News | 6 September 2020

New Coronavirus rules for Victoria

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New information. Coronavirus rules in Victoria. Virus emoji. Map of Victoria with Melbourne in red.

Victoria has the highest numbers of COVID19 infections in Australia. We are collecting all the latest news, info and resources for people with disability and families as it comes out so you don’t have to go hunting. (We have done our best to try and explain what it all means which has NOT been easy…)

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Update: Monday September 28 – lockdown changes for metro Melbourne

Yesterday the Premier of Victoria Dan Andrews announced metropolitan Melbourne is entering step 2 in the roadmap out of lockdowns. Some of the biggest changes as of 11.59pm on Sunday September 27 in metropolitan Melbourne include:

😷 In term 4, primary school students, VCE and VCAL students, and special school students will all start going back to school.

😷 There is no more curfew.

😷 You can meet up with people from one other household outside in a group of no more than 5 people. It must be within 5kms from home. And you must stay 1.5 metres apart.

😷 Childcare centres can reopen to all children.

😷 Private real estate inspections are allowed again – with some rules.

😷 The rules about face coverings are changing. Face shields will no longer be allowed unless you are also wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth too. Exemptions still apply for people who can’t wear face masks.

👉 You can read all the details on the DHHS website


Update: Tuesday September 15 – lockdown changes for regional Victoria

The Premier of Victoria Dan Andrews has announced that regional Victoria will move to the next step of the roadmap out of lockdowns. This means things are opening up a bit more – but with plenty of rules.

From 11.59pm on Wednesday September 16 in regional Victoria:

😷 You can leave home for any reason.

😷 You can travel and stay anywhere around regional Victoria, but you can’t travel into Metro Melbourne until restriction levels are the same.

😷 You can create a household bubble with one other household. Five people from this bubble can visit you at home and vice versa. The household bubble you choose must stay the same – you can’t switch between other households. And neither household bubble can be a part of any other household bubble.

😷 Share houses can only have one other household in their household bubble.

😷 You can meet up with other people outside in groups of up to 10 people.

😷 Continue to work from home if you can.

😷 Cafes and restaurants will be able to offer (mostly) outdoor seating – with groups limited to 10, and a two-hour time limit.

😷 All retail can open up again.

😷 Face coverings must be worn the whole time at hairdressers and beauty salons.

😷 Real estate agents can hold private inspections by appointment only, and auctions outdoors with limits to how many can attend.

😷 Outdoor junior sports will be allowed for both contact and non-contact sports. But adults can only play non-contact sports. And there will be density limits.

😷 Other outdoor fitness groups can gather in groups of up to 10.

😷 Weddings with up to 10 people including the couple, two witnesses and a celebrant will be allowed.

😷 Funerals with up to 20 people will be allowed. Infants and people running the funeral are not included in the limit.

Victoria can move to the last step from November 23 – if there no new cases in the entire state for 14 days.

👉 You can read all the details and find FAQs on the DHHS website

👉 Or a summary via ABC


Update: Friday September 11 – badges for people who can’t wear face coverings

The Victorian government have released a series of printable or downloadable badges for people who can’t wear face coverings, or for Deaf or hearing impaired people who need other people to remove their face coverings.

The DHHS website says:

All Victorians must wear a face mask when leaving home unless you have a valid reason. Under the law, these reasons include:

– A person with a medical condition including breathing problems or disability who may find wearing a face mask painful or difficult.

– A person with mental health condition who may find wearing a face mask stressful.

– Persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing and those communicating with them, but only temporarily when the ability to see the mouth or facial expressions is essential for communication and where a distance of 1.5 metres can be maintained.

– Infants and children under the age of 12 years.

I am exempt from wearing a face covering for a valid reason. Please keep your distance to make sure we keep each other safe from Coronavirus. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Smart phone badge
For anyone who is exempt and has a valid reason for not wearing a face mask.

For persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing who need the person they are communicating with to remove their face mask.

Print-ready badge


Update: Sunday September 6 – lockdown changes

The Premier of Victoria Dan Andrews has announced how the state will ease out of stage four lockdown over the next few weeks.

From 11.59pm on September 13 in Metro Melbourne:

😷 The curfew will be from 9pm to 5am.

😷 You can exercise for up to two hours out of your house. And you can now exercise with one other person.

😷 If you live alone or are a single parent you can introduce one extra person to your “bubble”.

😷 Same rules for shopping apply – one person, once a day.

😷 Restaurants and cafes will remain takeaway only.

😷 Schools and childcare remain closed except for the children of permitted workers.

There will be a second stage of easing from Sept 28 – but there will also have to be a reduction of new cases of 30-50 a day for this to happen.

😷 Schools will reopen in Term 4 but students will return in stages. Prep to grade 2, VCE and VCAL students and students in Special schools will return first. Remote learning will continue for students in other year levels. When they will return will depend on public health advice.

😷 Two households with up to five people each will be able to meet outside for a get together such as a picnic.

In regional Victoria the rules are slightly different.

From 11.50pm on September 13:

😷 You can only leave your home for one of four reasons – work, shopping, exercise, caregiving.

😷 If you live alone or are a single parent you can introduce one extra person to your “bubble”.

😷 Two households with up to five people each will be able to meet outside for a get together such as a picnic.

😷 Childcare will be open to all children.

😷 Schools will return at the beginning of Term 4. (from Oct 12). Students will return in stages.

😷 Retail will open with social distancing restrictions.

All this may change if there is a change in the numbers of people contracting the virus.

👉 You can read the full road map by following this link. There is different info for metro Melb and regional Victoria so make sure you look at the one that applies to you.

We know many people are really struggling at the moment. We are in Melb too and we really understand. So please look after yourselves and others. And if you need help – please reach out for it. There are some numbers at the bottom of this page that you might find helpful.

❤️ to all our Victorian peeps


Update: Friday September 4 – claiming the costs of hand sanitiser

The NDIS have updated the info about claiming hand sanitiser on the coronavirus section of their website today.

It used to say

“Hand sanitiser continues to be a personal expense.”

Now it says

“Generally, the ordinary use of hand sanitiser is a personal expense.

However, if you receive close personal support and find that you are using more hand sanitiser than you would under normal circumstances, you can use your NDIS plan to cover the cost of extra hand sanitiser.

You can use the Low Cost Disability-Related Health Consumables line item in your core supports budget to purchase hand sanitiser, as you would for PPE like gloves and face masks.

Funding the extra cost of hand sanitiser is a temporary change during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates if the situation changes in other states and territories.”

You can read more on the NDIS website on the

👉 Using your budget page

👉 Latest advice from NDIS page

👉 Your health and safety page

😷For all the latest info about PPE and the NDIS as it comes out, check out our Get your mask on article


Update: Friday August 21 – new taskforce; PPE claim changes

New taskforce

The Victorian government have announced the creation of a joint taskforce to oversee the management of COVID19 outbreaks in disability residential services.

This joint taskforce will include both Victorian and Commonwealth officials such as the NDIA and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

It will be based in the Victorian State Control Centre – which is where all the emergency management stuff happens at the moment.

They are doing that so they can get on top of things quickly.

The Victorian government is also working with disability service providers to try and limit the movement of workers across multiple sites.

So they have established a fund to pay workers who miss out on work as a result.

The details on how that fund will work are still being worked out.

This is some good news. We know you have been frustrated by all the argy bargy in the last week. It’s good that everyone is knuckling down and working together to do everything they can to keep people safe and well.

When there are more details we will share them with you.

👉 In the meantime you can read more on the Victorian Premier’s website

Providers should now claim PPE costs directly from the NDIA

We know lots of you have been concerned about the fact that disability service providers could charge NDIS participants for the costs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). (Note this was only for participants in Victoria and NSW)

People were definitely worried it was running down their NDIS funds. Who knew when they had their planning meeting that they would need money for masks and stuff?

So the good news is … providers can now charge the NDIA directly.

The NDIA will pay the invoices – it won’t come out of individual plans.

So if your provider comes to you and asks if they can charge you for PPE you can tell them they can talk to the NDIA and charge them.

It DOES NOT have to come out of your NDIS funds.

But important to remember – this is still only for people in Victoria and New South Wales.

👉 You can read more on the NDIS website here

Unfortunately the media release is not very clear. We have been told there is more information coming for participants – we will bring it to you as soon as it lands.


Update: Tuesday August 11 – new info on at-home testing

Update to yesterday’s news about at-home coronavirus testing in Victoria…

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website has been updated with more information about the process for getting tested at home.

The at-home testing is for people who have symptoms and can’t leave home to get tested, including:
😷 people with an injury, chronic health issue, or frailty affecting mobility
😷 people with moderate to severe physical or psychosocial disability
😷 people with moderate to severe mental health or behavioural issues not otherwise classified as a psychosocial disability
😷 carers for a person with moderate to severe disability

Yesterday the Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the testing would be for eligible people in Victoria.

But the new information on the DHHS website says this is only for people in metropolitan Melbourne.

This is an essential and long-overdue change for the many people in our community who can’t go out to get tested. We are really really disappointed to hear that it is not available for people outside metro Melbourne. So we are pushing for this to change so it’s available for everyone who needs it.

👉 Find all the detail on the DHHS website Call-to-Test – Reaching out to vulnerable Victorians page


Update: Monday August 10 – at-home testing

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced this morning that at-home coronavirus tests will now be available for people who are homebound or can’t get to a testing site – like people with disability or people with chronic health conditions.

She said “We know that, for some vulnerable people — some people who might be housebound due to disability or other chronic health conditions — it is challenging for them to be able to present to a testing station.

“So we are starting a call-to-test program that will enable someone to call our coronavirus hotline, they’ll be assessed by a nurse through that hotline and, with a GP referral, we will go to them.

“We will go to people’s homes and we will ensure that they will be able to be tested within a 48-hour period.

“This is designed to ensure that approximately 200 vulnerable Victorians every day will have access to this new testing capacity, making sure that people who might have limited mobility due to disability or might have other vulnerabilities due to chronic health conditions can get tested in their own home.

“It is a free service and will be available throughout Victoria.

“The way that people will be able to access this is, as I said, through the coronavirus hotline. There’ll be a triage there and, with a GP referral, we will come to you.”

☎️ The Victorian coronavirus hotline is open 24/7. Call 1800 675 398


Update: Sunday August 9 – PPE and support workers at home

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services have updated their advice about the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Disability support workers working with people in their homes (and other settings such as group homes) are now recommended to use both masks and eye googles or a face shield when working with people with disability.

This advice covers both close contact work and non contact support.

The googles may be reusable – and there are instructions how to safely clean and reuse.

And if someone is working where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID19 then a P2/N95 mask is recommended (rather than a standard surgical mask).

There is a helpful table on the link below which shows which gear should be worn and when.

👉 You can find more info on the DHHS website here. The images below are screenshots from the document PPE for community services providers for prevention of coronavirus (COVID-19) – 8 August 2020 (Word) and Fact sheet – request for PPE by community services providers – 21 July 2020 (Word).

Table 1: PPE to use when clients have coronavirus (COVID-19) risk factors Table 2: PPE to use when clients do not have coronavirus (COVID-19) risk factors or have been cleared of coronavirus (COVID-19).


Update: Saturday August 8 – childcare

Childcare

There’s been a bit of confusion about childcare over the last few days.

So the Victorian government have updated their advice.

Only permitted workers are now able to use childcare and kinder – and only if no one else in their home is able to look after children.

But there might be a number of reasons why the other adult/parent/carer in the house cannot supervise kids such as:

✅ they have a medical condition, or chronic illness which prevents them from caring for the child
✅ they have a disability
✅ they are completing full time study and must attend onsite
✅ they work from home, but in a role that means they cannot supervise the children – resulting in the permitted worker not being able to do their job.

Parents can also continue to use existing in-home babysitting. But the government has asked for everyone to consider the risk to elderly grandparents or relatives.

👉 You can find the new info on the Department of Health and Human Services website

👉 You can read more on the ABC news story posted this afternoon


Update: Friday August 7 – students

Victorian students & NDIS

The Prime Minister gave a press conference yesterday where he mentioned NDIS participants.

The PM said Victorian families with children with disability could use their NDIS funds to help manage during lockdown, including having more support in the home.

👉The NDIA have updated the NDIS website this afternoon with a new info pack for Victorian families with school-aged children.

The pack confirms that families can use their funds for additional support at home while schools and services are closed.

It provides some suggestions and case studies about how families can use existing funds in different ways to support their child during lockdown.

We know not everyone’s funds will stretch that far. In that case the only option is to seek a review (yep … we know 🙁).

And while this pack is intended for families with children, a lot of the info is very relevant for all NDIS participants – regardless of their age. So it’s worth checking out.


Update: Wednesday August 5 – workers & payments

Worker permits

The Victorian government announced yesterday that essential workers will need to carry a permit when they are out and about to demonstrate that they are allowed to moving around.

For doctors and nurses and other health care workers a hospital ID tag will do.

Everyone else will need to carry the permit – just in case they are stopped.

This will include disability support workers.

Employers and employees will both need to sign the document.

This will start from 11.59pm tonight.

👉 You can find the worker permit form (docx) on the Department of Health and Human Services website, the Department of Justice website, and the Business Victoria website.

Disability support workers

Disability support workers are considered essential workers. They are able to travel more than 5km from their home to support people. They are also allowed to work outside of the curfew hours – between 8pm and 5am.

They can also go with you when you exercise – but again you can’t go anywhere more than 5km from your home.

They can also help you go shopping – or do the shopping for you.

But they will need to carry the permit whenever they are out, and travelling to and from work.

Pandemic leave payments

Workers (or parents or carers of someone) in Victoria who are self-isolating while waiting for COVID-19 test results may be eligible for the $300 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment.

Workers (or parents or carers of young people) in Victoria who have tested positive to Coronavirus and have to isolate can apply for a payment of $1500 to cover their costs while they can’t work.

The $1500 payment has changed recently. Before this week it was the $1500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment run by the Victorian government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It is now with the Australian government at Services Australia and is called the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

You can only apply if you don’t have access to sick leave through your employer.

This is particularly important for casual workers.

👉 There is more information on the $300 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

👉 There is more information on the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment page on the Services Australia website.


Update: Monday August 3 – what’s open & closed

As promised there have been more announcements from the Victorian government today about the news rules for everyone living in metro Melbourne.

These things will stay open during the stage 4 lockdown:

😷 Supermarkets and other places that sell food like butchers, bakers and fruit and veg shops.

😷 Petrol stations.

😷 Chemists and news agencies.

😷 Banks and post offices.

These businesses will close from 11.59pm on Wednesday:

😷 Retail shops. But some places will be allowed to have click and collect, and some places will still have home delivery.

😷 Some manufacturing.

Other workplaces – like meatworks and building sites – will still be open but will have to reduce the numbers of workers who are on site.

This lockdown will run for six weeks until September 13.

There was a lot of detailed info released to the media this afternoon. This is just a summary.

The Premier has also said there will be more information coming out over the next few days.

And the Prime Minister has just announced that workers in Victoria will now be eligible for a payment of $1500 if they have to self isolate and don’t have any sick leave.

This is very important change for people who are casual workers.

👉 You can find some news coverage here

👉 The Premier’s statement is on the Department of Health and Human Services

👉 Full list of all businesses with info about whether they are open, closed or restricted (Word doc – table).


Sunday August 2 – stage 3 & 4 lockdown rules

In metropolitan Melbourne:

😷 You are only allowed to leave home for four reasons – work, care, exercise and shopping.

😷 Shopping will be restricted to one person from a house once a day – and only at shops that are in a 5km radius from your house. But if your closest supermarket is more than 5km that’s ok – you are allowed to travel to whichever one is closest. 

😷 There will be a curfew from 8pm – 5am each night. You will only be able to be able to leave your house to get care, give care or to go to work.

😷 Exercise will be limited to one hour a day and only within a 5km radius of your home. Recreational exercise – like playing golf or tennis – will no longer be allowed. 

😷 School will return to remote learning for Year 11 and 12s from Wednesday. Special schools will be open but only for those students who cannot be at home.

😷 Kindergartens and child care centres will now also only be open to children of essential workers.

😷 The Premier has said “common sense” rules will apply. For example if you can’t shop by yourself you can have someone with you. Or if you have children you can all exercise together. 

😷 The restrictions will apply until September 13.

In regional Victoria:

😷 Regional Victoria will move to Stage 3 restrictions from 11.59pm on Wednesday night. That means there will only be four reasons to leave home – work, exercise, care and shopping.

😷 All students will return to remote learning from Wednesday.

😷 The Premier has said he will make more announcements tomorrow about changes to work and workplaces. But he stressed that essential services – like food and chemists -would remain open.

👉 You can read news coverage from ABC here

👉 Or a helpful explainer from The Guardian here

👉 The Department of Health and Human Services website has the statement from the Premier here


Please look after yourself

This is the news that we have been expecting – but we know it doesn’t make it any easier. We are sending light and love out to everyone in our community. These changes will be very tough for everyone.

And in case you need more support, here are some places you can call:

National Coronavirus hotline – 1800 020 080

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Disability Information Helpline – 1800 643 787

Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 7 pm (AEST).

Remember this hotline is just for people with disability and their families. It is staffed by the good folks at Ideas Disability Information who are really on top of all things disability.

They can help you with any question you might have. If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start they will do all the hard work for you and get you the info and help you need. Just give them a call. Or check out their website for plenty of helpful COVID-19 information:

NDIS Coronavirus hotline – 1800 800 110 then press 5

There are special teams of NDIA staff available to answer your questions and help with your plan. Just press 5 after calling the NDIS contact centre. Open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (local time).

Mental health & Medicare

The Health Minister Greg Hunt MP has announced that people affected by the new restrictions can get more support for their mental health. Normally, people can visit their GP and get a mental health care plan (which provides you with up to 10 Medicare subsidised sessions with a mental health professional like a psychologist). Now there are an extra 10 more therapy sessions subsidised by Medicare for people who are affected by the new lockdown rules.

 

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