ACTCOSS COVID-19 Advocacy
ACTCOSS have been advocating on behalf of community organisations during this COVID-19 pandemic period through actions, including:
- Engagement with Minister Orr and ACT Government to:
- Define essential services for the purposes of continuing work in a major shutdown
- Ensure transparency in the distribution of additional funds allocated to the community sector through the ACT Government’s stimulus packages
- Call to more broadly promote the Canberra Relief Network to Canberrans and ensure food meets reasonable specialist dietary needs
- Support some essential community services to return to face-to-face operation to meet needs of highly vulnerable cohorts
- Engagement with Minister Berry and ACT Government to:
- Highlight the need for more support for people experiencing homelessness and organisations working with people experiencing homelessness
- Enact an eviction moratorium and call out continued eviction notices issued to public housing tenants
- Highlight housing needs of people seeking asylum
- Engagement with Minster Ramsay and ACT Government on:
- Need for additional support for Justice and Community Safety (JACS)-funded organisations
- Need for additional information and engagement from JACS on: ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT); court operations; and access to $9m package for JACS-funded organisations
- Difficulties accessing the ACT Seniors Card
- Meeting the needs of the ACT’s older people, particularly carers and people with dementia
- Joint letter with NCOSS to NDIA (pdf) on personal protective equipment (PPE), inclusion of disability services in essential services, and a moratorium on NDIS compliance activity
- Signing on to the Victorian Trades Hall Council call for extension of the JobKeeper payment to all employees regardless of visa status
- Letter to the Head of the ACT Public Service (pdf) to ask for assurance that the ACT Government will not make significant changes to legislation, policy or practice outside of the COVID-19 response without consultation
- With Carrie Fowlie, CEO of the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA), ACTCOSS met with ACT Deputy Chief of Police, Jason Kennedy APM. Outcomes include:
- The ACT intend to pursue an education and light touch approach to policing isolation requirements. They reiterated the ACT Police’s recognition and commitment to the ACT as a human rights jurisdiction
- Importance of continuing essential services to allow police to divert vulnerable people towards appropriate support and away from the justice system
- Extension of the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) program (mental health co-response model of clinicians, paramedics and police officers to respond to acute mental health related incidents) to 7 days a week. In response to the pandemic, PACER can prevent vulnerable people being exposed to COVID-19 in hospital settings
- Call with Commissioner John Peach, who informed ACTCOSS that:
- Audio Visual equipment is working to allow detainees to engage with family and friends
- No increase to breaches of community correction orders as a result of COVID-19 has been observed.
Canberra Relief Network – CRN
The Canberra Relief Network or CRN is the ACT Government’s response to the sudden and overwhelming demand for food and non-perishable household essentials item that is occurring and is expected to increase as a direct result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Please direct eligible clients to contact the call centre on 1800 43 11 33 or 02 5104 9599 or go online at www.canberrarelief.com.au
Canberra Relief Network Eligibility
The aim of CRN is to support individuals who are not able to purchase items in the supermarket due to vulnerability. While many members of the community may feel insecure during this time, it is essential to restrict eligibility to this service to those who absolutely have no other choice. This includes:
- Pre-existing clients of food pantries
- Current clients of community services organisations
- Community members that are identified as vulnerable through government support
- People escaping family violence
- Refugees and migrants
- Those directly affected by the pandemic: casual employees experiencing hardship, those in the gig economy and those that are isolated or incapacitated due to illness and require direct assistance.
Open Monday to Friday, 10am to 2.30pm.
ACOSS COVID-19 Advocacy
- Government’s Jobkeeper changes welcome help for some charities but big job losses still faced by others, revenue test needs change
- ACOSS is calling for:
- The expansion of JobKeeper coverage to migrants on temporary visas, international students and people seeking asylum
- Charities applying for the JobKeeper payment, in determining eligibility based on decrease in revenue, should be able to exclude specific purpose funds, including government grants and specific purpose philanthropic funds, from the total annual revenue calculation
- JobKeeper recipients to receive Commonwealth Rental Assistance
- Higher rent subsidy for people who cannot afford rent
- ACOSS has created a Coronavirus page on its website to provide information on ACOSS advocacy for support for the community sector to respond to the crisis.
Community Sector Updates
- Havelock Housing and Canberra Racing Club are offering a subsidised meal service (pdf) to residents, staff, and community members. These are ready-to-eat meals from $7.70, available Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from Havelock House
- An open letter (pdf) from organisations representing people with disabilities, their families, carers, and support persons, to National Cabinet, on immediate actions required for Australians with disability in response to COVID-19
- Renting during a pandemic: Legal Aid ACT Facebook Live Q&A. Tonight! Tuesday 7 April, 6-7pm.
- ACT Legal Services:
- The Consumer Law Centre is a project of Care Inc. We provide free legal advice and representation in the areas of consumer credit (mortgages, credit cards and personal loans), debt recovery, banking, contract, general fair trading and consumer protection. Find out more about Consumer Law Centre services. Contact: 02 6143 0044 or [email protected].
- Legal Aid ACT provides advice, assistance and representation in a range of areas including employment, tenancy, criminal and family law.
Legal Aid can also provide advice and assistance to people needing to apply for Family Violence Orders and Personal Protection Orders. Legal Aid also operates the Older Person’s ACT Legal Service (OPALS).
Contact: Legal Aid Helpline on 1300 654 314 or legalaidact.org.au
- Women’s Legal Centre provides legal assistance to women in the ACT and region who cannot afford a private lawyer and do not qualify for legal aid. Our main areas of practice are family law, domestic violence, victims of crime, employment and discrimination. Contact: 02 6257 4377.
- Canberra Community Law (CCL) is providing legal advice, assistance and representation to people in the ACT on low incomes for matters relating to tenancy, public housing, social security and disability discrimination law, including issues related to COVID-19. CCL is also still providing services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through the Dhurrawang Aboriginal Human Rights Program and through the Street Law program. Contact: 02 6218 7900.
NPF & Charity Financial Support
- ACT Corrective Services has commenced video visits.
- Information on lodging an ACT Housing application remotely (pdf)
- Peak Student Bodies call for the Prime Minister to act for the betterment of International Students
- Priority home delivery services for NDIS participants
- SMART Recovery COVID-19 advice
- Access Canberra (pdf)
- The ACT Government COVID-19 website can be translated into 107 languages via Google Translate. Insert the URL https://www.covid19.act.gov.au in the translation box, choose the language, and click ‘Translate’. Then click the link in the translation box to open the translated site
- Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education resource: Learning at home during a time of crisis: Remote learning for children and young people with disability (pdf)