COVID-19: advocacy resources from community legal centres


Community legal centres across NSW are working hard to help individuals and communities navigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and government responses across a range of areas including:

  • police powers and social distancing laws
  • employment (especially for migrant workers and casuals)
  • tenancy and evictions
  • risks posed by the crisis to those experiencing family violence
  • social security

Below is a list of useful resources produced by community legal centres that offer information and guidance on these areas. We will keep updating this as more material come to hand.

Western NSW Community Legal Centre has produced a comprehensive table summarising key legislative changes in NSW relating to COVID-19. View the table here.

Need legal advice? 

  • Check service times and availability for your nearest community legal centre here.
  • Not sure which centre to contact? Visit our online directory to find the best centre for your situation. 

Factsheet No. 7: NSW COVID-19 Public Health Laws and Police Powers
Redfern Legal Centre
Provides 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). Topics covered include 'reasonable excuses' for leaving your home, the application of on-the-spot fines and other penalties for breaching public heath orders, and circumstances where you may be arrested or charged.

Explainer: police powers and COVID-19
Human Rights Law Centre
Overviews two roles police have to play in response to the public health emergency that is COVID-19: exercising increased powers related to the public health response and reducing the flow of people into the criminal legal system and prisons as part of the public health response.

COVID-19 & Movement Restrictions
Marrickville Legal Centre
Great summary of laws and penalties relating to temporary restrictions on movement and gatherings in public places.

Civil liberties concerns over Australian police powers to issue fines for coronavirus rule breaches
Human Rights Law Centre in The Guardian
Most states say police will use discretion over potential social distancing violations, but rights advocates argue public messaging on new laws can be unclear.

Renting & Coronavirus: What you need to know
Tenants' Union of NSW
Covers common questions about renting and Coronavirus COVID-19. The Tenants' Union of NSW is working hard to keep this information up to date, and we'll add to this post as we have more to share.

How to set a fair rent during COVID-19
Tenants' Union of NSW
What is absolutely necessary is a real and genuine attempt to work out what is actually needed to keep everyone home and safe during this health crisis. What would ‘hibernation mode’ look like?

Emergency measures to protect tenants
Marrickville Legal Centre
Provides a brief summary of the eviction moratorium announced by the NSW Government.

The NSW evictions moratorium: an explainer
Tenants' Union of NSW
On 15 April, the measures announced by the NSW Government on Monday to support renters kick into gear. This blog post tries to answer some of your immediate questions. Who exactly does the moratorium cover? How will it work in practice? And what about the rent? We’ll try to cover some of the other details bundled up in the mix, and talk about what is missing (and desperately needed) in the package announced.

Advice for international students facing hardship during COVID-19
Redfern Legal Centre
Many international students are facing severe hardship at this difficult time. This web page provides some helpful information for international students during the coronavirus pandemic.

FAQs: Covid-19 and your employment
Migrant Employment Legal Service
A useful list of frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and employment.

COVID-19 and Centrelink
Economic Justice Australia
This factsheet provides information on what Centrelink can do if you have been affected by COVID-19. It covers what payments you're eligible for, when you can receive payments, how to apply for them, and whether you need to complete mutual obligations.

Disability Support Pension and COVID-19
Economic Justice Australia
This factsheet provides information on COVID-19 payments for people receiving the Disability Support Pension.

FAQs: COVID-19 & credit or debt
Marrickville Legal Centre
Answers common queries relating to credit and/or debt related issues during the COVID-19 crisis.

Joint statement: Federal Government must act urgently to avoid COVID-19 catastrophe in immigration detention
Public Interest Advocacy Centre; Refugee Advice & Casework Service
A coalition of human rights lawyers have today called on the Morrison Government to act urgently to ensure the safety of the women and men held in its care in onshore immigration detention centres.

Refugee brings court case about threat of COVID-19 in detention
Human Rights Law Centre
Human rights lawyers have taken the Federal Government to court to force it to release a sick refugee from immigration detention, arguing physical distancing rules are not being followed. The government claims it's already introduced a range of measures to keep staff and detainees safe but the Human Rights Law Centre, which has filed this action, argues a COVID-19 outbreak could quickly spread in the centres.

Legal challenge filed to protect refugee at COVID-19 risk in immigration detention
Refugee Advice & Casework Service
A legal challenge against Minister Peter Dutton and the Department of Home Affairs on behalf of a person in immigration detention relating to COVID-19 has been filed in the High Court by the Human Rights Law Centre.


Explainer: Prisons and COVID-19
Human Rights Legal Centre
An explainer on why Governments across Australia need to take action to reduce the number of people in prison in response to COVID-19.

Media release: Solitary confinement must not be used as response to COVID-19: Royal Commission told (31 March 2020)
Human Rights Law Centre
In the midst of the public health emergency that is COVID-19, prisons must not be given a free pass to subject people to harmful and outdated practices like solitary confinement, the Human Rights Law Centre has told the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Media release: Governments across Australia must reduce the number of people in prison in response to COVID-19 (1 April 2020)
Human Rights Law Centre
The Human Rights Law Centre calls on all Australian governments to reduce the number of people detained in prisons in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prison is the 'perfect breeding ground' for COVID-19, human rights groups warn
Human Rights Law Centre in Pro Bono Australia News
Australian governments are being urged to reduce the number of prisoners to protect vulnerable groups during the coronavirus pandemic. The Human Rights Law Centre has warned that social distancing is impossible in prisons, and released an explainer detailing how COVID-19 could spread “like wildfire” throughout the prison system.

FAQs: COVID-19 & domestic and family violence
Marrickville Legal Centre
Answers common queries about safety and support during the COVID-19 crisis.

Family and Domestic Violence & COVID-19 resource page
Australian Women Against Violence Alliance
An extensive list of resources on family and domestic violence issues relating to COVID-19.

FAQs: COVID-19 & co-parenting
Marrickville Legal Centre
Marrickville Legal Centre’s Family Law Service answers common queries relating to co-parenting arrangements during the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 FAQs for artists
Arts Law Centre of Australia
The arts sector has been hit hard with cancellations and disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Arts Law has put together answers to some of the most common question’s we’ve received from artists and arts organisations.