COVID-19 is creating challenges for everyone. These challenges may impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and those living in remote communities, in much greater ways.
With a lot of information about COVID-19, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It can be hard to know what you should or shouldn’t be doing, depending on where you are in the country, in order to help protect your community.
To keep people safe through this time and provide support to many affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the government has created health, social advice and support options specifically for remote communities, including some financial relief measures to help those affected financially.
What financial help is available?
The Australian Government is making $123 million available over 2 financial years for targeted measures to support Indigenous businesses and communities to increase their responses to COVID-19. It has also made adjustments to the Community Development Program and other activities funded under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS).
- Income support payments – a new, time-limited Coronavirus Supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.
- Household support payments – two separate Economic Support Payments – of $750 each – to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
- Early access to superannuation – early access of up to $20,000 of your super savings if you’ve been severely financially affected by COVID-19.
Through Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), the Government is providing up to $50 million to specifically help businesses run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This includes:
- Providing specialist advice to help businesses survive, adapt and recover
- Assistance to access the different business support packages available from Government
- New funding arrangements where there are gaps in the mainstream measures.
This assistance is available to all Indigenous businesses affected by COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they’re current IBA customers.
Two of the business support packages available from the Government include:
- The JobKeeper payment – a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee for up to 6 months from 30 March 2020. This is designed to help businesses significantly impacted by COVID-19 to cover the costs of their employees’ wages, so more Australians can retain their jobs and continue to earn an income.
- Cash flow support for small- and medium-sized businesses – a temporary, tax-free cash flow boost of up to $100,000 for eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ staff to help with your cash flow so you can keep operating, pay your rent, electricity and other bills, and retain staff.
Additional support for those affected
If you’re experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a range of support options available.
Help paying bills, loans, your mortgage
For those having trouble paying bills, loans or your mortgage, many banks are providing different forms of support during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes:
- Deferring repayments on loans (often up to 6 months on mortgages)
- Waiving fees
- Providing financial hardship services.
If you’re finding it hard to pay the rent because you’ve been impacted by COVID-19, you may be able to discuss a payment plan with your landlord. Justice Connect, a Victorian legal advocacy service, has developed a Dear Landlord tool to help you construct a letter.
Tenancy rights and advice varies from state-to-state, so be sure to explore the latest information that’s relevant to the state or territory you live in:
AustralianSuper is dedicated to supporting all of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members
As one of Australia’s largest Industry super funds, AustralianSuper acknowledges its role in supporting an inclusive and diverse nation, where the cultural backgrounds of all peoples are recognised and respected.
With an understanding that financial literacy is a major cause of social exclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the Fund’s committed – now more than ever – to making a difference in this space.
For help and support with your super, contact a member of the AustralianSuper team.
Where you can find up-to-date health advice
The Australian Government’s Department of Health website has up-to-date COVID-19 health advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities. You’ll find helpful information about:
- Why remote communities are at risk
- How to protect your mob and stop the spread
- How to support your community and Elders
- How to keep in touch with your community during self-isolation
- What travel restrictions are currently in place.
Where you can get help if you feel unwell
If you feel unwell, call your local health service, or ask someone you trust in your community to call. There are a number of health services dedicated to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services – find a health/medical health service near you
- The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) – discover dedicated news, information, resources and contact
- The National Coronavirus Helpline – call 1800 020 080 (24/7) if you’re seeking information on coronavirus.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, $123 million boos to Indigenous response to COVID-19 (02 April 2020)