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AFDO NEWSLETTER #11- Centrelink, NDIS information & more

1 Apr 2020 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE AFDO NEWSLETTER FROM THE AFDO CEO 31ST MARCH 2020 - by Ross Joyce. (AV ARE MEMBERS OF AFDO). 

'In this newsletter, we have included links to reliable information and resources on COVID-19, including information and resources on how we can look after our mental health when we are being flooded with so much negative news on a daily basis.

It's important that we give ourselves permission to switch off from the "noise" around COVID-19 and continue doing things we enjoy each day, such as reading books, listening to music, chatting to friends, and doing meditation.  It is also essential that we stay connected with our friends, families, colleagues, and our community during this time, whether it's by connecting with them online, by text, or simply picking up our phones and calling someone. 

I hope you enjoy reading this edition of AFDO eNews.  

CoronaVirus information and resources

NDIS information and updates

CoronaVirus information on the NDIS website has moved to a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support section, with lots of new questions and answers about recent changes. Below are some key changes from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  Please remember that new information is updated regularly and we encourage you to check the NDIS website often.

A few key changes of interest:
  • To ensure participant plans don’t end, on the day a plan is due to expire, it will be automatically be extended by 365 days. 
  • If a participant has a scheduled plan review, the NDIA will contact them by phone or email to undertake their review. 
  • As part of this plan review process, a participant can discuss having a new plan in place for up to 24 months. 
Updated Price Guide and Support Catalogue
To help providers continue to deliver supports to participants through this time, the NDIA is introducing a number of changes. Below are some links for more information on the NDIS website about the following:
The NDIS website has been updated with Frequently Asked Questions

Reminder on how to contacts the NDIS
If participants would like to continue to visit an NDIS office, they can do so.  All NDIA offices remain open. For Local Area Coordinators and Early Childhood Partners, check the Partner office operations page for the latest office operations.
 
Participants can call 1800 800 110 if they need to talk to a planner, make changes to their plan or if they are having trouble getting services due to COVID-19 (CoronaVirus).
 
You can also contact the NDIS by: 

Government information and resources

  • The Australian Government has created a new website with all the latest COVID-19 information and resources from government agencies across Australia.  This new website includes topics such as government directions, health, travel information, and financial support for individuals and businesses.  You can visit this new website at www.australia.gov.au
     
  • The Australian Government is also publishing information and resources about COVID-19 on the Department of Health website.  This website includes daily updates, health information, factsheets, and other resources.
     
  • You can also gain access to a new messaging service on WhatsApp by typing oz.gov.au/whatsapp.  You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government’s CoronaVirus Australia app, available on the App Store and Google Play store. 


AFDO information and resources 

We have developed a webpage with links to the latest news, information, and resources for people with disability and their families.  We are regularly updating this webpage to make sure it has the latest information.  You can visit the webpage at https://www.afdo.org.au/coronavirus-covid-19-information/

This webpage includes links to accessible information such as Auslan and Easy Read information.


Mental Health resources

The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale.

It is understandable that during times like this, people might feel afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed, especially with the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of COVID-19.

While it is important to stay informed, Lifeline has put together some mental health and wellbeing tips to help us all look after ourselves during these difficult times.  They have also included some strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine. 

Isolation and stress can make it harder to take care of your mental health.  Beyond Blue has some tips on looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

Contact
If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or sad, please reach out for support - talking to someone can help.  If you would like to talk to someone, you can contact:

If you are Deaf, or have a speech impairment, you can talk to Lifeline and Beyond Blue through the National Relay Service (NRS).. 

Here are some options:

  • TTY (teletypewriter) users phone 133 677 then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue
  • Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue
  • Internet relay users connect to the NRS by clicking  here then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue

Centrelink news and information

Support Payment

The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to people who receive the Disability Support Pension, Sickness Allowance, Age Pension, Newstart Allowance, Jobseeker Payment, Carer Allowance and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020. The Government has produced a Fact Sheet on $750 payment

Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of:

  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance Jobseeker
  • Parenting Payment
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit.
The $550 fortnightly supplement does not extend to people currently receiving the Disability Support Pension.  AFDO and other disability organisations are asking the Government to extend the CoronaVirus supplement to people receiving the Disability Support Pension. 

Mutual obligation requirements for job seekers

Due to the high demand for government services, job seekers have experienced difficulty in reporting their mutual obligations.

During this challenging time, the Australian Government is lifting all mutual obligations for JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance as a job seeker, and Parenting Payment until 27th April 2020.

This means that your payment cannot be suspended and you cannot receive any demerit points or have your payment reduced or cancelled for not meeting your mutual obligations.

If mutual obligations are reinstated after 27 April 2020, you may still be able to obtain an exemption.  If you are receiving a Centrelink payment that requires you to complete mutual obligations and you’re affected by COVID-19, Centrelink may grant you a Major Personal Crisis exemption for a period of 14 days.

This will mean you will not have to complete your mutual obligations, including:

  • attending appointments
  • looking for work
  • doing any of the activities in your Job Plan.
You can apply for a Major Personal Crisis exemptions by calling Centrelink on your regular payment line and telling them why you are isolated. 

Centrelink Payments

With the long queues for Centrelink recently, as well as MyGov crashing due to so many people trying to access it, below is some information from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) about contacting Centrelink at the moment.

  • If you already receive Newstart or another payment, you do not need to contact Centrelink to receive the extra support payment announced. The extra payments will come through automatically.
  • If you are still working and have an income coming in - try to wait a day or two to connect with Centrelink or MyGov, if you don't need payments urgently.

However, for people who have lost their jobs and need to apply for a payment urgently:

Please tell Centrelink you "intend to claim".  Because of long queues for Centrelink at the moment, you can tell them your "intent to claim" by logging on to MyGov or by contacting 132 850.  If you decide to attend a Centrelink office and need to line up, please practice social distancing. 

You will be back paid to the day you lodged your "intent to claim".

COVID-19 and Centrelink Fact Sheet

Economic Justice Australia (formerly the National Social Security Rights Network NSSRN) has published a COVID-19 and Centrelink Fact Sheet.  The Fact Sheet provides information on what Centrelink can do if you have been affected by COVID-19.  You can download the Fact Sheet here, and you can visit the new website for Economic Justice Australia here.  

Disability Royal Commission

The Disability Royal Commission has suspended all public hearings, community engagements, and face-to-face private sessions due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 CoronaVirus.  

However, you can still tell your story by making a public submission to the Royal Commission.  There is a page on our website with more information on how to make a public submission.  You can visit the page at https://www.afdo.org.au/royal-commission/making-a-submission/

Please be aware that your story will be public.  If you would like to make a private submission, you will need to wait until the Disability Royal Commission can hold face-to-face private sessions again."


THANK YOU TO AFDO FOR COLLATING THIS INFORMATION -

More at the ADFO website link: https://www.afdo.org.au/news/current-news/  AND https://mailchi.mp/afdo.org.au/afdo-enews-5031101?e=54bc5ee4fd 

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