Welcome to the February edition of 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.
Community lunches for women in the sex industry
Our lunches are back, operating with Covid safe practices. Join us in the garden for some tasty vegetarian food delivered by our wonderful chef!
Date: Tuesday 2nd of March
Time: 1pm - 3pm
Where: Project Respect office garden
RSVP essential for catering and Covid purposes, please confirm via 0477 001 110 if you would like to attend.
See you there!
The Project Respect Gardening Project is back!
Happy 2021! The garden project commenced this week on Tuesday! The sun was shining and much fun was had. Fresh produce was picked and available to take home.
The community gardening project will run fortnightly on Tuesdays from 2-4pm. Gardening tools will be available for you to use. Join us in an afternoon activity of gardening, fresh air and conversation in our front yard. Please confirm via 0477 001 110 if you are attending. Hope to see you all there!
Gardening dates are as follows:
2/3, 16/3, 30/3 (Tuesdays fortnightly)
Covid-19 and Victoria's current restriction levels
Restrictions easing from Thursday 18th of February
- No restrictions to leave home but stay safe
- Up to 20 people can gather outdoors
- Up to 5 visitors can visit a home in a day
- Face masks: to be carried at all times. Mandatory when inside (Except when in a residential home) and outdoors when you cannot maintain 1.5m physical distancing (unless a lawful exemption applies). Strongly recommended to wear when visitors attend your home.
Where to get tested
For more info please visit:
Translated information about coronavirus (COVID-19):
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 and relief package
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.
Emergency relief packages
People in Victoria who need to quarantine or isolate due to coronavirus (COVID-19), and who need food and can’t get help from family or friends, can receive a free emergency relief package. The emergency relief package will help make sure people have food and essential items while they stay at home.
Call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.
If you need to speak to someone in another language, press 0 when you call the Coronavirus Hotline.
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
• 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
The Corona virus supplement is now $150 per fortnight between 1 January and 31 March 2021.
The income free area for JobSeeker Payment has increased to $300 per fortnight. This means you can earn more but still get the maximum payment rate. If you earn above $300 per fortnight, your payment reduces by 60 cents for each dollar over this amount. This doesn’t apply if you get JobSeeker Payment as a principal carer.
Read more about the income test for JobSeeker Payment.
From 4 January 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rate is either:
- $1000 per fortnight
- $650 per fortnight if you’ve worked less than 20 hours a week on average during February or June 2020.
These changes mean you may be eligible to get both:
- an income support payment such as JobSeeker Payment from Centrelink
- JobKeeper Payment income from your employer.
JobKeeper links to further information:
- You can read more about the scheme, including the extension here: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/jobkeeper-payment/employees/
- There is further information for employers here: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/JobKeeper-extension-announcement/
- JobKeeper Payment – information in other languages: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/In-detail/JobKeeper-Payment---information-in-other-languages/
Working for Victoria helps workers who have lost their jobs as the result of coronavirus to find new short-term or casual work opportunities. In addition to job
placements, the fund can also assist with skills development or help people obtain immediate accreditation to commence work.
Rent Help and Relief
The Victorian Government has established a rental assistance fund to provide rent relief payments of up to $3,000 to Victorians experiencing rental hardship due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. You can lodge your grant application until 28 March 2021. The amount of personal savings you can hold to be eligible for the grant increased from $5,000 to $10,000 on 4 September 2020.
The one off grant is specifically for tenants living in their primary residence to help them maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation. It is paid directly to the tenant’s agent or landlord to contribute to the tenant’s rental payments after a rent reduction agreement has been lodged with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
If you have lodged your new rental agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria, you can apply for a Rent Relief Grant online.
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
Victoria's Household Energy Saving Package
This program helps Victorians cover the cost of their power bills and make homes more energy efficient.
- You must be a Victorian residential energy consumer (i.e. have a residential electricity account)
- You must receive one of the following concession benefits: Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card, JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy, Department of Veterans Affairs, Pensioner Concession Card, Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card
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
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:
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
Additionally you can contact your energy/water provider:
- to request a 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)
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).
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
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.
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
- GEELONG Rear of 147 Marshalltown Road,Grovedale VICSundays 9am - 11pm
Free Community Pantry's
Annie Borat Free Food Pantry
4 Annie Borat Cl, Brunswick VIC 3056
Little Free Pantry
78 St Leonards Rd, Ascot Vale VIC 3032
Reservoir Community Pantry
2B Cuthbert Road, Reservoir, 3073
Sammy's Community Pantry
Located in Officer
Contact for address https://www.facebook.com/sammyspantry/
McCracken St Food Share Pantry
89 McCracken St, Kensington VIC 3031
The Movement Melbourne – Free food hampers
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.
Support for Students and Women on Temporary Visas
Legal services available for students
International Student Legal Information
A free resource for international students living in Victoria.
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.
List of various locations where international students can access free pantry essentials and fresh produce. Please call the providers first as conditions may vary.
Latest update on ISERF: Applications to the International Student Emergency Relief Fund (ISERF) closed on 31 December 2020. However, international students in Victoria who are experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for emergency financial assistance through the Victorian Government’s Extreme Hardship Support Program delivered by the Australian Red Cross.
If you received an International Student Emergency Relief Fund payment and still require assistance to pay for basics like rent, food and bills, you can apply for an emergency payment from the Extreme Hardship Support Program.
Red Cross Extreme Hardship Support Program (for people on temporary visas and international students)
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
Step by step info on how to apply:
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
Please check Study Melbourne website for regular news, opportunities and helpful advice for international students, including available support during Covid19.
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.
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.
1800 184 527 or online chat
(3pm to 12am, every day)
National LGBTI Health Alliance
COVID-19: INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY CARE FOR LGBTI PEOPLE
WithRespect provides resources, tips and advice for LGBTIQ+ people on having and maintaining healthy relationships. We also provide support for LGBTIQ+ people of all ages and their families experiencing difficulty in their relationships, including family violence.
1800 LGBTIQ (1800 542 847)
iHeal - Queerspace
iHeal queerspace provides specialist LGBTIQ+ family violence support and services to survivors of intimate partner and family violence who are no longer in crisis.
Free support which may include:
- Case work and advocacy: help navigating courts, child protection, mental health services, housing, AOD services and education
- Support groups to help reconnection with community and recovery
03 9663 6733
Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc.
The peak body for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples living in Victoria
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
Now available 24/7 to offer free and confidential support during COVID-19 lockdown.
https://www.vahs.org.au/yarning-safe-n-strong-media/ or 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.
djirra.org.au or 1800 105 303.
13SICK Home Doctor
If your local GP is closed, call for a bulk billed, after hours doctor home visit. Doctors are available on weeknights from 6pm, on Saturday from midday and all day Sunday and public holidays.
13 74 25
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.
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.
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. This measure will commence on Friday 7 August and be available until 31 March 2021.
Futher mental health resources
A new online platform aiming to connect diverse Victorians to mental health providers who speak their language and understand their culture.
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
Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Service
This is a dedicated phone line, staffed by mental health professionals briefed on the pandemic response.
1800 512 348
(24 hours, every day)
There is also a web chat option via https://cmwssonline.beyondblue.org.au/#/chat/start
Care in Mind
Free 24/7 online and phone counselling for people living, working or studying in Melbourne’s northern, central and western suburbs.
1300 096 269
(24 hours, every day)
Free and confidential alcohol and drug counselling and referral in Victoria. Chat live online with a professional counsellor.
1800 888 236
(24 hours, every day)
Bored In Iso? Free online programs
Free Online Courses
Wanting to expand your toolkit and pick up new skills, learn a software package, start a side-hustle or re-imagine your approach completely? Check out :
Take online courses from the world’s top universities for free. Here, you will find 1,500 online courses from universities like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Harvard, Oxford and more. You can use this collection of online courses to learn everything you want–from history, philosophy and literature, to physics, biology, psychology, and computer science.
Current Victorian Laws regarding the sex industry
Brothels and sex on premises open from Thursday 18th February, with a density quotient of 1 per 4sqm with a patron cap of 100. Electronic record keeping required. Strip club venues open with a density quotient of 1 per 4sqm and no seated service requirement.
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 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: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus to keep up-to-date with what the government is saying about coronavirus and what we should all do!
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]