The National Coordination Group

NCG Updates

On 11 April 2020, Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, announced a new National Coordination Group (NCG) to advise the Government on how the response to Emergency Relief can assist individuals in need across Australia during the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the NCG include representatives from the Emergency Relief, Food Relief and Financial Counselling sectors and officers from the Department of Social Services (DSS).

The NCG is informed by state and territory sub-committees, and by locally focused Government Area Coordinators who are working closely with providers to understand what is happening on the ground.

In addition to information provided by the state and territory sub-committees, the NCG conducts its own research and data review, in order to ensure Emergency Relief is effective, and provides the Minister with evidence-based advice.


Role in NCG Name Position and Organisation
Chair Ms Claerwen Little

National Director

UnitingCare Australia

Member Mr Stuart Foster

General Manager Community Services

The Salvation Army

Member Mr Toby oConnor


St Vincent de Paul Society National Council

Member Dr Ursula Stephens


Catholic Social Services Australia

Member Mr Noel Clement

Director of Australia Programs

Australian Red Cross

Member Ms Kasy Chambers

Executive Director

Anglicare Australia

Member Mr Chris England

Chief Operating Officer

Wesley Mission

Member Ms Brianna Casey


Foodbank Australia

Member Ms Fiona Guthrie


Financial Counselling Australia

Member Ms Sharron Williams

Chief Executive

Aboriginal Family Support Services


Ms Liz Hefren-Webb

Deputy Secretary Families and Communities

Department of Social Services

Frequently Asked Questions

About the NCG

Can I send a funding proposal to the NCG for consideration?

The role of the NCG is to provide advice to the Minister for Families and Social Services. The NCG does not undertake assessments of funding proposals. These should be referred to DSS at

The NCG welcomes contributions and ideas from organisations to assist the Group with its deliberations. These can be sent to:

Can the NCG distribute Emergency Relief funds?

No. Funding decisions are a matter for the Minister for Families and Social Services.

Does the NCG allocate Emergency Relief funding?

No. The NCG provides advice to the Minister, to inform future decisions on Emergency Relief funding in the context of the current pandemic environment.

How often does the NCG meet?

The NCG meets regularly, several times per month, in order to review the most recent updates on Emergency Relief issues resulting from the coronavirus  pandemic.

How long will the NCG remain in place?

The NCG will remain in place until 30 June 2021.

How can I contact the NCG?

Please contact the secretariat of the NCG at the email address below.

For organisations

I am an Emergency Relief provider and have a question relating to my funding agreement. Who should I contact?

You should continue to discuss your funding agreement with your Funding Arrangement Manager at DSS. Contact details of your Funding Arrangement Manager are provided in your Grant Agreement.

I don’t know who my Government Area Coordinator is. Who should I contact?

Your GAC will be in contact with you weekly from late April 2020. If at any time you are unsure of who your GAC may be, please contact your Funding Agreement Manager. In some cases this person may also be your GAC.

I am an Emergency Relief provider and wish to raise a concern about an increased demand on my service due to the coronavirus pandemic. Who should I contact?

In the first instance, you should raise this concern with your Government Area Coordinator (GAC), they will speak with you weekly to capture concerns such as this.

The GAC is able to assist you with local level coordination and linkages to complimentary Commonwealth and state-funded services.

I want to let you know what is happening in my local area in relation to Emergency Relief and Food Relief. Who should I contact?

Your GAC will be able to take note of your feedback regarding Emergency Relief and Food Relief in your community.

For individuals

How do I access emergency relief?

A full list of Commonwealth funded emergency relief services can be found at Under Filter by Type, select Financial Crisis and Material Aid – Emergency Relief from the dropdown menu. The search results will list all Emergency Relief providers and you can further filter your search  by location.

Please note provider details are updated regularly. From time to time service providers change their service locations, which may result in the locational information not being current at the time of your search.

I have a complaint about an Emergency Relief provider. Who should I contact?

In the first instance, please raise this with your GAC. If you are not able to address locally you may wish to contact the DSS Feedback and Complaints team.

DSS encourages all clients to provide feedback. Making a complaint, giving a compliment or offering a suggestion can help DSS improve its services.

To lodge a complaint about an Emergency Relief grant recipient please go to the department’s website.


For further enquiries, please contact the NCG secretariat:

Patrick McKenna
National Coordinator, COVID-19 Emergency Relief Program
Emergency Relief Support National Coordination Group – Coronavirus and beyond

The NCG welcomes any ideas for consideration, and they can be contacted via the secretariat.

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