December Newsletter

Welcome to the monthly Project Respect Newsletter!

Here you will find relevant information and services available to you during this time. Included is information around Covid-19 restrictions, financial, legal, health services, housing and rental, help paying bills, places to access free food and material aid and services for students and those on temporary visas.


Covid-19 and Victoria's current restriction levels

Victoria moves to Last Step restrictions from 11:59pm 22 November 2020.

  • There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home.  During the Last Step restrictions on gatherings remain in place.
  • There will be a phased return to workplaces.
  • Contact and non-contact sport and recreation can resume for all ages, with limits applying to numbers of people. 
  • Shops, recreational facilities, entertainment, hospitality and cultural venues will be open, although there are still restrictions. These include operating with a COVIDSafe Plan, density limits (the number of people allowed in a venue depends on its size so that people can keep at least 1.5 metres distance apart), record keeping and cleaning.

Face masks

Face masks remain mandatory in some settings, unless you have a lawful reason not to wear one

  • face masks are no longer mandatory when you are outdoors, if you can stay 1.5 metres away from people that you don’t live with
  • use of face masks outdoors is required if you are unable to stay further than 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with, such as at public transport stations, outdoor markets, walkways and thoroughfares. Face masks remain mandatory when indoors – for example the supermarket or on public transport.
  • you must continue to carry a face mask with you at all times.

For more info please visit: 


Masks By Sarah

Needing to purchase a mask? Please consider supporting Masks By Sarah, all profits will help a woman who has lost her work as a result of COVID-19 and due to her temporary visa status, she is ineligible for government assistance.
Masks are made in line with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommendations, including three layers (two layers of cotton and one layer of polyester). The masks come in a range of sizes and colours.

Sarah has also added some gorgeous linen headbands and scrunchies to her range. They can be purchased as part of a set or sold separately.


Government Covid-19 financial support

Victorian workers can apply for a $450 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment that provides financial support while they self-isolate to wait for the results of a coronavirus (COVID-19) test.

$1500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment for Victoria
The Australian Government announced support for Victorians who can't earn an income because they must self-isolate or quarantine at home or they are caring for someone with COVID-19.


Tax Help

Tax in Australia – What you need to know booklet 2020.

Available in 20 languages, the booklet provides information about tax and tax returns.

The ATO Migrant Education program

Offers free webinars tailored for CALD audiences who are interested to learn about the Australian tax and superannuation systems. Delivering webinars for individuals who are interested to learn about:

·         how the Australian tax and superannuation systems work

·         lodging tax returns for Tax Time 2020

·         ATO measures and tailored support during COVID-19 (eg, JobKeeper payment, early release of super, working from home deductions, etc)

·         protecting themselves from scams impersonating the ATO.

For more information about webinars and a range of brochures in other languages, please contact [email protected]


Centrelink Info

Crisis Payments Available

A one off payment if you’ve experienced an extreme circumstance and are in severe financial hardship.

A one-off payment to help people who are experiencing difficult or extreme circumstances, is available up to 4 times a year. Customers may be eligible if they are:

• affected by family and domestic violence or other extreme circumstances

• affected by a natural disaster that is not covered by the Disaster Recovery Payment

• released from prison or psychiatric confinement

• arrived in Australia for the first time on a refugee or humanitarian visa, or

• because of a national health crisis, is required to be in quarantine or self-isolate, or care for another person who is required to be in quarantine or self-isolate.

Support from a social worker

Centrelink social workers can help customers if they are experiencing a crisis, are in need of support, or are unsure how to access the right assistance.

The social worker help can include short term counselling and confidential support for difficult personal or family issues by exploring options and providing information about, or referrals to, government payments and services and community support services.

Social workers give priority to people with highly complex needs who don’t have support from family or other services in the community:

• those thinking about suicide

• those with untreated or unstable mental illness

• young people

• those experiencing distress as a result of family and domestic violence, homelessness or hardship, or

• those caring for someone with disability or serious illness.

If customers are affected by family and domestic violence, social workers can offer short term counselling and support. They can help them access services in the community including:

• specialist family and domestic violence services

• emergency accommodation and longer term housing assistance

• financial assistance

• counselling

• health services, and

• legal services.

Social workers are available and can be contacted by calling 132 850. All you have to do is ask to speak to a social worker. If the customer needs an interpreter, let us know so that we can arrange one prior to calling the customer

Jobseeker Payments

The $250 Corona virus supplement will be paid until December 31st 2020. The government will review at the end of the year to see if it needs to continue. The income free threshold for singles has been raised to $300 per fortnight for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance for job seekers. After the this, 60 cents for each dollar over $300 will be taken from your pay. 
For more info on if you have dependents or a partner click on the following link :


Jobkeeper Info

The JobKeeper scheme has been extended from 28 September 2020 until 28 March 2021. Employees will now receive:

  • $1,200 per fortnight if they worked 80+ hours over a 4-week pay period, or
  • $750 per fortnight if they worked less than 80 hours over a 4-week pay period

This will reduce to $1,000 and $650 respectively from 4 January 2021.

JobKeeper links to further information:

You may also be eligible for extra assistance through Centrelink depending on your situation :


Rent Help and Relief

Victoria corona virus rental eviction moratorium to be extended to the end of the year
Tenants will be further protected from rent increases and evictions, and landlords will be able to apply for cash payments, under a suite of measures announced by the Victorian Government.

  • A moratorium on evictions and rent increases will stay in place until 2021
  • Support for eligible residential and commercial landlords is also being extended
  • A new $600,000 package will include funding for tenant advocacy services
  • Rental Relief Grant payments increased to $3,000 for eligible residential tenants and landlords

Dear Landlord
A self-help tool that can identify what actions Victorian renters can take and provide the necessary resources and information to help them avoid eviction.

Dear Landlord first asks a series of questions and, based on the answers it receives:

  • Empowers renters to generate tailored letters to their landlords/real estate agents to negotiate a rent reduction
  • Generates rent reduction agreements to lodge with CAV
  • Provides renters with information on the process of changing or ending rent reduction agreements or Dispute Resolution Orders
  • Helps renters to navigate VCAT proceedings, including generating VCAT review applications for renters who have missed VCAT hearings
  • Provides renters with information on ending leases
  • Provides referrals to renters for specialised legal and financial help.


Help paying bills 

Utility relief grant scheme
Relief grants for paying overdue energy or water bills are available to low-income Victorians experiencing unexpected hardship. If you have a Health Care Card you may be eligible for a maximum of $650 on each utility type in a two-year period (or $1,300 for households with a single source of energy (e.g. electricity only).

The Energy Assistance and Broker program
The Energy Assistance and Broker program helps eligible Victorians save money on electricity and gas, and get advice on other energy issues, like making your home more efficient. Phone 1800 830 029

Victorians on low incomes can receive concessions and benefits to help pay their energy bills.
If you have a relevant concession card, you may be eligible for one of these concessions:

Other Info
The National Cabinet (Heads of the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments) have issued a set of principles for energy, water and rates.
The principles include offering flexible payment options and not disconnecting people in financial stress.
Telecommunication providers have issued a joint statement that includes financial hardship assistance and not disconnecting people in repayment arrangements.

Energy Info Hub
For more advice on saving money on bills, energy concessions, cheaper energy plans, saving energy and getting help with payments visit

Other Info:

Additionally you can contact your energy/water provider: 

  • to request payment extension 
  • to install a payment plan 
  • to benefit from tips about how to reduce your energy/water consumption 
  • to be referred to free financial counselling services 
  • to obtain assistance to apply to concession schemes (see below) or the utility grant scheme (UGRS)

Concession Schemes:

Excess Electricity Concession
Provides a discount of 17.5% on electricity usage and service costs above $2,890.45 to eligible customers. 

Excess Gas Concession  
Provide a discount of 17.5% on gas usage and service costs above $1,587.82 for the six-month winter period (1 May to 31 October) to eligible customers.

Eligibility for conession schemes: Need to hold a valid concession card (pensioner concession card, health care card, Veterans’ affairs gold card). 


Financial Assistance

Good Sheppard Household Relief Loans Without Interest
Household Relief Loans Without Interest for anyone impacted by COVID-19 are available now. In collaboration with the Australian Government, Good Sheppad are providing no interest loans of up to $3,000 towards rent and utilities, repayable over 24 months.

Good Sheppard No Interest Loan Scheme
No Interest Loans (NILS) provide individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit.

Loans are available for essential goods and services such as fridges, washing machines, car repairs and medical procedures for up to $1,500. Repayments are set at an affordable amount over 12 to 18 months.

Am I eligible?

  • I have a Health Care Card / Pension Card or earn less than $45,000 a year after tax ($60,000 for couples or people with dependants)
  • I have lived at my current or previous address for at least 3 months
  • I can show that I have a capacity to repay the loan

Financial Counselling

Money Matters Blog
The COVID crisis has had a massive impact on our economy. IDEAS have put together a series of articles to help you to manage your money in these challenging times.


Free Food

Empower Food Relief Centres

Empower Food Relief Centres are open Sundays at these 5 locations! They are open to anyone in need who is facing serious food insecurity. 

  • CITY 412 City Road, Southbank VIC 3006
    Sundays 10am – 3pm
  • NORTH EAST 360 Main Road, Lower Plenty VIC 3094
    Sundays 9.30am – 1pm
  • EAST 251 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood VIC 3134
    Sundays 9.30am – 1pm
  • SOUTH EAST RCS Products, 12 Bormar Drive, Pakenham VIC 3810
    Sundays 9.30am – 1pm

Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria Free Grocery Delivery
Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria (SICV) is providing FREE GROCERIES delivered to people who are facing hardships due to COVID 19.
You must register on Mondays for delivery on the weekend via this link:

The Mental Health Foundation Australia is running a free meal pickup campaign starting from Tuesday 15 December 2020 till Friday 15 January 2021.

How does it work?

  • The initiative starts on Tuesday, 15 December 2020. 
  • Meals are available for collection between 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm at the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street.
  • No registration required, you can come and collect during the specified time. 


List of free food parcels, free meals, material aid and assistance by area

Due to Covid-19 please call ahead to confirm opening hours as they may have changed.

Melbourne CBD










Port Phillip



Support for Students and Women on Temporary Visas

International Student Emergency Relief Fund
The fund will support international students in Victoria who are facing financial hardship through lost wages and work as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The fund provides a one-off payment of up to $1100. To apply:

Legal services available for students

International Student Legal Information
A free resource for international students living in Victoria.

Student Visa Changes

  • The Government will recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means when borders re-open, students will already have visas and be able to make arrangements to travel.
  • International students will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge, if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19.
  • Student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa. 
  • Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.
  • Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.

Free Restaurant meals
Restaurants in Melbourne are offering free meals to international students during Covid-19 across Melbourne. Click the link for info on where to grab a free meal in your area

Foodbank Pop up Store
If you’re an international student in Melbourne struggling to access food, join Foodbank at the pop-up store for free fresh and culturally diverse food. Open 10am - 2pm, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday (excluding public holidays).

230 La Trobe Street, Melbourne. Just bring along your student ID and a shopping bag.

Red Cross Emergency relief support for people on temporary visas
Emergency relief is to help people meet their basic needs, like food, medicine or shelter. Australian Red Cross has received Victorian Government funding specifically to support people who do not have access to Commonwealth income support (including Job Seeker and Job Keeper) or the Victorian Government’s International Student Emergency Fund. Apply via:

· Assistance provided will primarily be in the form of cash payments into bank accounts.

· From 1 October 2020 a single person can receive up to $800 for their first application and may be able to apply for another payment after two months if they are still experiencing financial hardship. Families may receive more, based on the number of people in the family and individual circumstances.

· People who have already received $400 as at 1 October 2020 can apply straight away for another payment of $400. They will then be eligible for a further $800 in two months time if they are still experiencing financial hardship

· Currently, this program is expected to be open until December 2020

Apply via

Health Translations - a complete collection of multilingual information
translated resources related to:

  • COVID-19 including:
    • Children mental health
    • $450 test isolation payment
    • Applying for work under the Working for Victoria Initiative
    • Information for seasonal workers (fruit pickers and packers)
    • Carers payment and jobkeeper
    • Disability support pension and jobkeeper
  • Refugees and new arrivals
  • Cervical screening & liver health
  • New multicultural Parent Easy Guides
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Dementia helpsheets
  • Men's Health, Diabetes, Thunderstorm Asthma and many more

Resource centres Melbourne region:

Migrant Information Centre (Eastern Melbourne)

Southern Migrant & Refugee Centre

Migrant Resource Centre North-West Region Inc.

Westgate Migrant Resource Centre (Western Melbourne)

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Translating services



Rainbow Door
Rainbow Door is a free specialist LGBTIQA+ (Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual, Transgender and Gender Diverse, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, BrotherBoys, SisterGirls) helpline providing information, support, and referral to all LGBTIQA+ Victorians, their friends and family during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. This service is run by Switchboard Victoria.

Phone: 1800 729 367

Building culturally safe and inclusive communities

Intersect aims to enhance the visibility, safety, mental health and wellbeing, social inclusion and sense of belonging amongst LGBTIQ people from multicultural and faith based communities. Supporting the ongoing development of culturally diverse LGBTIQ-inclusive services through increased connection, conversation and understanding.

An online list of doctors and mental health professionals who have been recommended by lesbian and bisexual women in Australia.

Switchboard Victoria
Provides peer-driven support services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) people, their families, allies and communities.

National LGBTI Health Alliance


Indigenous Services

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service

If you have symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or shortness of breath – book an appointment at VAHS Fitzroy to be tested for COVID-19. The VAHS Fitzroy Respiratory Clinic is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their immediate family members.

CALL 0478 767 140 to book an appointment and get tested

Yarning SafeNStrong
Now available 24/7 to offer free and confidential support during COVID-19 lockdown.  1800 95 95 63

Djirra is a place where culture is shared and celebrated, and where practical support is available to all Aboriginal women and particularly Aboriginal people who are currently experiencing family violence, or have in the past. or 1800 105 303.



RMIT - Free osteopathy, chiropractic, Chinese Medicine and psychology sessions

The RMIT Health Clinic is a state-of-the-art clinical teaching space completed in 2015. Encompassing 62 treatment rooms incorporating Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Psychology, the student lead clinic offers high service levels to our patients.

All consultations will be free during until December 17th 2020. Services included in this offer are Chinese medicine (additional charges will apply for herbs), chiropractic, osteopathy and psychology (psychology assessments and reports are not included and standard fees will still apply ($250 for concession, $500 standard). 

You don't need a doctor's referral to make an appointment.

Phone: (03) 9925 7666

Email: [email protected]

Appointments can be made during the following hours:

  • Monday – Friday: 9am – 5:15pm

Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre is currently open to provide testing and treatment for sexually transmissible infections, including HIV. Monday - Friday 8.30am-5pm.
580 Swanston Street, Carlton, 3053.
Tel:          +61 3 9341 6200
Free call:  1800 032 017 


Providing Victorians with reliable information about sexual and reproductive health and help to connect you with services.
The phone line operates weekdays, 10am -4pm, excluding public holidays.

Interpreter:13 14 50


Telehealth provides you with the ability to book a phone appointment with an InstantScripts GP in the comfort of your own home. At the moment InstantScripts GPs are providing medical consults via the phone. Free with a valid Medicare card, $50 without.

Multilingual Library Catalogue

The online catalogue is part of Multicultural Women’s Health Australia, MCWH’s national program to improve the health and wellbeing of immigrant and refugee women across Australia.
You can access over 5000 resources in over 70 languages on women's health and wellbeing.


Mental Health

COVID-19 Mental Health Support
The Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Futher mental health resources

Heart Chat
A new online platform aiming to connect diverse Victorians to mental health providers who speak their language and understand their culture. 

Contact Lifeline support if you are experiencing a personal crisis or need support around your mental health. You can call them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week anywhere in Australia. 
Lifeline 24-hour crisis 131 114

Suicide Line Victoria 
SuicideLine Victoria is a free 24/7 telephone, video and online counselling service offering professional support to people at risk of suicide, people concerned about someone else’s risk of suicide, and people bereaved by suicide. Interpreters are available. 
1300 651 251 


Bored In Iso? Free online programs

Free Online Exercise Classes 

The Y

Active Melbourne virtual experience
Free via Zoom. A range of our virtual experience classes from your home living room.  Check out a range of programs from Walk with Dan, Zumba, Kidz Sport to Virtual Health and Fitness Chat Q&A.

Yoga with Adriene

Free online courses with Deakin University
Open to anyone, available 24/7 and accessible by mobile, tablet or desktop, Deakin's free online courses allow you to fit study around your work and home life. Learn from Deakin’s best educators and connect with other students in an enjoyable, social environment.  


Current Victorian Laws regarding the sex industry

Brothels and strip clubs open from the 23rd of November.


Free Legal Advice

Victoria Legal Aid
1300 792 387 or 03 9269 0120

Consumer Action Law Centre
1800 466 477

Women's Legal Service Victoria
03 8622 0600 or 1800 133 302

Aboriginal Community Legal Service
1800 064 865

LGBTIQ Legal Centre

Court Network
Court Network works with vulnerable people in the court system to provide emotional and practical support. 
1800 571 239

In case of emergency please contact: 

1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) – available 24/7, speak to someone if you are experiencing family violence 

Homeless Crisis Hotline (1800 825 955) – available 24/7, speak to someone if you are homeless or at risk of being homeless 

Victoria Police/Ambulance (000) – available 24/7, call for any other emergency 

National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080) – if you think you or someone in your family might have COVID-19 

Further information on Covid-19

Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) fact sheet available in different languages

Find out if you should be tested, who can perform the test, where you can get tested, what it involves and how long it takes to get the result.


Check out: to keep up-to-date with what the government is saying about coronavirus and what we should all do!

Translated Resources



If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Project Respect via email: [email protected] or call/txt/whatsapp: 0477 001 110.  


Feedback and Complaints 

If you would like to provide feedback or are unhappy with the service you have received, you can contact Project Respect on (03) 9416 3401 to discuss further or email [email protected]