Community services sector - COVID-19

COVID-19 information and guidance to support the community services sector.

Scope

The content on this web page is for community services organisations funded by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and all non-residential disability services within Victoria (State or Commonwealth funded). Examples include: 

  • Child and Family Services 
  • Neighbourhood houses 
  • Men’s sheds 
  • Family violence services
  • Supported disability employment settings
  • Disability in-home support services
  • Centre-based services, including disability day programs. 

There is additional advice and requirements for community and disability services covered by the Care Facilities Directions: 

  • Residential disability services  
  • Homelessness staffed residential services (excluding homeless hotels) 
  • Eligible Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) enrolled dwellings 
  • Short-term accommodation and assistance dwellings 
  • Secure care services 
  • Supported residential services. 

Organisations can refer to the Fact sheet for community services covered by the Care Facilities Directions (Word) for specific guidance in these settings. 

Further information relevant to the disability sector is available at Disability services sector - COVID-19

What's on this page

COVIDSafe Settings for the community and non-residential disability services sectors

Community services must comply with COVIDSafe Settings and have a COVIDSafe Plan for onsite operations.  

All community premises (for example, community centres, community halls and neighbourhood houses) are required to use the Victorian Government QR Code Service with limited exceptions (such as in care facilities in respect to residents and essential support groups where confidentiality is required). If people cannot check in themselves (e.g. a person does not have a smartphone), organisations should use the Kiosk check-in service, or as a last resort, pen and paper.

Further updated information in line with public health orders regarding record keeping, face masks and density limits for community service organisations can be found in the Factsheet for community and non-residential disability services.

For more information about public health orders and developing a COVIDSafe Plan visit Victoria’s coronavirus website

For community services organisations funded by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, any issues requiring further clarification should be directed to your Agency Performance and System Support contact in the first instance. 

Please refer to Industry restriction levels: Community services for advice about industry restrictions that apply to the community services sector. 

Guidance for COVID-19 planning in the community and non-residential disability services sectors

Guidance for coronavirus (COVID-19) planning in the community and non-residential disability services sectors, updated December 2021, is intended to supplement general COVIDSafe advice on health and industry restrictions to address issues specific to the community and non-residential disability services sector and includes resources such as:  

  • key considerations when determining how to deliver services safely  
  • tools to help organisations identify risks of COVID-19 transmission 
  • strategies to respond to those risks while maintaining safe service delivery.

If you would like further information, please email the COVID Readiness and Response team at REMpolicy&engagement@dffh.vic.gov.au.

High-risk Accommodation Response Extension (HRAR Extension):Service Specifications

This document provides service specifications and operational guidance for the extended version of the High-risk Accommodation Response (HRAR Extension) program.  

Contact tracing, assessment and management

As of 11:59pm 18 November 2021, there have been changes in contact tracing and isolation requirements, placing new responsibilities on workplaces and service providers.

The Victorian Department of Health has a Checklist for COVID-19 contacts for the different types of contacts and the different isolation requirements.

A person who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 must notify their workplace about their positive result. A client who has COVID-19 should notify their community service provider if they engaged with services while infectious. Community service providers must take reasonable steps to notify individuals that they are a contact of a positive case and need to get tested.

The Department of Health may provide tailored outbreak management in some circumstances where significant transmission events have occurred, or where other additional risks apply (workforce, operational continuity, or community risks).

The Department of Health has prepared guidance documents to support decision making following a potential or actual COVID-19 exposure.

The table below provides a recommendation as to which guidance document is most relevant for community services.

Contact assessment and management guidance: Workplaces, business and industry

Contact assessment and management guidance: Primary care, community-based healthcare and emergency services

Centre-based services: 

  • neighbourhood houses
  • men’s sheds
  • in-clinic/group-based services, e.g. children and family services, family violence and sexual assault services, homelessness services 
  • disability day programs 
  • supported disability employment settings.
  • Residential settings (workers not employed to provide direct care on-site): 
  • public and social housing (low, medium, high-rise public housing and community housing) 
  • rooming houses. 
  • Residential and accommodation settings and services, including: 
  • residential disability services 
  • eligible Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) enrolled dwellings 
  • homelessness staffed residential services 
  • short-term accommodation and assistance dwellings 
  • secure care services 
  • supported residential services 
  • residential care for children and young people 
  • family violence refuges 
  • respite services. 

Services providing supervision (including transport), care and services within a person’s home or a controlled environment, including: 

  • child protection 
  • disability in-home support services. 

Infection control and ventilation guidelines for community service organisations 

Information and resources on COVID-19 infection prevention control for Victorians at work, at home and in the community can be found on the Department of Health’s infection prevention control website. The site includes information on ventilation and aerosol-generating therapies, PPE, cleaning, waste disposal and further information for healthcare settings, primary care, and information for people with a disability, their families and carers.

A well-ventilated space can reduce the concentration of viral particles in the air, lowering the risk of aerosol transmission. To improve air circulation in an area, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or fans (with or without filters) may be used. The following resources contain information and guides on how to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections at home, in the workplace, and in clinical settings. 

If you would like further information, please email the COVID Readiness and Response team at REMpolicy&engagement@dffh.vic.gov.au.

eLearning modules for community services workers

The department has developed three free eLearning modules in collaboration with Anglicare Victoria and Eve Learning for the community services sector. The topics are:  

  • COVID-safe for Residential Carers  
  • PPE for Community Workers 
  • Use of P2/N95 Masks. 

The three modules take about 20 minutes each to complete. They give practical guidance on how to use PPE (including face masks) correctly and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These files are easily accessible and interactive.  

The PPE for Community Workers module is a prerequisite for the third module on Use of P2/N95 Masks. 

You will receive a certificate when you complete each module. 

Watch this 3-minute YouTube clip showing the key features of the first two eLearning modules.

If you would like further information, please email the COVID Readiness and Response team at REMpolicy&engagement@dffh.vic.gov.au.

To access the eLearning modules, log in or sign up to the Eve Learning System.

Organisations wishing to host these eLearn modules can download the latest version of the courses as SCORM files. These files can be provided on request. 

For more information, please email REMpolicy&engagement@dffh.vic.gov.au.

Community activation and social isolation initiative 

The Victorian Government’s Community Activation and Social Isolation (CASI) initiative runs a Community Support Phoneline (delivered by Australian Red Cross).

People can call the Coronavirus Hotline (1800 675 398), press option 5 and then option 3 to receive emotional support and psychological first aid if they are feeling lonely or disconnected because of COVID-19. 

Engaging with culturally and linguistically diverse communities during COVID-19

The Victorian Government has developed stakeholder packs to help Victoria’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities access services and understand and participate meaningfully in the care they receive.

Access to translators and interpreters can be found at the Coronavirus website. You can find Grants to support multicultural communities at the Victorian Government website.

Vaccinations

COVID-19 vaccines are free and safe – the more people who are vaccinated, the greater the protection for those vaccinated and the whole community.

  • The COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia
  • The best person to talk to if you have concerns about your health and a being vaccinated against COVID-19 is your doctor/general practitioner (GP).
  • Visit the Australian Government website for the latest news and updates on COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Visit Information for industry and workers required to be vaccinatedfor more information on mandatory vaccinations.
  • People are able to access a catalogue of videos where the Department of Health has answered frequently asked questions about vaccinations.
  • If you or the person you are booking for needs additional support to receive a vaccination, a disability liaison officer can help you. For information about COVID-19 vaccination for people with special requirements or a disability, and carers, please visit: Vaccine information for people with a disability or special requirements.

COVID-19 digital certificates are now available to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. There are two types of proof available. Both are free. 

  • COVID-19 digital certificate, which shows you have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • An immunisation history statementwhich lists COVID-19 vaccinations and all other vaccinations. People who have a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination may enter premises open only for fully vaccinated people. Evidence of a medical exemption from an approved medical practitioner must be shown. For more information visit vic.gov.au.

Service providers funded or delivered by the Victorian Government should continue to support vulnerable Victorians, including those who are unvaccinated from COVID-19 or have an unknown vaccination status. The following guidance will assist community service providers on how to provide service safely and effectively:

The latest vaccine information from the Victorian Department of Health can be found at the Coronavirus Victoria website. 

You can also subscribe to the Victorian Department of Health project update mailing list for updates on the vaccine roll-out in Victoria.

Information about service users’ rights to consent to or refuse the vaccine can be accessed on the Office of the Public Advocate website.

The Local Community Access Grants Program provides up to $20,000 to support community organisations and neighbourhood houses to deliver activities that reduce COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and hesitancy.

Helping Victorians with electricity, gas and water bills

A range of programs are available to help Victorians manage their energy costs and get support if they’re having trouble paying their electricity and gas bills.  

Community organisations can refer low-income and vulnerable households to these programs for help accessing the support available under the state’s Payment Difficulty Framework, including concessions, government grants and finding cheaper energy plans.   

 

Page last updated: 22/12/2021