COVID-19 UPDATES

Mental Health and COVID-19

Mental Health and social isolation can be a big issue for some people, especially during this difficult time during COVID-19. Please see some helpful information about this from the Black Dog Institute:

A weekly mental health check-in Managing your mental health at home

Managing your mental health at home

Tenants and Landlords and COVID-19

There have been some important changes about Tenants and Landlords and COVID-19

Changes to Superannuation

In response to the coronavirus crisis The Australia Government has recently announced that it will be allowing individuals affected by the coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020.  Further, individuals can then access a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for approximately three months. An important point to note is that individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw won’t affect their centrelink or veterans affairs payments.  These early release applications can be made from mid April 2020 by applying directly to the ATO through the myGov website.

The following information sheet outlines the eligibility criteria and steps to applying:-

https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Early_Access_to_Super_1.pdf

Changes to QCAT

Due to the COVID-19 situation QCAT has implemented a number of changes to apply to proceedings listed for the week of 23 to 27 March 2020.

The changes are:

  • Urgent Minor Civil Disputes will go ahead as listed
  • All non-urgent Minor Civil Disputes shall be adjourned to a date to be fixed
  • Minor Civil Dispute Mediations will continue, but by telephone only
  • All other Mediations will be adjourned to a date to be fixed
  • All Directions Hearings and Compulsory Conferences will be conducted by telephone
  • All Guardianship matters will continue but parties are strongly encouraged to attend by telephone
  • In all other hearings parties are encouraged to attend by telephone
  • Persons are not encouraged to appear in person at QCAT but if they do, they will be required to sign a statement advising that they are not exposed to COVID

Please see the below link outlining in detail the changes implemented by QCAT:-

https://www.qcat.qld.gov.au/about-qcat/covid-19

Duty Lawyer Services now to be done by telephone

Due to the COVID-19 the Magistrates Courts are working towards ensuring that as few personal appearances as possible occur. Many of the Magistrates Courts are now operating by telephone or in writing.

Queensland Courts have advised that all courts are implementing social distancing measures which includes limiting the number of people permitted into a courtroom at any one time. Those who are not directly participating in court proceedings have been asked to consider whether it is necessary to attend a court location.

A recent practice direction has outlined that all duty lawyer services are to be delivered without any face to face contact with duty lawyer clients. Telephone and video-link alternatives will be adopted where possible in duty lawyer services in the Magistrates Courts. This applies to criminal law, domestic and family violence and child protection matters. Therefore, any person wanting legal assistance from a duty lawyer will still be able to obtain advice via telephone/video link where available.

Disclaimer: BCLS does not accept responsibility for any damages or otherwise suffered by relying or acting on this information.