Looking out for each other during COVID-19

Like most people, I’ve been overwhelmed by the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worldwide response. With borders closing and many workplaces shut down, things have been moving very quickly. 

My office has received many calls and emails. It warms my heart to know that so many of you want to help each other during this crisis.

I’ve put together this blog, with local information and links, in response to common questions - I hope you find it useful.

As your local Member of Parliament, I am here to help you in any way that I can. If you need assistance - big or small - please call us on 9660 7586. 

Help out in your neighbourhood

It is important we stay connected and keep an eye out for each other. If people need to self isolate or practice social distancing, neighbours can co-ordinate dropping off supplies, walking the dog, or having a chat on the phone. 

A number of Facebook groups have emerged across our community to connect people offering and asking for help. 

Here are some existing Facebook groups you can join:

We are working closely with a number of these groups and hotlines will be up and running next week to allow locals to call in and request help. Please check back in next week for an update. 

Practice Basic Hygiene and follow official advice 

Flattening the curve means slowing down the spread of COVID-19 to take the pressure off our hospitals over the long term. 

What is known about the virus so far suggests it’s mainly transmitted by respiratory droplets and close face-to-face and face-to-hand contact. This means things like touching door handles and taps, then our faces and each other.

To slow the spread of the virus we must

  • Wash our hand frequently - USE SOAP, it kills the virus
  • Use hand sanitiser where you can’t wash your hands (if you have it)
  • Clean door handles, taps and flush buttons frequently
  • Avoid sharing food, especially on platters
  • Stop greeting each other with hand shakes and kisses. Elbow bumps, winks and foot taps are in!
  • Cough into our elbows or a tissue (hankies are out)
  • If you can stay 1.5m apart from other people it's a good idea to do so
  • If you can work from home and limit your contact with other people, do so. But recognise not everyone has the ability to do this.

Follow the Government's advice - large group gatherings over 100 people indoors are banned. The BEST place to get accurate, up-to-date information about the virus and what you should do if you need help is the NSW Health website here.

Think of those who are most at risk

Be extra conscious of the elderly, those with a disability and anyone with significant illnesses or a compromised immune system. 

Social distancing is all about keeping everyone safe, especially those who are most at risk. Here’s a great article about why our response matters.

Connect with older people

There are over 1,900 people over the age of 70 living alone in the Balmain electorate. This week I'll be writing to each one of them to let them know there is help and support for anyone who needs it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is so important that we stay connected - especially with everyone who doesn't use the internet or social media.

Help is available

Things are moving quickly and it can be hard to keep track of all the initatives, restrictions and assistance that is available. The NSW Government has set up a 24/7 COVID-19 hotline to provide the latest updates on restrictions, cost of living assistance, financial support for businesses or rules around social distancing. 

Call 13 77 88 to find out more. 

Support those hit hardest 

Many people have already lost shifts, some may lose jobs and work entirely. If you’re worried about how your work might be affected by the spread of the virus you can find out more about your rights and OHS safety here

If you are a renter who is facing eviction or unable to keep up with your rent due to changes in your work status, the Tenants Union NSW have a helpful fact sheet about your rights and emergency assistance which you may be eligible for, see here. The Greens are calling for a moratorium on evictions in NSW immediately so that no one is evicted while we are dealing with this pandemic - sign the petition here.

The Australian music industry is compiling submissions from those who have lost work due to cancelled events. You can find out how you can help struggling artists here and if you’ve been impacted, they want to hear from you. If you’ve been affected by cancelled gigs or lost work in the arts industry, Support Act provides a well-being hotline and crisis relief services for artists, crew and music workers. You can help by sharing this link.

Rough sleepers are at particular risk because they can’t bulk-buy food and hand sanitizer or self-isolate. Often they live in crowded spaces where COVID-19 could thrive. Front-line organisations providing care to rough sleepers need our support in times like this. You can find out more here. We’re also advocating for these people with the Minister. 

Similarly, refugee support organisations like the Asylum Seekers Centre are being affected by sold-out supermarkets. Jamie donated a load of groceries to ASC at the beginning of this crisis, if you have any extra food you can donate to support them here.

Look after yourself 

The constant media coverage and impact on people already has been really stressful. These are scary times and it’s important we look after our mental health and do our best to remain calm. 

Take care of your own health, follow government health advice and you can find tips on how to cope with stress here. And remember, engage online in ways that help, and not harm!

Remember that supermarkets will stay open

Supermarkets are staying open throughout the pandemic and there is no issue with supply of food or basic household items in Australia. The CEO of Woolworths has confirmed that 85% of the food products we sell are either grown or manufactured in Australia so there is no risk that we will run out. Learn more here.

However if we all hoard food and essentials, other people miss out. Only take what you need. We’re all in this together.

Story time for kids

With local libraries closed, Amazon has pulled down their pay wall for books and audio stories for children. Kids and students of all ages can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue to dream, learn and be kids through this pandemic. 

Log on and listen here.


If you need support or help, please reach out to my office on 9660 7586 or [email protected] and we will do what we can. 

Take care and stay safe,

  Jamie Parker MP
  Member for Balmain, Parliament of NSW


Note: This blog was last updated on 20 March 2020, some advice may have become outdated. Please ensure you stay up-to-date by visiting the NSW Health website

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