Sometimes it can feel disempowering to watch institutions and governments flounder and buckle in a crisis.

The best thing we can do in these times is reach out and look after each other, and create systems of mutual aid.

This working document was created on 13 Friday March by everyday people for anyone who is able bodied, young, and has resources to help the community around them.  

Please note: this is not expert advice and we do not have any specific social work, medical or crisis management experience.

The authors of this document live on the lands of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and acknowledge that Sovereignty was never ceded.


As volunteers, we work to protect the health of all those we aim to support. These precautions are necessary to prevent us from carrying the virus to others.

  • Do not volunteer in person if you are ill or experiencing any symptoms
  • Wash your hands for over 20 seconds with soap and hot water before you handle anything
  • Do not touch any object and then your face
  • Use hand sanitiser/soap before, after and in between all pick-ups and deliveries
  • Do not enter anyone’s home or place of residence
  • Sanitise your deliveries by wiping them down with antibacterial wipes or spray
  • Leave all deliveries at the door
  • Call or message to notify the person that you have completed your delivery
  • Do not shake hands or hug
  • Maintain at least 1.5 metres between yourself and the person you are supporting
  • Let the person you are supporting know that they should sanitise/wash their hands after handling the packages
  • Regularly sanitise your phone, car, bike, and other things that might get touched regularly during the delivery

For further information read COVID-19: Common questions and Community Care for the Vulnerable  by Tori Hobbs (RN, Co-Founder and Head of Projects at The Vermilion Project)


Reaching out        2

Guides on how to reach out to your neighbours        2

Template for letters        3

Protecting people’s health and immune systems        3

Providing food, medication and other supplies        4

Offering to run errands        5

Safety in the home and self isolation        5

Avoiding boredom during isolation        6

Helping Healthcare and frontline workers        7

External Resources        8

Other healthcare resources:        8

What is mutual aid?        9

Articles        9

self-assessment & screening guides        9

Organisations to support        10

Comics and other alternatively formatted resources        11

Reaching out

You can reach out to people to offer support as an individual or you can ask if people would like to be in a small, local network of people engaging in mutual aid. See resources later in this document to understand what mutual aid networks can look like and how to establish them.

Many people don’t have access to the internet or social media, think of ways you can reach out to them.

Drop some notes or letters around your neighbourhood, and outer suburbs, about being available to help. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and take usual precautions before handling anything.

You can give someone your phone number to call you in an emergency or you can offer to support them in general or specific ways.  

Sometimes people find it hard to think of ways they can be supported, so offering some suggestions can be helpful.

Some people may not have access to the news, so calmly calmly explain what is happening or provide them links or copies to articles from reputable news sources.

You can carry a letter with your contact info on your person ready for the next time you see a neighbour.

Don't feel weird about approaching people, there is a 90% chance they’ll be open to having a conversation. If they happen to be rude to you, brush it off, it's not about you.

Guides on how to reach out to your neighbours

Step by step instructions from Bristol, UK

Template for letters

A template for a note to slide under the door can be printed here

A canva letter template by Travis

Protecting people’s health and immune systems

Take extra care around people’s health and immune systems.

Avoid prepping meals or providing support for others if you live with someone who has contracted covid-19 or if you have any particular symptoms. Technically, if you are living with someone who’s been officially diagnosed and suspected to have COVID-19, you would also fall into the category of coming into contact with an affected person - meaning you will be advised to self isolate for 14 days.

If you have not contracted COVID-19, you will need to take the following precautions when visiting someone

  1. Think about how you can offer support without direct contact that can put them at risk
  2. Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soap and hot water
  3. Carry around hand sanitizer just in case you touch any objects
  4. Think about using gloves if you need to closely interact with someone and then throwing them away
  5. Don’t touch your face to prevent spreading germs picked up from objects
  6. Leave your shoes outside
  7. Be careful with bags that have been on the floor in trains or public spaces

Washing your hands regularly will help contain the spread of COVID-19. Hand hygiene includes applying alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the surface of the hands (liquid, gel or foam) or washing hands with warm water and soap - either non-antimicrobial or antimicrobial.

When performed correctly hand hygiene can reduce the presence of microorganisms on the hands - therefore containing and eliminating the spread of disease.

Regular hand washing is one of the main ways to avoid infection. Even when your hands look visibly clean, they can still carry harmful germs. A survey done in 2013 by Michigan State University found only 5% of those surveyed knew how to effectively wash their hands.

For every five times you use hand sanitizer, wash your hands with warm water and soap to avoid hand sanitizer residue buildup. Cleansing hands before and after going to the bathroom, before and after touching objects in public, before and after eating, after sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose and before and after you enter and leave the house are good ways to ensure the transmission of infection through touch is stopped.

Here are some ‘How To’s’ on how to effectively wash your hands from the World Health Organization and Hand Hygiene Australia:

Using hand sanitiser Poster  or Video 

Using hand wash Poster  or Video

If you are checking in with someone with mobility issues, they may need your hand sanitiser more than you do if you can easily wash your hands with soap and water. If you leave it somewhere prominent it may also encourage other visitors to use it.

Don’t hug, kiss or shake hands. Practice social distancing and keep 1.5 metres away from a person if you can help it.

A fantastic resource that’s highlighted how to take care of someone in the home, particularly if you’re self isolating and how to take care of yourself too if you’re co-living:


Providing food, medication and other supplies

People with a heap of other concerns don't always read the news and may not know what’s going on, it would be a great idea to have some extra medication of whatever kind they need.

When you ask people what they need it can be easier for them to remember to tell you what they're running low on than what they always need. So prompt with a list of staples and basic comforts.

If you are purchasing food for people, be mindful of purchasing things that align with their dietary, religious and cultural requirements. What you think is a staple may not be for someone else.

Items you can suggest:

  • Sanitary products (toilet paper, soap, liquid hand wash, antibacterial wipes, pads and tampons)
  • Pain medication (paracetamol, ibuprofen, cold and flu tablets, asthma pumps)
  • Washing powder and/or liquid
  • FOOD
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Rice
  • Lentils\
  • Burghul
  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Butter
  • Canned beans
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Fresh fruits (apples)
  • Fresh vegetables (potatoes)
  • Chocolates/sweets
  • Ready to go meals (soups, pasta sauces, etc)
  • Entertainments for isolation
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Colouring in books
  • Offer your Netfilx/Stan/etc log ins if you can
  • Magazines

TIP: If this is your first time having bulk pantry items, such as flour, in your home -  freeze these items for 48 hours before adding them to your cupboard, otherwise you risk a weevil infestation.

How to safely offer food to older people

Offering to run errands

Things you can offer to do if you visit:

  • Wash and dry sheets
  • Clean around the house
  • Helping look after kids
  • Helping look after pets, taking pets for a walk

Safety in the home and self isolation

If you or someone you know needs to self-isolate but doesn’t feel safe at home, here are some contact details for support.

If you or someone you care about is living with family violence please call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

If you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Lifeline provides a 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention service, you can call them on 13 11 14. They also provide online support and counselling which you can access here.

If you have experienced sexual assault CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault) can provide phone support, in person counselling and case work, you can call them on 03 9635 3610 or find out more at http://www.casahouse.com.au/

If you have experienced sexual assault and would like an after hours crisis line you can contact Sexual Assault Crisis Line, they operate 5pm-9am every night. You can call them on 03 8345 3495 or 1800 806 292 or find out more at https://www.sacl.com.au/  

InTouch Multicultural Center Against Family Violence are a specialist family violence center for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, their families and communities. They have legal services and case management. They operate Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm. You can call them on 1800 755 988 or learn more about what they do www.intouch.org.au

WithRespect is an LGBTIQ+ after hours family violence service, they can provide support, referrals and they can do safety planning and risk assessment. 1800 LGBTIQ (1800 542 847) opening hours: Wednesday 5pm-11pm, Saturday and sunday 3pm-10pm (can call any time after friday 5pm and leave a message and your call will be returned between those hours). Learn more at: www.withrespect.org.au 

If you’re a child living with family or domestic violence, the Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential phone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged five to 25. Please call them on 1800 551 1800.

The Aboriginal and Family Domestic Violence hotline can be reached on 1800 019 123.

The Sikh Helpline Australia is an Australia-wide confidential support service. Call them on 0401401040 for help, or find out more information at www.sikhhelpline.com.au

An Australia wide hotline for reporting abuse and neglect of people with a disability can be reached on 1800 880 052.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1800 799 7233, text LOVEIS to 22522, or online at https://www.thehotline.org/ (more info on staying safe during COVID 19 is on homepage)

1800 Respect: 1800 737 732 https://www.1800respect.org.au/ 

WIRE (Women's Information Referral and Exchange) can do risk assessment, support, information and referrals. You can call them on 1300 134 130 between 9:30am-4:30pm or through email on support@wire.org.au or through online chat on the website www.wire.org.au

QLife is a LGBTIQ+ peer support service. Some phone workers have family violence training. They operate 3pm-midnight every day of the year. You can call them on 1800 184 527 or learn more at www.qlife.org.au

Avoiding boredom during isolation

If you're checking in with someone who relies on visitors for company, they might be going to get less of them depending on how all this goes. Help them get set up with skype etc if that's an option. If sudoku, word searches, crosswords, magazines etc could be of interest and could help with boredom or whatever, and you have the means, tucking a book of this kind of thing in with the groceries might be welcome.

Virtual museum tours:


Free audiobooks:


Free ivy league courses:


Helping Healthcare and frontline workers

“Us healthcare professionals are extremely stressed, tired and overworked right now. any and all forms of kindness are accepted with open arms! lots of healthcare workers I know right now are social distancing but working at the same time as we're needed in hospitals

If you know a healthcare worker personally, asked them or a mutual friend what they like. everyones different, some people might like chocolate, snacks, books, candles, bath bombs, DVDs! ask around and see if you can collect and make a little care package to brighten up your loved ones day

it's important to de-stress after a stressful and tiresome day looking after unwell people. I find I often need a push from people around me to take that time out for myself, books, board games, DVDs, bath stuff, mindfulness books and manuals are all things you can gift someone to encourage them to switch their medical brain off! practical things like cheap packs of black pens are good too, as we go through them super fast, sometimes more often than usual for hygiene reasons

If you know a healthcare worker who's social distancing drop a surprise off at their door! im sure they'd love it

if you don't know any healthcare workers personally but would like to express gratitude towards them. every hospital reception has some kind of compliments/complaints box either in hospital or online. try finding out where theres is located and send a message of support in. we DO read these and pin them up in our tea rooms. they're an amazing way to boost morale

if you want to drop off pre-packaged/sealed up treats and snacks to healthcare workers in a hospital I'd suggest looking them up online and getting to know the layout of the wards/whether they're publically accessible or not. you can even call hospital reception and express interest in making care packages for staff from the community and im sure they'll point you in the right direction. if you want to pop in and drop some stuff off to a specific ward go during business hours” - Tori Hobbs

External Resources  

Victorian updates to the current situation


For national updates


For international updates


Translated resources (Arabic, Assyrian, Burmese, Cantonese, Croatian, Dari, Dinka Greek, Gujarati, Hazaragi, Hindi, Indonesian (Bahasa), Italian, Khmer, Korean, Kurmanji, Macedonian, Mandarin, Farsi (Persian), Punjabi, Simplified Chinese, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese):


World Health Organisation resources


[PDF download for Mental Health Considerations] https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_4&fbclid=IwAR2oLvahIdBSmtWc59MlfTt-f8HctYAmRcwsieliFoBN4gvCysinyggYJo0

Here is some information about Corona virus in Easy English:


Here is some information about how to stay healthy and not get sick from viruses in Easy English:


Here is some information about Corona virus in Easy English:


Here is some information about how to stay healthy and not get sick from viruses in Easy English:


Other healthcare resources:



European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data packs: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/facts/infographics

Information is Beautiful data pack (updated every few days):


FAQ document by Registered Nurse (RN) Tori Hobbs:

The Vermillion Project resource:


Australian Psychological Society help sheets:
Dealing with coronavirus anxiety:

Monitoring your mental health during self-isolation:


What is mutual aid?

A template to start a mutual aid network - always think about people outside of your social sphere who may not have access to social media or digital spaces.


Pod-mapping for mutual aid


How to find your place in a social change ecosystem


If you want to create a local neighbourhood group to facilitate and support, you can use a whatsapp group or a platform like gather my crew which helps you schedule in tasks https://gathermycrew.org.au 

Coronavirus and community care



Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now Politicians, Community Leaders and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?


Dos and Donts of Social Distancing


American based resources on COVID-19


Information from the Australian Psychological Society:


self-assessment & screening guides

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services ‘self-assessment for risk of coronavirus’ flowchart on their website (link downloads the PDF)


Royal Melbourne Hospital Screening Clinic


Organisations to support

RISE foodbank

Meals on Wheels Victoria


Comics and other alternatively formatted resources

Comic explaining importance of self-isolation by Assigned Male At Birth:
 [link here]

Animated graphs explaining #FlattenTheCurve and other COVID 19 related things:


Podcast: Ten Questions About Coronavirus by 7 AM