COVID-19 Update No.13, 19 May 2020

19 May 2020

Key Updates

Grocery partnership: The Canberra Relief Network (CRN) has secured a grocery partnership with Woolworths. This partnership ensures consistent delivery of food staples and essential hygiene items, and the provision of gluten free staples to support vulnerable Canberrans. Please direct eligible clients to contact the call centre on 1800 43 11 33 or 02 5104 9599 or go online at

COVID-19 Disability Strategy: The ACT Government has launched a COVID-19 Disability Strategy outlining principles, goals and objectives to support people with disability and the disability sector through this crisis, and during the post-emergency transition back to ‘business as usual’.

Pandemic response report: The ACT Legislative Assembly’s Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Response has published an interim report with recommendations.

Support for people on temporary visas: The Red Cross will provide Commonwealth-funded emergency relief support for people on temporary visas, and ACT-funded support for Canberrans on temporary visas affected by COVID-19.

Grants for organisations: The ACT Government have opened a COVID-19 Stimulus Rapid Response Grants Program to support eligible organisations adopt business model changes in response to COVID-19 (factsheet below).

Mediation for tenants and landlords: Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) is providing FREE mediation for residential tenants and landlords, and is now open with a Factsheet for Tenants (pdf)and a Factsheet for Landlords (pdf). Registration for the residential tenancy mediation can be made via the CRS website at phone on 02 6189 0590.

Safely return to in-person services: If your organisation would like information on how to safely return to in-person service delivery, please contact the Community Services Directorate via [email protected], your contract manager or call the ACT Government COVID-19 hotline on 02 6207 7244.


ACTCOSS have been advocating on behalf of community organisations during this COVID-19 pandemic period through actions, including:

  • Advocacy with the ACT Government to ensure that community sector organisations, their staff and clients are provided with appropriate information and supports when they decide to return to face-to-face service delivery to ensure the safety of all.
  • Meeting with ACT Government Office for Multicultural Affairs on support for Canberra’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
  • Ongoing engagement with stakeholders on ensuring protection for those suffering financial stress as a result of utilities bills.
  • Ongoing advocacy to the Community Services Directorate and the Canberra Relief Network on developing food hampers suitable for gluten-free consumer and those with cultural or religious requirements.
  • Media release by ACTCOSS welcoming the release of the ACT Government’s COVID-19 Disability Strategy, also highlighting that is overdue and should be properly resourced, supported and implemented.
  • Media release by ACTCOSS welcoming support for measures called for by ACTCOSS in the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Response interim report recommendations.
  • Engagement with the ACT Government Jobs for Canberrans team to ensure that new jobs are given to those most in need of employment (those without access to Centrelink or JobKeeper, such as temporary visa holders).

If you would like to flag issues affecting your organisation or vulnerable communities, please get in touch with ACTCOSS through our general email address [email protected] or someone from the team.

ACOSS COVID-19 Advocacy


ACT COVID-19 Helpline – 02 6207 7244: 8am-8pm daily. ACT Government has a helpline and website to inform and assist the ACT community through the challenges of COVID-19.

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.

Community Services Directorate (CSD) Updates

Resources for people with disability and carers: released in tandem with the ACT COVID-19 Disability Strategy, this site contains a planning tool for people with disability during COVID-19 and other resources and information. Carers ACT also has a resource for decision-making during a crisis (pdf).

One-off grants for non-government organisations: A COVID-19 stimulus rapid response grant round has been launched. Check CSD’s Grant website or log into CSD’s grant management portal for a Community Services Directory grants currently open. A full list of all ACT Government Grants is also available.

How to contact CSD: The ACT Community Services Directorate has set up a new branch structure 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.

Community Sector Updates

Service Changes

  • Access Canberra service centres are operating with reduced hours, staff and with limits on the number of customers allowed in the centre at any one time, to keep people safe. Access Canberra has introduced a ‘quiet time’ in the service centres, from 9am to 11am each weekday, to provide assistance to people who: have English as a second language; have no access to online services; are vulnerable Canberrans; and emergency services workers. Access Canberra strongly encourages the public to contact them prior to attending a Service Centre, on 13 22 81.
  • COVID-19 and the 2020 ACT Election
  • New emergency leave provision for aged care residents removing penalties or any disadvantages for moving out of an aged care facility during crisis under new amendments.
  • Mental Health Community Coalition ACT will facilitate a weekly Community of Practice (CoP) forum where community mental health sector staff canshare experiences, challenges and strategies they have found useful while working underthe current COVID-19 measurements and restrictions.
  • Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation is providing support to community members that are struggling. You don’t have to be a client of Gugan Gulwan ‚Äì this is inclusive of kinship carers and foster carers. Anyone who is feeling isolated and doesn’t know who or where to turn for help, call Gugan Gulwan on 02 6296 8900.
  • Legal Aid ACT’s Response to Corona-virus (COVID-19).
  • Status of all Woden Community Service services during COVID-19.
  • Domestic Violence Crisis Centre have launched a dedicated SMS number, 0421 268 492, which will enable people without data or with communication barriers to make contact.
  • YWCA Canberra Lanyon Food Hub now open on Tuesday or Thursday 9.30am-2pm.
  • The Council of the Ageing (COTA) remains open at its Hughes location. Please call COTA on 02 6282 3777 to apply for your ACT Seniors Card.
  • COTA Australia, National Seniors Australia, Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and Dementia Australia’s COVID-19 hotline is now live to assist with queries for older people – 1800 171 866.
  • ACT Government and Argyle Housing launch a Winter Lodge for men sleeping rough during winter months.
  • Palliative Care ACT (PC ACT) is providing a range of services to help palliative patients and their carers who are isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic ‚Äì for more information on these initiatives contact Palliative Care ACT on 02 6255 5771:

    • Isolation relief: trained PC ACT volunteers are helping patients access new and advanced technology, to link them with family and friends who might not be able to visit or are interstate, or overseas.
    • Palliative support call out service: during the pandemic PC ACT volunteers are willing to be with clients who don’t have their friends and family close by when they are at the end of their life, any time of day or night.
    • Palliative Care Tele-Help: PC ACT’s tele-help service has been extended and is available from 8am to 8pm, daily. We have a range of information about Canberra-based palliative care support options, advance care planning, and grief and bereavement services.
    • Moments in Time: this program complements PC ACT’s popular Life Stories program, giving clients the opportunity to reflect on a precious memory and have it professionally recorded. The recording is then prepared for the client to share with their family and friends.

Financial & Emergency Relief

  • Volunteering Australia: Free Meal, Emergency Relief and Accommodation Guide ‚Äì updated 8 May 2020
  • Volunteering Australia: ACT Legal Services Guide ‚Äì updated 9 April 2020
  • Volunteering Australia: Complaints Resolution Info Guide ‚Äì updated 9 April 2020
  • Care Inc’s services are running at full capacity to ensure everyone has access to the vital support we offer:

    • Financial counselling services for people experiencing financial difficulty. Call 1800 007 007 or email [email protected]
    • The Consumer Law Centre: for legal advice around credit and debt, consumer and fair trading, and insurance. Call 02 6143 0044 or email [email protected]
    • Microfinance: No interest loans programs, including a specific program for people who have experienced and left domestic violence. Call 02 6257 1788 or email [email protected]
    • Education: for financial capability webinars or to access the $100 Energy Support Voucher program. Call Care’s education team on 0490 008 701 or email [email protected]

  • The National Debt Helpline is an NFP service that helps people in Australia tackle their debt problems through free financial counselling.
  • YWCA Canberra has funding available to support community members experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This support is available to people in the ACT and surrounding region (including Queanbeyan, Yass, Bungendore, Braidwood, Cooma, Murrumbateman) experiencing financial hardship. Support types available include:

    • Utility bills assistance
    • Healthcare support for appointments or scripts
    • Lanyon food parcels available Tuesday & Thursday 9.30am-2pm.
    • Transport expenses
    • Vouchers for essential household items and clothing
    • Accommodation assistance (rental support or temporary accommodation)
    • Education and training expenses assistance.
    • Eligibility criteria apply. Please contact YWCA Canberra’s Civic office on 02 6185 2000 or [email protected] or Mura Lanyon Youth and Community Centre on 02 6185 2090 or [email protected]

  • Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council’s COVID Kindness project can connect people with services that can support their clients who live in NSW during the COVID-19 pandemic. Services include collecting food, medication and other supplies, ideas for activities for fitness or for children, any concerns about friends, family or neighbours, a friendly chat about any worries or concerns. Email [email protected] or phone 1300 735 025 (select Option 2 for COVID support).


ACT Government COVID-19 factsheets

Organisational Finance & HR

Children, Youth, Women, and Family

Consumer Health, Multilingual, and Aged Care

< Past ACTCOSS COVID-19 Updates

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