COVID-19 lockdowns bring chance to check in and tap into #chatstarter

UPGRADES: Better service applications for COVID check-in are being rolled out. Image: Shutterstock.

UPGRADES: Better service applications for COVID check-in are being rolled out. Image: Shutterstock.

From 12.01 am, Monday August 16, Greater Sydney and other lockdowns areas including the regions the 10 kilometre rule will be reduced to 5 kilometres, with shopping, exercise and outdoor recreation to be done in a person's local Government area (LGA) or, if outside their LGA, within 5 kilometres of home. LGA's of concern must still exercise and shop within 5 kilometres only.

Please see attached link for rules for regions https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/affected-regions

If anyone in the Upper Hunter electorate require financial support during lockdown, both the NSW and Commonwealth Governments are providing financial support.

For anyone requiring financial support, I recommend visiting the COVID-19 Assistance Finder, which is available at disasterassistance.service.nsw.gov.au/covid.

The Commonwealth Government is also offering the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which people can apply for at servicesaustralia.gov.au

Improvements to COVID-19 check in system

Checking into venues and managing your check in history will become easier thanks to a new COVID-19 check-in card and suite of updates to the Service NSW app.

Customers would soon be able to register for a COVID-19 check-in card which they could present to supermarkets and other essential retail businesses to scan as a faster and safer way to complete the self-service webform check-in or paper sign-in currently used by customers without a smartphone.

We want to make sure the COVID-Safe check-in as safe and as accessible as possible, which is why we're introducing the COVID-19 check-in card.

The days of seeking out somewhere to manually sign in with pen and paper should be an absolute last resort.

Customers can download and print their COVID-19 check-in card or have a plastic card mailed to them. Their contact details will be securely stored within the QR code, which will prepopulate the webform when scanned by the business.

In response to customer demand Service NSW was also rolling out two further enhancements to the Service NSW app.

The first allowing customers to review their check out history and add check out times and the second to make it easier for customers to sign into the ServiceNSW app wearing a mask.

It is critical our contact tracers have the most accurate information possible so they can act quickly to contact casual and close contacts, which is why we're making it possible for customers to review their check-in history and enter the correct check out time after the fact.

Customers will also be able to opt to extend their login-period for the Service NSW app to up to 4 hours, making it faster and easier to check-in without having to reenter a PIN or to remove their facemask to activate Face ID each time.

The additional features will be available inside the Service NSW app from mid- August.

Customers will be able to register for their COVID-19 check-in card via the Service NSW website or by calling 13 77 88 from 13 August and can opt to receive it via email to print at home, or via postal mail.

#ChatStarter help during COVID-19 pandemic

A unique partnership between the National Mental Health Commission and Australia's national mental health organisations who specialise in supporting children, young people and parents - batyr, Beyond Blue, Butterfly Foundation, headspace, Kids Helpline, Orygen, and ReachOut - has today launched #ChatStarter.

This first-of-its-kind campaign will harness the power of social media to engage parents and young people alike, with Facebook Australia providing significant support as a major partner to reach millions of Australians across the country using Facebook and Instagram.

The campaign will also be promoted on TikTok to extend awareness of the importance of #ChatStarter conversations.

#ChatStarter connects, engages, and promotes the benefits of supportive conversations with young people and children who are going through a difficult time right now.

Developed in response to the challenge of pandemic restrictions and the increasing impacts these are having on the mental health of children and young people, #ChatStarter intentionally encourages people to use the tips and resources freely available on the Federal Department of Health's Head to Health website to help them have supportive conversations, and to share and promote the benefits with their communities online. #ChatStarter also encourages young people and parents to create their own content on social media with instructions on how they start chats safely with others.

We are spending more time at home than we usually would and engaging online more often - placing both parents and young people in a unique position to recognise and support someone they care about when they are struggling.

Recent research indicated children, young people, and their parents and carers are experiencing increased levels of distress and adverse mental health impacts.

#ChatStarter was designed with the support of parents and young parents. The program highlights just how critical conversations can be in helping identify when someone is going through a difficult time. They can open opportunities to reach people before they reach crisis point and help them access the right type of care.

To feel more confident in starting a conversation and continuing it, visit https://www.headtohealth.gov.au

Dave Layzell is the MP for Upper Hunter.