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Government, Social Services and Community Sector Updates for Carers
Carers ACT does not assume responsibility for the accuracy of the information listed below. The information comes directly from the Organisations listed, collected via email and updated once a day.

DATE

ORGANISATION

ANNOUNCEMENT

01/05/20 ACT Government Restrictions being eased in the ACT

From 11.59pm, 1 May 2020:

  • Members of one household are now able to visit another household (a household is defined as persons who ordinarily reside at the same residential premises), as long as social distancing of 1 person per 4 square metres can be observed, and as long as no other visitors are present.
  • Canberrans can leave their homes for non-essential shopping purposes.
  • Restrictions on travel in NSW have been eased. Two adults and any dependent children (under 18 years of age) can leave the ACT to visit friends and family in NSW, for the purposes of providing care and support. Canberrans must follow the NSW regulations when they are in NSW.

Physical distancing continues. This means you should still continue to:

  • Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and other people, as well as following the 1 person per 4 square metres rule in indoor spaces.
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people.
  • Use “tap and go” payments ,instead of cash.
  • Minimise visits to vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, elderly people, infants, or people with compromised immune systems.
  • Follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings.

https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/news-articles/faqs-on-easing-restrictions

29/04/20 ACT Health How does TeleHealth work

https://bit.ly/2KWlfkf

29/04/20 Australian Government How to have your prescriptions delivered

https://bit.ly/2ygU9Si

29/04/20 ACT Government Household utilities and concessions

Households already receiving the Utilities Concession will receive an additional $200 rebate through their electricity bill.

This includes: Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card holders, Centrelink Low Income Health Care Card holders and Veteran’s Affairs Pensioner Concession Card or Gold Card holders.

This will be automatically applied to the next electricity bill in June or July 2020. You do not need to contact your electricity supplier.

 

Social Housing Tenants

Housing ACT will make a one-off bank payment of $250 to all social housing households by June 2020.

Contact will be made to those eligible as soon as possible. Social housing households do not need to phone Housing ACT, Access Canberra or attend the Housing ACT shopfront about this payment. Further advice will be directly provided.

29/04/20 Access Canberra Changes to service delivery:

Access Canberra has changed how its services are delivered to support our community and teams during COVID-19.
You do not need to visit an Access Canberra Service Centre for transactions.

  1. Popular transactions are online. It’s quick and easy to pay, apply and submit.
  2. Key vehicle transactions are also online.
  3. Call us on 13 22 81 for phone payments and advice.
  4. Chat online to us.

Our Service Centres are now offering a quiet time from 9am to 11am each weekday to help people who:

  • have English as a second language
  • have no access to the internet
  • are vulnerable
  • are emergency services workers

We do ask that people call our team on 13 22 81 to make an appointment before they visit an Access Canberra Service Centre.

28/04/20 Office of Mental Health and Wellbeing Important information for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people in the ACT.

Update and useful resources:
NewsFlash – OMHW – CALD Communities April 2020

28/04/20 Canberra Health Services Changes to Elective Surgery:

For ACT public hospitals, resumption of some elective surgery and procedures will begin from Tuesday 28 April.

We are now working through our public wait lists to reschedule some patients, based on clinical urgency.

This will include all Category 1 surgeries and procedures, all Category 2 and selected Category 3 and other procedures which could include:

IVF
Screening programs (cancer, including breast cancer)
Post cancer reconstruction procedures
Procedures for children under 18 years of age
Joint replacements (including knees, hips and shoulders)
Cataracts and eye procedures
Endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures.
Planning is also underway to reinstate more dental services.

If your elective surgery has been confirmed and booked, you will be contacted directly by the relevant hospital.

Patients are asked not to contact hospitals as they work through these arrangements so staff can prioritise contacting those with the most urgent needs.

This staged approach is in line with the Federal Government’s current stance on elective surgery and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

24/04/20 ACT Government Changes to driver medical or eye test

If you need to have a driver medical or eye test, your test will be deferred for up to six months if you are deemed low risk.

Road safety continues to be a key priority of the ACT Government, and we’re committed to keeping all road users safe – including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information please call 13 22 81.

https://bit.ly/3ddGZEq

21/04/20 Australian Govenrment The Disability Information Helpline is now available.

It provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Helpline can help families, carers, support workers and services, too.

Contact the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787.

The Helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm (AEST). It’s not available on national public holidays.

20/04/20 ACT Government Jobs for Canberrans Fund announced.

The Jobs for Canberrans Fund will provide work opportunities for people in the casual or semi-skilled workforce who have lost their jobs or have been significantly impacted due to COVID-19.

Jobs will be available for people who have relied on casual work and are not eligible for the Australian Government’s wage subsidy scheme or other support.

To Register please go to:

https://www.myaccount.act.gov.au/casualjob/s/

17/04/20 Office for Mental health and Wellbeing Tips for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for keeping mentally well and connected

https://bit.ly/34TaiJk

14/04/20 Australian Government Looking after your Mental Health

Access this excellent factsheet on How to Cope with Covid-19 over-information, feelings of uncertainty & monitoring your own responses to COVID-19

09/04/20 Carers ACT summary of updates Welfare checks will be conducted on senior Australians who have elected to defer aged care home services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phone calls will be conducted by a number of consumer organisations including the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) from Tuesday 14th April to ensure their well-being.

The Australian Government announced additional funding and services to support older, vulnerable Australians to access food and groceries. Priority home delivery is available from major supermarkets by using their My Aged Care ID when ordering online or by phone. CHSP and Home Care Package providers also have flexibility to provide grocery shopping. https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/meals-on-wheels-programs-reinforced-to-help-senior-australians-at-home

Dementia Support Australia (providers of DBMAS and SBRT) continues to support all aged care services caring for people experiencing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD).

Support can be provided via face to face visits, phone or video conference consultation. Call their 24 hour service on 1800 699 799 or visit www.dementia.com.au

09/04/20 NDIS Newsletter

  • Finding support workers
  • Priority supermarket delivery
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • COVID-19 materials in new formats
09/04/20 NDIA Corona Virus information in languages other than English released.

These include: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Filipino (Tagalog), French, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Macedonian, Samoan, Spanish and Vietnamese

Also check the COVID 19 video explanations from SBS Australia

08/04/20 ACT Government Public Health Emergency extended until 7th of July 2020
07/04/20 Women with Disability ACT Information page on Coronavirus, – Financial Assistance – NDIS & Other supports updates – Groceries & Pharmacy supplies – Local groceries with delivery options – Violence Services and Information & – Mental Wellbeing

dact.org.au

07/04/20 Carers ACT community information Coles and Woolworth priority service:

Coles Online Priority Service: Online ordering and delivery of shopping (or click and collect) for people over 65 (or Indigenous Australians over 50) with My Aged Care or NDIS number. Also for aged care, disability care and other businesses that support vulnerable members of the community. More information

Woolworth Priority Assistance: 700 Community Pick Up Locations NOW OPEN: Eligible customers include seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self isolate. Please note you must first register and your request will be assessed online

06/04/20 Carers ACT summary Highlights of the second phase of the ACT Government’s economic survival plan:

  • In addition to the initial $7 million support for the community sector, an additional $2 million to support the not-for-profit sector to deliver further mental health and community support
  • Financial incentives for residential landlords to significantly reduce rents for struggling tenants
  • $126 million worth of health spending initiatives to support the front-line response to the pandemic, including $23 million to establish a pop-up emergency department dedicated to treating coronavirus patients
  • A 12-month deferral of residential rates bills for households experiencing “significant hardship”. The Government will also delay sending out the next quarterly rates bills by four weeks
  • Chromebooks or similar devices to all students in years four to six and free Wi-Fi in the homes of the most disadvantaged
  • Up to $250,000 for a new fund to assist households facing energy stress as a result of COVID-19 impacts
  • Jobs for Canberrans Fund to allow the ACT Public Service to employ casual workers
  • Additional funding for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
03/04/20 Access Canberra Gungahlin and Tuggeranong service Centres closed from 5pm Mar 31 to 9am 6 April.

Belconnen and Woden Service Centres open but call first 132281.

03/04/20 Carers ACT Update on CRN in regards to how to access help Canberra Relief Network is a consortium of established emergency FOOD relief sponsored by the ACT Government and led by Uniting Care Kippax.

They are working collaboratively to streamline the sourcing and distribution of essential food and hygiene items to the most vulnerable members

Website for information and to register: www.canberrarelief.com.au

Email: info@canberrarelief.com.au

Phone: 1800 43 11 33

02/04/20 ACT Government The ACT Government COVID-19 page issued a summary of the latest Federal Government announcements. Includes links to  announcement on child care services, discussion about public gathering restrictions and evictions put on hold for 6 months.

https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/news-articles/federal-government-announcement-thursday-2-april

02/04/20 Salvation Army Moneycare Update:

We’re still open for business – it’s just a little different.  We’ve transitioned to working from home and providing our financial counselling service via phone & video link ups.

Like yourselves, we’re feeling the uncertainty of these times.  Fortunately, we’re still able to provide our holistic service to people in financial difficulty or changed circumstances (mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, electricity & more). There may be ongoing stress for the person or as a direct result from COVID_19. Our lines are open and ready with up to date information on financial hardship and what’s available for you.

Our service is free & independent.

Felicia Melillo on 0419 562 083 or email: felicia.melillo@salvationarmy.org.au

Kathryn Swinton on 0435 963 472 or email: kathryn.swinton@salvationarmy.org.au

02/04/20 Canberra Community Law Centrelink Legal Information and Q&A Session – Facebook Live

Are you applying for Centrelink for the first time? Do you have questions about the COVID-19 supplement? Would you like to learn more about recent changes to Centrelink payments?

CCL is here to help! On Thursday 2 April (tonight) at 6pm Canberra time, our Social Security Lawyer Sophie will be going LIVE on Facebook, to provide legal information on Centrelink issues and answer questions posted in the Live Video comments section.

To tune in, visit https://www.facebook.com/canberracommunitylaw/live.

You can also contact Canberra Community Law on 6218 7900 or send an email to info@canberracommunitylaw.org.au to request legal advice on a Centrelink matter, or a range of other matters.

02/04/30 AIDS Action Council of the ACT Dementia Australia From Monday 30 March,  we modified  how we deliver services to our communities. To help keep you, our staff team, other clients and the wider community safe we will be temporarily closing our office at Havelock House. We will be available to meet with you by appointment. These measures will be reviewed regularly but will remain in place until further notice.

We are contactable by phone and email for all enquires.

Call us: 02 6257 2855 or 0429 963 992

Email us: contact@aidsaction.org.au

01/04/20 ACT Government Public Health (Non-Essential Gatherings) Emergency Direction 2020.

To access the document released by the ACT Government with details of what is and what is not allowed. Please click HERE.

01/04/20 The Rehabilitation Specialist Extract of letter from the Rehabilitation Specialists, to their NDIS participants, their families, and Support Coordinators.

…”We have begun adopting Telehealth options for a number of our services. For essential face to face appointments we are adhering to all social distancing and infection control protocols in line with government recommendations.

I trust this assists to provide reassurance that The Rehabilitation Specialists team will continue to provide support for you during this difficult time.

Should the situation change, we will continue to communicate.”

01/04/20 Australian Government/td> Announcement: Assistance with Food and Meals for older Australians impacted by COVID-19

Read the FactSheet HERE

01/04/20 Woden Community Service For a full list of updates to Children, Disability, mental health, aged care, housing and community engagement services, please access PDF HERE.
31/03/20 Coles Supermarkets Hours have been extended again from 7:00am to 10:00pm

Community Hour (7:00am to 8:00am) Modays, Wednesdays and Fridays is now open to CARERS, friends and neighbors of vulnerable people.

Carers must present  what Coles defined as “The customer’s government issued card”. The ones on the list are: Pensioner Concession card, commonwealth seniors health card, companion card, disability card and Health care card.*

Click & Collect orders made under the online priority service, can now be collected by CARERS, friends and neighbors.

  • please call your local store for clarification.
31/03/20 Department of Health Continued Dispensing Arrangements of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines extended for 3 months.

http://www.pbs.gov.au/info/news/2020/03/continued-dispensing-arrangements-covid-19

31/03/20 ACT Government – Canberra Relief Network The ACT Government has announced food relief for people who are experiencing financial hardship during the national health emergency.

Please contact the Canberra Relief Network on (02) 5104 9599 to register and you will be informed when the hamper would be delivered and your nearest pick-up point.

30/03/20 Ginninderry SPARK Training & Employment Initiative Due to the COVID-19 situation, the SPARK program is suspended until further notice. Situation will be re-assessed in early May.

In the meantime if you have any questions or concerns please contact Ashleigh Johnston from the SPARK team on T: 1800 316 900 M: 0450 626 221 E: ashleigh@ginninderry.com

29/03/20 Prime Minister’s Statement

National Cabinet Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

29/03/20 Prime Minister’s Statement

$1.1 billion to support more mental health, Medicare and domestic violence services

28/03/20 Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Opinion Piece

COVID-19 in Australia: we are not Italy, Iran or Spain

27/03/20 Canberra Health Services Here is the latest news from Canberra Health Services.

 Further changes to our services

We are implementing a number of changes to maternity, pediatric and community-based services.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, one person will be allowed to be the support person in labour. This person will remain the designated visitor for the duration of the woman’s stay in hospital, in line with previously announced visitor restrictions.

Routine antenatal appointments will continue, but as the situation is evolving this may need to change and any impacted patients will be contacted. Antenatal classes and other group sessions will be provided in an online format.

An early pregnancy and parenting phone line is being established to support with early pregnancy, maternal and child health, breastfeeding and emotional wellbeing concerns.

These services are essential. We are not aiming to reduce these services, rather, we’re finding new ways to deliver them to maintain social distancing and keep everyone safe.

These changes are in addition to the reduction in non-urgent and non-essential outpatient and community activity, and the suspension of all elective surgery other than category 1 and urgent category 2, announced earlier this week. 

The Acute Surgical Unit has moved

The Acute Surgical Unit (Ward 8B) moved yesterday (Thursday, 26 March) to Ward 4A.

Ward 4A is located on Level 4 of Building 1 at Canberra Hospital.

Visitor restrictions

As you are aware, we have already tightened visitor access to our health facilities. We’re making these changes to ensure that people who don’t need to be on site aren’t on site. This will help protect our patients and staff.

I ask you to actively communicate the message of one visitor per patient allowed on each site per day.

Moreover, visitors must not enter if they:

  • Are unwell with a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath
  • Have been overseas or on a cruise ship in the last 14 days
  • Have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the last 14 days.

Visitors will be asked to visit a hand hygiene station upon entry and encouraged to contact their loved ones by calling them directly, rather than visiting the hospital.

We are now also asking that wherever possible visitors do not bring children with them when they visit our health facilities.

We’re looking at special circumstances such as visitors for patients at end of life. We’ll continue to keep you up to date with advice and guidance.

More information on: https://health.act.gov.au/

28/03/20 Australian Health Protection Principal Committee 28 Mar 2020

On March 27, The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) released new advice to dental practitioners about managing COVID-19.

What does the recent announcement mean for me?

Their advice reads: “AHPPC recommends adopting the ‘Managing COVID-19 Guidelines’ by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and implementing a triage system for dental practice. AHPPC recommends that all dental practices implement level 3 restrictions as outlined in the ADA’s guidance. That is, dentists should only perform dental treatments that do not generate aerosols, or where treatment generating aerosols is limited. All routine examinations and treatments should be deferred.”

This applies to all dental practitioners.

This means all routine dental examinations and treatment from dentists will now be deferred to a later date.

27/03/20 Mental Health Foundation ACT Mental Health Foundation (ACT) takes the health and safety of its participants, their families and MHF staff seriously, and is following the ACT Government’s directions around the current COVID-19 pandemic.

MHF will continue to provide all services possible and is even looking at alternative ways of providing some of those services. All referrals are still welcome.

The MHF Chifley administration office is still operating, although with reduced staff. Our office is not open for drop ins, but staff are available by appointment.

Please contact the Chifley office on 02 6282 6604 or via email: info@mhf.org.au if you have any questions or require assistance during this time.

27/03/20 ActCoss – ACT Council of Social Services. COVID update #3 Updates about the full range of social services across the territory.

https://www.actcoss.org.au/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=112

27/03/20 ActewAGL – Staying Connected program UPDATE: The ActewAGL Staying Connected program has been operating remotely from late last week.

Whilst we are operating a callback roster, we are fully operational and will remain that way – even if a full scale shutdown is enacted by the federal or state government.

If you or your clients require assistance as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown, please contact us by the methods below:

We are happy to assist with advice, flexible payment arrangements, and assistance in managing utility expenses in periods of low or no income.

We are actively open to hearing from any customer who has a concern about paying their bills during this period.

More information on our service can be found here: https://www.actewagl.com.au/support-and-advice/help-with-your-bill/financial-support

27/03/20 HeadSpace Canberra Due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) headspace Canberra is transitioning to phone services.

To access our services between business hours please phone 51099700 or email hs.canberra@marathonhealth.com.au

APPOINTMENTS: Remain the same but will be via phone services.

GROUPS: all headspace Canberra groups have been suspended from meeting face to face. We will be working on how we can offer our groups and programs remotely.

Social Media: Check out headspace Canberra on Facebook and Instagram and stay connected.

Please note that headspace Canberra is NOT a crisis service. If you are in need of emergency services, please contact: Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au ,Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800, Mental Health Hotline 1800 011 511, Emergency Services, dial 000 or present to the Emergency Department.

26/03/20 ACT Minister for Community Services & Facilities
announcement –
FOOD RELIEVE
Vulnerable Canberrans will have access to food relief as a result of the ACT Government’s food pantry initiative.

Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Suzanne Orr, has today announced that the ACT Government will work together with community partners, including Uniting Care Kippax, Oz Harvest and The Foodbank to provide urgent food and essential items through a food pantry.

The ACT Government will provide $1.5 million over the next six months to ensure vulnerable people get the food and items they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stage 1 will initially involve supporting the existing crisis and relief centres throughout our community. The Canberra Relief Network will be a central point for procurement and distribution of goods to organisations.  This is to enable and empower the organisations to continue meeting the increasing demands of the community during these unprecedented times.

Once the centralised model is established, the CRN will move to Stage 2 – providing direct support to individuals and families who are unable to access existing services. The food pantry will be delivered from a central coordination point supporting vulnerable Canberrans, including people living with disability. Existing foodbank provisions will remain in place until Stage 2 is up and running early next week.

A call centre is also being set up to assist people in isolation or quarantine. People will be able to register through the call centre for access to the food pantry. Once established, the number will be published on https://kippax.org.au/.

26/03/20 Announcement Minister for Employment, Skills, small business and family CONFIRMATION OF CHANGES TO MUTUAL OBLIGATION ARRANGEMENTS

If and when mutual obligation requirements are reinstated, the following flexible arrangements already apply:

Jobseekers who have caring responsibilities, or who need to self-isolate, are able to seek an exemption from their mutual obligation requirements without the need for medical evidence.

26/03/20 Carers ACT- Summary Public Health service changes Public health service changes in response to COVID-19

Canberra Health Services (CHS) are reducing all non-urgent and non-essential non-admitted activity. This will include community-based services, medical outpatients, procedures, and treatments. These changes are to ensure health services are well resourced and staffed to respond to the pandemic.

From Thursday, 26 March appointments that clinicians deem to be non-essential will be either cancelled or postponed. Essential appointments will be converted to virtual appointments where possible. This will include telephone or video consultations. All patients on the elective surgery waitlist are being clinically reviewed to ensure the most urgent surgery is prioritised. Patients whose elective surgery has been confirmed and booked will be contacted individually and advised. These patients will remain on the elective surgery waitlist.  CHS is contacting patients whose appointments or treatments are affected. No patient will lose their spot on the wait list as a result of these actions.

If patients determine that they no longer need the service their referral will be cancelled. However, should it need to be reinstated it will be done so at the original date.

If patients wish to cancel their appointment, please call Central Health Intake (5124 9977) or use the on-line cancellation form at https://bit.ly/3abpSSl.

If attending a CHS location, please come alone unless you need someone to help you. Do not come: • If you have been overseas in the last 14 days or you have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 • If you have symptoms including fever, cough, cold, flu or diarrhoea.

These are very difficult decisions to make and we know there are many Canberrans who will be impacted. This is an overwhelming time for people, particularly those with health concerns. We thank the community for their understanding and patience during this challenging period. Visitor access CHS has already tightened visitor restrictions to one visitor per patient allowed on each site per day. These restrictions are likely to be further tightened this week in line with Stage 2 of our COVID-19 response plan, and we will keep you updated. We’ll be marking up the floors of all our public lifts in respect to current social distancing guidelines.

25/03/20 ActCoss – ACT Council of Social Services. COVID update #2 Updates about the full range of social services across the territory.

https://www.actcoss.org.au/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=111

24/03/20 Health Direct Australia Healthdirect Australia has developed a COVID-19 Symptom Checker, an online self-guided tool to help people find out if they need to seek medical help.
23/03/20 ActCoss – ACT Council of Social Services. COVID update #1 Updates about the full range of social services across the territory.

https://www.actcoss.org.au/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=103

18/03/20 Belconen Community Service The Belconnen Community Service (BCS) free and confidential counselling service is now available online, via telephone or in-person. All ages welcome.

This service will be offered by Leonie Bury and Renée Janssen-Gibson who are currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Counselling through the University of Canberra. They will work alongside you, at your pace, to explore issues of concern to you. During this time Renée and Leonie will be supported via professional supervision.

For more information or to make a booking, please contact BCS on 02 6264 0246 or email renee.janssen-gibson@bcsact.com.au

Register Now