Support for people

Need Help?

The Unite Against COVID-19 website has lots of information on  how to stay safe during the pandemic and how to access support.

Advice for people with underlying medical conditions and some older people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is available here.

Be prepared for COVID-19

Everyone, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated, should prepare for what you need to do if you get COVID-19. Being ready for getting COVID-19 is about making sure you and your household have a plan and know what to do. It will mean your whānau and community can help each other if needed. 

How to prepare your household for COVID-19

Most people who get COVID-19 will have a mild to moderate illness, and will fully recover in their own home. For those who need help, the healthcare system will always be available.

Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and everyone who lives with them (unless they qualify for the close contact exemption scheme), will need to isolate from the community to help stop the spread of the virus. Care in the community will provide you tailored support to manage your illness and reduce the chance of transmission to your family and your community. It is a model for people with COVID-19 and health providers to make sure the right support is provided and the whole whānau is prepared. 

More information on self-isolation and social support

Book your vaccine

Protect yourself, your family, and your community. Everyone in New Zealand aged 5 and over is eligible for their free COVID-19 vaccination now. You can book your vaccination online or by phone.

Book a vaccine

COVID testing / vaccine clinics

COVID testing: find information on how to get a test on the Unite Against Covid-19 website. Visit Healthpoint to find testing locations across NZ, including Waitaki.

Vaccinations: Visit Southern Health’s new online clinic finder to find your nearest COVID-19 vaccine clinic and see clinic availability. Or if you call the COVID Vaccine Healthline (0800 28 29 26) to book your vaccine, the team can also arrange to talk with you in your preferred language - when your call is answered, say you'd like an interpreter and the language you’d like to speak in.  How to book your vaccine is available in 39 languages.  

Welfare and wellbeing

It’s OK to ask for help. As we work through this together, there are people and agencies able to support you. The factsheet below has information on a range of advice, help, or support if you need it. If you don’t speak English, you can ask for an interpreter when calling most government departments.

Anglican Family care are still operating the FAMILY START service during this time, to provide support to vulnerable families with young children aged 0-3 years, covering areas such as family violence, mental health, and drug/alcohol use. Contact: Sue Dundass,, T: 027 603 1145, W:

Food and essential items

The factsheet below outlines options to help you access food or essential items, particularly if you are vulnerable or having to self-isolate.  Options include asking family, friends or a neighbour to deliver goods and groceries; click and collect; supermarket delivery or subscription food boxes. It also covers financial help to buy food, and foodbanks.


Information in different languages

COVID-19 information and resources, including vaccine information, is available in 39 languages on the Unite against COVID website under Translations. Sign up on the page of your preferred language to receive email updates when new information and resources are translated.  The Ministry for Ethnic Communities has also released some useful videos on its Facebook page.


Mental health and wellbeing

Wellbeing is a continuum and we're likely to find ourselves at various points during the pandemic. As well as resources on the COVID-19 website, there is lots of useful information online through organisations including the Mental Health Foundation ( and the Health Promotion Agency ( 


If you're interested in volunteering to help others in Otago get through the COVID-19 emergency, Volunteering Otago are coordinating offers of help on our behalf. They're the experts when it comes to coordinating volunteers so please fill in this form to register your interest:

Career Guidance

An over-the-phone service with a career expert to help people develop a personalised plan for the next steps they can take to get into a job or training. Individuals can call 0800 601 301 to book a session with a career expert.

Other support available to job seekers and learners who are looking to get into work

  • The job hunters' toolkit has resources and guides to help people find and apply for jobs
  • has information and resources to help people plan their careers
  • Fees-free tertiary education allows eligible first-time learners to get one years' study or two years' training without fees, and
  • The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) pays fees and compulsory costs for a range of vocational qualifications until the end of 2022. The fund covers all TEC-approved apprenticeships as well as diplomas, certificates and programmes in targeted areas.


Jobs available

The following agencies are operational, providing services to job seekers and local businesses looking for staff.

  • Nikita Cunningham│Work Broker│Ministry of Social Development: DDI 03 9042953 | Cell 029 6500300
  • Workbridge ( is available to help people prepare and look for work by working with clients via phone and the internet. Please contact Sandra Familton (, M: 021 190 2418) or Dawn Ewing (, M:021 442 725).
  • Work Assist -APM: We know it's a difficult job market in these times, especially if you're suddenly unemployed. The time is now to start preparing for your next job, polishing up your CV and applications, look at your transferable skills and any training/upskilling. This service is free for you and employers. Click on this link to find out more.


Employment Related Matters

COVID-19 is having a range of impacts on businesses and the people who work for them as contractors and employees.  Employment law still applies to all employment relationships, regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in.  There are various COVID-19 financial support schemes available to businesses and employees, depending on your situation.  See our Support for Businesses page.


Financial Support

Because of COVID-19, financial pressure will be a reality for many. Help is available if you are experiencing financial distress. Use the COVID-19 Financial Support tool to help find out what kind of financial support you could get.


All the major New Zealand banks are providing support to their customers, and you can visit their websites for more information:

NOTE: With mortgage or loan deferrals, interest is still charged and added to the loan, meaning your loan balance will increase, and you'll likely pay more interest overall, but at a later date. Afterwards your repayments will likely be higher unless the loan term is extended