Support available for whānau and communities affected by COVID-19

By Te Ao - Māori News

Whānau and communities affected by current COVID-19 alert levels are being encouraged to access the support available through the Ministry of Social Development and Whānau Ora.

“Government is continuing to move hard and early to stomp out COVID-19 from our communities,” Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said. “This includes working closely with social service, community, iwi and Whānau Ora organisations who are best placed to respond to the needs of their communities impacted by the current alert level change.”

“The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) remain in contact with social service providers across the country and have provided guidance around who can operate at Alert Level 4, how to do this safely and within the boundaries of public health guidelines.

“One area we’re keeping a watchful eye on is foodbanks to ensure they’re able to get food out to vulnerable whānau and communities. The government has provided further funding to the New Zealand Food Network to support regional food hubs across the country.

“While people can get financial assistance for food through Work and Income, they can also make online orders and arrangements through local supermarkets and their Priority Assistance Service.

“MSD are making changes to make things as seamless as possible for people needing assistance and support. For example, deferring reviews of clients’ circumstances, streamlining application and verification processes, and removing the need for existing clients to provide medical certificates to continue their eligibility for a main benefit. Operating hours for the general enquiries phone line has also been extended this weekend.

“While MSD’s service centres are closed at Alert Level 4, people can continue to get in touch through MyMSD or by phoning 0800 559 009. Clients have been e-mailed to reassure them regular payments will continue,” Minister Sepuloni said.

Minister for Whānau Ora, Peeni Henare, said the Whānau Ora provider network has once again seamlessly stepped up to support whānau and their communities.

“During our earlier lockdowns, the Whānau Ora provider network did an amazing job to help whānau with kai, heating, communications, connectivity and other supports. They have again mobilised to provide support to whānau across the motu overnight,” Minister Henare said.

MSD’s operating extended hours this weekend:

Saturday 21 August: available 8am – 5pm

Sunday 22 August: available 9am – 1pm

Urgent food needs:

If your situation is urgent and you need food within the next 24 to 48 hours, you can contact a local food bank. Find food banks and other food assistance services across New Zealand

Assistance for employers and businesses

The Wage Subsidy Scheme August 2021 is available to eligible businesses to continue paying their employees and keep them on. The subsidy is for two weeks and pays $600 a week for full-time employees and $359 a week for part-time employees. Applications are open for two weeks from 9am Friday 20 August.

The Short-Term Absence Payment provides businesses with a one-off (once in 30 days) payment for employees who need to miss work due to a COVID-19 test and cannot work from home.

The Leave Support Scheme provides businesses with a two-week lump sum payment for workers who must self-isolate and can’t work from home.

Whānau Ora contacts:

Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (North Island)

Phone: 0800 929 282,

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu (South Island)

Phone 0800 187 689, te pū

Pasifika Futures

Phone: 0800 890 110,

Key contacts:

MSD: 0800 559 009

Community services directory:

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Healthline: 0800 611 116

If you are experiencing Family Violence please call Police on 111 if you are in danger, or call:

Women’s Refuge crisis: 0800 733 843 - 24 hours

Family violence information line: 0800 456 450

Shine National Helpline: 0508 744 633 - 9am to 11pm

Shakti - for migrant and refugee women: 0800 742 584 - 24 hours

Elder Abuse Helpline: 0800 32 668 65 - 24 hours