Community services sector - COVID-19

COVID-19 plans and 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 welfare 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 any applicable directions in the Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) and have a COVIDSafe Plan for onsite operations.  

All community facilities (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 directions 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 restrictions 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 10 May 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.  

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for community service organisations

  • Updated information in line with public health directions regarding PPE for community service organisations can be found in the Fact sheet for community and non-residential disability services. 
  • Further information and resources on coronavirus (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. See Infection prevention control resources - COVID-19 webpage.

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.

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 RREMoutbreak@dffh.vic.gov.au.

Community activation and social isolation initiative 

The Victorian Government’s Community Activation and Social Isolation (CASI) initiative for local organisations, stakeholders and individuals is intended to help people who might be feeling lonely or have lost their regular networks during COVID-19 to build social connections and networks of support in their local communities. 

As part of the initiative, people can call the Coronavirus Hotline (1800 675 398) to receive emotional support if they are feeling lonely or disconnected as a result of COVID-19. 

Engaging interpreters during COVID-19

Interpreters play an essential role in ensuring that Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse communities can access services and understand and participate meaningfully in the care they receive.  

This guidance note advises Victorian-Government-funded agencies and services on how to safely and effectively engage interpreters during COVID-19. 

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.
  • For the latest vaccine information from the Victorian Department of Health, please visit the Coronavirus 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.

All authorised workers required to receive COVID-19 vaccination

From 15 October 2021 all workers – in Melbourne and regional Victoria – on the authorised workers list must be able to provide evidence to their employer that they have:

  • received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • have a booking to receive the first dose by 22 October 2021, or
  • have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner.

Workers may receive a medical exemption if they are unable to be vaccinated because they:

  • have a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines, or
  • have an acute medical illness, including COVID-19 infection for up to 6 months (or earlier if the medical practitioner specifies an earlier date).

This means that from 23 October 2021 onwards, authorised workers need to have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (unless they have a medical exemption) to attend work.

From 26 November 2021, authorised workers will also be required to provide evidence to their employer that they have received the second dose (unless they have a medical exemption) to attend work.

Evidence of your vaccination can include a worker’s MyGOV COVID-19 digital certificate or an immunisation history statement available from Medicare. In the period before immunisation history is updated online, evidence of vaccination can include a recent booking confirmation email, or the card received at the time of vaccination.

Workers that have not received a COVID-19 vaccine by these dates must only work from home.

Workers includes employees, contractors, volunteers and students on placement. People who provide care in their own home (for example foster and kinship carers) are not required to be vaccinated but are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.

A work premises is anywhere workers are required to be for their work outside the home.

The workers covered by this mandate include workers connected to:

  • an alcohol and drug residential service
  • a disability residential service
  • disability services
  • services provided to an NDIS participant in any setting
  • a homelessness residential service
  • a secure care service
  • a supported residential service
  • essential relief activities including the activities provided at Neighbourhood Houses and other similar community facilities
  • an eligible specialist disability accommodation enrolled dwelling
  • a short-term accommodation and assistance dwelling (including residential care for children and young people)
  • a mental health residential service including the service provided at a Community Care Unit or a Prevention and Recovery Centre
  • family violence and sexual assault support services
  • homelessness support services
  • public housing support services
  • mental health services
  • social services provided or contracted by the government to support members of the community who have a particular need because of family violence, homelessness, illness or a chronic health condition, infirmity, disability, contact with the justice system or other essential support service
  • interpreter, cultural, or support services.

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.