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AFDO eNews

Issue #11
31st March 2020

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Ross JoyceFrom our CEO

Ross Joyce

Welcome to the latest edition of AFDO eNews.   

Although it has only been two weeks since our last eNewsletter, a lot has changed over this time.  

Many of us are feeling anxious about the current CoronaVirus (COVID-19) pandemic which is understandable.  Not only are we worried about catching the virus, but we are also worried about our loved ones, on top of this, we are trying to continue to live our lives and manage the disruption from the COVID-19 responses impacting on our lives and our routines.

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. 

Included in this newsletter is an update on our work and the latest Advocacy Campaigns that AFDO supports.  I hope you enjoy reading this edition of AFDO eNews.  

CoronaVirus information and resources

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has released a new Fact Sheet about personal protective equipment (PPE) which covers:
  • Availability of PPE in Australia
  • What is being done to prioritise access to PPE to support people at greatest risk from COVID-19 infection?
  • When should disability support workers use PPE?
  • If there are limitations on PPE supply, how do I get access to PPE?
The Fact Sheet outlines that NDIS providers and self-managing participants who use PPE as a usual part of their support arrangements should continue to access PPE through their usual means. Where this is no longer possible, they should approach the National Medical Stockpile (NMS).  You can download the Fact Sheet below: 

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
  • 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  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

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.

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

New CoronaVirus Campaigns

An ongoing issue in Australia (and around the world) is that people with disability are often excluded from emergency and disaster planning.  With one in five Australians living with a disability, making them more vulnerable in the event of most emergencies and disasters.  It is critical to again address this issue of excluding people with disability in emergency and disaster planning.

The concerns of people with disability and others with access needs in emergency situations is often overlooked, or not even recognised until after the fact.  It is essential that all levels of government include people with disability and their representative organisations from the beginning to ensure that people with disability are provided for in an emergency or disaster.

Another area of concern for AFDO and the wider disability community is accessible information.  Over recent weeks, we have seen Federal and State Governments disseminate public health advice, information, and resources relating to the CoronaVirus pandemic which has not been provided in accessible formats.

We acknowledge the challenges that governments are facing during this pandemic.  However, it is essential that public health advice, information, and resources from all levels of government be made available in sign language (Auslan) and other accessible formats such as captioning, plain language and Easy English. 

Below is a list of new advocacy campaigns that AFDO is either a part of, or that we endorse and support. 
  • We have joined with other Disabled Peak Organisations (DPOs), as well as disability advocacy and information organisations in calling for the Australian Government to urgently include Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients in the $550 per fortnight CoronaVirus Supplement, to ensure that people with disability are not further disadvantaged by the impact of the CoronaVirus. You can read the media release on the AFDO website.
  • We have also released a joint media release calling for urgent action to make sure people with disability and their representative organisations are included in preparations for the current public health emergency. You can read the joint media release here, and the list of issues here.

  • The Disability Royal Commission is calling on all Australian Governments to ensure that responses to COVID-19 include dedicated strategies and take all necessary measures to protect and support people with disability.  The Royal Commission has issued a Statement of Concern about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disability. The Royal Commission has heard directly from people with disability who are, like many in the broader community, very anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic. They have also heard that this anxiety is exacerbated by the feeling that people with disability  are being left behind or ignored in government and community responses.  You can read the media release here.  

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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

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.


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