Prominent community groups aiding struggling families in west and southwest Sydney during COVID-19 lockdown are dependent on volunteers and donations in the absence of government support.
Speaking at an inquiry into the NSW government's handling of the pandemic, community leaders said they were yet to receive government funds to assist their activities, almost 12 weeks into lockdown.
The majority of the 12 local government areas under the harshest lockdown restrictions - which have at times included a curfew and limits to worker movements - are in the city's west and southwest.
Residents - many of whom are from non-English speaking backgrounds - have been confused by the restrictions, how to get help when sick and where to seek financial assistance, community groups say.
As such, they have been turning to their local leaders in droves.
Amar Singh, President of Turbans 4 Australia, told the inquiry the organisation was delivering up to 1400 food hampers a week, a feat only made possible by the goodwill of the community.
"We have zero paid staff ... everything that we're doing is (thanks to) community donations that are coming in," Mr Singh said.
"The people that are volunteering, they are donating as well to us."
The organisation, like the Arab Council of Australia and Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA), has applied for grants to support their work.
"(But) the reality is that when we need the funding and the support and the resources, it's not really available," LMA director Rabih Elkassir said.
Grants for the LMA and Turbans 4 Australia were approved last week, government agency Multicultural NSW said.
Penrith Mayor Karen McKeown also told the inquiry some of her constituents were relying on the city council to be fed.
"We're being told by people when we're distributing these hampers that they haven't eaten for days, especially in those areas that are in the harshest lockdown," Ms McKeown said.
"They're afraid of leaving their houses, they don't have their own vehicles, they don't want to get on public transport."
Visa holders and asylum seekers in particular are falling through the cracks, Mr Singh said.
He told the inquiry the organisation had been forced to fundraise to offer some community members a proper funeral amid lockdown.
"We should be acknowledging everyone that is in Australia right now as Australians ... because the tragedy is not going to ask them if they have a certain stamp on the passport before it affects them," he said.
Multicultural NSW chief executive Joseph La Posta said $750,000 had been allocated to specialist charities to help asylum seekers be housed, clothed and fed during the crisis.
Funding has also gone out to 150 grassroots community organisations, he said, with another $3 million about to be distributed to small scale organisations like the LMA and Turbans 4 Australia.
"We're trying to turn these things around in less than a week," he said.
Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the inquiry "many tens of millions of dollars" was going towards providing food, personal items and grants across the state.
Australian Associated Press