The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has announced two new payments for vulnerable people across Greater Sydney.

Firstly, the Extreme Hardship Payment is an allocation of $400 per person for those unable to access Commonwealth income support (such as Centrelink or SRSS). They must be experiencing financial hardship and have zero or limited income, savings or community support.

This funding package is being administered by the Australian Red Cross and applications can be made via the Red Cross website.

People who previously received Commonwealth funded relief through Red Cross will be eligible.

Secondly, the Test and Isolate payment is available to all casual workers in the LGAs in hard lockdown. This is intended for people who lose income when they isolate after COVID testing. This payment is available through Service NSW.

Information about these new programs is also being developed in community languages.

In addition, ambulance and hospital costs will be waived for anyone presenting with COVID-19.

Other resources and links from DCJ Central and District offices

• For the latest health advice, please continue to review the NSW Government’s COVID-19 website.
• A NSW Health fact sheet is available to support agencies when people are tested positive for COVID-19.
• NSW Health fact sheet available for people who are secondary close contact.
• The DCJ COVID-19 page, Together against COVID-19, also has a range of useful information for service providers.
• Priority vaccination appointments for authorised workers in some areas of concern in Sydney.
• References for the Energy and Water Ombudsman.
• Updated health advice for providers can be found here.
• For information relating to specific DCJ programs can be a found here.
• Service providers handling and distributing food must adhere to the health guidelines for safe food practices and COVID safe practices for volunteers. If service providers need more help, they can contact Foodbank and OzHarvest.

Education and learning during lockdown dominated last Thursday’s Practice Zoom conversation. Here are some links that may be helpful.
• Updates on the Department of Education website.
• Advice for caseworkers working with children in OOHC and family preservation on how to support children’s learning during COVID-19.

The Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) has developed a suite of business continuity planning tools to support organisations to accelerate their COVID-19 planning and preparation.

SESLHD Public Health Unit has also shared a Self-Isolation Pack (below) with top tips adopted from The Mental Health Foundation.