struggling with staying at home, Youth Week grant opportunities as well as what happened at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NGO Forum.

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. Read the NGO FAQs - 22 September 2021 (pdf).

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

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. 

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

Family safety

Disability

Other resources


< Past ACTCOSS COVID-19 Updates