April 2020

Message from Executive Director

Hi everyone. We know you’re probably overloaded with information at the moment. We know many of you are feeling anxious about the current COVID-19 pandemic. While this is a very challenging time for us all, it is important to remember that physical separation and social distancing does not have to mean social isolation.

It is hard that we can’t see our friends and loved one’s face to face as often as we used to. But we can and should keep up our contacts with them. However, we can phone a family member, email a friend or connect with a group via social media. We’re also delighted to invite you along to an online Morning Tea, and the invitation is below in our eBulletin.

We continue to advocate across a raft of issues, particularly in light of the new environment. At both the State and Federal level, we care about your rights, needs and concerns, and we will advocate for you in society. Issues to note at present includes: seeking payment of the COVID-19 supplement to people on Disability Support Pensions, highlighting the urgent need for personal protective equipment for disability care workers, and  ethical clinical decision-making at the ACT Health level in a crisis.

In these uncertain times; we are still here to help keep you across a range of local information and updates for living with a disability in Canberra. I encourage you to join our Facebook page where we share things more frequently.

While things may change around us, PWDACT continues. We enjoy receiving feedback, photos, videos and ideas from our members. In moving forward, we realise the future is always uncertain. However, what remains the same is the ability to enjoy our best life, maintain and build our strength, and to value our connections with loved ones – so please continue to keep the information flowing! If you have anything you would like to include please send us an email to admin@pwdact.org.au

Rachel Sirr

Executive Director, People with Disabilities ACT


It’s back on! You are invited to the next morning tea with PWDACT on Tuesday 14 April at 10AM. Enjoy the company of PWDACT friends from the comfort of your own home. Make up your favourite tea or coffee and morning snack.

We will give opportunities for some local Canberran Artists to share their work. The focus of our event will be on communicating and building connections during this social isolation period.

Could you please RSVP to admin@pwdact.org.au by 10 April. We will then send you a link to the meeting online which we will be doing over ‘Zoom’.

If you are not sure how Zoom works, it’s OK. New technology can be a bit daunting at first, but it will be very helpful during this social isolation period. To learn more about Zoom, check out this handy factsheet.

Please pass this invitation to your family and friends and we look forward to hearing from you! If you would like more help or information, please email us at admin@pwdact.org.au

Disability Royal Commission

The Disability Royal Commission has suspended all public hearings and face to face sessions during the Coronavirus shutdown. However, still tell your story to the Commission by making a submission. To make a submission visit the Royal commission website. For support, you can email DRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au or phone 1800 517 199

Food and Emergency Relief

Canberra Relief Network (CRN) is the ACT Government response to the demand for food and perishable household essentials resulting from COVID19. The call centre will assist you to access services close to you and help you get enough for your immediate needs. You are only able to use this service if you are a person who is unable to purchase these items at a supermarket. Eligible people include current clients of community service organisations and people affected by illness or disability who are vulnerable or isolated. This Service can be contacted by phone from 10 am to 2.30 pm on 5104 9599 or 1800 431431 133 or at www.canberrarelief.com.au

Woolworths, IGA and Coles priority assistance shopping

You are able to shop online where possible. Also, supermarkets offer community hours.

Coles Community Hour is now open to carers, friends and neighbours of vulnerable customers 7am-8am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Carers, friends and neighbours need to present the eligible customer’s government-issued concession card.

Woolworths has a 7am-8am shopping window for senior citizens and people with a disability, and has introduced a ‘Basics Box’. The Basics Box is available online, and is $80 for a box of basic groceries and provided not-for-profit.

IGA offers a Priority Shop home delivery service to many areas that will offer a choice of four different package options. Eligible customers include people with a disability among others. To check if you or someone you know is eligible for IGA Priority Shop, please

To find out more and to register for priority assistance, visit websites: Woolworths, Coles, or visit www.igashop.com.au or call IGA on 1800 018 384.


Australia Post and local pharmacies are combining efforts to provide a home delivery service for people in need to enable them to continue to get their necessary pharmaceuticals and medications. Speak with your local pharmacy about your eligibility for this service.

Personal protective equipment

PWDACT is aware that some disability support workers are not using personal protective equipment. We are working with State and Federal colleagues on raising this issue with Government as a matter of urgent attention.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission facts sheet on use and availability of personal protective equipment PPE is available at PPE Fact Sheet (PDF)

Government payments

PWDACT is working with State and Federal colleagues to seek urgent agreement for Disability Support Pension recipients to also have the $550 per fortnight temporary Coronavirus supplement. We will provide further updates on this via our Facebook page as we become aware.

You may know of the government’s two payments of $750 to recipients of Centrelink benefits. To find out more, read the Fact Sheet on $750 payment.

Coronavirus and your Mental health

Facebook Live Q&A: Community wellbeing during Covid-19

Join ACT Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Shane Rattenbury and Canberra Clinical Psychologist Nesh Nikolic is they answer your questions and share their insights on Covid, the importance of community and mental health at this time.

WhenWednesday 8 April 2020 2-2:45pm
WhereFacebook live

Need to chat?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or sad, talking with someone can help. There are people there to listen to you. Contact Lifeline by phone on 131 114 or by text 0477 131 114. Contact Beyond Blue by phone on 1300 224 636. Both Lifeline and Beyond Blue have options for webchats and for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.

Want to build resilience?

Blind Alliance, an organisation for people who are blind or vision impaired held its conference in March using the internet. The conference featured two interesting talks on the topic of “resilience” one from well-known disability advocate Martin Stewart and the other from a financial counsellor. You can hear these talks at www.dataaustralasia.com.au/blindalliance

NDIS Information

The NDIS now has information online about the Coronavirus, and has made a number of changes to improve the Scheme. If you have a Plan Review, the NDIS or Feroscare will contact you for this Review. As part of this process you can discuss having a Plan which is in place for two years. Phone 1800 800 110 for the NDIS. Phone 1300 986 970 for Feroscare or visit their websites.

Easy read guide on Coronavirus

The National Council on Intellectual Disability has produced an easy read resource for people with intellectual disabilities who need to stay at home during the Corona virus lockdown. Read the easy read information at https://cid.org.au/our-stories/staying-home-during-coronavirus/

Translated information about Covid-19
The organisations below have provided information on coronavirus COVID-19 in different languages:

More information

We provide the following information current as at today. The situation is rapidly changing. For up-to-date information visit the ACT Government website or phone Access Canberra on 132 281. Australian Government COVID-19 information is on their website. Mobile Phone apps with Coronavirus information and resources are available from the App Store and from Google Play.