COVID-19 and Our Communities

Page updated: Wednesday 24 June 2020

There are a lot of questions about the COVID-19 and what it means for people from sexuality and gender diverse communities and people living with HIV.

As a health organisation, ACON has been keeping up to date with the latest news and developments regarding COVID-19. We continue to take guidance from state and federal health agencies and urge our communities to follow public health advice and government instructions.

We have compiled the following resources and links to provide our communities with the latest information on COVID-19. We are updating this page regularly.

It is most important that we stay informed, don’t panic and take decisions that are good for your health and our communities’ health. We know how to look after ourselves and each other, and now is an important time for that.

Video: A message for our communities from ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill (30 April 2020)

 

General Information on COVID-19

Basic Information on COVID-19: What you need to know

[From the fact sheet Making Sense of COVID-19: LGBTIQ & HIV Communities, produced by AFAO, ASHM and NAPWHA. View the full fact sheet on the AFAO website here]

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. People with COVID-19 may not have symptoms but can still pass the virus on. Symptoms can range from a very mild illness to severe pneumonia. People with COVID-19 may experience fever and flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath. Some people will recover quickly and easily, and others may get very sick very quickly.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with droplets that contain a new coronavirus. This can happen through the air, for example, when someone coughs or sneezes, or through contact with surfaces that have the new coronavirus on them.

It can be helpful to visualise this. If a person has COVID-19, they might touch a surface and leave virus droplets on it. Another person touching that surface may then pick the droplets up on their hands and then touch their mouth, leading to infection.

This is why washing your hands is important, especially after touching surfaces and other people who might have COVID-19. It’s also why it is recommended to avoid touching your face.

How worried should I be?

COVID-19 is a serious health issue but there is no need for panic. Australia has a strong health system and our public health officials are world-class. You can trust their advice. Taking a few simple steps and doing a little planning can help you look after yourself and others.

How to protect yourself

Washing your hands and being careful with coughing and sneezing is the best defence against most coronaviruses:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (try to do this for 20 seconds) or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, before and after eating, after going to the toilet and after coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face, particularly your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing (or cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow) and dispose of tissues.
  • Social distancing restrictions are now in place.  This means you need to avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging and other intimate contact) and check the latest official advice on seeing a doctor or self-quarantining if you are feeling unwell.  With social distancing, remember to stay 1.5 metres away from other people. You do not need to wear a face mask unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19.

Who in our communities is at risk?

Our communities are diverse and COVID-19 will affect people differently.  Some people will have few symptoms or may even be asymptomatic, some will have more severe symptoms and may need hospitalisation.  Whilst we know that the people outlined below are more likely to experience the more severe symptoms – COVID-19 can be very serious for younger people as well.  COVID-19 is very easily transmitted from person to person so it is important to be aware that even though you don’t have symptoms, you may be carrying the virus and passing it on to other people.

At present, the data tell us that COVID-19 is more serious for older people and those with a compromised immune system. This includes people with HIV who have a low CD4 count and people who have cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, asthma and diabetes.

There are concerns for people in residential aged care because they are elderly and can be in poor health and COVID-19 can be transmitted readily in group settings.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often experience poorer health outcomes and were more heavily impacted by the 2009 swine flu than other Australians. There are concerns they may be affected in a similar way again.

People with other health conditions may wish to take extra precautions to minimise their chances of getting COVID-19.

How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19

We must all help slow the spread of the COVID-19. By practising good hygiene, observing physical distancing measures and complying with lockdown restrictions, we can protect our health and the health of our communities.

How to protect yourself and others

Practise good hygiene by

  • making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • stay home if you are sick or feel unwell

For more information on how to protect yourself and others, visit the NSW Government COVID-19 website.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing (or social distancing) means we reduce the number of close physical and social contacts we have. Combined with good personal hygiene, physical distancing can slow the spread of a pandemic through the community.

Physical distancing measures and public health orders are now in place in NSW.

What is Allowed

If you have to leave home for essential reasons, stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.

Up to 20 visitors may visit another household at any one time

If you are feeling unwell, you should not visit other people at home. Even if you have only mild symptoms – like tiredness or a sore throat – find out about testing at a COVID-19 clinic.

For more information on public health orders (what you can/can’t do), visit the NSW Government COVID-19 website.

Feeling unwell?

Testing guidelines in NSW have been expanded. Anyone who is experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath or any other respiratory symptoms are able to seek medical attention and testing.

Asymptomatic people do not require testing, except in special circumstances, e.g. they are recovered cases wishing to return to work in a health care, aged care facility, or other high-risk clinical setting, or the person is part of a public health unit outbreak investigation.

For more information on symptoms and feeling unwell, visit the NSW Government COVID-19 website.

Stay informed

It’s important to remain informed about current developments. There is a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 so be sure you keep up-to-date via official sources, such as NSW Health and the Australian Department of Health.

NSW Health had developed an online resource dedicated to COVID-19. It is being updated frequently with the latest advice. That advice is based on evidence and the best analysis from public health officials. Visit the NSW Government COVID-19 website.

You can also check the Australian Department of Health website. The Department of Health has a Coronavirus hotline – 1800 020 080. Or you can speak to a nurse about any health issues by calling Health Direct on 1800 022 222. Both these services are free and operate 24/7.

If you or someone you know is travelling overseas or returning home, there is up-to-date advice on COVID-19 on the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website.

Public Health Orders: What You Can and Can’t Do

Public health orders are now in force in NSW. Restrictions are in place for public gatherings, business and services. It is important you comply with government directives. Failure to do so may attract significant penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

The information below is available from the NSW Government COVID-19 website.

Visiting Other People at Home

Up to 20 visitors may visit another household at any one time

If you are feeling unwell, you should not visit other people at home. Even if you have only mild symptoms – like tiredness or a sore throat – find out about testing at a COVID-19 clinic.

Stay Safe

As our community becomes more active and gets back to business, it’s important that we

What is Allowed

Read FAQs on what has changed.

For more information on what you can and can’t do under the rules, visit the NSW Government COVID-19 website.

COVIDSafe App

The Australian Government has released an app to help in contact tracing people who may have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). The COVIDSafe app helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases by utilising your smartphone’s Bluetooth capabilities to determine whether you have been in close physical contact with someone who has tested positive to COVID-19.

COVIDSafe is completely voluntary.

You can find out more information and download the app here.

 

COVID-19 & Our Communities Online Forums

WATCH: ACON Regional COVID-19 Forum

ACON hosted a live online information session to explore coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on sexuality and gender diverse communities on Wednesday 13 May.

We know that COVID-19 is having a profound effect on the regional communities ACON works with and for. Confusion and misinformation is everywhere, and this can sometimes make understanding COVID-19 difficult. ACON will be hosting this online information session to dispel myths and misunderstanding, and come together as a community to discuss COVID-19 and how it is changing the ways in which we socialise, work, and have sex.

The forum included experts from the Regional NSW community as well as local entertainers from the Hunter and Northern Rivers areas who will guide, inspire and entertain us through this difficult time.

Watch: LGBTQ Online Forum – COVID-19 and Our Communities (VIDEO)

On Monday 6 April 2020, ACON hosted a live online information session exploring COVID-19 and its impact on people of diverse sexualities and genders and people living with HIV. We know that COVID-19 is having a profound effect on the communities ACON works with and for. Confusion and misinformation is everywhere, and this can sometimes make understanding COVID-19 difficult. This online information session explored issues around COVID-19 and what it means for our communities.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Professor Andrew Grulich (Professor HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program, The Kirby Institute, UNSW); Jane Costello (CEO, Positive Life NSW); Dr Justin Koonin (President, ACON); Dr Brad McKay (General Practitioner); Julie Catt (Psychologist & Co-Chair, Twenty10 inc NSW GLCS).

FACILITATED BY: Maeve Marsden (Writer, Performer, Producer and Director).

VIDEO: Watch the online forum below

Further resources

The following links were mentioned by the panellists in the forum:

Coronavirus Information for LGBTIQ Communities and People Living With HIV
ACON: Sex and Covid
COVID-19 information for trans and gender diverse people
COVID-19 information from Positive Life NSW
Positive Life NSW COVID-19 survey for people living with HIV
Resources for LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum and refugees on COVID-19
Government COVID announcements and people seeking asylum
QLife COVID-19 support
Houseparty social connection app
Equality Australia
Information for tenants from Tenant’s Union NSW

 

Sex and COVID-19

Advice on Casual Sex During COVID-19

We know our communities are responsible when it comes to looking after their health and the health of their partners. With the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, ACON strongly encourages everyone to avoid casual sex with people you are not living with or who are not your regular sexual partner. Touching and kissing are key areas for transmission, and direct personal contact is a risk for transmission. That is why we are being asked to practice social distancing.

While COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, physical contact during sex carries a risk of transmission – and this is not in keeping with the important public health measures everyone in the general community are being asked to observe.

We all need to play our part. It is important we look to other means to stay socially connected, including using alternative, more virtual means to engage with prospective sexual partners from the comfort of your own home. 

Read ACON, ASHM and the Kirby Institute’s latest statement on casual sex.

Useful links:

Tips on Sexual Pleasure During COVID-19

SEX IN AN ERA OF COVID-19

Right now around the world, a lot of things are changing very quickly. But one thing that hasn’t necessarily changed is our desire.

The COVID-19 alert has changed our daily routines, affected our finances and shopping habits, and prompted us to adjust how we interact with others—and this includes our sex lives.

In Australia, health experts are recommending social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and while COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, physical contact during sex carries a high risk of transmission.

Because of this, at this time, casual sex is strongly discouraged. But that doesn’t mean the end of sexual pleasure altogether.

The advice from health experts is to stay at home if you’re able. But that doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about pleasure, connection, and getting in (virtual) touch with each other.

It’s really important to remember that even if we are physically alone, we are all in this together. We’ve always found inventive ways of achieving pleasure sexually and now’s the time to let your creativity flow!

YOU AND YOUR BOO(S)

You may be in a monogamous, polyamorous or any other exclusive relationship with one or more people and choose to continue to have sex together. Whether you live with them or not, unless you are completely isolated inside together in a controlled setting with zero interaction with the outside world (AKA Jim Carrey in the Truman Show), there is still a risk of one of you unknowingly coming into contact with the virus outside your home and then bringing it into the household.

Talk to each other, assess your situation and make that decision together. You may choose to continue having sex with a partner however this is only recommended for:

  • A partner, or partners, you are currently living with.
  • A regular partner where you have both been practising social distancing from other people.

The circumstances change if either of you have symptoms, or are self-isolating – in this case you should avoid close contact until given the all-clear. Patience is a virtue!

If you decide to continue having sex with your partner/s, make sure you’ve washed beforehand. A full body shower is best to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria, but at the very least you should each wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before you get started.

Having an honest conversation about what exposure each of you has had to others is a good idea too. And if either of you become unwell, let each other know straight away. If that happens, you might want to check with the online Symptom Checker or call your GP or the National Coronavirus Helpline. It is probably best to self-isolate until you can get medical advice.

In the instance of casual sex, while it is strongly discouraged at this time, there are other community groups, such as Prepster in the UK, who have some advice on how to help keep you safe. Carefully consider if this is the right thing for you and the impact it may have on yourself and others.

Government advice and law enforcement around non-essential movement in public spaces are in place, and can sometimes change. So, if you are thinking of visiting your partner, be sure you know what the latest advice is, either from the Government or a reputable news source, before you step out. You wouldn’t want to turn a visit to your partner’s place into possibly getting a fine, let alone the health risk to both of you!

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

You can still get your freak on without venturing out of the house – there are many ways of keeping things juicy that don’t involve physical contact. While there may be challenges, overcoming fear and discovering new ways of experiencing sexual pleasure just happens to be something that our community are pretty good at.

– Get a hand on it

First stop: masturbation station! Masturbating or having a solo session is not only a safe way of practising social distancing, but this can be a good moment for rediscovering ways to please yourself. Run a scan of your body, see what feels good, try something new, challenge yourself. Whether it’s a new position, a new toy, changing where you do it in the house, or what you fantasise about – the possibilities are endless.

Take the time to enjoy yourself—you don’t have to rush. After all, what else do you have to do? Netflix can chill on its own for a while…

– Is it an APP-ropriate time…?

While it’s definitely not the time to be arranging dates, hook-ups, or the ever-ambiguous “grabbing a coffee sometime,” having a scroll through dating apps isn’t a bad idea at all.

This could be the perfect time to (virtually) meet the future-love-of-your-life / best-sex-ever. Start a conversation, have a chat, get to know them online now. Think about it as laying the groundwork for future bliss.

This situation will end – why not plan ahead with some swiping and typing?

– Remember when phones were for calling people?

In the olden days, there was something called “Phone Sex”. Many dating and messaging apps allow you to share audio, either through calls or recordings, and most of us have a mobile phone so we can do this almost anywhere. Before, you dial 69 and start working your “sexy phone voice”, remember to establish consent and boundaries.

Not sure what to say when you get on the line? Caller, it’s all about the power of description. Describe what you are doing and where you are going with your audio hook-up. Into the bedroom, up the wall, onto a sling? Use your senses to help describe it – “my hand is slowly sliding up your…” or “the taste of you on my tongue…” You get the picture.

– Lights, camera, action!

You’ve heard of FaceTime, but like a good moisturiser, it’s not just for your face… Video is a format where you can capture anything from the simplest tease of skin to a stunning cinematic…climax.

Feeling creative? Add a filter, add a cheeky emoji, add a soundtrack – you’re the director, producer and star! Just be mindful of what you’re posting or sharing – the world-wide web can be an unforgiving place.

Think about who you’re sharing your images with and how comfortable you truly are. Don’t let #QuarantineBoredom interfere with your usual boundaries! #screenrecord

– Oi, why not try a toy?

The time for sex toys is now. You might even be able to find something that is wifi-enabled and remote controlled to let you partner play with you from a distance. Remember to wash up after – especially if you think it may be shared or reused in the future.

You can find out more about different types of sex toys and what they’re good for here.

SAFETY. POSITIVITY. AWARENESS. REPEAT.

It’s too early to tell how the COVID-19 will impact us or how long the situation will last. But by keeping a keen and strong sense of hygiene and safety, a positive mindset and by continuing to be informed and aware, we can help ‘flatten the curve’ of this public health emergency and get back to sex as it was meant to be – free of fear and full of fun.

Sex Can Still be Sexy in the Time of COVID-19 (MPACT)

MPACT, a global action group for the health and rights of men who have sex with men, have compiled a list of tips of how to manage sex and social distancing while COVID-19 plays out around the world.

View their blog post here.

COVID19: They Want to Meet Up – What Should I Do?

It’s been a little while now since we’ve started practising social distancing – or rather, physical distancing since it’s really important to keep our (virtual) social connections alive.  

This has meant a huge change in the way we live our lives and importantly, our sex and dating lives. 

Despite the recent NSW Government announcement that now allows some home visitations, the advice around practising physical distancing remains, meaning that we should still hold off from casual sex. 

Up to now, with so many of us spending even more time online, you might have received the occasional message from someone who wants to meet up, make out or hook up (well, lucky you!).  

With the latest announcement, you might see more messages start filling your inbox, whether on the apps or from sex friends and fuck buddies who are hoping the ‘sex hibernation’ may be coming to a close… 

Yes, it’s tempting. Of course, it is. For people who don’t live with a partner, a lot of us might be missing sex, intimacy, touch, kissing… (even holding hands is starting to sound kinda hot, TBH).  

You might be staring at a photo of a potential hook up or date and thinking, Ohhhh, they are a babe and a half!” or even falling prey to ‘Quarantine Brain’ and thinking: “I will never get this chance again! THIS IS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY!”  

Please tell your QB (‘Quarantine Brain’) to calm down – you will have the chance to date and dance and fuck again. This is incredibly difficult, but it will end.  

It’s not the time to become complacent. It’s really good news to see our situation improving and some government restrictions relaxing, but it was only possible because people did the right thing. 

We know that saying no can be difficult, and we want to help by sharing some ways of gently and respectfully responding to offers for dates or sex (or dates that you would really like to lead to sex).  

So, whether you’re using an app and getting messages from someone new, someone you’ve previously chatted to online, or messages from someone you’ve hooked up with before (or texts at 2am from your not-quite-ex…it’s ok. We’ve all been there), here are some things to consider. 

WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR ONLINE PROFILE TO LOOK LIKE? 

More of us are on dating and hook-up apps more than ever before. So to start, there are some really simple things you can do to your profile to let people know that you are physical distancing and not looking to meet up for sex at the moment. 

It could be as simple as updating your screen name or bio to include terms like “social distancing”, “cybersex”, “let’s cyber”, “chats only” or “FaceTime dates”. This gives a clear and direct message about your intentions while online. 

If the app allows it, you could also add that information in other fields. This way you’ll attract more like-minded people while letting others know you may just be window-shopping, wanting to chat, or that you’re very firmly “on lay-by” for potential lays 

In the case that they don’t read your profile (which does happen) and they either outwardly offer sex, invite you to meet up, or the conversation ends up with them wanting to meet up, you can simply make them aware of it: 

Love to meet up. Come over now??  

Babe, like my profile says: I’m on lay-by until this is over! Happy to keep chatting with you. 

This way, you’ve done the right thing by yourself and them, and shouldn’t feel awkward or bad about it. 

GIVE IT TO THEM STRAIGHT (SO TO SPEAK) 

If you get an invitation for sex online or over text (Who could be texting at 2am? Oh, hello…) it could be a good idea to let them know right away that you’re not meeting up for sex right now – most people should understand why.  

If this is someone you do want to meet up with in the future, there are are ways of saying it and being honest that might soften the blow of them feeling rejected:  

U up? Xxxx 

Ha! Yes, I am now. Would love to see you – but gotta put it all on hold until this is over. Behaving myself, but catch up post-isolation?  

NO…FOR NOW… 

Saying no can be tricky, but if you’re into someone and want to keep in contact until you can meet up, you can find hot ways to say ‘no, not now.’  

Think about what you could add to that to tease them: “No, not now…but once this is over…”. If it’s someone you’ve been with before, describe some of the elements of your last hook-up, or what you are going to do to them when you see them next… 

LOVELY WEATHER WE’RE HAVING 

If it’s someone you want to chat with, why not redirect the topic elsewhere? You might ask what it’s been like for them, how they’re coping, or how many sourdough loaves they’ve baked so far. Have they been talking to their house plants, too? Yeah, me neither… If it’s someone on an app, or someone you don’t know personally, (or only know in one very particular way), then if they cut it short, it’s not a big deal. They were probably looking for a hook-up not a catch-up and that’s not on you.  

SIGHT AND SOUND 

If you feel comfortable, consider moving your encounter to a virtual one. Sexting, phone sex (that’s where you use your phone as a telephone, remember?), swapping pics or having video sex through FaceTime are all forms of sex and they can be incredibly hot. Have a read of our blog about Sex in the Era of COVID-19 for some inspiration and advice. And remember to be careful about what you share! Keep the boundaries you have in non-pandemic times about what you share and who you share it with and stay safe.  

Just because it’s online or over the phone doesn’t mean it’s not real. Virtual sex can be a really fun, creative and surprising way to hook up and connect. Here are some great thoughts from queers about why we sext, when we sext and what sexting can mean for different people. 

IF THEY INSIST, HOW DO YOU REJECT THEM WITHOUT HURTING THEIR FEELINGS? 

Firstly, you should never let someone else make you feel pressured into something you’re not comfortable with. If their tone becomes insistent, then maybe this calls for a clear and firm response.  

They may even tell you that you can have sex now because of the change in government restrictions and the low infections rates we’re seeing. But now is not the time. It’s really important that we keep up physical distancing and this includes casual sex. 

You can tell them that you are letting all your hook-ups know that you’re taking a break right now. You can tell them you don’t want to take any risks and that it’s important that you protect your health.  

Be honest about it – it’s your choice and you’re doing it because it’s the right thing for you and everyone else.  

Remember, the reason we’re seeing lower infections and some restrictions are easing is because so many of us are doing our best to protect ourselves and each other. 

IF THEY DON’T RESPECT YOUR DECISION OR GET AGGRESSIVE 

No one likes to be rejected, but unfortunately some people will try to make you feel bad about it and some can take it worse than others.  

If you find yourself dealing with a negative reaction by someone who wanted to meet up for casual sex, you should not feel bad. This is their problem, not yours. 

You can’t control other people’s emotions (or their bad behaviour) but you can control what you show and tell them. 

If all else fails, remember you can always stop engaging with them. This really isn’t the time to add any stress to your life or let anyone make you feel bad or guilty for making choices that are right for you. “No, thank you” is a perfectly polite way to end an interaction. 

You can take breaks from apps if you feel like they are starting to affect your mental health, and chat with a friend about if it helps – they may have experienced something similar (unfortunately they probably have) and could offer some sound advice or just a sympathetic space for a vent. Don’t let someone else’s disrespectful behaviour bring you down.  

Remember, by saying no to casual sex, you are doing what is right for you and the broader community – and you should feel supported in that. 

If you are struggling with any experiences or feeling isolated, consider finding a LGBT+ counselling service to help support you. You can find more information about ACON counselling other LGBT+ counselling services here. Keep following ACON on social media for more tips on how to stay safe during this challenging time. 

ACON provides confidential counselling to people in our communities seeking support in relation to their mental health and wellbeing. Contact ACON on (02) 9206 2000 or 1800 063 060. 

 

 

PrEP and COVID-19

Information About PrEP and COVID-19

Can PrEP protect me from acquiring COVID-19?

We’re aware of some people who believe PrEP or HIV medications may have prevention benefits for COVID-19. There is no evidence to support this. Anyone currently taking HIV meds or PrEP, please note this provides ZERO protection against COVID-19.

If I’m on PrEP, should I continue taking it?

[From the fact sheet ‘Making Sense of COVID-19: LGBTIQ & HIV Communities’, produced by AFAO, ASHM and NAPWHA. View the full fact sheet on the AFAO website here]

Some people have asked if they can stop taking PrEP if they are no longer having sex as part of social distancing measures and avoiding contact with others. Many people will prefer to continue taking their PrEP as before to keep their routine and to ensure they maintain their level of protection.

Or some people may choose to change from taking PrEP daily to taking it on-demand.

If you are considering stopping taking PrEP for any reason, make sure you do this safely. This means that if you are a cisgender man who has sex with men, to make sure you take one pill a day for two consecutive days (24 and 48 hours) after a possible HIV risk exposure, so you are essentially finishing with taking PrEP after two sex-free days. For any other populations, you need to continue taking PrEP daily for 28 days after your last possible HIV risk exposure.

If you had any HIV risks while you weren’t on PrEP you will need a repeat HIV test before you recommence PrEP.

When you are ready to restart PrEP, if you are a cisgender man who has sex with men, you can start with a single dose of two PrEP pills to achieve highly protective levels of PrEP, whether you are commencing daily PrEP or on-demand PrEP. If you will be taking PrEP daily and don’t start with this single dose of two pills, you will need to take one pill a day for seven days to achieve the levels of PrEP to give full protection. For all other populations, this one pill a day for seven days is required to achieve full protection and you then need to continue to take PrEP daily.

For more information about both daily and on-demand PrEP, including stopping and restarting PrEP, you can visit the Get PrEP’D website here (this is a website for gay and other men who have sex with men, but the information on this page is suitable for all populations).

It’s a good idea to discuss any changes with how you’re planning to take prescription medicines with your doctor first, and to speak to your doctor about getting tested as part of recommencing PrEP.

Other useful links:

I’m not hooking up. Should I stop taking PrEP? (Emen8)

 

People Living with HIV and COVID-19

Information on COVID-19 for People Living With HIV

Are people living with HIV a greater risk of acquiring COVID-19?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that people living HIV are more likely to catch the novel coronavirus compared to the general population, but the data tells us that COVID-19 is more serious for the elderly, those with a compromised immune system (for example people living with HIV who have a low CD4 count) or those with underlying health conditions. For these groups, extra precautions and care should be taken to minimise the risk.

Is there a risk pharmacies will run out of medications?

[From the fact sheet ‘Making Sense of COVID-19: LGBTIQ & HIV Communities’, produced by AFAO, ASHM and NAPWHA. View the full fact sheet on the AFAO website here]

Australia imports many medicines from India and China. As COVID-19 evolves there is a risk the supply of generic medicines in China is interrupted.

People with HIV should consider having an extra months’ supply of HIV medication to accommodate a need to self-isolate, or delays in supply. This is also the case for people with other health conditions. The Therapeutic Goods Administration, the government body responsible for approving medicines in Australia, is working to ensure Australia’s medicine supply.

There is no need to stockpile over the counter medication such as paracetamol or Ibuprofen. Only buy what you need.

I am taking anti-viral medications – will they protect me from COVID-19?

[From the fact sheet ‘Making Sense of COVID-19: LGBTIQ & HIV Communities’, produced by AFAO, ASHM and NAPWHA. View the full fact sheet on the AFAO website here]

Researchers are working to find an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. There have been reports of a few HIV drugs being trialled as treatment for COVID-19. There is no reliably confirmed evidence at this stage that any HIV drugs are effective in treating COVID-19. Being on anti-viral medication for HIV (including PrEP), hepatitis C or hepatitis B, has not be shown to provide protection from COVID-19.

Practical resources, tools and strategies for people living with HIV (Positive Life NSW)

Positive Life NSW holds a regularly updated page for resources, tools and strategies for people living with HIV in NSW in a time of COVID-19 including information on health advice, welfare options, medication and housing.

Visit the Positive Life NSW COVID-19 Resource page.

Visit the Positive Life NSW NSW HIV Sector Information

 

Trans and Gender Diverse People and COVID-19

WATCH: Living Trans During COVID-19 Forum

On Wednesday 6 May, ACON hosted a free online forum for trans and gender diverse people and allies to learn more about staying safe, well and connected as a trans person in a global pandemic. Delivered by ACON in partnership with the National LGBTI Health Alliance.

Panellists included: Lisa Taylor (Sistergirl Elder, advocate and community organiser); Eloise Brook (Media Manager, Gender Centre); Mish Pony (LGBTI Health Alliance TGD Specialist Advisor, trans rep – Scarlet Alliance and board member – AFAO); Cristyn Davies (Senior Research Fellow, Child and Adolescent Health, Westmead Children’s Hospital); and Dr Martina Gleeson (Gender-affirming GP).

Hosted by Teddy Cook, ACON’s Manager Trans and Gender Diverse Health Equity.

Information on COVID-19 for Trans and Gender Diverse People (TransHub)

TransHub, ACON’s dedicated online resource for trans and gender diverse people, has produced an excellent resource on COVID-19 and what it means for TGD communities.

Visit TransHub.

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and COVID-19

Information on COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

The following organisations have specific COVID-19 resources and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

Visit the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW’s coronavirus (COVID-19) page

Find out about COVID-19 services and information offered by the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern via their page

 

People from Multicultural Backgrounds and COVID-19

Coronavirus Information In Your Language (SBS)

SBS is committed to informing all Australians about the latest coronavirus developments. News and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) is available in 63 languages.

Visit the SBS Coronavirus Information In Your Language page.

 

Older LGBTQ People and COVID-19

Information for Older LGBTQ People and COVID-19

Older LGBTQ Australians (people age 60+), especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, and people with compromised immune systems, are among those at risk of the more serious symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

More information for older LGBTQ Australians, their family and friends about how to protect older Australians from the spread of coronavirus:

 

People with Disability and COVID-19

Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability (Aus Govt)

In order to guide the health sector response to COVID-19, the Government developed the first Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for coronavirus (the COVID-19 Plan). The plan outlines how key activities will operate and how the Australian public can support the national response.

The Management and Operational Plan for COVID-19 for People with Disability has been developed to provide a targeted response for people with disability, their families, carers and support workers

Read the plan here.

 

Mental Health and COVID-19

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19

To assist our communities, we’ve developed a resource on how to deal with stress and anxiety during COVID-19. Download the resource (PDF) here.


The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) may lead to stress and anxiety for some of us. Feeling overwhelmed by strong emotions during times like these is totally understandable. Coping with distress and fear in a healthy way will help ensure that you, your loved ones and everyone in our communities stay strong and resilient during this time.

CHECK IN

Check in with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and loved ones. Do it by phone, SMS or online. It always helps to talk. Acknowledging your own feelings of distress and discussing this can also help you manage anxiety and stress.

MAINTAIN CONNECTIONS

Start a group chat, hang out through video conferencing, share pictures of your outfits or something positive that happened to you recently. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Think of it as physical distancing instead.

STAY CONNECTED TO COMMUNITIES

While the places we hang out are temporarily unavailable, we can still keep in touch with our communities. Follow your favourite event/bar/club on social media, listen to a queer podcast, watch or read LGBTQ media. Fostering a sense of community is important at this time.

TAKE A BREAK

Take a break from your newsfeed and focus on something else. Replace the time you spend on social media or watching the news with an activity that’ll nourish and entertain your heart and mind: read a book, indulge in your favourite TV show, bake some goodies or play a game on your phone.

SET A ROUTINE

If you’re self-isolating, in quarantine or working from home, set and maintain routines. Make time for exercise using YouTube or a fitness app, cooking your favourite meals, getting in touch with friends. If you’re working remotely, allocate specific work hours and take regular breaks.

UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY

A creative project will help focus the mind. Dust off your painting kit or reorganise your décor. Do an online language course or download a yoga app. There are thousands of tutorials on YouTube on just about any hobby – so why not learn how to knit, draw, dance? The digital world is your oyster.

HAVE A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE

It’s natural to be affected by the outbreak of any new disease. Just remember that, for most people, the symptoms of COVID-19 are mild and similar to a flu. Australia has one of the world’s best healthcare systems. Everything is being done to ensure communities are safe and protected.

HELP OTHERS

Happiness is helping others and it is also good for your mental health. Look out for those in your own personal networks who may need support. Look in on your mates to see if you can help with essential supplies, or send an order of goodies to someone who may be doing it tough.

REMEMBER

This is temporary. Physical distancing measures are enforced to slow the spread of COVID-19. We must all play our part. Our communities have rallied together in times of adversity to care for each other before, and we will do so again. We’re all in this together.

WE’RE HERE FOR YOU

ACON provides confidential counselling to people in our communities seeking support in relation to their mental health and wellbeing. Contact ACON on (02) 9206 2000 or 1800 063 060 or visit the ACON Mental Health page here.

You can also get in contact with other mental health services including QLife on 1800 184 527, beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

This resource has been put together by ACON counsellors.

Mental Health Support During COVID-19

We know that some people may find the current environment challenging and overwhelming. Feelings of stress, anxiety and distress are common in the uncertainty of COVID-19. ACON is here for our communities needing support and assistance with their mental health.

ACON COUNSELLING

ACON counselling, care coordination and intake services are available by phone and video call. Contact ACON on (02) 9206 2000 during business hours or via submit an enquiry.

OTHER SUPPORT SERVICES

QLife: 1800 184 527 | qlife.org.au

Lifeline: 13 11 14 | lifeline.org.au

beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 | beyondblue.org.au

Reach Out: reachout.com

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

NSW Mental Health Access Line: 1800 011 511

DFV Helpline 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732

ADIS (alcohol and other drugs): 1800 422 599

Link2home (Crisis accommodation): 1800 152 152

In an emergency, dial triple zero: 000

 

Alcohol and Other Drugs Support During COVID-19

Pivot Point: Alcohol and Other Drugs Online Resource

Funded by Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network, Pivot Point is a one-stop-shop for sexuality and gender diverse people who are looking for support in relation to their AOD use, which may be becoming difficult to manage and starting to negatively impact on their lives.

As well as information on AOD and helpful strategies on quitting or reducing use, Pivot Point features an online self-assessment tool allowing visitors to gauge the risks from their AOD use, directories for resources, and services that offer assistance to those seeking support. Pivot Point also has a blog featuring personal stories from community members, harm reduction tips, and helpful information for our communities related to news and current events in the AOD arena.

Visit Pivot Point for AOD related information, resources and support.

Latest articles:

COVID-19 Social Distancing & Drug Use: Will’s Story
(8 April 2020): Will is a gay man who is 35 years old – he identifies as a person who injects drugs.  Pivot Point spoke to Will about drug use in the time of COVID-19 – about how he’s managing lifestyle changes at the moment, including changes to how he usually socialises and uses drugs.

COVID-19 Restrictions: An opportunity for change
(8 April 2020): In these forced pub shutdowns, there exists an opportunity for members of our communities to explore resetting their relationship with alcohol. New environments can be very conducive to changing and sustaining new habits.

Alcohol, COVID-19 & Our Communities

It may feel normal to drink more alcohol than usual in response to the stressors associated with COVID-19. Evidence shows that on the whole sexuality and gender diverse people drink more than the general population. Our drinking is not always harmful but can be harmful when we drink too much in one sitting or if we drink too frequently. If in the time of COVID-19 you find yourself drinking more than usual ACON has some strategies to help you reduce alcohol related harms and to modify drinking behaviours.

Read the full article on Pivot Point.

Crystal, COVID-19 & Our Communities

In times of stress some of us who use crystal may use more crystal to cope. It’s normal to feel cravings when our everyday routines change. On the whole sexuality and gender diverse people use crystal more than the general population. Our use is not always harmful but can be harmful when we use too much in one sitting or if we use too frequently. If you find yourself using more crystal than usual, ACON has strategies to help you reduce harms, modify patterns of use, and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 while using crystal for sex.

Read the article on Pivot Point.

 

Domestic and Family Violence and COVID-19

Intimate Partner and Family Violence and COVID-19

Content warning: This article is about violence and may be distressing for some. Reader discretion is advised. 

During times of crisis the risk of intimate partner and family violence escalates. Intimate partner and family violence are rooted in power and control. Job insecurity, money pressures and a sense of powerlessness against the pandemic may see some people escalate their abuse, use abusive behaviours more often, or for the first time.

Some people in our communities experience intimate partner and/or family violence, and as we see physical distancing implemented, we recognise that for some people in our communities, home is not a safe place to be. It may in fact be the most dangerous place to be.

As a result of the current restrictions put in place due to COVID-19, people who experience violence may find that they have fewer opportunities to seek help, and the strategies they use to stay safe may need to change. COVID-19 may also be used as a further way to control people and isolate them from family and friends, for example restricting their movements, denying the person access to medical treatment or threatening to kick them out if they show symptoms.

With fewer opportunities to be out and about seeing people it is also important that as a community we look out for one another and maintain contact. For someone who may be experiencing violence at home, you might be their only access to help.

Getting Help and Staying Safe

It is important to know that there is support out there for you if you are experiencing intimate partner or family violence. Services including ACON remain available to provide assistance to our communities, and the NSW Government is supporting domestic violence services with additional measures in response to COVID-19.

It’s also important to know that you can leave your home due to intimate partner or family violence. The NSW Public Health Order specifically outlines that people can leave the home to ‘avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm’. People can also leave the home to move to a new place of residence or between different places of residence. If you are feeling unsafe, you can leave your home. This is true whether the abuse you are experiencing is physical or psychological or some other form of abuse. Intimate partner and family violence can take many forms. No matter what form abuse takes, there is support for you, and you have the right to leave the abuse.

You also have the right to leave your home for other reasons, such as to access domestic violence services, but also to do things like attend work, shop and exercise.

If you are living with family or other people who you may be fearful of you may be weighing up between your safety and your right to express yourself and your identity freely. These are difficult and personal choices, and it is important to think about your safety and consider planning for what you may do if things do not go well and you need to leave the home.

If you can safely connect with supportive people or community and social groups outside of the home, for example through online groups, this can be an important way to access the support and affirmation that you have a right to. Services like QLife are also available for support. QLife provides anonymous peer support and referral for people in our communities wanting to talk about a range of issues including sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. Qlife provides both telephone and webchat support.

If you are unsafe at home, it can be helpful to make a safety plan. This could be a plan for leaving an abusive relationship or family (of origin or chosen family), or it might be about strategies you can do temporarily to make yourself safer while remaining in the home or relationship. You can read more about Safety Planning on our Getting Help page. This page has a list of important things to consider for your safety plan.

There are some additional considerations during COVID-19 such as:

Preparing for an incident:

  • Staying safe online. People that use violence may monitor and restrict technology. You can find extensive tips for staying safe online in the eSafety Commissioners COVID-19 advice for women experiencing domestic violence and Wesnet’s Technology Safety Plan page. These pages include tips to find another device (like a friend’s or neighbours if you can), set up new or separate email accounts, change the passwords on your accounts, and use a private browser.
  • Be aware that during COVID-19 a person may use new or escalated tactics of abuse, so even if you have not previously felt that your physical safety is at risk, you should still plan for your physical safety now.
  • Also be prepared for an increase in your own emotional distress and a decrease in your ability to make decisions as a result of escalating abuse at home, planning around your safety now will make decisions later easier.
  • Think about the best and safest time of day for your friends to contact you and communicate this with them.
  • If you have decided to reach out for help, create a plausible reason to leave the house such as getting groceries, and contact your friends or a support service then
  • If you are not able to leave the house, you could call a service or use a service chat function while the other person is asleep, or you could call while in the bathroom and running the shower to make some noise.
  • Identify safe areas of the house, where there are ways to escape or hide if possible.
  • Get to know your neighbours so that you can reach out to them and escape there if needed or they feel more confident to call the police during an incident.

During an incident: 

  • Consciously engage your existing strategies that work for you.
  • Try to avoid particularly unsafe areas such as the garage, kitchen and bathroom.
  • Remove long jewellery – especially necklaces, as well as ties and scarves that could be used to pull you, choke you or restrain you.
  • Position your body to protect your vulnerable head/neck, torso and groin or other vulnerable areas like existing injuries or chronic pains.
  • If possible, stay in open spaces near a door and avoid being cornered.
  • Try to keep any children and pets away from danger, including witnessing verbal or emotional abuse. Though remember this is not always possible and any harm done is the responsibility of the person causing harm.
  • In the case of emergency call 000 and ask for ambulance or police.

After an incident: 

  • Keep a record of the incident, including documenting any visible injuries and keeping any related communication such as text messages. Detail any third party or emergency response such as ambulance or police and keep copies of any documentation you are given. Keep all of these in a safe place or email them to a trusted person, deleting the email from your sent messages.
  • Also keep a record of abuse that is not physical, such as threats and harassment, or records of the other person controlling your finances or monitoring you.
  • Access medical treatment should you or your dependants need it – ideally with a support person.
  • Reach out to your allies and supports.
  • Consider accessing further help and supports, especially if during the incident you experienced a sudden escalation or unfamiliar patterns of behaviour in the person using harm. We have provided a few below.
  • To report to police, keep in mind you can request Domestic Violence Liaison Officers (DVLOS) and Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLOS) and also support from ACON’s client services.
  • Remember that your brain and body will process traumatic incidents in unique and creative ways – you may experience any number of physical, mental and emotional responses. These are signs that your body is trying to process and cope with what you are experiencing – not signs that something is wrong with you.

There are services that can provide support to people in our communities who are experiencing intimate partner and family violence. Mainstream sexual, domestic and family violence services such as 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) and Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia (R&DVSA) (1800 424 017) are trained to respond to people who are unsafe and can work with people of all genders, and sexualities and can be contacted 24/7. Both 1800RESPECT and R&DVSA have information specific to our communities on their websites and also have webchat options if it is not safe to speak on the phone. In an emergency, you should contact 000 for support.

ACON counsellors and care coordinators are also available to provide support to community members who are over the age of 18 and are experiencing intimate partner and family violence, to access care coordination, you can undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone, and you can contact our Sydney office 02 9206 2000 for more information. Inner City Legal Service are able to provide legal support to people who have experienced intimate partner violence, and you can make an appointment by calling 1800 244 481 or emailing srp@iclc.org.au. Twenty10 is able to support community members who are under the age of 18, and you can contact them on 8594 9555.

‘I’m Concerned About a Friend’

With physical distancing restrictions a person experiencing abuse at home will have fewer contact points with people who show concern or may notice changes in a person. It is therefore important that we look out for one another and maintain contact. You never know when you might be the link to someone getting help.

If you are concerned about the safety of a friend or loved one, there are ways that you can intervene and support the person. You can read more about how you may be able to intervene to support your friend in our Bystander ToolkitDuring this time, some important additional tips to remember are:

  • Assume that the person using violence can hear, see and/or monitor all communication you have with the person.
  • Ask them what the best way and time to contact them is and keep asking because it might change.
  • Ask them if there is anything you can do to support them, like shopping for them.
  • Share messages about supports available for people experiencing intimate partner violence on your public social media pages- this way the person you are worried about may be able to see the message, without the user of violence questioning why it was sent to them.
  • Let your friend know that you believe them, that the violence is not their fault and that they are not alone.

Domestic and Family Violence Support Services

In an emergency always call 000
Police Assistance line: 131 444
www.police.nsw.gov.au

To report DFV you can talk to any police officer. You can also ask to speak with a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO) or a LGBTI Liaison Officer (known as GLLO). People can try to contact a GLLO directly but some stations don’t have GLLOs and GLLOs and DVLOs are not available 24/7 but general police are.

1800RESPECT Helpline
Information and support for anyone in Australia experiencing DFV or sexual assault, 24 hours/day, 7 days/ week. The website has an LGBTIQ specific information section.
1800 737 732
www.1800respect.org.au

NSW Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia
24/7 telephone and online crisis counselling service for anyone in NSW – men and women – who has experienced or is at risk of sexual assault and their non offending supporters.
1800 424 017
www.nswrapecrisis.com.au

RSPCA – Safe Beds for Pets
Provides temporary safe housing for pets of LGBTIQ people who are escaping domestic violence.
(02) 9782 4408
www.rspcansw.org.au

NSW Victims Services
Confidential support, free counselling, financial assistance, referral and information for all victims of DFV in NSW.
1800 633 063, Aboriginal Line: 1800 019 123
www.victims services.justice.nsw.gov.au

Mensline
Australian wide telephone counselling (6 sessions) and referrals for men (GBTI inclusive).
1300 789 978
www.mensline.org.au

Lifeline
National crisis and suicide prevention telephone counselling, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
13 11 14
www.lifeline.org.au

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (known as Aboriginal medical services/AMS)
ACCHS are health services initiated by Aboriginal people, based in a local Aboriginal community, which delivers a wholistic and culturally appropriate health service. To find the contact details of your nearest service visit:
www.health.nsw.gov.au/aboriginal pages/contact.aspx

Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Service
Legal advice and support for a range of issues, including DFV. For all women LBTI inclusive.
1800 686 587
www.wirringabaiya.org.au

DFV, Self Isolation and COVID-19 (1800RESPECT)

For some people, home is not the safest place. Self isolation and increased stress during COVID-19 will likely see an increase in domestic violence incidents.

National domestic and family violence counselling service 1800RESPECT has developed an important resource on how to keep safe and access DFV support during the pandemic.

Visit the 1800RESPECT resource.

 

Cancer and COVID-19

Information for People with Cancer and COVID–19

People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, may be at increased risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID–19) and increased risk of more severe infection.

If you are receiving cancer treatment that suppresses your immune system and you develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, call your oncologist or a member of your treatment team.

Visit the Cancer Institute of NSW’s website for more information.

Visit the Cancer Council of NSW’s website for more information.

 

Smoking and COVID-19

Information for People Who Smoke and COVID-19

Health experts are urging smokers to quit now to reduce their risk of a severe outcome if they get COVID-19. Smoking is one of a number of risk factors that have been linked to worse outcomes for those who get coronavirus.

More info:

 

ACON Service Updates During COVID-19

ACON Sydney (Head Office)

Following a review of staff and visitor activity, opening hours at ACON Sydney – Head Office will be temporarily reduced to:

  • 10am to 5pm daily, Monday to Friday

Contact ACON Sydney – Head Office

Address: 414 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
Telephone: 02 9206 2000
Freecall: 1800 063 060
Email: acon@acon.org.au

ACON Regional Offices (Hunter and Northern Rivers)

During the current COVID-19 situation, ACON Regional Offices in the Hunter and the Northern Rivers will operate with reduced hours. Until further notice, our branches in the Hunter and Northern Rivers will be open:

  • Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10am-2pm

The Needle and Syringe Program will be operate during these times.

Contact ACON Regional Offices:

ACON Hunter
Address: 129 Maitland Road, Islington
Telephone: 02 4962 7700
Freecall: 1800 063 060
Email:hunter@acon.org.au

ACON Northern Rivers
Address: Suite 4P Conway Court, 17 Conway Street, Lismore
Telephone: 02 6622 1555
Freecall: 1800 633 637
Email:northernrivers@acon.org.au

a[TEST] and HIV/STI Peer Testing Services

a[TEST]

ACON’s a[TEST] Oxford St (167 Oxford St, Darlinghurst) continues to operate, providing our communities access to rapid HIV testing and STI screenings.

  • Open from Monday to Friday from 11am-6.15pm (closed Saturdays).
  • By appointment only. Until further notice, walk-in service has been suspended.
  • For more information or to make an appointment, visit the Ending HIV website here.

Other ACON testing services are temporarily closed until further notice including a[TEST] Kings Cross, a[TEST] Surry Hills, trans[TEST] and a[TEST] Chinese Clinic. a[TEST] Newtown is currently suspended due to clinical partner staff shortages.

Check OUT: LGBTIQ+ Sexual Health Clinic

Check OUT is closed until further notice.

If your appointment with Check OUT was urgent, or you have any concerns, please contact our clinical partner Family Planning NSW via their site or on 1300 658 886 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am-5pm)

You can also contact the NSW Sexual Health InfoLink, which is run by NSW Health and is staffed by sexual health nurses. You can call them on 1800 451 624 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5.30pm) with any questions or concerns about sexual health and/or cervical screening and they can direct you to services for testing in your area.

More information can be found here.

Counselling Services

ACON counselling, care coordination and intake services are available by phone and video call. Contact ACON on 02 9206 2000 during business hours (10am-5pm) or submit an enquiry.

SPARK and Peer Education Workshops

Due to COVID-19, all face to face workshops are cancelled until further notice. Our SPARK and Peer Education team is developing a range of online workshops, that will run for 45min to 1 hour. There will be a range of different workshops offered throughout the week. Please visit here for more details.

Please contact youth@acon.org.au for more information.

Needle and Syringe Program

ACON is continuing to operate the Needle & Syringe Program in Surry Hills, Newcastle and Lismore.

Please note: Due to the COVID-19 situation, ACON opening hours have been temporarily reduced. Current operating hours are:

  • ACON Sydney (414 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills): Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm
  • ACON Hunter (129 Maitland Road, Islington): Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays | 10am – 2pm
  • ACON Northern Rivers (Suite 4P Conway Court, 17 Conway Street, Lismore): Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays | 10am – 2pm

Social distancing measures are now in place to limit face-to-face interaction. Services may be revised as the situation develops.

HIV Meal Service (Sydney)

ACON’s HIV meal service in Sydney continues to operate. Until further notice, meals will be provided to clients on a takeaway basis. Service may be revised as the situation develops.

The Meeting Centre (Sydney)

The ACON Meeting Centre (Level 3, 414 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills) will be available for bookings starting 1 August 2020.

Pride Training

All non-essential trainer-led, in-person training has been cancelled through 30 April 2020.

A range of e-learning courses are available online.

For more information, visit the ACON Pride Training website or email PrideTraining@acon.org.au.

Pride Inclusion Programs

ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs – Pride in Diversity, Pride in Sport and Pride in Health+Wellbeing – continue to operate, providing support to members via online and other virtual means.

However, changes to events and other services have been implemented, in light of public health advice and government directives.

Read the full statement on the cancellation and postponement of events.

Other ACON Workshops, Sessions and Meetings

All non-essential ACON events, in-person meetings, social meet-ups, information forums, peer education workshops, training sessions, community gatherings and awards presentations have been cancelled or postponed until further notice.

All temporary closure periods and suspension of events may be subject to extension.

All other ACON programs and services are running as usual for now, but the situation may change.

Other ACON Social and Community Events

In light of public health orders on gatherings and activities, the following ACON events has been cancelled or postponed until further notice:

ACON will provide updates on new dates and developments as they come to hand.

 

Other Support Services During COVID-19

Mental Health Services

Contact a service:

ACON: 02 9206 2000 | ACON Counselling

QLife: 1800 184 527 | qlife.org.au

Lifeline: 13 11 14 | lifeline.org.au

beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 | beyondblue.org.au

Reach Out: reachout.com

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

NSW Mental Health Access Line: 1800 011 511

Link2home (Crisis accommodation): 1800 152 152

In an emergency, dial Triple Zero: 000

 

Further resources:

Head to Health

Head to Health can help you find digital mental health services from some of Australia’s most trusted mental health organisations. Provided by the Australian Department of Health, Head to Health brings together apps, online programs, online forums, and phone services, as well as a range of digital information resources. Head to Health has specific information on mental health support during COVID-19.

Visit Head to Health.

HIV Support Services

ACON

We’re here to help people with HIV take control of their health by providing up-to-date information as well as a range of programs and services. Visit ACON HIV Support.

Positive Life NSW

Positive Life NSW is the state-wide peer based non-profit organisation that speaks for and on behalf of people living with and affected by HIV (PLHIV) in NSW. Visit Positive Life NSW.

Bobby Goldsmith Foundation

BGF is Australia’s longest-running HIV charity, providing financial, practical and emotional support for people living with HIV. Visit BGF.

Trans and Gender Diverse Communities Support Services

TransHub

ACON online platform providing information and resources for TGD people, their allies, friends, family and loved ones. Visit TransHub.

Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW

Provides a range of support services and social spaces for people of diverse genders, sexualities and sexes in NSW. Services are aimed specifically at people aged under 26. Visit Twenty10.

The Gender Centre

Provides information and support to trans and gender-diverse people in NSW. Visit The Gender Centre.

Trans Pride Australia

Social and support group for trans and gender diverse people and their loved ones in Australia. Visit Trans Pride Australia.

Alcohol and Other Drugs Support Services

Pivot Point

An online resource produced by ACON linking members of the LGBTQ community to information and support relating to alcohol and other drug (AOD). As well as information on AOD and helpful strategies on quitting or reducing use, Pivot Point features an online self-assessment tool and directories for resources and services for those seeking support.

Visit Pivot Point.

Visit Pivot Point support services directory.

Domestic and Family Violence Support Services

In an emergency always call 000
Police Assistance line: 131 444
www.police.nsw.gov.au

To report DFV you can talk to any police officer. You can also ask to speak with a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO) or a LGBTI Liaison Officer (known as GLLO). People can try to contact a GLLO directly but some stations don’t have GLLOs and GLLOs and DVLOs are not available 24/7 but general police are.

1800RESPECT Helpline
Information and support for anyone in Australia experiencing DFV or sexual assault, 24 hours/day, 7 days/ week. The website has an LGBTIQ specific information section.
1800 737 732
www.1800respect.org.au

NSW Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia
24/7 telephone and online crisis counselling service for anyone in NSW – men and women – who has experienced or is at risk of sexual assault and their non offending supporters.
1800 424 017
www.nswrapecrisis.com.au

RSPCA – Safe Beds for Pets
Provides temporary safe housing for pets of LGBTIQ people who are escaping domestic violence.
(02) 9782 4408
www.rspcansw.org.au

NSW Victims Services
Confidential support, free counselling, financial assistance, referral and information for all victims of DFV in NSW.
1800 633 063, Aboriginal Line: 1800 019 123
www.victims services.justice.nsw.gov.au

Mensline
Australian wide telephone counselling (6 sessions) and referrals for men (GBTI inclusive).
1300 789 978
www.mensline.org.au

Lifeline
National crisis and suicide prevention telephone counselling, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
13 11 14
www.lifeline.org.au

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (known as Aboriginal medical services/AMS)
ACCHS are health services initiated by Aboriginal people, based in a local Aboriginal community, which delivers a wholistic and culturally appropriate health service. To find the contact details of your nearest service visit:
www.health.nsw.gov.au/aboriginal pages/contact.aspx

Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Service
Legal advice and support for a range of issues, including DFV. For all women LBTI inclusive.
1800 686 587
www.wirringabaiya.org.au

Legal Advice and Support

HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC)

Providing free and comprehensive legal assistance to people in NSW with HIV or Hepatitis-related legal matters. Visit HALC.

Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC)

The Inner City Legal Centre provides a state-wide specialist free legal advice service for anyone who identifies as LGBTIQ throughout NSW. Visit ICLC.

Community Legal Centres

Community Legal Centres provide free legal advice, referrals and some representation to people who live and work in their area. Visit CLC NSW.

Seniors Rights Service

Seniors Rights Service provides free and confidential telephone advice, aged care advocacy and support, legal advice and rights-based education forums to seniors across New South Wales. Visit Seniors Rights Service.

 

Useful Resources, Factsheets and Links on COVID-19

Resources on COVID-19 (NSW Government)

The NSW Government has produced a range of helpful resources on COVID-19 including posters, brochures, factsheets and social media tiles. Some resources are available in a range of languages.

Visit the NSW Government COVID-19 resources page.

COVID-19 Resources (NSW Health)

NSW Health’s COVID-19 website contains a range of information and resources, particularly for health professionals, including posters, guidelines, FAQs and more.

Visit the NSW Health COVID-19 (Coronavirus) page.

COVID-19 Resources (Department of Health)

The Australian Department of Health has produced a range of resources on COVID-19, including fact sheets, guidelines and other publications for the general public as well as health professional.

Visit the Department of Health COVID-19 Resource page.

Coronavirus: In Pictures (Healthdirect)

Healthdirect, the national, government-owned multichannel health information service, has produced a range of infographics and videos on how to protect your health and stay safe during the pandemic.

Visit the Healthdirect website.

Making Sense of COVID-19: LGBTIQ and HIV Communities (AFAO)

AFAO, in partnership with the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) and National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), has produced an informative factsheet on COVID-19 and what it means for LGBTIQ and HIV communities.

Visit the AFAO website.

Coronavirus Information In Your Language (SBS)

SBS is committed to informing all Australians about the latest coronavirus developments. News and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) is available in 63 languages.

Visit the SBS Coronavirus Information In Your Language page.

Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service (Beyond Blue)

Beyond Blue has compiled information, advice and strategies to help people manage their wellbeing and mental health during this time.

Visit the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service page.

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19 (ACON)

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) may lead to stress and anxiety for some of us. Feeling overwhelmed by strong emotions during times like these is totally understandable. Coping with distress and fear in a healthy way will help ensure that you, your loved ones and everyone in our communities stay strong and resilient during this time. To assist our communities, ACON has developed a resource on how to deal with stress and anxiety during COVID-19. 

Dealing With Stress During COVID-19 PDF

Dealing With Stress During COVID-19 JPG

Dealing With Stress During COVID-19 TEXT ONLY

Alcohol and Other Drug Use During COVID-19 (Pivot Point)

Pivot Point, ACON’s dedicated online platform linking people of diverse sexualities and gender to health information and support services relating to alcohol and other drug (AOD) use, has published resources for LGBTQ people relating to AOD during COVID-19.

Resources:

Blog posts:

Getting Practical About COVID-19 and HIV (Positive Life NSW)

Positive Life NSW has compiled an excellent directory of resources and links for people living with HIV including information on health advice, welfare options, medication and housing.

Visit the Positive Life NSW COVID-19 Resource page.

Intersex People and COVID-19 (Intersex Human Rights Australia)

COVID-19 can affect any individual, irrespective of age or health but its impact exacerbates existing inequalities. All populations that suffer health inequalities are disproportionately affected, and people with intersex variations are no exception.

Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) has published a formal statement on intersex people and COVID-19.

View IHRA statement.

DFV, Self Isolation and COVID-19 (1800RESPECT)

For some people, home is not the safest place. Self isolation and increased stress during COVID-19 will likely see an increase in domestic violence incidents.

National domestic and family violence counselling service 1800RESPECT has developed an important resource on how to keep safe and access DFV support during the pandemic.

Visit the 1800RESPECT resource.

NSW COVID-19 Public Health Laws and Police Powers (Redfern Legal Centre)

The enforcement of COVID-19 public health orders in NSW is complex. The Redfern Legal Centre has produced a factsheet that gives an overview of NSW Police powers to enforce new social distancing and isolation orders made under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) and Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth).

Visit the Redfern Legal Centre ‘NSW COVID-19 Public Health Laws and Police Powers’ resource page.

 

Human Rights Impacts and COVID-19

COVID Policing was set up by a group of human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, to collect incidents, reports and examples from members of the public to ensure accountability as extraordinary police powers have been put in place in response to COVID-19.

Visit COVID Policing’s website here.

Coronacast (ABC)

Produced by the ABC, Coronacast is a podcast that helps to answer your questions about coronavirus or COVID19. Host Norman Swan delivers the latest news and research to help you understand how the world is living through an epidemic.

Visit the ABC’s Coronacast page.

COVID-19: impacts for LGBTIQ communities (Rainbow Health Victoria)

Rainbow Health Victoria have shared a briefing paper summarising the current research knowledge relevant to understanding how COVID-19 might impact on LGBTIQ health and wellbeing.

You can read the briefing paper here.

Support for People Living in the Inner West and COVID-19

For people living in the Inner West of Sydney, the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre has put together a support service factsheet relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19):

Find further information on all forms of support during the COVID-19 crisis here.

LGBTIQ+ Communities and COVID-19 Report

While LGBTIQ+ people face many challenges from COVID-19 which are similar to others in the community, we are more likely to experience some unique and more acute impacts from the disease as a result of discrimination, disparities and differences connected to our LGBTIQ+ status.
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AFAO COVID-19 Webinar

AFAO recently hosted the webinar, COVID-19: is there an endpoint and what does it look like?, which included Damien Brown from the Doherty Institute, describing the modelling from the Doherty Institute’s report to the Commonwealth on various scenarios based on specific public health responses to COVID-19. It also featured Dr Rob Grenfell, Director of the CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity Business Unit.

Watch AFAO’s webinar here.

 

Uplifting Bits and Pieces

Tips, Listicles, Memes, Explainers and Videos to Get You Through the Pandemic

Need some tips on how to get through self-isolation? Queer TV shows and movies to watch? How to remain connected with your friends and community? Here’s a list of handy articles that we’ll be updating regularly to help our communities practice physical distancing and to get through staying at home.

 

Further Information on COVID-19

Staying Informed During COVID-19

It’s important to remain informed about current developments. There is a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 so be sure you keep up-to-date via official and/or reputable sources.

NSW Government

The NSW Government has developed an online resource dedicated to COVID-19. It is being updated frequently with the latest advice. That advice is based on evidence and the best analysis from public health officials. Visit the NSW Government COVID-19 website.

Australian Department of Health

You can also check the Australian Department of Health website. The Department of Health has a Coronavirus hotline – 1800 020 080. Or you can speak to a nurse about any health issues by calling Health Direct on 1800 022 222. Both these services are free and operate 24/7.

Smart Traveller

If you or someone you know is travelling overseas or returning home, there is up-to-date advice on COVID-19 on the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website.

ABC News

For the latest news and stories about COVID-19, we recommended the ABC. View the ABC’s coverage on COVID-19 or listen to the ABC’s COVID-19 podcast Coronacast.

ACON

We are closely monitoring the situation and will update our communities of the latest health advice and information as they come to hand. To get the latest ACON news: