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Diabetes Victoria Blog


Join the discussion in our blog where a variety of writers from all walks of life take a stance on current diabetes issues.
 

Covid-19: Coping with an extraordinary situation

1 April 2020
By Susanne Baxandall 

Although the coronavirus has created new, and in some ways unprecedented challenges, the community response is in many instances encouraging.

This is reflected in the advice being offered by individuals and organisations, including Diabetes Victoria, on how to manage this crisis.

It is hardly surprising that the spread of the coronavirus has us all worried about our health, our jobs, and our economy in the future.

Diabetes Victoria’s advocacy coordinator Susanne Baxandall has some tips for you on how to stay physically and mentally well during the covid-19 pandemic.

Diabetes and covid-19
“We know that people living with diabetes have a higher risk of severe symptoms and complications from coronavirus,” says Susanne. “But there is no need for alarm.

Practice good hygiene, wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and follow the physical distancing rules while staying socially connected.” Here’s what else you can do:
  • Stay at home and avoid physical contact, especially with people at higher risk such as older people and people with existing health conditions.
     
  • Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible.
     
  • Prepare a personalised sick day management plan, you can find templates here for type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Make an appointment with your doctor, diabetes educator or another member of your diabetes healthcare team to help you prepare your plan. Many doctors and healthcare professionals offer telehealth consultations; call them and ask for more information.
     
  • There is no need to stockpile. We are encouraging people with diabetes to continue their usual insulin purchasing practices. The Australian Department of Health has made an official statement clarifying there are currently no national supply shortages of insulin or other diabetes-related products and medicines. If you experience any issues, please contact the NDSS directly on 1800 637 700 with details so it can be investigated.
     
  • If you are sick and think you have symptoms of covid-19, seek medical attention. Call ahead of time to book an appointment. If you want to talk to someone about your symptoms first, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for advice.
     
  • You might also find the ABC’s coronacast podcast with Dr Norman Swan helpful.
Look after your mental health
“This has been a difficult start into the new decade,” says Susanne. “First we had the devastating bushfire crisis, and now we’re experiencing an unprecedented worldwide pandemic.

This is tough for anyone. Put living with diabetes in the mix – it is no surprise if many people are feeling overwhelmed.”

Diabetes distress is a very real thing. Taking care of diabetes is hard work, and it’s not uncommon for people to criticise themselves when things don’t go well. For many people, this can lead to feelings of self-blame and failure.

Here are some things you can do to feel better:Stay socially active and exercise
“We all talk about social distancing, but really this term is misleading,” says Susanne. “What we need to do is to keep a physical distance to each other while it is very important to stay socially connected.” Here are some ideas for you to do this:
  • Stay in touch: Continue to connect with friends and loved ones by text, email and phone – or even write a snail mail letter.
     
  • Embrace technology and what the virtual world has to offer. Here are even more ideas on how you connect with your peers.
     
  • If you have a family member who doesn’t know how to FaceTime, Zoom or Skype just yet, share with them our step-by-step guide to technology
     
  • Stay active: Now that gyms and swimming pools are closed, this doesn’t mean you cannot stay active. Get outside and take a walk – fresh air and natural light will do you good. Check out YouTube for free exercise videos and routines. Sign up to the Premier’s Active April, track your exercise and check out the Get Active Workout Program which provides instructional videos with helpful tips and tricks to keep active each day wherever you are.
 
 

Covid-19: How to access financial support

31 March 2020 

Due to the novel coronavirus (covid-19) many people have lost their jobs. Others will have their jobs on hold or they have been stood down, and are now unemployed and need money help. This includes people living with diabetes and those close to them.
We have put together a snapshot for you on how to access money/financial from Centrelink, the Victorian Government and community organisations.

Centrelink

For people who are new to Centrelink- Coronavirus (COVID-19) support and payments and a healthcare card
Can you get money help?
Yes, if you have lost your job or stood down because of COVID19.

How to get money help and a healthcare card?
To apply for Centrelink benefits you can now lodge a Notice of Intent to claim online.
Log onto your MyGov account and click the ‘Intent to Claim’ button.

After you have clicked, a staff member from Centrelink will call you. This call will come to you as an unknown number. They will ask you for proof to check who you are, where you live and where you worked. If you want, they will give you a Centrelink number to call.

Centrelink staff will let you know if you are all good to go ahead with payments (to get money).
Your payments (money) and a healthcare card will start from the time you click the intent to claim button.

You can also go to a Centrelink office. They  will have long lines for a few more weeks. Take with you any papers and photo ID that can prove who you are. For example, your current passport, Medicare card, tax file number, bank statement, rates notice, last gas or electricity bill and/or current driver’s license.

You can call Centrelink on 1300 169 468; however, be prepared to wait for many hours.
For people who are existing Centrelink customers - coronavirus supplement

Centrelink is giving extra money to people who are already a Centrelink customer and have a current Customer Reference Number (CRN).
 

Who can get the coronavirus supplement?
People, who already receive any of the Centrelink payments outlined below, will get an extra $550 every 2 weeks for the next 6 months (April – October), starting from 27 April 2020:
  • Job Seeker (Newstart) payments
  • Youth allowances
  • Parenting allowances
  • Farm household allowance
  • Special benefits
  • Youth allowance for students
  • Austudy for students
  • ABSTUDY for students.
This extra money will come into your account plus your usual payments from Centrelink.
You will still have your healthcare card.
More information for people now on Centrelink Job Seeker payments and Disability Support Pensions
Job Seeker payments: From March 2020, the Centrelink Sickness Allowance stopped and is now replaced by the Job Seeker payment.

You can still get your payments as looking for work is not possible due to covid-19.

If you are unemployed or have been stood down due to covid-19, let Centrelink know you want to apply for Job Seeker payments as soon as you can.

Disability Support Pensions (DSP): People who get a Disability Support Pension do not get the coronavirus supplement.

Check with Centrelink if you can get 2 extra payments of $750 over the next 6 months.

Superannuation insurance update

Most people have insurance attached to their superannuation account. If you can’t work because of a medical condition, you might be entitled to receive income protection benefits, or total and permanent disability (TPD) benefits.

Income protection benefits pay you a monthly amount, and the benefits can be payable for 2 years, 5 years or to age 65 (and rarely, but sometimes, payable for the rest of your life).

A TPD benefit is a lump sum paid through your superannuation fund and can often be a 6-figure lump sum that can provide significant financial benefit if you’re no longer able to work.

Tip: There are current laws from the Commonwealth Government which mean that if you have insurance in your super, and an account balance of less than $6000, you will lose your insurance cover unless you notify the super fund prior to 1 April 2020 – ACT NOW if you want to keep your insurance cover.

Superannuation – early access to up to $10,000

Can you get money out of your superannuation fund due to covid-19?

Yes, you can get up to $10,000 from your super fund if now you are:
  1. Unemployed
  2. You can get:
    • Job Seeker Payment
    • Youth Allowance
    • Parenting Payment (partnered and single)
    • Special Benefit or Farm Household Allowance
  1. On or after 1 January 2020 you were made redundant
  2. On or after 1 January 2020 your working hours were reduced by 20% or more
  3. If you’re a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in turnover of 20% or more.
Taking money from your super now, when the economic markets have dropped a lot, can mean that you're locking in some losses. 

How to get money from my Super fund?

The quickest way is by your MyGov account: my.gov.au
 

When can you get your super money because of covid-19?

Contact your super fund and your payment of up to $10,000 could be available from mid-April 2020.
 

More information about getting your super money:

Under the new rules, once the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has said you’re entitled to the early release, the super fund must pay the monies to you as soon as practicable.

The super fund isn’t allowed to ask for more documents.

Any monies released under these provisions will be tax-free.

You can claim again for a further $10,000 after 1 July 2020.

Taking money from your super now, when the economic markets have dropped a lot, can mean that you’re locking in some losses.

Before taking money from your super fund, you can talk with your financial advisor or ask the Diabetes Victoria advocacy team to link people with diabetes to Victorian experts. 

Support from the Victorian Government

The Victorian State Government has a number of initiatives which might be useful to get back on your feet again.

Community organisations in Victoria

There are a number of community organisations you can contact for access to food and supplies for older and home bound people with diabetes.