Our community is experiencing difficult times as the coronavirus (COVID-19) affects our daily lives. We know in times like these that Bethany’s support services are as vital as ever – and we are here to support you.
As an essential service, Bethany continues to operate and whilst some of our services are now delivered online or over the phone during this period, our commitment to support our community is as strong as ever.
Due to the high amount of COVID within the community, Bethany Community Support have only one office open to the public at the moment:
- Geelong – 16 Ballarat Road, Hamlyn Heights is open to public Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm (our Geelong West and South Geelong offices will be open to the public by appointment only)
- Warrnambool – our Warrnambool office located at Bayside Plaza, is currently closed to the public and will reopen on Monday 24th January, however if you require an urgent response, please call us directly on 1300 510 439, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm.
At all times, the health, safety and wellbeing of our clients, staff and community remains our top priority.
Other useful information we’ve gathered to help our community navigate through this period of uncertainty is below.
Bethany Services during COVID-19
The health and wellbeing of our staff and the individuals and families who we support are always our number one priority.
During COVID-19, Bethany’s commitment to support our community has not waivered, and we have adapted the delivery of our services to fit social distancing practices and to ensure we all stay safe.
Our community services are now provided in multiple platforms:
- Over the phone – through phone calls or text messages;
- Online via video conference or video calls – we use safe and secure video platforms to make sure your privacy is upheld;
- In person – with strict precautions in place to manage the safety and well-being of each person.
We are still here to provide:
- Child and family services
- Children’s contact services*
- Emergency relief and material aid
- Financial counselling
- Family violence services for women, men and children*
- Gamblers Help
- Housing, tenancy and homelessness services
- Kinship care*
- Refugee minor program*
- Relationship services*
*Services only available from our Geelong office
To access Bethany’s services in the Geelong region, please phone (03) 5278 8122.
To access Bethany’s services in the Warrnambool, Portland or Horsham region, please phone 1300 510 439.
If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000
Family Violence Support
With more people staying at home to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, combined with the additional pressures of possible job loss or incomes, there is unfortunately an increased risk for women and children experiencing family violence or abuse at this time.
It is important for anyone experiencing family violence to know that family violence is never ok, no matter the circumstances or situation. Victoria Police has indicated that their family violence response will not change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For some people, home is not the safest place and we know it may be more difficult to reach out during the COVID-19 crisis.
If you are concerned, or need support, the below services offer free and confidential services.
- Call police on 000 in an emergency
- Contact The Orange Door: 1800 312 820 (people of any age, gender, sexuality, culture and ability are welcome) 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday except public holidays
- Contact SAFE STEPS: 1800 015 188 If you are a woman or women with children experiencing family violence and you are in need of immediate help. This is a Statewide service and operates 24 hour, 7 days a week.
Barwon Orange Door
Bethany offers free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence.
Phone: 1800 312 820
Victorian Family Violence Response Centre for women, young people and children experiencing family violence.
Phone: 1800 015 188
National sexual assault, domestic and family violence telephone and online counselling.
Phone: 1800 737 732
Food Relief Services in Geelong
Putting dinner on the table, a healthy breakfast for your children – food access is a huge challenge in our community and the demand for food relief has become even more apparent as a result of COVID-19 impacts.
In the Geelong region, there are many organisations providing food parcels, food pantries or vouchers to people in need, and if you or someone you know is experiencing hardship, FeedGeelong have compiled a useful guide on where, when and how you can access emergency food assistance. The full list can be accessed here
Government Assistance during COVID-19
The Australian Government is acting decisively in the national interest to support individuals, families, households, businesses and the community.
The COVIDSafe app is part of the governments work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and it speeds up contacting people exposed to COVID-19. This helps health officials support and protect you, your family and friends.
The app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Find out more here
Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Packages
The Australian Government announced that from Monday 6 April 2020 weekly payments will be made directly to early childhood education and care services in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy and the Additional Child Care Subsidy, to help them keep their doors open and employees in their jobs.
Find out more here
Emergency Relief Packages
As we enter unpredictable times with many Victorians losing their jobs, struggling to access food, demand for food relief is on the rise. Foodbank Victoria, working with the Victorian Government and Australian Red Cross to ensure isolated Victorians, who have limited access to food and support from friends or family, get the essential items they need to get through these upredictable times.
Find out more here
The Federal Government’s wage subsidy plan will help people who have seen their income fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- JobSeeker payment: Financial help if you’re between 22 and Age Pension age and looking for work. Eligible people can access $1,110 a fortnight.
- JobKeeper payment: will help businesses to keep people in their jobs so they can earn an income, even if their hours have been cut. Eligible businesses can access $1,500 a fortnight for 6 months to keep paying eligible employees. The JobKeeper payment is also available to people who are self-employed.
Find out more here
Head to Health
If you’re trying to improve your own mental health, or support somebody else with mental health issues, Head to Health provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options.
Find out more here
Rent Relief Grants
If you are experiencing rental hardship due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for assistance.
The package provides a one off grant to help Victorian renters maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation.
The grant will be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria to eligible tenants who:
- have negotiated a rental reduction with their landlord or real estate agent and lodged that agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria
- have undertaken a dispute resolution or meditation process with Consumer Affairs Victoria
Find out more here
The Government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
Find out more here
Barwon Water are providing relief for families and individuals. There are a wide range of easy-to-access programs and support services that can help ease the pressure and stress for people having difficulty paying their bill.
Customers can receive relief with concession card discounts, access to government relief and rebate schemes, payment extensions and payment plans and referral to financial counselling.
Learn more here
This website that has some great information and resources for all things financial…
COVID-19 financial assistance
Government payments and support available to help you
Accessing your super
Consider all your options before applying to access your super
Living on a reduced income
Practical steps to manage your spending and bills
Problems paying your mortgage
Your bank or lender’s financial hardship team can help
COVID-19 super scams
Watch out for cold-call offers to help you access super
A number of banks have announced assistance for people with home loans, including deferring mortgage repayments.
Please contact your bank directly to find out more.
To ensure that our ongoing response is relevant we are closely following all advice received from the below organisations regarding precautions that are needed to minimise risks associated with COVID-19.
The Australian Government – Department of Health
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services
The Victorian Department of Education and Training
World Health Organization
Housing and Tenancy Support
New temporary laws exist to protect Victorian tenants, landlords and the rental market from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. New rules include rent relief for eligible tenants, suspension of rental increases, eviction, land tax reductions and deferrals for landlords.
Find out more here
Provide free legal advice and assistance by phone for private tenants who are behind in their rent or at risk of being evicted. Supporting Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surfcoast and Colac Otway regions.
The Victorian Government has recently announced rent relief grants for Victorians experiencing rental hardships. Find out if you are eligible here
The program provides advice and assistance in relation to private residential tenancy matters in the Barwon region.
Community agencies funded to provide TAAP services help Victorian tenants dealing with issues in a private tenancy agreement to avoid homelessness.
Provides a COVID-19 guide for renters, information, advice and legal representation to promote and protect the rights of Victorians who rent their homes.
LGBTI+ support and resources
At Bethany we celebrate diversity and innovation. We embrace creating a connected organisation which enables all service users, employees, students, contractors, and volunteers to feel safe from discrimination. We support an inclusive environment where people of all genders and ages, people living with a disability, First Nations people and people from LGBTI and CALD communities feel empowered to contribute their experiences and ideas; knowing that these will be valued.
We have undergone QIP accreditation against the Rainbow Tick Standards which demonstrates Bethany’s commitment to delivering safe and inclusive services for LGBTI people.
The current situation is understandably causing stress and uncertainty throughout all our communities.Within this, LGBTI+ communities are likely to experience poorer mental health and higher rates of suicide.
Accessing available health and community support services during COVID-19 is more important than ever for LGBTI+ communities.
Thorne Harbour Health has launched a Rainbow Connection service to provide additional social connection and support services to LGBTI+ people across Victoria who are isolated or impacted by COVID-19.
Q-Life provides anonymous and free LGBTi peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.
Call 1800 184 527 or speak to someone on their Webchat available 3pm to midnight, every day.
Mental Well-being Support
It’s important to look after your mental health during the coronoavrius outbreak. The way we live our day-to-day lives has changed in many ways as a result of COVID-19 and understandably this is affecting our mental health and wellbeing as a community.
It is not unusual to experience feelings of distress or to feel overwhelmed at times by what is happening around us. There are services who can help us cope and offer support.
Provides up-to-date information, resources, advice and strategies to help manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time.
Talk it through with us, whatever you’re feeling during these challengeing times, you can talk it through with one of our consellors.
Provdes free online support and counselling to young people 12-25 and their families and friends.
Provides additional resources, tools, useful links and information to help you during this pandemic, including:
- Tips for a healthy headspace
- How to cope with stress related to Coronavirus
- Responding to family conflict
- Balancing online schooling and working from home
Information and support on COVID-19 for teens and young adults to cope with quarantine and the mixed emotions that come with it.
Providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
When life gets too much and you find it hard to talk, text 13 11 14 6pm – midnight (AEST), WebChat 7pm – midnight (AEST) or call 13 11 17, 7 days a week.