ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

COVID-19 Update, 7 September 2021

7 September 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

Vaccinations in the workplace: The Fair Work Ombudsman has released comprehensive guidance on managing vaccinations in the workplace, including a 4-step analysis for when it may be lawful and reasonable to require employees to be vaccinated and how to respond if employees refuse.

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. 

Protections for residential tenants: The ACT Government has announced additional protections for tenants impacted by COVID-19. Residential Tenancies Update No. 3 (pdf) by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate details emergency response measures applying to tenancies, such as social distancing, rent provisions, eviction protections and other protections for people directed to quarantine.

Protections for community organisations as commercial tenants: The ACT Government has announced support measures to help commercial renters impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes waiving rent payments for the month of September for any community sector tenant of government-owned properties that have been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. Tenants who have experienced a 30% reduction in turnover in August will be eligible for a full waiver of their September rent payments. Please contact ACT Property Group.

For more information, go to the Justice and Community Safety website:

ACT Shelter news: Advocacy update and summary of changes to the Residential Tenancies ACT 1997 effective 2 September 2021. Letter to ACT Shelter members - 3 September 2021 (pdf).

Relief grant for small organisations: Hands Across Canberra has opened applications for a relief grant to small organisations struggling to meet demand for relief amongst service users, ie. Food, rental, medicine and other relief. Maximum grant amount is $10,000 per application. Apply for the grant.

Funding for community sector organisations: ACTCOSS continues to advocate for more measures to support community sector organisations. If your organisation is experiencing immediate hardship as a result of falling revenue or increased costs, please contact ACTCOSS through [email protected].

Access and Sensory vaccination clinic: The Access and Sensory vaccination clinic at Garran Surge Centre will be moved to a dedicated space at Weston Creek Community Health Centre. It will extend opening from two days a week to five days a week from Monday 13 September. Appointments for Thursday 9 September at Garran will be rescheduled to next week. Appointments can be rescheduled or made by calling the COVID-19 vaccination booking line from Thursday 9 September on 02 5124 7700 between 7am and 7pm and selecting option 3.

Vaccination and testing for vulnerable Canberrans: Canberra Health Network (CHN) has received additional funding from the Commonwealth Government to work with Directions and public and community housing providers to vaccinate Canberrans who face barriers to other vaccination services. The ACT Government is working with other providers including Meridian to extend vaccination opportunities to vulnerable communities. Please contact ACTCOSS if you require additional information about these services. If you know of gaps or opportunities for partnership between the community sector and government to reach vulnerable groups for vaccination or testing, please contact ACTCOSS through [email protected] so we can link you with the relevant contact.

ACT Office for Disability news: INVOLVED eNews - 3 September 2021

Disability provider news from Australian Government: COVID-19 vaccination - Disability Provider Alert - 31 August 2021 (pdf).

Lockdown newsletter for kids: Lock it down! - 2 September 2021 (pdf) is produced by the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner and Public Advocate.

Interpreting services: If you are experiencing high costs as a result of using interpreting services in the provision of COVID-19 supports, please contact ACTCOSS through [email protected] who can link you with the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs’ TIS National Free Interpreting Service.

Resources for children: ACTCOSS’s Gulanga Program developed an activity book to assist organisations in supporting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families. It is a great resource for children and young people during lockdown. The activities in the book can assist children and families to connect with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures. You can download and print the activity book for use with consumers, clients and staff. If you are interested in purchasing bulk copies, please contact [email protected] and we can organise contactless collection.


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 coordinated a second meeting between community transport providers and ACT Health to provide information and advice about infection control for community transport providers supporting access to testing and vaccination.
  • ACTCOSS, Tenants’ Union ACT, ACT Shelter, Canberra Community Law and Better Renting held a meeting with the Attorney General Shane Rattenbury MLA and Minister Rebecca Vassarotti MLA. During the meeting the community sector welcomed the additional protections for tenants impacted by COVID-19 but highlighted the need for further protections against evictions including for people receiving Commonwealth income support and those in ACT public housing.
  • Given the further delay to the 2021-22 ACT Budget, ACTCOSS has written to the Chief Minister’s Office to request information relating to expected budget announcements that are critical to the continued delivery of community services and the ongoing employment of community workers.
  • ACTCOSS continues to attend twice weekly meetings with ACT Health and the Community Services Directorate.

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

[New!] 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 is moving to Weston Creek Community Health Centre, 24 Parkinson Street, Weston from Monday 13 September. Appointments for Thursday 9 September at Garran will be rescheduled to next week. Accessible parking and entry are available at the Weston Creek Community Health Centre. Appointments will be 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.

[New!] 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 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

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.

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. The 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 the 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. 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 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.

[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. Read the NGO FAQs - updated 6 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.  Invitations have been sent for the next Sector Update Forum scheduled for Monday 13 September.

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