My office is working to make contact with various service providers to enquire about their policies and relief programs surrounding COVID-19. As information becomes available, I will be updating this note with DIRECT LINKS to each institution’s website and contact information.Official Government Announcements
Official Government Announcements
To read Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s official media release updates, please visit: https://www.pm.gov.au/media
For reliable, accurate up-to-date information about COVID-19 from government agencies across Australia, please visit: https://www.australia.gov.au/ or download the Australian Government COVID-19 App by Searching “Coronavirus Australia” in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
National Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
Accessing the Australian Government Whatsapp Messaging Service
- Download WhatsApp Messenger to your smart phone or computer
- Add the Government’s WhatsApp number into your WhatsApp contacts. The number is +61 400 253 787
- Send a message to this number
- You will receive a message back. Follow the instructions to receive important updates.
For update information from Queensland Health (13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)), visit: https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) clients and aged care clients
If you are receiving NDIS or My Aged Care services contact your service provider to seek support in the first instance. Alternatively, you can call:
- the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
- the NDIS Contact Centre on 1800 800 110
- the My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422
- the National Relay Service Helpdesk on 1800 555 660.
Community Recovery Hotline
People who have no other means of support can call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 for assistance. The hotline has been activated by the Queensland Government to assist people who have been advised to quarantine at home by a medical professional, Queensland Health or through government direction and have no other mechanisms for support.
Federal Government Financial Assistance
Financial Support available for families and individuals as well as businesses. Please visit: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
Australian Banking Association
For a list of contact details for each major and small bank’s financial hardship team on the web or on the phone. Please visit: https://www.ausbanking.org.au/campaigns/financial-hardship/
Queensland Border Restrictions
To slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Queensland Government implemented restricted entry to Queensland from 12:01am on Thursday, 26 March 2020.
For full details of restrictions and exemptions, please visit: https://www.qld.gov.au/about/newsroom/queensland-border-restrictions
To read further directions from Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency, please visit: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers/border-restrictions
Queensland Entry Pass Application
Online Entry Pass applications for non-Queensland resident can be accessed by visiting: https://www.qld.gov.au/border-pass
Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package
Around one million families are set to receive free child care during the coronavirus pandemic under a plan from the Morrison Government that will help deliver hip pocket relief and help the early childhood education and care sector make it through to the other side of this crisis. Read the PM’s media release: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/early-childhood-education-and-care-relief-package
Get COVID-19 related updates from the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment: https://dese-interim.govcms.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19
Financial Hardship Programs from Utility Providers
My office has been working to confirm details of hardship and relief programs offered by utility providers in the region. In particular, I have asked these companies if there are any current arrangements available for customers who:
- Are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19
- Are unable to meet the payment date
- As part of their contract, have a pay-on-time discount arrangement but who cannot make the agreed payment date and risk losing their discount as well as incurring a late payment fee.
As of today, we have had only two responses to our letter, but I have provided links below to each of the company’s financial hardship applications process.
Provided information regarding the “AGL COVID-19 Customer Support Program which will include:
- Fast-tracked access to a program allowing deferred payments until 31 July 2020.
- Customers also have access to a payment plan that allows them to pay in instalments.
- No disconnections during the deferred payment period.
- Waiving disconnection and reconnection fees for small businesses that have been forced to temporarily close.
- Maintaining AGL’s existing priority service to customers on life support.”
Customers can apply for this support when they receive their next bill by going online to agl.com.au/coronavirus or by calling 13 12 45.
Advised that “Origin is continuing to work to support vulnerable customers and are constantly monitoring events to make further changes as required. Some of the things we have already implanted are:
- We’re working with each state government on various packages and relief for customers We are prioritising assistance for our most vulnerable customers including those with life support needs, and those who need their energy supply reconnected
- Customers who are experiencing difficulty paying their bills can request a payment extension online
- Our hardship program will continue to provide support to customers who are experiencing payment difficulty through things like tailored payment plans
- We have suspended disconnections for the time being for customers unable to pay their bills
- We’ve stopped applying late payment fees
- We have stopped default listing customers”
You can also view Origin’s Financial Support program by visiting: https://www.originenergy.com.au/for-home/electricity-and-gas/billing-payments/financial-support.html
“We have announced today that for the next six months, Unitywater is extending all bill due dates from 30 days to 60 days and will not be charging interest on overdue bills.
To make this as easy as possible for all our customers, these changes will happen automatically. For the customers who are having trouble paying their bill we will work with them to offer payment plans.
These actions supplement the State Government’s package to provide $200 to each household to assist with their utility bills. It is important to note that the credit will be applied directly and automatically on electricity bills, it will not be applied to water bills.Our teams also remain in the field to maintain our essential water and sewerage services for our customers.
We’re asking customers and members of the public to keep them safe and maintain social distancing.For more information about the relief package, please visit https://www.unitywater.com/about-us/contact-us/customer-relief-package. ”
No response as yet, but you can view Ergon’s Hardship Policy Summary by visiting:https://www.ergon.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/109959/Hardship-policy-summary.pdfPlease note we have been unable to locate specific information regarding Energex’s financial hardship program.