COVID-19

COVID-19 information for clients

In this section we’ve included information and resources that you might need to help your clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes where to find out more about what government support is available, essential services and what to do if clients can’t pay their bills, emergency relief, domestic and family violence supports, housing and health and wellbeing resources.

Young woman with glasses and bright multicoloured hair.

Easy read resources

Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) has produced some easy to read resources:

  • What is Coronavirus?
  • What does self-quarantine mean?
  • An essential items checklist
  • Visitor stop sign
  • Person-centred emergency preparedness plan

You can find these resources on the QDN website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support

Travel restrictions for Queensland’s remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been removed from 3 July 2020. The whole of Queensland now operates under the Roadmap to easing Queensland’s restrictions.

If an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs in a community, they may transition back to Stage 2 and follow the Chief Health Officer direction.

The Queensland Government has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in remote communities to implement a three-stage plan to safely ease restrictions in designated areas (PDF, 124 KB). Under this plan, all remote communities have moved to Stage 3 restrictions.

Sorry business and funerals

Sorry Business and other cultural activities are very important. But it is more important at the moment to keep Elders, and others who are already ill, safe by following the restrictions around gatherings.

As part of Stage 3 of Queensland’s roadmap to easing COVID-19 restrictions, 100 people may attend funeral services. You can apply for an exemption on compassionate grounds if a larger number of people need to attend.

Social distancing and good hygiene must be practised at all times. If you are sick, you should not attend the funeral, as COVID-19 can spread between people very quickly.

Queenslander Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) resources

QAIHC has developed resources in response to COVID-19 to support their members, the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations (ATSICCHO) and the communities they serve.

Free phone calls

Telstra has announced 550 payphones, including 29 in Queensland, are now free of charge across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia.

Domestic and family violence supports

When survivors are forced to stay in the home or in close proximity to their abuser more frequently, an abuser can use any tool to exert control over their victim, including a national health concern such as COVID-19.

Call 000 if you are in danger. If you are unable to speak to the Triple Zero (000) operator, you can still receive emergency help if it is not safe to speak, or you cannot speak.

When a 000 caller doesn’t respond to the operator’s question ‘Emergency. Police? Fire? Ambulance?’ the call is transferred to an interactive voice response (IVR). The IVR asks you to press ’55’ if you require emergency help. If you don’t press ’55’ after being asked three times, your call will be disconnected.

If you press ’55’ you will be connected to the police. If you are still unable to speak, the police will attempt to call you back and might also send a patrol car to your address.

Police will use the address for the service (which would usually be either your home or billing address). This means it is important to make sure that your telco has the most up-to-date address details for your phone services.

DVConnect

DVConnect is a statewide telephone service offering free professional telephone support.

DVConnect Womensline 1800 811 811

DVConnect’s Womensline is Queensland’s only 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year crisis response telephone helpline. They help Queenslanders who want to escape domestic violence. The service is for anyone identifying as a female, including in the LGBTIQ community.

Their goal is to respond to your immediate safety needs and can provide:

  • Emergency transport – taxi, bus, train or plane to remove you from violence
  • Safe, emergency motel accommodation
  • Specialist crisis counselling
  • Safety planning, information, referrals and support for those living with domestic violence
  • Safe accommodation for pets through the Pets In Crisis program.

Call 1800 811 811 or visit the DV Connect Womensline website.

DVConnect Mensline 1800 600 636

DVConnect Mensline is a free, confidential telephone counselling, referral, information and support, service for Queenslanders identifying as male, and who may be experiencing or using domestic and family violence. This service is available 9am until midnight, 7 days a week.

DVConnect’s Mensline offers counselling, referral, information and support for:

  • Men who are using violence in their relationships
  • Men who are experiencing domestic and family violence
  • Others seeking support for men using or experiencing domestic and family violence.

Call 1800 600 636 or visit the DVConnect Mensline website.

Oneplace

Find help near you. Search more than 53,000 Queensland family community services at oneplace. oneplace lists everything you need, from emergency relief to domestic and family violence support services.

Women’s Legal Services Queensland

Women’s Legal Services Queensland are available for statewide helpline assistance via the phone number 1800 957 957, Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 3:00pm.

Tips and self-care advice

This Department of Social Services fact sheet provides information on what domestic and family violence can include as well as contact details for culturally sensitive services in Australia – it is available in 46 languages.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (USA) website has written up some helpful tips and self-care advice for people experiencing difficulties during this pandemic.

If you need support, please contact:

  • 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

For emergencies or if you are in danger call 000.

Tenants Queensland

Tenants Queensland has developed a When violence affects your tenancy fact sheet for tenants affected by Domestic Violence during COVID-19.

Emergency relief

Oneplace

Find help near you. Search more than 53,000 Queensland family community services at oneplace.

Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services provides a search function to find your nearest emergency relief provider.

Emergency relief for people on temporary visas

Australian Red Cross has received Government funding specifically to support people who are on temporary visas with a small one-off emergency relief payment to meet basic needs like food, medicine or shelter.

Given the large number of people impacted by COVID-19, the support can only be offered to people in Australia with urgent needs who:

  • are not Australian citizens or permanent residents; and
  • are not eligible for State or Territory funds for temporary visa holders (except those delivered by Red Cross); and
  • have no income or savings and no access to other support.

Access Emergency Relief

Access Emergency Relief is open to anyone living in Queensland, regardless of visa status or citizenship.

The helpline is able to provide vouchers for various supermarkets, Caltex and payment of any bills in your name. This can all be done over the phone, with vouchers sent via text or email.

Call 07 3412 8222 between 1:00pm to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday to speak to a staff member.

National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007

The National Debt Helpline can provide free advice over the phone and, if necessary, refer you to a financial counsellor. A financial counsellor may assess your financial situation, give advice, directly advocate with financial and utility companies, SPER, Buy Now Pay Later companies (including payday lenders) and consumer lease companies, and give general advice options.

Household relief loans without interest

Good Shepherd, in collaboration with the Australian Government, are providing no interest loans up to $3,000 towards rent and utilities for eligible people who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Find out more about household relief loans without interest.

Essential services

Hardship programs

Many utility companies and financial services have hardship programs to assist people experiencing difficulties paying their bills. All energy retailers and telecommunications providers must have a hardship program.

They vary in what services they provide but often assist customers to manage their debt and stay connected to the service. To access these programs, or get help from a financial counsellor, call the service provider and ask for their hardship team.

For more information on these programs:

Telecommunications – visit the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) website for links to all the telecommunication companies’ hardship policies.

Energy – visit the Australian Energy Regulator’s webpage for links to all the energy company hardship policies.

Banks – If you are struggling with your loan or mortgage repayments ask your lender for a hardship variation to make your loan more manageable. A hardship variation is a change to the terms of the loan, based on financial hardship. Visit the Australian Banking Association website for a list of their members’ hardship policies.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) MoneySmart website provides guidance on how to approach your lender if you are struggling with your debts.

Toll company Transurban’s Linkt Assist hardship program and team help people who cannot pay their tolls and toll fines.

Support from phone and internet providers

Check with your individual provider to see what support they may be offering.

ACCAN is also providing frequently updated information on Assistance Packages.

If you are unable to resolve your phone and internet issues with your provider, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058.

Electricity, gas and water bills

Energy rebate

The Queensland Government is providing a $200 utilities rebate for all Queensland households (including the $50 Asset Ownership Dividend already announced) to offset the cost of water and electricity bills. The rebate will be automatically applied through household electricity bills.

Another $50 credit off power bills will follow from 1 September 2020: a dividend payment to Queenslanders as shareholders in the state’s publicly-owned energy businesses.

Support from energy suppliers

Ergon Energy Retail and Ergon Network have stopped disconnecting power for unpaid bills in regional Queensland for households experiencing hardship due to the ongoing impacts of coronavirus.

In South East Queensland, where there are several retailers, Energex has ceased disconnections for one large retailer and is finalising arrangements with the rest.

Energy hardship programs

Energy retailers must have a financial hardship policy to provide individualised support for customers who are experiencing payment difficulty. Depending on the retailer, a hardship program may include incentive payments, energy efficiency audits or financial counselling advice.

To access this support, ask to speak to the retailer’s hardship team. Some retailers provide a dedicated phone line for financial counsellors and community sector support workers to access the hardship team directly. This can help save you time and ensure you can get timely assistance for your client.

For more information on what to do if you can’t pay an energy bill and links to retailers’ hardship programs visit the Can’t pay an electricity or gas bill page on Community Door.

Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS)

The Queensland Government’s Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS) offers a one-off payment of up to $720 for Queensland customers who are unable to pay their electricity or gas bill due to a short-term financial crisis. Clients should contact their energy retailer to request the HEEAS application form. Call 13 74 68 or visit the Queensland Government website for information.

Support from water suppliers

If anyone is experiencing difficulty in paying their water and sewerage bill, get in touch with your water provider as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Most have a designated hardship program and offer flexible payment plans.

Urban Utilities has provided answers to some frequently asked questions about water and wastewater services.

For more information on what to do if you can’t pay a water bill visit the Can’t pay a water bill section on Community Door.

Support from Australian banks

To support customers through this time of uncertainty, Australian banks are stepping up with more clearly defined financial relief strategies.

Housing and homelessness

Tenants impacted by COVID-19

The Queensland Government has implemented a range of measures to better protect tenants and landlords impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find out more on the Residential rental hub and in the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide.

Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) Queensland

For dispute resolution, bond management and tenancy information including tenancy variation forms, visit the RTA website, or call them on 1300 366 311 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm) or contact the SSQ COVID hotline on 134 268 43.

COVID-19 Information for the Queensland residential rental sector

Tenants Queensland

For information for tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic visit the Tenants Queensland website or call 1300 744 263.

Tenants Queensland has developed fact sheets to provide information about common issues for tenants affected by COVID-19 including Information for tenants affected by COVID-19, Information for sharehouse tenants affected by COVID-19, Information for international students affected by COVID-19, and When violence affects your tenancy.

QSTARS

For free independent advice and referral services visit the QSTARS website or phone 1300 744 263.

Department of Housing and Public Works

For housing assistance call 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or search Housing Service Centre online to contact you nearest Housing Service Centre for housing help.

Public housing tenants can download the Tenant Assist Qld app for online self-service. Bond loan and rental grant customers, and those looking for information about housing services can download the Housing Assist Qld app to access services online. Find out more about these apps.

Income support

The Australian Government is providing financial assistance to Australians. This assistance includes income support payments, payments to support households and temporary early releases of superannuation. The following fact sheets provide more information about each of the payments.

Income support for individuals – eligibility information about income support payments and the Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.

Payment to support households – information about the two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

Early access to superannuation – individuals affected by coronavirus can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

Providing support to retirees – information about how retirees can manage the impact of volatility in financial markets on their retirement savings by temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements.

The JobSeeker line is 132 850 or find out more on how to claim JobSeeker online.

Resources in languages other than English and Easy-English guides

To support Queensland’s response to COVID-19, people who do not have adequate insurance coverage and are not eligible for Medicare will not be charged out of pocket expenses if they present to any Queensland Health facility for assessment in relation to COVID-19 infection.

More information is available from Queensland Health at this link.

Coronavirus information in your language

This portal by SBS offers news and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) in 63 languages.

Multilingual MyAus COVID-19 app

Migration Council of Australia has launched a resource app for information about the COVID-19 virus, its impacts, and available supports in languages other than English. Find out more and download the app.

NDIS COVID-19 Update (Auslan)

Watch this NDIS Australia video in Auslan, which shares important information about coronavirus for NDIS participants.

Easy English guides (from Scope Australia)

What is Coronavirus?
What do I do?
COVID-19 – Look for the signs
COVID-19 – Look after yourself

Services Australia easy read guide and audio

Services Australia has developed a range of resources including an easy read guide on How we’re helping people affected by COVID-19 (Easy Read). People affected by COVID-19 can also listen to the Easy Read document by going to the Services Australia playlist on the SoundCloud website. There is a range of audio content, including audio files in other languages.

Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN)

QDN has developed accessible resources on the following topics:

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? – (Word) (PDF)
What does Self-quarantine mean? – (Word) (PDF)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Essential Items Checklist – (Word) (PDF)

Advice in languages other than English

Translated resources for COVID-19 coronavirus are available on the Australian Government’s website in Simplified Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Italian, and many more languages.

Ethnolink Language services are maintaining a list of materials curated from all government departments.

World Wellness Group has introduced the Multicultural Connect Line at at 1300 079 020, a Queensland-wide service for people from multicultural backgrounds whose lives have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To find out more download this information flyer, visit the World Wellness Group website, or call the Multicultural Connect Line at 1300 079 020.

Queensland Government 

People who speak other languages can access information about the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) through the Queensland Government website.

Find out more about engaging and working with interpreters.

Domestic and family violence information in other languages

This fact sheet provides information on what domestic and family violence can include as well as contact details for culturally sensitive services in Australia – it is available in 46 languages. Read the fact sheet.

The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women has developed a fact sheet to provide information about assistance to support people on temporary visas experiencing domestic and family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact sheet has useful links to find out more about what assistance may be available. Read the fact sheet.

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