Update 29 April
A Twist on the Back-to-School Problem
The message from Federal Government is clear – children need to get back to their classrooms. ‘Vibrant’ discussions have resulted among teachers, parents and the opinionated among us. Victoria has held onto the, “You can’t tell us what to do” card, which they’re in their rights to do.
But wait a minute – the Independent and Catholic schools are funded by the Federal Government. And they’re having cash flow problems because of parents’ reduced capacity to pay fees. So, by request, the Feds have brought forward July’s payments with an added incentive: Get 50% of your students in classrooms by the end of May and you’ll get a second instalment. That includes the independent schools in Victoria, which are governed by school boards, not the state.
The Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, maintains the hope that all schools – state and independent – will be back in classrooms by the end of May.
Staying at home has meant some families have enjoyed quality time together. For other households, being cooped up together feels like being in a pressure cooker. For still others who live on their own, loneliness is the toughest battle.
National Suicide Prevention Advisor, Christine Morgan, reported today how the Federal Government’s additional funding for mental health has been used. A ten-year telehealth plan was shifted in 10 days to make services more accessible. These are the results:
- Beyond Blue has experienced a 40% increase in calls compared to this time last year, due to an increase in distress and anxiety levels.
- 1800 RESPECT and Mens Helpline have had increased calls.
- Head to Health has had a spike in people seeking information on what to do and where to go.
- Young people contacting Reachout have sought help due to broken education linkages or loss of supports at school.
The message: Keep your eyes alert for what may be needed among those around you. Anyone in need should be able to reach out to a service for help.
- New South Wales has announced their first easing of restrictions – 2 people may now visit another household. Distance doesn’t matter so long as the outing fits within existing rules.
- “It’s like putting on sunscreen,” said ScoMo today, using the handy analogy for the COVIDSafe app. Put it on when you go out and it will keep you, your family and health workers safe. Creating a COVIDSafe Australia, will create the capacity for us to return to more normal living. There have been 2.5 million downloads of the app so far. 7.5 million to go.
Globally, we’ve reached the 3 million mark on the COVID-19 case count, with a devastating 216,000 deaths worldwide.
A remarkable day yesterday where in the 12 new cases across Australia, only one was from an unknown source. This shows we’re securing the flattening curve.
- There have been 6,738 confirmed cases of COVID-19
- Sadly, 88 people have died
- 5,649 people have recovered
- 42 are in ICU
- 27 are on ventilators (as at 28 April)
Hope Over Fear
What’s it like to recover from a near-death experience of COVID-19?
“I beat the bug,” says Jaysen O’Brien. He talks of the miracle he experienced, and how “the best people in the world” gave him his life back. His story, and the long guard of honour formed by medical staff, tell this heart-warming story of hope.
Your Tip for Today
5 Tax Tips on Working From Home
These are some of the ATO’s most frequently asked questions. More detail on the ATO website.
- My employer is encouraging or requiring me to work from home. Will I be able to claim a deduction for home office expenses?
Yes, for additional running expenses like heating, cooling and lighting, phone and internet. See also the shortcut method for the COVID-19 period.
- Can I claim working from home expenses when I’m on leave or if I’ve been stood down during the COVID-19 period?
No, only from actual time spent working at home.
- I worked from home before COVID-19 and my work pattern has not changed as a result. Am I entitled to claim the shortcut rate of 80 cents per work hour for my additional running expenses?
Yes, the new shortcut method is intended to cover all taxpayers working from home between 1 March and 30 June 2020, whether the working arrangements are a result of COVID-19 or not.
- If I use the shortcut method to claim my expenses while I work from home, what records do I need to keep?
Records showing the amount of time you have spent working from home. This could be in the form of timesheets, rosters, a diary or similar document that sets out the hours worked.
- Can I claim for my rent or mortgage and will this affect capital gains tax if I sell my house?
No, expenses relating to living in your home – such as rent, mortgage interest, property insurance and land taxes – will not become deductible during temporary work from home due to COVID-19.
What About You?
I’d love to hear your stories.
- Have you seen signs of anxiety in people around you? Do you feel unsafe?
- Have you downloaded the COVIDSafe app?
- What adjustments have you made to work from home?
Drop me a comment below.
Prime Minister Press Conference with Christine Morgan – 29 April
Federal Minister for Education, Dan Tehan – 29 April
New South Wales Govt – 2 visitors
Federal Minister, Greg Hunt Doorstop Interview with medical stats – 28 April
Department of Health stats
ATO’s FAQs working from home