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More than 8 out of 10 are Locked Out in Lockdown

More than 8 out of 10 are Locked Out in Lockdown

The Australian Council of Social Service has found that eighty-five percent of people receiving some form of income support are locked out of receiving any extra Covid Disaster Payment, pushing people on the lowest incomes to the brink of their ability to survive.

ACOSS released the latest update of its ‘Living in Lockdown’ survey, which finds that almost all of the 216 respondents (96%) were seriously struggling with the cost of living and almost half (41.5%) were at risk of homelessness because of the high cost of housing.

“Compared with last year when everyone receiving unemployment and related payments was provided extra support, this year more than 80% are seriously struggling to survive,” said ACOSS Program Director – Social Security, Charmaine Crowe.

“When people can’t afford to cover basic costs like food, rent, electricity, medicine and public transport, they find it harder to travel to get vaccinated and are more exposed to the risk of COVID-19,” said Ms Crowe.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that there were four times as many deaths from COVID-19 in the lowest socio-economic group (which includes most people on social security payments) compared with the highest socio-economic group. It is unconscionable to leave behind people who most need support.

“Even the OECD is recommending that Australia lift our appallingly low level of unemployment payment – at $44 a day it’s the very lowest rate of all comparable countries. People on Youth Allowance and Austudy are at an even lower rate of $36 a day.

“The Federal Government must urgently extend Disaster Payments to all people on social security or without other incomes including those on temporary visas. As soon as Parliament is recalled, it must pass legislation to lift social security payments to above the poverty line including JobSeeker, Commonwealth Rent Assistance and family payments.”

“The biggest stress people on low incomes face is housing costs – with the highest rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance for a single person without children at just $70 a week when people in Sydney can’t find rental properties for less than $340 a week (and up to $540 a week in the city).

“ACOSS urges the Federal Government to increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by at least 50% to better support people afford private rentals.”

Living in Lockdown – Key Findings:

  • 96% are struggling with living costs
  • 85% are ineligible for the COVID disaster payments
  • 41.5% are at risk of homelessness
  • 40% feel less safe

Key Recommendations

  1. Immediately extend COVID Disaster Payments to lift incomes for all people without paid work to at least $600 per week, including those in receipt of social security and those without any other income source at all.
  2. As soon as Parliament resumes in August, pass legislation lifting working-age income support payments (JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, parenting payments and related income support) to the pension rate, which is just above the poverty line (at least $475pw for the single rate). See further below for increases to supplements needed for specific groups.
  3. Index all income support payments twice per year in line with wage growth as well as prices.
  4. Extend income support to all affected by inadequate paid work, including people on temporary visas.
  5. Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50%.
  6. Provide supplementary payments for people with disability or illness, and single parents, recognising the additional costs they face.
  7. Invest in social housing to address the critical shortfall of supply.

Download the Locked Out in Lockdown survey report here

Residential Tenancy Support Package

Residential Tenancy Support Package

The Residential Tenancy Support Package applies to eligible COVID-19 impacted tenants and landlords. It includes a freeze on evictions and assistance for landlords who reduce rent.

Please note, the online application process for claims up to $4,500 will be available from 24 September 2021.

For more information, visit this webpage – https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/publications/coronavirus-covid-19/property/moratorium#60days

North Coast moving towards 70 % COVID Jab Target

North Coast moving towards 70 % COVID Jab Target

The North Coast is continuing its trajectory towards having 70% of the eligible population vaccinated against COVID-19.

The latest figures, as of 12 September, show 69% of the target population have had their first vaccine dose, while 40% have had their second.

First dose vaccination is just over the national average of 68% but lower than the NSW average. The disparity between regional and state figures is due to the significant push and increased dose supply supporting Sydneysiders to get vaccinated.

In the Mid North Coast area, 74% of people have had their first jab – 6% higher than the national average. Comparative figures for the Coffs-Grafton and Richmond-Tweed areas are 69% and 65% respectively.

First dose vaccination by local government area shows Port Macquarie-Hastings, Ballina, Bellingen and Nambucca sitting in a 70–80% band. In the 60–70% band are Kempsey, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kyogle, Tweed, Lismore and Richmond Valley. Byron Shire LGA is in a 50–60% band for first doses.

Overall rates in our region continue to increase about 4–5% a week, which is on par with national vaccination trends.

The Vaccine Eligibility Checker is the best way to make a vaccination appointment. As Pfizer supplies increase this month and next, it will be updated to reflect additional appointment availability.

Cabcharge Covid Vaccine travel support

Cabcharge Covid Vaccine travel support

Cabcharge are giving away 400 $50 travel vouchers until October 30 to assist people in New South Wales get to and from their scheduled COVID19 vaccination appointments. Anyone can apply for the Cabcharge voucher until October 9 or until vouchers run out.

Go to this link: https://www.cabcharge.com.au/voucher fill in the details and you’ll receive a $50 travel voucher with a link to add it to your smartphone within 24 hours.

Follow this link for further information, T&Cs etc: https://www.cabcharge.com.au/covid19-resources

We’re offering $200,000 in travel vouchers

Lockdown restrictions on states has been challenging for many people, and it’s taken a financial toll on families and workers. That’s why we’re offering $200,000 in travel vouchers. Anyone can apply for the voucher to get to their vaccination appointment. If you’re based in NSW and need assistance to get to your appointment, fill in your details here and you’ll receive a $50 travel voucher with a link to add it to your smartphone within 24 hours.

Not just a taxi solution

Cabcharge products also support non-taxi travel initiatives, and can be used for services including 13things – a delivery service run by 13cabs. For those most vulnerable in the community, and areas experiencing higher rates of infection, we integrate with 13things to ensure you can pay for deliveries with your Digital Fastcard or Digital Pass.

Cabcharge giving away $50 cab vouchers to help people get to their vaccinations

Cabcharge giving away $50 cab vouchers to help people get to their vaccinations

Cabcharge is giving away 400 $50 travel vouchers until October 30 to help people in NSW get to and from their scheduled COVID19 vaccinations. Anyone can apply for the Cabcharge voucher until October 9 or until vouchers run out.

Go to this link: https://www.cabcharge.com.au/voucher fill in the details and you’ll receive a $50 travel voucher with a link to add it to your smartphone within 24 hours.

Follow this link for further information, T&Cs etc: https://www.cabcharge.com.au/covid19-resources

We’re offering $200,000 in travel vouchers

Lockdown restrictions on states has been challenging for many people, and it’s taken a financial toll on families and workers. That’s why we’re offering $200,000 in travel vouchers until 9 October 2021. Anyone can apply for the voucher to get to their vaccination appointment. If you’re based in NSW and need assistance to get to your appointment, fill in your details here and you’ll receive a $50 travel voucher with a link to add it to your smartphone within 24 hours.

Not just a taxi solution

Cabcharge products also support non-taxi travel initiatives, and can be used for services including 13things – a delivery service run by 13cabs. For those most vulnerable in the community, and areas experiencing higher rates of infection, we integrate with 13things to ensure you can pay for deliveries with your Digital Fastcard or Digital Pass.

Steady North Coast vaccine demand as Pfizer supplies set to increase

Steady North Coast vaccine demand as Pfizer supplies set to increase

More than 65% of people aged over 16 on the NSW North Coast have now had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 36% have had their second dose. (Figures as of September 6).

The Mid North Coast area is 5% higher than the national average, with 69% of people having had their first dose.

The number of first dose recipients is highest in the Port Macquarie-Hastings local government area, registering in the 70-80% band, followed by Tweed, Bellingen, Ballina, Nambucca, Kempsey, Coffs Harbour, Clarence Valley and Kyogle LGAs are in the 60–70% band.

In the LGAs of Byron, Lismore and Richmond Valley, 50–60% of residents have received their first vaccine dose. We expect this to rise with the increased supply of the Pfizer vaccine starting from next week.

Overall rates in our region have been increasing about 4 to 5% a week, which is on par with national vaccination trends.

Pfizer vaccine supply

Pfizer vaccine supplies are set to significantly increase from mid-September onwards, with an initial doubling of general practice doses from 10,000 to more than 20,000 a week expected.

An additional 70 general practices across the North Coast will offer the Pfizer vaccine from mid-September. This will take the total number of participating practices offering Pfizer to more than 110, as well as the region’s six Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics.

Local Pfizer vaccine supplies will be tripled by October to more than 30,000 doses per week. AstraZeneca vaccines, recommended for those aged 60-plus, are still readily available.

Vaccine Eligibility Checker

Many more North Coast sites will become visible on the Vaccine Eligibility Checker over the coming two weeks as general practices receive their Pfizer deliveries and offer more vaccination time slots.

Healthy North Coast continues to encourage anyone seeking a COVID-19 vaccination to use the eligibility checker to make an appointment, even it that appointment is still several weeks away.

Chief Executive Officer Julie Sturgess said demand for the Pfizer vaccine would remain high, as from Monday, September 13, children aged 12–15 join those eligible to receive the Pfizer jab.

Service NSW COVID 19 Check-in cards for people who don’t have a smart phone

Service NSW COVID 19 Check-in cards for people who don’t have a smart phone

The COVID-19 check-in card is a hard-copy (printed) card with a unique QR code that contains your registered contact details.

When you enter a COVID Safe business, a staff member scans your card and your visit to the premises is electronically recorded. If the business device is unable to read your QR code, the staff member will enter your details manually into the Service NSW business online webform.

This information, along with the details of the premises you are attending and the time and date of your visit, will comprise the record of your attendance at the venue. Service NSW will hold the record of your attendance for a period of 28 days from the date it was collected. The record of your attendance will only be disclosed to NSW Health for contact tracing purposes.

The card provides an alternative check-in method for customers who don’t have smart phones and/or those who are not comfortable using the Service NSW business online webform.

Once you’ve created your card you can have it posted to you, or you can download a printable version immediately.

If you lose the card, or your contact details change, you simply create a new card.

Note: This check-in method is only available at businesses that have a QR compatible device. It is not mandatory for businesses to accept COVID-19 check-in cards.

More details can be found in this link:

https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/create-covid-19-check-card

Specific vaccination targets needed to protect the vulnerable

Specific vaccination targets needed to protect the vulnerable

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has written an open letter to National Cabinet urging it to develop vaccination targets that are specific to population groups and locations.

ACOSS says National Cabinet must set specific vaccination targets for high-risk groups to ensure vulnerable people are not left dangerously exposed to COVID-19 once the nation reopens.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is encouraging state and territory governments to begin opening up the country once COVID vaccination rates hit 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the eligible population.

Under a National Cabinet plan agreed to by state and territory leaders, lockdowns would be ‘unlikely’ when 70 per cent of the adult population is vaccinated, while only ‘highly targeted lock downs’ would be enforced once the rate hits 80 per cent.

But the high case numbers in New South Wales has led some premiers to question the re-opening targets. The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is also expressing concerns about the plan.

The community-sector news site, Probono has an article on the issue.

Some Fee-free TAFE courses available during lockdown

Some Fee-free TAFE courses available during lockdown

If you’re currently in lockdown and want to upskill, you can with a fee-free* online short course, but places are limited. Courses are a mix of self-paced online or teacher-led virtual classrooms, which can pathway into a variety of full TAFE NSW qualifications.

Courses are a mix of self-paced online or teacher-led virtual classrooms, which can pathway into a variety of full TAFE NSW qualifications.

Building a Website
Business Admin – Computing Skills
Construction Materials and WHS
Digital Security Basics
Emotional Intelligence
Introduction to Community Services
Introduction to Real Estate
Small Business
Social Media Engagement
and more
New Public Health Orders require health professionals, aged care workers and school staff to be vaccinated

New Public Health Orders require health professionals, aged care workers and school staff to be vaccinated

The NSW Government issued two new public health orders on August 26, 2021 requiring mandatory vaccination for health care professionals and aged care workers.

The order does not include private primary care providers such as GPs, practice nurses and allied health professionals working in private practice – unless those practitioners also work at a NSW Health or private hospital site.

More information can be found here: https://hnc.org.au/news-story/public-health-orders-aug-2021-xhp/

NSW Teachers

In announcements today, vaccinations for all school staff across all sectors will be mandatory from 8 November.

Visit the Department of Education website for more information, or watch the NSW Government COVID-19 press conference.

 

ACON presents On-line forums: COVID Coping and Vaccinate with Confidence

ACON presents On-line forums: COVID Coping and Vaccinate with Confidence

ACON is presenting an online forum with the theme ‘COVID Coping and Vaccinate with Confidence’. (ACON is Australia’s largest health organisation specialising in community health, inclusion, and HIV responses for people of diverse sexualities and genders.)

Figuring out how to cope and stay strong through COVID-19, as LGBTQ+ people, is so important. Let’s get the community together and have a conversation about it. We’re bringing in some community experts to share how they’re going, what they’re up to and how they’re getting through lockdown, and you’re invited.

We welcome a panel of psychologists (Hi, Ellis from Pride Counselling!), social workers, body workers, mutual aid heroes and even a music producer. Our experts will also answer your questions so please ask. 

 The event is on

Date: Thursday 2 September 2021

Time: 6:00 -7:30pm

Registerhttps://www.aconhealth.org.au/covidcopingforum

NSW to make vaccinations mandatory for all health workers

NSW to make vaccinations mandatory for all health workers

NSW will make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for all health workers, with a proposal to require first doses by September 30.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard will sign a public health order in the coming days requiring compulsory vaccination after reaching an agreement with the state’s peak medical groups representing hundreds of thousands of workers.

The decision to introduce the mandate comes after the state recorded a COVID-19 transmission event in a hospital every day for the past two weeks.

Under the order, health care workers will be required to receive their first dose of a vaccine by September 30 and their second dose by November 30.

All workers will be required to give evidence of their vaccination status to their employer. However, they will be able to seek an exemption if they lodge a certified medical reason by September 16.

The mandate will apply to doctors, nurses, and health staff as well as cleaners, administrative staff and all workers in front-facing roles.

For the Full Story published in the Sydney Morning Herald by Lucy Cormack and Lucy Carroll follow the link

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/nsw-to-make-vaccinations-mandatory-for-all-health-workers-20210819-p58kbe.html

 

NOW OPEN | Aboriginal Affairs NSW COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response Grants Program

NOW OPEN | Aboriginal Affairs NSW COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response Grants Program

COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response Grants Program – NOW OPEN

The COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response Grants Program will provide small grants to support Aboriginal communities across NSW reduce their risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and enable them to manage the impacts of the pandemic.

Only Aboriginal-run or controlled groups and organisations located in NSW are eligible to apply.

Grants of up to $10,000 are available for:

•            social and emotional wellbeing support

•            keeping communities connected

•            responding to immediate needs

•            advocacy and information.

To apply for funding applicants will need to complete and submit the application form through SmartyGrants.

Applications will be accepted at any time during the opening period. The assessment panel will meet weekly to approve applications and release funding. Applications close 5pm 19 November 2021.

For more information visit Aboriginal Affairs NSW – Covid 19 Aboriginal Community Response Grants Program, contact your nearest Aboriginal Affairs NSW regional office or email [email protected].

Free COVID-19 Safety Packs for our community

Free COVID-19 Safety Packs for our community

Lismore City Council is operating two drive-thru services to distribute face masks, hand sanitiser and disinfection wipes to help the community stay safe during COVID-19.

The COVID-19 protection ‘packs’ have been supplied by Resilience NSW. Each consists of 50 face masks, a 500ml bottle of hand sanitiser and a pack of 100 disinfectant wipes.

Distribution centres will be set up at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and the Lismore Library in Magellan Street  and members of the community will collect their packs from the safety of their vehicles.

Both distribution centres ooperate 9am to noon and 1pm to 3pm Monday to Friday.

Motorists accessing the Library Distribution Centre are asked to enter through the Rural Street Carpark and exit via Magellan Street, while those accessing the GSAC Distribution Centre are asked to enter via Oliver Avenue.

We ask people collecting packs to remain in their vehicle at all times, wear a face mask and adhere to all COVID-19 safety guidelines.

  • Both Distribution Centres are contactless drive-thru ONLY services.

Council is also working with various community organisations to establish walk-in Distribution Centres for those without vehicles.

Any community organisation that would like to assist distributing these COVID-safety packs, can call Council on 6625 0500.

We are also working to deliver the packs to specific groups, such as our indigenous community and the elderly, through appropriate organisations.