Category: Get the facts

Useful phone numbers and websites

A list of phone numbers and websites you might find useful.

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E-news – Thursday, April 9, 2020

There has been some great work towards flattening the curve and protecting the vulnerable people in our community, but with Easter upon us, now is not the time to be complacent.

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Useful phone numbers and websites

Below is a list of phone numbers and websites you might find useful.

You can also visit for current, up-to-date information on coronavirus and for the most recent health alerts

National Coronavirus Health Information Line available 24/7

1800 020 080 – 7 days a week from 7am to 11pm

13 28 46



Services Australia Jobseeker line

132 850

MyGov Helpdesk

132 307

Child Support (change of circumstances)

131 272



Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service – Available 24/7

1800 512 348

Beyond Blue

1300 22 46 36


13 11 14

Kids Helpline

1800 55 1800

Head to Health




Emergency Relief

Find help near you:


National Debt Helpline

1800 007 007

No Interest Loan Scheme






Community Recovery hotline

1800 173 349


13 43 25 84

Queensland Government Covid-19 website:


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Coronavirus – information and factsheets

There are a number of factsheets available on the various support measures for businesses, individuas and households affected by the coronavirus.

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Statement on drought funding

Statement provided to the NewsMail on 03-12-19 in response to questions about the Drought Communities Program and drought funding:

“I know that growers in our region are doing it tough right now. On top of the drought, we’ve had bushfires and water sent out to sea from Paradise Dam.

“There are a range of support measures and help available to farmers, including the Farm Household Allowance, concessional loans, as well as the newly announced small business loans and improved drought loans. I encourage those affected to seek advice and utilise the help that is available, please don’t self-assess.

“I have approached the Deputy Prime Minister directly about the Drought Communities Program and its eligibility criteria.

“I have also lobbied the Minister for Drought to have a more accurate reflection of our employment statistics included in the review of drought declarations. This review is underway now and expected to be completed by January 2020, which I advised the Mayor of two weeks ago.

“Council’s which have been drought declared by their relevant state government are eligible to apply for round 4 of Building Better Regions Fund and I would, of course, welcome any additional funding to help our farmers in this time of need.

“The Coalition Government has invested significantly in the Hinkler Regional Deal, with $173 million for projects right across the electorate, which will deliver important infrastructure and help strengthen the local economy.”


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Cashless Debit Card information

Cashless debit card – Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region

What area will the cashless debit card cover in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region?

The card will be rolled out across the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region and will include the townships of Bagara, Elliot Heads, Woodgate, Branyan, Booyal, Burrum Heads, Torbanlea, Toogoom, Howard, Childers, Burnett Heads, River Heads and Point Vernon.

When will the cashless debit card commence in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region?

The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 was passed by Parliament on Tuesday 11 September 2018. The card will be rolled out progressively from early 2019 in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region.

Who will receive the cashless debit card in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region?

About 6,000 people, aged 35 years and under who receive Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance (Job seeker), Parenting Payment (Single) or Parenting Payment (Partnered) will receive the card.

How does the cashless debit card work?

The cashless debit card looks and operates like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products, or to withdraw cash. For more information about how the card works visit the main cashless debit card page.

Why the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region?

The Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region was selected as the fourth site for the cashless debit card program following calls for the card from key stakeholders in the region to address social issues such as high youth unemployment and intergenerational welfare dependence. The Department of Social Services conducted over 180 consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, including the community sector, service providers, community members, church groups, the business sector and all levels of government, which demonstrated strong levels of support.

The Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region is an opportunity for Government to test the card’s flexibility as a tool to support people in non-remote locations and to help address these key social problems identified during consultations.

What support services will be available for people on the cashless debit card in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region?

The Australian Government will make an additional investment of $1 million for support services to assist participants with budgeting and financial planning and to help people access drug and alcohol services.

There will be an intense effort on the ground in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region to transition people onto the card. This will include budget and financial planning support.

People with the card will be able to check their account balance or transaction history and replace lost or stolen cards at no cost. Also at no cost, people will be able to receive help including:

  • access to the card provider customer support centre

  • interactive voice response for balance enquiries, a mobile phone app and text alerts to keep people informed.

People will still be able to use Centrepay and the Rent Deduction Scheme.

For more information, contact the cashless debit card hotline on 1800 252 604 (free call) or email

This information is from the Department of Social Services website:




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GET THE FACTS: Cashless Debit Card

There has been a lot of commentary and misinformation around the Cashless Debit Card, in particular around which recipients it would apply to and where it can be used.

Below are some comments from Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge to clarify these concerns:

“The cashless welfare card operates like a normal visa debit card.  It can work anywhere, to purchase anything, but will not work at the bottle shops or the gambling venues.  Further, cash cannot be withdrawn from it, meaning that illicit substances cannot be purchased.

“The card has never applied to aged pensioners and never will be applied to aged pensioners.  Critics of the card are deliberately spreading misinformation in suggesting otherwise.

If we were to go ahead with the card in a location like Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, it would be tailored to local needs. This might mean, for example, that we limit its application to younger people on unemployment benefits, as a means of encouraging them into work.  This is what has been suggested to me by Keith Pitt and we would be open to that.

“At the end of the day, we want to work with local communities to help their particular issues.”

Here are some additional comments from Keith Pitt regarding the Cashless Debit Card and aged pensioners:

 “There has been an active scare campaign, led by the Member for Bundaberg, which has unnecessarily upset and concerned the aged pensioners in this community.

“Our seniors are a valued part of the community and to worry them unnecessarily is just appalling. 

“People in Sydney and Melbourne are also continuing to weigh in on this discussion, when they have no say over what happens in our region.

“I would have thought the Member for Bundaberg would be focusing on creating jobs in Queensland and telling her cabinet colleagues to get out of the way and approve Adani. 

“Adani will bring thousands of jobs to Central Queensland, which people in our electorate could be applying for if she and her government weren’t standing in the way.

“The Member for Bundaberg doesn’t want the Cashless Debit Card, but isn’t providing any other option to improve the lives of residents in this region.”


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Immigration and Visa Reform – Putting Australian Workers First

The Coalition Government will abolish the 457 work visa and replace it with a new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa, focused on critical skills shortages and more stringent conditions.

Australian workers must have priority for jobs in this country, while business should have access to critical skills they need to grow, where no skilled Australian worker is available.

The new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa will focus businesses to employ Australian workers first:

– it will better target genuine skills shortages, including in regional Australia

– it will include new requirements, including previous work experience, English language and labour market testing

– and it will help train Australians to fill the skills gaps in the workforce through a completely revised training fund arrangement.









Tuesday, 18 April 2017


The Turnbull Government will safeguard Australian jobs by abolishing the Subclass 457 Visa for foreign workers and creating a new temporary visa restricted to critical skills shortages.

This will ensure Australian workers are given the absolute first priority for jobs, while businesses will be able to temporarily access the critical skills they need to grow if skilled Australians workers are not available. 

The Subclass 457 Visa will be abolished and replaced with the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa. The new visa will include mandatory criminal checks and tighter English language requirements.

The new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa programme will comprise two streams – Short Term and Medium Term – and will be underpinned by more focused occupation lists that are responsive to genuine skill needs and regional variations across Australia.

Short term visas will be issued for two years, while medium term visas will be issued only for more critical skills shortages and for up to four years.

Both streams will include mandatory labour market testing with limited exemptions; a new non-discriminatory workforce test; mandatory criminal history checks; a market salary rate assessment and a new two-year work experience requirement.

Additionally there will be tightened English language requirements for the Medium Term Stream.

The new visa will also include a strengthened training obligation for employers sponsoring foreign skilled workers to provide enhanced training outcomes for Australians in high-need industries and occupations. 

These changes will give Australian job seekers more opportunity to find work while finding the right balance so businesses can prosper by acquiring the expertise they need.

Migration is an integral part of the Australian story and its success has helped us become the world’s most successful multicultural nation.

There is no doubt foreign workers have played a significant role in the remarkable economic growth of the nation.

More than 100,000 workers from 30 countries helped build the Snowy Hydro Scheme while John Howard’s decision to focus our permanent migration programme on bringing in skills has helped the nation enjoy more than two decades of continued economic growth.

This will continue but not at the expense of Australians finding work. Unlike Labor, the Turnbull government will always put Australian workers first.

Bill Shorten sold out Australian workers by allowing a record number of foreign workers into the country, many not filling critical skill shortages.

More than 110,000 foreign workers entered the country in 2013 under the then Labor government. Some were allowed to work in the fast food sector at the expense of young Australians who were looking for work.

That will not happen under this government. We are making it easier for Australians to find work and we have restored order to our borders so we can ensure foreign workers have an opportunity to arrive through the appropriate channels.

Implementation of the new visa will begin immediately, with full implementation to be completed by March 2018. 

Full details on the new visa and an explanation of transitionary arrangements for current 457 visa holders and applicants is available on the Department’s website at

The Government will announce further measures to strengthen the integrity of Australia’s migration programme and visa systems in the near future.

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MEDIA STATEMENT: Adam Bandt using Cyclone Debbie for political gain

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt was ejected from Parliament today (under standing order 94a) after he passionately defended the people of North Queensland after Greens MP Adam Bandt asked the following at Question Time:

“My question is to the Prime Minister. You recently said keeping Australians safe is our highest priority, and that it’s the first duty of my government, and indeed every government. We know burning more coal will make global warming worse. Scientists tell us it may mean fewer cyclones, but they will be more intense when they hit. But on the very day Queenslanders were preparing for Cyclone Debbie, your resources minister dropped a front page story spruiking a new coal-fired power station in that very state and you backed him in. Given the destruction that cyclones wreck upon our country, why do you push policies like burning more coal that will make cyclones more intense? Doesn’t your duty to keep Australians safe include doing everything you can to stop cyclones becoming more violent?”

Below is a statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the media in response to Mr Bandt’s question:

“For the Member for Melbourne, the Greens’ Adam Bandt, to try and link what has been a devastating event for North Queensland to his political view is disgraceful.

“As the member for an electorate which has been devastated by floods twice in the past six years and having personally experienced what the people of North Queensland are going through today, I find the Greens political grandstanding on this issue appalling.

“The focus of this parliament, as it rightly should be, is providing support to the people of Queensland which is desperately needed.

“Grandstanding by the Greens when people have potentially lost their homes, businesses and livelihoods is unacceptable.

“I will always stand up for the people I represent, particularly in the face of political point scoring when real people are actually suffering.

“As the Prime Minister said: ‘Now is the time to pull together, as we all have. State and Federal, opposition and government and stand behind the people of North Queensland. Putting the men and women of the ADF, the volunteers, the emergency workers, to keep them safe. That’s our commitment’.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of North Queensland who have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie and the emergency service workers who are already out working on the recovery.”

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