18 August 2020

Pandemic leave payments for Canberrans part of new COVID-19 support measures

| Dominic Giannini
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Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has announced further stimulus measures for COVID-19 affected workers. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Canberrans experiencing financial hardship through the pandemic who are not able to temporarily work under a COVID-19 direction or health guidance will be able to receive up to $1500 from the ACT Government.

The payment will be made from a new $1.25 million Hardship fund. Asylum seekers with an ACT Services Access card will be able to apply for a $900 electricity rebate.

“The eligibility is that you have exhausted other sources of income – sick leave, any Commonwealth entitlements, savings. This is for ACT workers and the eligibility will extend to ensure people who need to isolate in the ACT are provided financial support,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

“We would envisage it being a quick process associated with your COVID-19 testing and the requirement that you isolate from work and you had no other form of income or you are not a dependant of someone who has a form of income.”

Mr Barr said the measure was precautionary at this stage and was designed so financially vulnerable workers could afford to stay home if they developed COVID-19 symptoms.

READ MORE Pandemic leave on the cards if COVID-19 situation worsens

The new support measure comes off the back of the Commonwealth’s offer of the same “disaster payment” scheme available to Victorians if the Territory moves into a State of Emergency due to COVID-19, an offer Mr Barr said the ACT would accept as the ACT could not afford to implement a universal paid pandemic leave scheme on its own.

“[A pandemic leave payment] does need to be national and it does need to cover a broad base. The second smallest government in Australia cannot provide a scheme on that quantum,” he said previously.

“What we do have is an immediate emergency relief scheme.”

The Government is also extending the utilities concession to eligible asylum seekers for 2020-21, giving them access to the annual $700 utilities concession and an additional one-off $200 rebate.

A tourism and hospitality support package is also being set up to include a marketing fund that will match funding to cooperative marketing projects proposed by ACT tourism operators and attractions.

Suzanne Orr

Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety Suzanne Orr says workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Further tax relief for the sectors through ACT Government rebates and fee relief, more funding for community events and support staff at Events ACT and support for a technology pilot to help physical distancing at events will also be funded under the package.

READ MORE ACT embarks on new tourism pitch despite COVID-19 resurgence

A tender for a $100,000 funding grant for an online infection control training program is now available for applicants to provide information to businesses about workplace health and safety, workers’ rights and how to keep safe and report non-compliance in the hospitality industry.

“[The] certified online training program teaches all employers what they need to be doing to make their cafes, their restaurants safe for COVID, all workers what they need to be doing and what they need to do to be safe at work,” Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety Suzanne Orr said.

“[It is] making sure that people know where to go if they see a practice that they do not feel is quite right, where to go to report that.”

The program is expected to start on the 21 September.

To find out more visit the business and work hub on the COVID-19 website at covid19.act.gov.au/business-and-work.

Tender documents can be found at Tenders ACT.

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