Involved COVID-19 eNews - 1 October 2021
Involved eNews – 1 October 2021
Hello and welcome to INVOLVED eNews
Last Monday the ACT Government updated our COVID-19 Pathway Forward which outlined gradual and safe steps out of lockdown.
We continue to work towards high vaccination coverage in the ACT and during October, the ACT will hit 80% of our population over the age of 12 fully vaccinated. We will reach this milestone ahead of the national average, but this doesn’t mean we will stop vaccinating. The ACT will continue supporting our local vaccination rollout until everyone who wants to be vaccinated has the opportunity to do so.
This very strong level of vaccination coverage will allow us to start taking gradual steps forward once we reach 80% vaccination coverage of the population over the age of 12.
There has been some easing of restrictions from today, 1 October 2021, including that up to two people are permitted to visit another household at any time.
Up to 5 people or one household (any size) are now able gather outdoors for up to four hours for physical or recreational activities.
A summary of the proposed restrictions is available on the ACT COVID-19 website.
Subject to the public health risk remaining relatively stable in the next two weeks, the ACT’s lockdown will end at 11:59pm on Thursday 14 October, triggering some further easing of restrictions as outlined on the ACT COVID-19 website.
NDS Webinar for Disability Providers with the Senior Practitioner
National Disability Services is facilitating a Webinar with the Senior Practitioner Tracey Harkness. Tracey will speak to practical strategies to support people with disability at home during lockdown as well as provide an update from the Office of the Senior Practitioner. All are welcome to attend.
Tuesday 5 October 2021.
The webinar will be held via Microsoft Teams so Click here to join the meeting
A factsheet has been developed to provide practical support and guidance to residential service providers about Public Health Order Compliance and Restrictive Practices.
Wearing face masks
All individuals aged 12 years and over must continue to wear a mask at all times when leaving home, including in workplaces.
A mask must fit securely around the face and covers the nose and mouth to provide the wearer with protection against infection. A scarf or bandana is not a face mask.
A person is not required to wear a face mask if they have a disability, or physical or mental health illness or condition, which makes wearing a face mask detrimental to their condition.
A person may remove their face mask in the following situations:
- When the person is consuming food, drink or medicine.
- When communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential for communication.
- If asked to remove a face mask to ascertain identity (eg if asked by a police officer).
- While undertaking vigorous exercise outdoors.
- When performing essential work in an outdoor space where no other people are present.
- When alone or only with members of the same household in an outdoor space when no other people are present.
- When performing essential work in an indoor space, but only when:
- In an office where no other people are present; OR
- When sitting or standing at a workstation, in an office, and 1.5 metres away from any other person. (As soon as a person is no longer alone or is moving, they must wear a face mask).
- If they are in the process of getting married.
- If alone in a vehicle or with members of the same household only.
- Because of an emergency.
Resources are available regarding masks including how to put on, wear and dispose of a face mask, including a task schedule to help break down the task of putting on a face mask into smaller steps and a Social Story from Scope Australia called I must wear a mask
People with disability, support staff, volunteers and carers are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine right now.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a safe and effective way to protect you from becoming very sick if you catch COVID-19.
Access and Sensory Vaccination Clinic Located at Weston Creek
The Access and Sensory Vaccination Clinic is located at a dedicated space at the Weston Creek Community Health Centre, and is for anyone who would benefit from a quieter environment, additional space, longer appointment time, or those requiring carer assistance, including people with disability, people with mobility limitations and people with mental health conditions.
View a new Access and Sensory Clinic video which walks you through each step of the COVID-19 vaccination appointment process, from arrival to exit, providing a first-hand look ð at what to expect when attending the clinic for a vaccination.
A support worker, or volunteer or carer accompanying a person with disability to their appointment at the Access and Sensory Clinic, can receive their vaccination at the same time as the person with disability (however, they do need to be booked in if they wish to be vaccinated).
The move to the Weston Creek Community Health Centre has enabled the vaccination service to expand from two days a week to five days a week, meaning additional appointments are available for bookings on a Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 3.30pm.
To make a vaccination appointment at the Access and Sensory Clinic, call the ACT COVID-19 vaccination booking line on 5124 7700 (select option 3) between 7am to 7pm, daily.
It’s entirely optional to use the Access and Sensory Clinic and you may wish to make an appointment at a GP or at another ACT Government COVID-19 vaccination clinic to get your COVID-19 vaccination. All ACT Government COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics have disability parking areas and accessible ramps.
All children aged 12-15 years are now able to book a Pfizer vaccination appointment at an ACT Government clinic. Further information is available on the COVID-19 website.
Information about COVID-19 vaccinations in the ACT is available on the Information for people with disability page on the COVID-19 website.
Vaccination Webinar for People with Intellectual Disability
The Australian Government Department of Health, supported by Inclusion Australia held a webinar to discuss the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine and answer questions from people with intellectual disability and supporters.
A recording of the webinar is now available on the Department of Health website.
In-home (in-reach) COVID-19 Vaccination
If a person with disability feels they may need to be vaccinated in their home because they have significant barriers to accessing other vaccination options, they can contact the ACT vaccination booking line on 02 5124 7700 (choose option 3 for the dedicated disability line).
They will be able to speak to someone who will take their information and then someone from the COVID-19 Vaccination Program team will contact them and coordinate vaccination in your home. This information is available on the Advice for People with Disability page of the COVID-19 website.
Priority COVID-19 vaccinations for all disability care workers
The ACT Government is continuing to offer priority COVID-19 vaccinations for all health, aged and disability care workers. This includes, but is not limited to, clinical and non-clinical workers of hospitals, health, age and disability care facilities.
Book your appointment by:
- calling ACT Health using the priority number provided by your manager, or
- the ACT COVID-19 vaccination booking line on 02 5124 7700 (7am to 7pm, daily).
If you need assistance making an appointment, speak to your manager and they can book it for you.
Identify yourself as an aged, disability or health care worker. You’ll need to answer a few questions to confirm your employment.
If you need the help of a translator, call the translating and interpreting service (TIS) on 131 450 and ask to be connected to the ACT COVID-19 vaccine booking line.
Find more information on the ACT COVID-19 vaccination web page.
COVID-19 Testing Sites
You should get tested if you have been notified by ACT Health, if you are a close or casual contact or you have even the most mildest of COVID-19 symptoms.
ACT Health is ensuring safe, efficient and equitable access to COVID-19 testing for all Canberrans and has established a new dedicated Access and Sensory testing site at the Garran Surge Centre for people with disability, children and young people with sensory or additional needs, and those who need additional support to undertake a test. Daily hours are 7.30am – 9.00pm.
The Garran Surge Centre also now provides a walk-in testing service for the general public, as the Weston Creek Community Centre has now ceased to be a COVID-19 walk-in testing site.
If you have difficulty accessing a testing site, please call the COVID-19 Helpline. The Helpline operates on 02 6207 7244 between 8am and 8pm daily.
Information about the location of testing sites can be found on the Where to get tested page on the COVID-19 website.
In-home (in-reach) COVID-19 Testing
In addition, people with disability who are unable to attend a testing site can call ACT Health on
5124 6500. ACT Health will talk to the person about their needs and COVID-19 contact status and assess whether they are suitable for in-reach testing. The request is passed on to a team who will schedule the in-reach testing. Depending on demand for this service, a request may not guarantee a test.
Additional funding for the Respite Effect and Recovery Grants
People with disability and their families have reported experiencing increased financial pressures, a loss of regular activities, and increased social isolation during lockdown. The Respite Effect and Recovery Grants provide a great opportunity to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our community by providing financial support, of up to $250 for people with disability and their family carers.
An additional $45,000 has been sourced enabling the Respite Effect and Recovery Grants to continue.
So far 248 applications have been approved for a total of $62,186. The ACT Government is very grateful to Carers ACT for their very timely partnership providing $20,000 last week to support to continuation of the grants. This funding has supported people with disability and their families, including young carers to reduce the impact of COVID-19 by supporting activities such as paying bills, beginning a hobby at home, purchasing gardening supplies and purchasing technology to increase their connection to friends and family.
Applications will now close on 15 October or when funding is exhausted and will be processed on a non-competitive basis, so if you have not received funding in the previous grant round apply today!
For more information and to apply, visit a participating community organisation, or see the Respite Effect and Recovery Grant Program Guidelines.
Essential PPE information
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) information for ACT Disability Support providers and their workers can be found in this webinar facilitated by National Disability Services: Correct PPE Usage in a COVID Environment Video
- information on PPE requirements from ACT Health
- a live demonstration of donning and doffing PPE
- the correct fitting and fit-testing of the P95 Mask
- an interactive question and answer session
National Disability Services advise this is recommended viewing for all ACT organisations and their support workers.
WWDACT Video - Importance of Getting Vaccinated
Social Media Program to Promote COVID Vaccinations
National Disability Services (NDS) recognise how important it is for disability support staff and people with disability to be vaccinated as soon as possible against COVID-19. To get behind the vaccination push NDS recently launched a special promotion to run throughout September and October which is open to all disability providers.
NDS invite you to share photos and stories of people with disability, support workers and other staff in your organisation who have received one or two doses of the vaccine. Post the photos on your organisation's Facebook Page with the hashtag #togetherwevax. Sharing these photos via your social media channels will send the message that getting vaccinated is a great thing to do and assist in helping overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Each month NDS will choose the top three posts and reward the people featured with a $100 gift voucher. Then, at the end of the program NDS will select best overall post where the people featured will receive a $250 gift voucher, as will the employing organisation.
Further information including the Terms and Conditions are on the NDS website.
No smartphone to check in? No problem!
A new Check In CBR card is being introduced for those people who don’t own a smartphone or are unable to download or use the Check In CBR app.
The card contains a unique QR code which can be scanned at all businesses and venues across the ACT that currently accept the Check In CBR app.
Checking in will be faster, easier and with private as there is no need for venue staff to manually enter a customer’s details.
For more information on the Check In CBR card, visit the ACT Government COVID-19 website.
ACT Official Visitors for Disability Services
The role of Official Visitors for Disability Services is to provide independent oversight of services for people with disability who are receiving daily living supports, hear their concerns and help resolve any complaints. The three Official Visitors for Disability Services are Mary Durkin, Rob Woolley and Tracey Gullo. Official Visitors are appointed by the Minister for Human Rights.
While we are not conducting face-to-face visits during this lockdown, we are still able to hear and help resolve complaints and issues. We are still working to support people with disability, and we can liaise with service provider management and refer to other relevant bodies during lockdown. An Easy Read version of the roles of Official Visitors is available on the Public Trustee and Guardian website.
Any person can contact an Official Visitor to highlight or raise a concern about services, and we then liaise with relevant people to investigate further. This can include the person with disability, workers, family members, guardians, advocates or other supports in a person's life.
There are a number of ways to contact Official Visitors for Disability Services:
- ring 1800 150 036 and following the prompts (the call will be redirected to one of the Official Visitors for Disability Services). This number can also be used with the National Relay Service.
- fill out the online form which can be found on the Public Trustee and Guardian website.
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
Support provided by advocacy organisations
Both Advocacy for Inclusion and ACT Disability Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS) continue to provide individual advocacy for people who need assistance.
Advocacy for Inclusion can assist you by providing short term individual advocacy support.
Phone 6257 4005 or email email@example.com
ADACAS provide individual advocacy and may also be able to offer Supported Decision Making to people who may need some additional assistance in regard to consent for vaccination plus support for people in SIL or other accommodation. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 6242 5060.
NDIS COVID-19 Resource Pack and NDIS advice/links
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) advise they are committed to keeping you up-to-date on available National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) COVID-19 support for NDIS participants and providers:
Latest advice from NDIS – contains the most recent advice and information from the NDIA about COVID-19 response measures.
Information for participants – outlines how the NDIA is supporting participants during the pandemic, including information about plans and plan reviews, temporary supports available and other resources.
Minister for the NDIS, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, announced an expansion of financial payments available to providers supporting NDIS participants to attend COVID-19 vaccination appointments: More support for people with disability and COVID-19 vaccinations | NDIS
Information for providers – outlines how the NDIA is assisting providers during the pandemic, including information about the workforce response service, personal protective equipment and provider obligations.
Information packs –NDIA have collated information on key topics and for different situations to support NDIS participants and their families.
NDIS office operations – the latest information about NDIA office closures in your region.
Partner office operations – the latest information about partner office closures for local area coordinators and early childhood coordinators in your region.
Previous NDIS COVID-19 information sessions for Providers:
ACT COVID-19 disability workforce register
To assist the disability sector to continue to deliver quality supports to those who need it, National Disability Services (NDS) has been funded by the ACT Office for Disability to deliver a service that will link community organisations that have excess workforce with organisations that are having workforce shortages.
The NDS’s matching service will assist organisations who might otherwise have to stand staff down and support any organisations who are experiencing staff shortages.
Any organisation with excess staff with disability support experience or transferrable skills or staff shortages should be encouraged to provide a contact name and details to email@example.com
The NDS COVID-19 Administration Officer will then contact each organisation and facilitate the sharing of support staff.
Transport options for people with disability in lockdown
There are a range of community transport options to assist people with disability to attend medical appointments, including vaccination appointments, and to go grocery shopping:
Transport through Regional Community Service Organisations
The five Regional Community Service Organisations who provide community transport services are:
Communities@Work - 6293 6500
Capital Region Community Service (Belconnen Community Service) - 6278 8124
Northside Community Services - 6257 2255
Woden Community Services - 6181 2828
Community Services#1 - 6126 4700
Community Assistance and Support Program
The Community Assistance and Support Program (CASP) provides community care supports for people under 65 years with a health condition and their carers. Below is a list of eight providers who provide community transport for people who are eligible for CASP to attend medical appointments, including vaccination appointments:
Anglicare - 6278 8480
Belconnen Community Service - 6278 8124
Communities@Work - 6293 6500
Community Services #1 - 6126 4700
Life Without Barriers - 1800 935 483
Mercy Health ACT - 6228 9600
Northside Community Service - 6257 2255
Woden Community Service - 6181 2828
Taxi Subsidy Scheme
The ACT Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS), administered by ACT Revenue Office, provides financial assistance to ACT residents with disability or significant mobility restriction preventing them from using public and community transport.
The TSS is intended to assist members attend essential activities. The annual allocation of trips is 126 trips per year. The scheme provides a contribution to the overall cost of the trip. Additional trips can be requested if required, by phoning the ACT Revenues Office on 6207 0028 (Select Option 5, Sub Option 1 - Taxi Subsidy Scheme).
Transport options for NDIS Participants
NDIS participants may use their transport funding to attend vaccination appointments.
NDIS participants living in a residential setting of two or more people with disability can be vaccinated at their residence by a vaccination provider, arranged by the Department of Health.
Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers are being supported by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations for their clients, including provision of transport to and from a vaccination clinic, through a fixed price $150 payment.
Grocery and Medicine Delivery Options
Home Medicine Service
The Home Medicines Service is available from participating pharmacies across Australia. Contact the pharmacy you usually visit to find out more.
Find out more about home medicines service on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
Some community service organisations also do pharmacy delivery. Ask the community organisations you usually visit for assistance.
We understand some households are unable to get groceries delivered in a timely manner due to demand.
If you are not in quarantine or isolation, and can go to a supermarket to shop, you can do so under the lockdown rules. Try to shop in your local region, and get in and out as quickly as possible.
If you are shopping for a family member or friend, please ensure you drop the groceries off without coming into contact with them.
If you need to order home delivery, there is a range of options to consider through other grocers and independent supermarkets as well as the major supermarkets listed on the Access Help page on the COVID-19 website.
Woolworths grocery delivery for vulnerable customers
To ensure vulnerable customers in the community have access to delivery services at this time, Woolworths is providing a Priority Assistance service with dedicated delivery windows.
Eligible customers include people with disability, seniors and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self-isolate.
Woolworths also provide Priority Assistance services to vulnerable business customers which include aged care facilities, childcare centres, disability services, community housing, some charities, and prisons.
Register with Woolworths for Priority Assistance and be sure to include any supporting information to assist Woolworths in assessing your request. If you accessed the Priority Assistance service during 2020, you should be able to see ‘preferred’ delivery windows when shopping online with Woolworths via a mobile or desktop device. Priority Assist windows are not unlimited, so there may be times where customers will not find a preferred window.
Emergency Food Relief
If you are experiencing hardship and cannot afford to feed your family or yourself during the lockdown in the ACT you can request a food and essential item delivery to your front door for free.
A volunteer will deliver your order to your front door. These volunteers are not permitted to enter your home. If you are unable to collect the delivery from your front door you will need to arrange for a carer or approved visitor to assist you. A limited number of pantry items are available through this service. Fresh produce is not available at this time.
To place an order for emergency food and essential items and to find out what items are available call Volunteering ACT on 1800 43 11 33, on Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. If the phone is not answered, please leave a message and someone will return your call.
COVID-19 Test - Hardship Isolation Payment
Financial support to isolate while waiting for a test result is available through the ACT Government COVID-19 Test Hardship Isolation Payment. A payment of $270 will be made to eligible workers who isolate while awaiting their COVID 19 test result. This payment covers up to three days in isolation. A range of eligibility criteria apply. Apply for the isolation payment here.
People unable to earn an income because they must isolate, quarantine or care for someone with COVID-19, may be able to access the $1500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment from the Australian Government.
Alternative supports are also available for people on visas unable to access the above payments. The Red Cross ACT Migration Support Program Hub on (02) 6234 7695 can assist.
Domestic Violence Services and Support
With the ACT in lockdown, for some, being at home may not be the safest place. If you feel unsafe, you do not need to stay home. Please know that police are available to help you.
If you experience, see or hear family violence occurring call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency or life threatening situation.
For non-urgent police assistance call 131 444.
Domestic Violence Crisis Service has created an Easy English document sharing tips on how to stay safe while in your home and information about how to contact them for help if you cannot telephone them. The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT crisis line (6280 0900) is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Easy English document is available here Ways to increase safety during Covid-19 (dvcs.org.au)
Advocacy for Inclusion Easy English resources
Easy English documents and videos about COVID-19 have been developed by Advocacy for Inclusion and are available on their resources page.
Accessible Information from Scope Australia
Scope have developed some great communication resources for understanding and staying safe from COVID-19, including:
- What is coronavirus and how can you be safe (video in Key Word Sign)
- How to use Key Word Sign to talk about COVID19 and keeping safe (information signs and poster)
- Use this Communication board to talk about the coronavirus with someone who has a communication difficulty. The board has instructions on how to use it.
- a task schedule to break down the task of washing hands into smaller steps for someone and support them to be more independent.
- a task schedule to help break down the task of putting on a face mask into smaller steps.
- Stay home and stay safe (Easy English poster)
- How to stay healthy (Easy English book)
Social Stories from Scope Australia
Social Stories are used to help someone better understand a specific social situation or idea.
Here are some Social Stories that explain the different situations and experiences you could have because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- I must wear a mask
- How can I stay safe from Coronavirus?
- I have been tested for Coronavirus
- How can I self-isolate at home?
- Why are we all staying at home?
- Someone I live with has been tested for the Coronavirus
- Missing things during the coronavirus
Activity and connection ideas during lockdown
- ACT Health has a webpage dedicated to Supporting others and their mental health and wellbeing.
- The Australian Red Cross has some tips for staying happy and hopeful during lockdown.
- Queensland Government’s activities for a stronger mental wellbeing resource has many ideas for goals and activities for people to try in lockdown.
- Carers ACT – Self-care tips and ideas for carers
Useful links and websites
You can also call the National Coronavirus and COVID-19 Vaccine Helpline which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 020 080. Contact details are also found here: National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline
To connect to disability information and services you can call the National Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787. The Disability Gateway also includes a website at
For emergency respite, you can call your local Carer Gateway Service Provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 422 737. Contact details are also found here: Contact Carers ACT
If you have any further questions that have not been addressed after reading the ACT Health information, please contact the Office for Disability at firstname.lastname@example.org or 6207 1086.