COVID-19: Where can I find help?

Person feeling overwhelmed

Many people in our community are looking for help and there's never been a more important time to find factual information. I recommend you trust and follow Government services and advice where relevant. Below is a list of important and essential services that can provide assistance if you have been affected by COVID-19 or the public health response that has seen so many activities shut down.

Victorian Government Coronavirus website: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Australian Government Coronavirus websitehttps://www.australia.gov.au/

Where can I find information regarding income support?

Almost overnight, many people in Melbourne have found themselves without work or income. You may be entitled to either the JobSeeker payment (previously Newstart) and stimulus payments, or the JobKeeper wage subsidy, that is paid to your employer to keep you employed during the crisis.

If you’re having trouble applying for a payment, my office can help.

Email: office@ellensandell.com

Phone: (03) 9328 4637

Centrelink: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19/if-you-need-payment-coronavirus-covid-19

Centrelink info and support FAQs https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/coronavirus-covid-19-information-and-support

First step: Register to claim

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19/if-you-need-payment-coronavirus-covid-19/register-your-intention-claim-payment-coronavirus-covid-19

JobKeeper information for employees

https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet_Info_for_Employees_0.pdf

My employer isn’t protecting me from COVID-19

Laws require employers to take every step they reasonably can to eliminate or minimise the risk of workers and others contracting COVID-19.

Employers must have a COVID-19 workplan with a range of control measures, depending on the type of industry you work in. More information is available from the ACTU: 

https://www.actu.org.au/coronavirus/your-rights-at-work-faq

And from the Federal Government:

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces

Where can I find support for my business?

Register your business for the JobKeeper payment

https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment

For support available to businesses, see the Victorian Government's site https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/illness-and-business-management-plan/dealing-with-coronavirus or call the business hotline on 13 22 15.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry can provide further information to Victorian businesses on the packages available to you.

https://www.victorianchamber.com.au/business-support/crisis-information/covid-19-coronavirus-resources

The banks have also indicated they will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months. See more at https://www.ausbanking.org.au/banks-small-business-relief-package/

When can I leave the house?

Current Victorian restrictions on movement can be found here https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-stay-home-and-restricted-activities-directions-faq

I’m struggling to pay the rent

Evictions

As of 29 March, your landlord CANNOT serve a notice to vacate if you CAN’T pay rent. You can still get evicted for other reasons (if you damage the property, use it for criminal activity, or if serious violence occurs) or if you are able to pay rent, but willfully do not. This ban on evictions will be in place for six months, until 26 September 2020.

Rent Increases

Your landlord will not be able to increase your rent for the next six months, until 26 September 2020.

What if you can't pay the rent?

You should contact your landlord or real estate agent as soon as possible to ask for a rent reduction, to an amount that you can afford. When you reach an agreement, make sure it’s in writing.

Your landlord will not be able to list you on a residential tenancy database (blacklist) if you are unable to pay rent because of coronavirus.

How do you access the $2000 rent relief grant?

If rent is still more than 30% of your income after negotiating a rent reduction with your landlord, you can apply for the government’s rent relief grant.

Up to $2000 in rent assistance is then available ONLY IF you earn less than $100,000 and have less than $5,000 in savings.

You can apply for the grant online: https://www.housing.vic.gov.au/help-renting/rentrelief

What happens when the $2000 runs out?

At this stage it looks like rental debts will start to accrue, which you will have to pay back in six months’ time.

The Greens are really concerned about this - the last thing we need is for people to be left in debt during this crisis, and we’ll be working with the government to get better support for renters.

You also may be able to get Commonwealth Rent Assistance through Centrelink, so be sure to look into whether you’re eligible: Website here.

What if I can't negotiate a deal with my landlord? 

You will need to start a dispute resolution process with your landlord and Consumer Affairs Victoria’s dispute resolution service, who will act as a referee to ensure you can reach a fair agreement. You won’t have to pay for this service: Click here for Consumer Affairs Website to access this service. 

The Greens are really concerned about the power imbalance between landlords and renters, and we are urging the government to provide more support to renters during this time to ensure everyone gets a fair deal.

If your landlord or agent is refusing to negotiate, let us know and we may be able to assist.

I’m struggling to pay the mortgage

Lenders have been encouraged by the federal government to offer payment relief.

This “Guide to Australian banks’ emergency Coronavirus relief packages” contains information on what each lender is offering. https://mozo.com.au/home-loans/articles/guide-to-australian-banks-emergency-coronavirus-relief-packages

If you’re having difficulty reaching an agreement with your bank/lender you may want to consider lodging a complaint with Australian Financial Complaints Authority https://www.afca.org.au/about-afca/corporate-information/what-is-an-ombudsman

I need help coping with this crisis

Headspace provide tailored and holistic mental health support to 12 - 25 year olds.

www.headspace.org.au

Beyond Blue have expanded their programs during the COVID-19 crisis. They offer free counselling by mental health professionals 24/7, both online and over the phone.

www.beyondblue.org.au

QLife provides anonymous, peer support and referral to the LGBTIQ community.

www.qlife.org.au

Thorne Harbor Health provides information on LGBTIQ health services.

www.thorneharbour.org

Living Positive Victoria has detailed information about how COVID-19 affects those living with HIV.

www.livingpositivevictoria.org.au

Joy 94.9 have a special podcast, ‘Well, well, well’, with regular health and HIV information for the LGBTIQ community.

www.joy.org.au/wellwellwell

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) is a statewide specialist family violence organisation with a wide range of services for those at risk of or experiencing family violence.

www.dvrcv.org.au

CoHealth, is a not-for-profit community health organisation located in Melbourne CBD, Collingwood, Kensington and Fitzroy, providing a wide range of counselling, health and aged care services.

www.cohealth.org.au

I feel unsafe at home

For some people, home is not the safest place. Self-isolation and increased stress during COVID-19 will likely see an increase in domestic violence incidents

1800Respect

Contact 1800RESPECT by phone or web chat when safe to do so (1800 737 732)

No to Violence

No to Violence is the peak body for organisations and individuals working with men to end family violence in Victoria.

I need help getting food and essential items

If you’re quarantining, call the Victorian Coronavirus helpline on 1800 675 398, including for information about how to access emergency relief packages of food and other essential items.

You could also reach out to one of the following organisations: 

Australian Red Cross

Call: 1800 733 276

Foodbank

Call: 03 9362 8300

Salvation Army

Call: 03 9353 1086

St Vincent de Paul Society

Call: 1800 305 330

I need help that isn’t listed above

You can ask lzzy for support services https://askizzy.org.au/

I still can’t find what I’m looking for

Contact my office here

Know of a service that isn't linked above? Let us know

Disclaimer

This page is to help find information that is relevant to your circumstances, and not to be taken as personal advice.


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