Category Archives: Mental Health and Well-being

Over 3000 Volunteer Hours

Pfadfinder Scout Group will be presenting a special Certificate of Appreciation to the parents and families of Spielwelt this week.

Since 2008, Spielwelt parents have contributed over 3000 hours of volunteer work to improve the Turner Scout Hall, and the number of hours keeps growing.

The hours include time spent planning, fundraising, managing capital works projects, and attending annual working bees to perform routine maintenance and contribute to major improvements.

Spielwelt and Pfadfinder enjoy a close relationship, with each helping the other to create a wonderful experience in our programs and a safe and friendly space at the Turner Scout Hall for all our children and their families.

Danke schoen!

Award Winning Teachers

The Teaching Team at the German Australian Playschool has once again received a Certificate of Excellence as part of the Community for Children Awards during ACT Children’s Week.

The nomination for making an outstanding contribution to young people in the community reads as follows:

The teaching team at the German Australian Playschool, comprising Friederike, Gerda, Lisa1, Lisa3 and Birgit, consistently and carefully create and maintain a wonderfully inviting, inclusive, loving and safe place for our 3-5 year olds, so they can develop their physical and emotional skills, make friends, play together and learn.

It is clear to everyone who watches the teaching staff in action, that they are close-knit team of warm-hearted and caring individuals working together to provide the children with the best possible early education experience, week in, week out, without fail. We wish to acknowledge their hard work and dedication and thank them for their cheerful support of the parents and children.

Birgit’s Nature Mandalas

Wenn ihr spazieren geht und in der Natur seid koennt ihr doch mal versuchen Mandalas zu machen. Es gibt viele Dinge mit denen man kreativ sein kann. Zum Beispiel: Blumen, Baumrinde, Blaetter, kleine Aeste.

When you go for a walk out in nature (or as our indigenous friends say, when you are “on country”), it is fun to be creative by making natural mandalas. You can try using flowers, bark, leaves, grasses, small sticks or anything you find.

To be even more keen-to-be-green, try to use objects that have already fallen to the ground rather than picking fresh flowers and living leaves .

It can also be fun to use these natural objects to make ladybird playgrounds with slides and mazes, or tiny decorated fairy tents.

Here are some of Birgit’s beautiful nature mandalas

Survival Tips From Families

In our phone calls to GAP families, we asked them to share some of their lockdown survival tips. Here are some of the tips.

  • Alter your expectations and reframe what “a successful day” looks like.
  • Yes, you know you want to avoid children having screen time, but this is a pandemic. Give yourself a break.
  • German podcast Betthupferl (4-5 minute audio stories) and other German podcasts for children of all ages.
  • When you make dinner, cut up a plate of crudite to put out on the table with dip the next day so the family can graze on healthy stuff during the day when you are too busy to stop.
  • We ordered a pile of craft supplies from Office Works through click-and-collect, and have been very busy.
  • I organised with my boss that I do an hour of work, then spend an hour with the kids, an hour of work, an hour of kids….
  • We are renovating / moving house, and do not recommend this as a tip for families during lockdown!!! 🙂
  • Netflix has German kids films and programs like Octonauts, Zauberschulbus and Sesam Strasse. Or you can turn on German language on some of the English programs on Netflix.
  • My child is regressing a bit in lockdown. This happened to some kids in the last lockdown and they all bounced back, so I’m not too worried.
  • My partner and I tag-team: one parent is with our child while the other works, and then we swap.
  • My child really felt connected and lit up hearing the German songs on the Spiel und Spass Spotify list.
  • If you join the GAP Morgenkreis a few minutes early, you can get individual attention from the teachers (but maybe not now that the secret is out!)
  • We joined the GAP Morgenkreis and I was delighted to see how happy my child was to see her teachers again.
  • A number of families were really enjoying using the Reading Eggs app (different stages for ages 2 to 10).
  • Our child is quite keen on Tag the Picture (a card / bead matching game with 5 languages, including German, suitable for 3-7 year olds).
  • Involving our child in all the aspects of the housework is a good way to make it all work. It takes longer but our child learns and the job at least gets done. We change bedsheets, hang laundry, fold clothes, cook food, make sandwiches, set the table, stack/unload the dishwasher and vacuum together.
  • Get used to the clutter at home. It is how you know you’re having fun. HOWEVER, if it starts to feel overwhelming, dedicate some time to tidying up – for the sake of your mental health – even if it is just one room that is tidy.
  • Restrictions permitting: See if any of your neighbours have a friendly dog that would be willing to get patted, played with or walked. What a mood lifter. We call it Vitamin D (as in Dog) or Vitamin T (for Truffle the GAP therapy dog, pictured above, running near the GAP).
  • With Lisa3’s craft videos, you can still watch the videos even if you don’t do the craft.
  • Stay connected with others by writing cards and delivering them into people’s letter boxes. (You can augment your education with our mail lesson #1 and mailbox lesson #2.)
  • If work and homeschooling older kids clash too much, let kids play while you work weekdays, and leave homeschool stuff until the weekend.

Support Material for Young Children about Covid

We hope you are all doing well, and are still having fun.

The Australian Childhood Foundation website has plenty of covid-19 related resources for families, including social stories to help explain covid-19, mask-wearing, and beating lockdown-boredom for children and to help them manage any worries they might have. There are activities and posters you can download too.

Their Activity Alphabet has good stay-at-home acitivity ideas too.

You can also download the story of Edna-May. It is a true story about an Australian lady, now over 100 years old, who was four years old at the time of the Spanish flu. (Story suitable for 3-6 year olds.)

Faltspiel – Chatterbox

Our crafty and clever Lisa3 has a fun craft activity for you, to make something you can play with, and keep up with speaking German! Younger children will need help from Mama or Papa or a big brother or sister, but once it is made, you can have hours of fun.

Chatterboxes are good for finger dexterity, colours, numbers, counting, and following brief instructions (like “hop on one leg”) in German.

Follow Lisa3 as she creates a very simple Chatterbox in video 1 then video 2.

Older kids can ramp up their fun with Balu’s version.

Watch video 1 then video 2 for instructions

Ideen fĂĽr die Aufgaben / Ideas for the activities:

Here are some suggestions for things you can write inside. You can either write your own activities, or copy the text from the picture below, or print this list and cut the icons out and glue them in.

Note: Lisa3 has also provided little icon suggestions in case you want to draw those next to the words so younger children (who can’t quite read yet) can identify the activities.

Use the German version. The English translations are only there for our non-German speaking parents’ reference.

You can download this list and print it if you like. Or older children can copy it by hand for good German practice.
Make it nice and colourful.

Enormous List of Helpful Links During Covid

A big bunch of flowers are due to the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) for putting together this enormous list of helpful information and links, for the multicultural communities in Canberra during lockdown. Here is everything you want to know about where to get info on:
– Covid-19, Testing and Vaccination
– Health Services
– Media and Radio
– Food Relief
– Refugee Support
– Housing Support
– Domestic Violence & Women’s Support
– Renting
– Financial Support, Paying Energy Bills, and Utilities Concessions
– Transport
– Mental Health
– Disability Help
– Legal Aid

COVID-19 Information

The ACT is in lockdown. You need to stay at home.

Only leave your home for essential reasons.

Find out more:

Interpreter and translator services for health

ACT Health Directorate and Canberra Health Services offers interpreting and translating services through the national Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS).

It’s important to have health information checked by an accredited interpreter in emergency situations.

For help from an interpreter, please call the free TIS on 131 450.

See also: Need an interpreter? (ACT Health)

Other health links:

COVID-19 Testing

See where you can get a COVID-19 test in the ACT.

People who need to be prioritised in the testing queue or who are genuinely unable to leave their homes to be tested should call 02 6207 7244.


Book your COVID-19 vaccination here.

At Home Vaccination Options: If someone needs vaccinations at home because they have a disability which makes it hard for them to leave their home, call 02 5124 7700 and choose option 3.

National COVID-19 vaccine helpline – 1800 020 080: This line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Health Services

Changes to your visit to ACT Health Facilities â€“ 12 August 2021 (ACT Health).

ACT Health Facilities: The following measures have been put in place for all facilities:

  • Visitor restrictions – visitors will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances such as end-of-life care, birthing or paediatric care.
  • Non-essential and non-urgent clinics are reducing work. At this stage surgery, including elective surgery, has not been altered, however, this may change. Read more about changes in non-urgent and outpatient care.
  • Telehealth to be considered, where possible.

Doctor and other health appointments through telehealth: Telehealth is health care that happens over the phone or online. Telehealth is available on Medicare until 31 December 2021. Find out more: Telehealth fact sheet (pdf) – by Health Care Consumers Association.

NSW Southern Region patient exemptions – what you need to know (ACT Health)

Medicine home deliveries:


Find free COVID news here:


  • Check the CMS radio station program for radio programs in your language. CMS also regularly broadcasts the Coronacast radio program in English.
  • Transforming Perceptions: Radio program with a Mental Health and CALD focus. Currently provides service information during COVID-19 lockdown. 2.00pm-3.30pm, Saturdays, on 2XX FM Radio 98.3.

Food Relief

Emergency Food Relief – call 1800 43 11 33, 9am-5pm: Anyone in Canberra who is greatly affected by the lockdown and is unable to feed themselves or their family should call 1800 43 11 33. A volunteer will deliver food to you. The volunteer can’t enter your home, so they will leave the food on the doorstep after a knock at the door.

Emergency relief information guides: Volunteering ACT have information on free meals, laundry, showers and emergency relief services.

Emergency Relief Support: Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services (MARSS) is providing emergency financial and food relief to anyone in financial distress, who lives in: ACT and surrounding regions (including Southern Highlands, Queanbeyan, Cooma, Bega, etc). Relief includes supermarket vouchers, culturally appropriate food hampers and essential home items. MARSS can also support anyone in financial distress. Call 02 6248 8577.

Communities@Work community pantries at Tuggeranong and Gungahlin are operating with limited hours. Please call 02 6293 6500 for more information.

Community Services #1 Food Pantry is open by appointment. Call 1800 960 938.

UnitingCare Kippax provide emergency material and financial aid (EMFA), including food, hygiene products and prescription support. Open Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm. Address: Corner of Luke Street and Hardwick Crescent, HOLT. Phone: 02 6254 1733.

Anglicare and Anglicare partner Emergency Food Relief Services are OPEN during lockdown. No appointments needed. We will update the community immediately if we need to make changes to our open days and times:

  • ST JOHN’S CARE (Anglicare Partner)
    45 Constitution Avenue, Reid
    9.30am-2.00pm, Monday to Friday
    02 6248 7771
    110 Lewis Luxton Avenue, Gordon
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 10.00am-3.00pm
    02 6284 7003
  • THE JUNCTION YOUTH HEALTH SERVICE – 12-25 year-olds only
    30 Scott’s Crossing, Canberra City
    9.30am and 5.00pm, Monday-Friday
    Call to arrange a delivery of food
    02 6232 2423
    Corner Marconi Cres & Kett Street, Kambah
    9.30am-12.30pm, Mondays only
    0491 605 086

Support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services (MARSS) provides:

  • Casework, counselling and emergency relief support over the phone, 9.00am – 5.00pm, Monday – Friday. Call 02 6248 8577.
  • MARSS’ Civic office is open 10.00am – 4.00pm, Monday – Friday. But during lockdown please call 02 6248 8577 before visiting.
  • MARSS Belconnen office is closed, and all classes, workshops and group activities suspended. Some activities continue online.

Multicultural Hub Canberra provides services to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the community. During lockdown they can help with mental health support, advocacy, referrals and online activities. The offices are closed. Phone 02 6100 4611, email or contact through the Multicultural Hub Canberra Facebook page.

Companion House is now open Monday – Friday, 10am to 5pm. Call 02 6251 4550 to make an appointment before you come in. Please do not come in if you have cold or flu symptoms without calling first.

  • Medical services are open (mainly by phone). Ring if you need an appointment.
  • Counselling services are by phone until further notice. Your counsellor will be in regular contact with you by phone. (translation services available for counselling calls).
  • Emergency relief is open.
  • All other services are stopped for now.

Housing and Community Supports

OneLink provides information on support services in the ACT, including services for: families and young people, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Operating Hours: Monday – Friday, 8.00am – 6.00pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 12.30pm – 5.00pm. Call 1800 176 468 or go to:

Domestic Violence & Women’s Supports

If you or people you care for are in danger because of domestic and family violence during lockdown – call the police on 000.

Domestic Violence Crisis Service: Call 62 800 900. Can provide 24/7 crisis line help. Also: face to face intervention, safety planning and emergency accommodation.

For Domestic Violence Support if you live outside of the ACT – call 1800-RESPECT.

Ways to increase safety during Covid-19 â€“ with easy English version (pdf), by Domestic Violence Crisis Service.

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC): Crisis Phone Line: 02 6247 2525, 7am-11pm.

Advice for Renters

Renters: People who rent their home can negotiate rent repayment plans with their landlord.  The Renting Book (pdf) has information for renters about their rights and obligations under their tenancy agreement.

Tenants’ advice: For advice about renting, contact the Tenants’ Advice Service provided by Legal Aid ACT. Call 1300 402 512 or visit the Tenancy Advice Service website.

Financial Support and Information

Let your bank know if you are experiencing financial hardship and need help with: everyday banking, your home loan and/or hardship support. To find your bank’s contact details and understand what options are available go to: Financial Assistance Hub (Australian Banking Association).

Services Australia Service Centres are still open. Services Australia ask people to use the Services Australia website or to phone. If that is not an option, you can visit a Services Australia office between 8.30am – 4.30pm.

COVID-19 Disaster Payment: Canberrans unable to earn an income during the lockdown may be able to access the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment (the information can be found in various languages). Read more about getting help during coronavirus (language options available). Services Australia also has a Multilingual Phone Service.

Financial support to isolate while waiting for a test result: ACT Government COVID-19 Test Hardship Isolation Payment (pdf): A payment of $270 will be made to eligible workers who isolate while awaiting their COVID 19 test result. This payment covers up to three days in isolation. A range of eligibility criteria apply. Apply for the isolation payment here.

Support if you have COVID-19, are a close contact, or have to care for someone with COVID-19: The COVID-19 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is available if an individual has been directed by ACT Health to self-isolate or quarantine and has no sick leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave, personal leave or leave to care for another person. Other eligibility criteria apply. This $1,500 payment is accessed through Services Australia. We understand applications can only be made over the phone or by completing the claim form here.

Centrelink debt raising and new debt recovery has been paused during lockdown. Mutual obligation requirements have been temporarily paused for job seekers and participants in the ACT.

Small business support: If you are small business owner with financial difficulties you can contact the Small Business Support Line on 1800 413 828Interpreters are available.

Canberra Sex Workers can apply for the Emergency Relief Fund with the Scarlet Alliance here: COVID-19 Impact and Response for Sex Workers (

ACT Rates deferral assistance: A temporary deferral of rates payment is available to eligible homeowners experiencing financial hardship because of the current ACT COVID-19 lockdown. Apply for rates deferral here.

Financial Counselling: Care’s financial counselling program provides a free, confidential and independent services in Canberra to assist people experiencing financial difficulty.

Having trouble paying your energy bill or keeping your home warm?

If you are having trouble paying your energy bill, contact your electricity and/or gas retailer to see what supports are available. Energy retailers are required to provide certain supports for customers experiencing hardship. During the ACT lockdown energy businesses are also expected to:

  1. Offer all residential and small business consumers who indicate they may be in financial stress a payment plan or hardship arrangement
  2. Not disconnect any residential or small business consumers who may be in financial stress (including residential and small business consumers in an embedded network) without their agreement
  3. Defer referrals of residential and small business consumers to debt collection agencies for recovery actions or credit default listing.

Also, check if you are eligible for the Utilities Concession. If you hold an ACT Service Access Card you are eligible for this concession.

If you are in debt or can’t pay your energy and/or other bills you can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007Interpreters are available.

If you can’t keep your home warm, look at the Actsmart programs, including:

You can also check with your energy retailer about what support they can provide to help improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Utilities Concession

The Utilities Concession covers electricity, natural gas, water and sewerage and is calculated on a daily basis, with rates depending on the season. The concession is available on the principal place of residence only and the account must be in the cardholder’s name. Only one Utilities Concession per eligible household can be claimed.

The Utilities Concession is also available to eligible residents of ACT caravan parks and retirement villages with embedded electricity networks. The Concession will be paid directly to eligible residents rather than as a reduction applied to utility bills. Please contact the ACT Revenue Office directly.

From 1 July 2021, the annual concession amount will permanently increase to $750.

In the 2021-22 financial year an additional $50 rebate will also be provided to eligible households, resulting in a total concession of $800.

The ACT Government is also permanently extending the assistance provided under the Utilities Concession to eligible asylum seekers who hold an ACT Service Access Card from 1 July 2020.

Who is eligible? Eligible applicants must be the primary holder of one of the following concession cards:

  • Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card (PCC).
  • Centrelink Low Income Health Care Card (HCC).
  • Veteran’s Affairs Pensioner Concession Card or Gold Card Holders (Prisoner of War, War Widow or Totally Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) Embossed).
  • ACT Service Access Card.

Find out more about the Utilities Concession.


Updated bus timetable during lockdown: There is a different bus timetable at the moment. See Transport Canberra or call 13 17 10.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

ACT Health COVID-19 Mental Health page.

Mental health resources in different languages by the Transcultural Mental Health Centre, NSW.

School psychologists: ACT Education’s Central Telehealth School Psychology Service is provides telehealth sessions to any public school student and their family. Call 02 6205 1559, 9am-4.30pm, to arrange an appointment, or book a School Psychology Service Telehealth session online.

Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing NewsByte â€“ 13 August 2021: This has mental health resources, phone support services, links for translating ACT Government website COVID resources, and domestic violence resources.

Mental Health Foundation ACT: Our office in Chifley is closed but if you need help email or call 0438 207 798. There are many different ways we can provide our participants support so we urge everyone to stay connected and continue with your supports.

Parentline ACT provides free telephone counselling services for parents in Canberra and surrounding areas. Call 02 6287 3733. Open 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Translation services are available.

Lifeline Canberra supports people in crisis, including those experiencing thoughts of suicide. Highly skilled volunteers provide 24/7 support. Call 13 11 14.


COVID-19 Information for National Disability Insurance Scheme participants: For participants – coronavirus (COVID-19) | NDIS . This information also available in 12 languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Filipino (Tagalog), French, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Macedonian, Samoan, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

For a free interpreter call 131 450 (NDIS participants only).

Lockdown information for people with disability and carers: ACT Government has provided information for people with disability and their carers during lockdown.

Disability Information Helpline – 1800 643 787: Monday – Friday, 8am-8pm, Saturday – Sunday, 9am-7pm. The Australian Government has established a Disability Information Helpline. The helpline is not available on national public holidays.

COVID Preparedness Guide (pdf):This is a guide helps people with disability to get facts about COVID-19 and make a plan for how they will cope. Request a hard copy via email:

[New!] COVID 19 Resources in Easy English (also has some information in sign language): Support for People with Disability (ACT Community Services Directorate)

[New!] The Department of Health will have a webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine for people with intellectual disability and their carers. 11.00am – 12.00pm, Wednesday 1 September 2021. Register for the webinar.


Legal Aid ACT has a community Liaison Unit which has two culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) liaison officers, one disability justice liaison officer and two Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander liaison officers and male and female family violence officers to assist people with non-legal and legal issues. Call 02 6243 3411 and ask to be put through.

Care Consumer Law COVID-19 factsheets include information on:

Explaining the Pandemic and Covid Testing to Children

There is a superb book for children about coronavirus and the pandemic, covering lockdowns and all sorts of great topics here. Even if you don’t want to purchase the book, you can use the “Take a Look Inside” link on that page. Switch the view to full screen view and read it on screen together with your child.

Order the book or view it online here.

NSW Health has resources for children, with videos about covid-19, a fact sheet about supporting your child if they need a covid test, and a downloadable photo-story-booklet for children to prepare them for a covid test. There are also short videos of children getting answers from doctors about covid-related questions.

Download your copy here

What do PhysioTherapists Do?

The Thursday/Friday GAP class were fascinated to learn about what physiotherapists do.

We were lucky enough to have the wonderful physiotherapist Lucy Joske visit us. She specialises in paediatric physiotherapy as well as other types.

We learned that physiotherapists can help us when our bodies don’t work as well as they could. They help children and adults build muscles and feel better.

We took turns guessing how many bones we have in our bodies. After pointing thoughtfully to their arms and legs, while silently counting their bones, the children’s guesses ranged from four to twenty-two! We were surprised to hear that there are 206 bones in our bodies. Not just that, but Lucy knows all their names!

Studying pictures of the human skeleton and muscles.

We got to try lifting some heavy bar-bell weights to help build our muscles.

We examined a few different sorts of bandages and got to see Lucy put an arm sling on one of our teachers whose arm was sore from skiing.

We took turns standing on an inflated wobbly cushion to test our balancing skills and strengthen our ankles.

How long will you wobble before you can stand up stable?

It was lovely having Lucy visit us in the classroom. We enjoyed being able to ask all our questions directly to an expert!

If you would like to come in and let us ask you about your job or passion, please talk to one of our teachers to arrange a time. We’d love to host you.

Dr Barks visits GAP

The Thursday/Friday GAP class were excited to welcome Dr Brandon Barks and his wonderful assistants to our morning circle today.

Dr Barks is an anaesthetist and came in to talk to the children about what doctors, specifically anaesthetists, can do for people when they are in pain in the hospital.

Dr Barks was wearing his special clothes called “scrubs”. His are blue. The ones we have in our dress up box are green. He also had a cool bandana on his head with pictures of narwhals on it, and that stops any stray hairs from getting into the operating theatre when he is working. He also had a stethoscope he can use to listen to people’s hearts and their breathing.

One of Dr Barks’ assistants was a big pink teddy. We saw close up what it would be like for Teddy to have a broken arm fixed up at a hospital. First, Teddy got to sit on his Mummy’s lap having a cuddle while the doctor looked at Teddy’s arm. He told the doctor how much it hurt and whether he could move his arm properly. The doctor said he could help fix Teddy’s arm, so Teddy put on a special mask which smelled “like unicorn farts” and he felt very sleepy. When Teddy woke up again, his arm was fixed up in a cast, and he had a tiny tube called a canula in his other arm so that he could have some more medicine through that. We got to check out the canula on Teddy’s arm, see and smell the special mask and check out all the bandages.

We found out that if the children wanted to be anaesthetists when they grew up, they would need to go to GAP, then Kindergarten, then another 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years of school, then university, then more university, then learning in the hospital, then more university… It sounded exhausting, but Dr Barks said he loves his job so maybe it would be worth it.

Even if we didn’t want to be doctors or anaesthetists, we did feel like a hospital visit would not be so scary now that we had seen these things and learned about them at GAP.

Dr Barks and his lovely assistants had kindly brought enough empty syringes (without needles in them of course) for everyone to have one, so after morning tea we went outside with some coloured water and got busy!

We found out that using a syringe to draw up coloured water and then squirt it out again is actually quite tricky! It gave us lots of fine motor and eye-hand coordination practice.

A new vaccine being developed at GAP by our first year med students. Perhaps it should be fast-tracked to the market to help in the pandemic.

Our imaginations went wild and using the syringes was a very popular activity. We used the syringes and coloured water to make potions, vaccines, colourful art, mix different colours, bring dinosaurs back to life, wet the sand, and squirt the slide to make it more slippery.

Blue and sand makes a great magic sludge potion.

These syringes were fascinating pieces of equipment to experiment with. Rest assured though, we also talked about what to do if we found a syringe in the park: don’t touch it; and tell an adult.

A careful squirt of green might just bring a pterodactyl back to life.

We are grateful to our families who come in to tell us about their jobs. It enriches the children’s experience enormously, and we are always happy to see you! Thank you to those who have come in recently or are coming in soon.