COVID-19 UPDATE

Help stop the spread of Covid-19

  • Just stay at home
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Observe social distancing
  • Strict limits on public gatherings
  • Follow the self-isolation rules

For the most up to date hygiene practices to protect yourself and others, including covering your coughs and sneezes, as well as washing your hands, visit the Department of Health website here.

The Department of Health has also provided more information on self-isolation or self-quarantine here.

You can find information on social distancing here.

Should I send my child to school?

The NSW Government has recently issued new advice to parents about school attendance.

The NSW Government has asked parents to keep their children at home where possible.

The medical advice is that children are safe to go to school.

Should you require further details or clarification, the NSW Government has issued a statement on its latest advice on schools, which you can view here.

What if I think I've got symptoms?

If you think you may be showing symptoms of the virus, the Department of Health has provided advice about what to look for and what you need to do here – including further details about testing, when it is appropriate and how it will be done.

Coronavirus Helpline - 24 hours, 7days a week

You can also phone your own doctor or the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. As you can imagine, there are many people trying to phone the helpline so please be patient.

Assistance for Older Australians

Older Persons Advocacy Network 1800 237 981 6am-10pm; 7 days a week.

You can all this number to discuss any of your concerns about Covid-19 or for assistance, including help with grocery and medication delivery.

In the event of an emergency, please phone 000.

CENTRELINK

To apply for Centrelink, you can visit them online or by phone 13 28 50.

For multilingual services, phone 131 202.

You can also find out more about changes to social security and accessing Centrelink at www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus

Accessing Centrelink

There are new rules to make it much easier to access JobSeeker Payment. All people need to do is make a declaration that their business has been suspended or turnover significantly reduced because of the Coronavirus downturn. The normal JobSeeker Payment income tests will apply. It doesn’t matter what their income was last week, or last month, just what it is currently.

The easiest way to register for JobSeeker allowance is to go online to www.my.gov.au, log in to your myGov account, and register an intent to claim. It takes two clicks to lodge, provided you already have a myGov account. You will then be contacted by a Centrelink worker either by phone or email to ask for any additional information they may require to progress your claim.

You do not need an existing myGov account. Anyone with a current email address and mobile number can register for myGov. Once you’re registered, you will need to link at least one service to access the intent to claim home screen. We recommend linking ATO or Medicare as the primary service first, as, for most people, a CRN from Centrelink is required to link the online Centrelink service. CRNs can only be obtained over the phone or in person, which will cause additional delays.

You also do not need an existing CRN. You can now lodge an intent to claim online without a CRN. A member of Centrelink will then contact you by email or phone to get any further information they need to process your claim. This will include an identity check over the phone to obtain a CRN if you don’t have one. But if you’ve lodged an intent to claim earlier, your payments will be backdated to Monday 23 March.

Other social security measures announced:

Coronavirus Supplement

Australians on various income support payments will be able to access the Coronavirus Supplement which will be available for the next six months at a rate of $550 per fortnight from 27 April 2020.

The liquid assets waiting period for JobSeekers Payment will also be waived.

The Coronavirus Supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. Thanks to Labor’s efforts, students and apprentices who are recipients of Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY for students getting Living Allowance are also eligible.

For more information on the Coronavirus Supplement including eligibility, the Australian Government has issued a factsheet which you can access here.

Second one-off payment

The Australian Government has also announced a second stimulus payment of $750 which will be payable to various social security recipients in July.

Labor is concerned that this is too long a wait and we have written to the Government asking them to bring forward this payment.

For more information on the second one-off payment, including eligibility, the Australian Government has issued a factsheet which you can access here.

Dealing with Centrelink

During this anxious time, Australians must be able to rest assured that when or if the time comes, the social safety net will be there for them.

I also understand that some Australians will miss out, and I’m doing all that I can to push the government to ensure that no one is left out.

In the meantime, please know that we are aware that delays are not the fault of Centrelink staff.

OTHER FINANCIAL HELP

Individuals

If you’ve lost your job, lost hours, or are suffering financial hardship, find out what support is available, including wage subsidies: www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus

Businesses & Sole Traders

If you’re a business or a sole trader, find out what support is available at www.business.gov.au or 13 28 46.

Small Business

If you own a small business – whether you’re a sole-trader or run a company – find out what financial assistance is available to you here.

Renters

The National Cabinet has agreed to ban evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenants in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.

For help: contact NSW Fair Trading (13 32 20) or the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service (02 8117 3700).

FAMILY OVERSEAS

The Australian Government closed the borders to non-citizens and non-residents – as have nations around the world.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have provided advice in relation to Australians overseas through their smartraveller.gov.au website, including accessing consular assistance.

Some Australians remain overseas and are having difficulty getting home. DFAT has provided an update here.

Others remain overseas, including those who are working or studying. DFAT has also issued advice in relation to Australians in these circumstances here.

Further Assistance

I hope this information has been useful. Again, should you have any further queries on these or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact my office on (02) 9379 0700.