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Information and support for Victorian service providers

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The NDS Safer and Stronger Project is supporting disability service providers respond to current and emerging issues arising from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Toolkit is a pathway to practical materials, helpful guidance tools and lessons learned to assist now and in the event of a major service disruption.

New resources are constantly being developed and while NDS will update this toolkit, suggestions from providers are encouraged. Please submit enquiry/feedback.

The toolkit is a central access point for valuable information and resources on:

BusinessAdvice Business Continuity covid  Infection Prevention and Control Wellbeing Wellbeing Vaccinations Vaccinations


Responding to an outbreak

Emergency management

Outbreak preparedness, prevention and management
NDIS guidance to help providers during the COVID-19 pandemic meet registration obligations and minimise the risk to NDIS participants’ health, wellbeing and safety.

Immediate Response
First 24 hours: Steps to take in response to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis

You can request the revised First 24 hours document during the December to January period by emailing Heather McMinn:  submit enquiry/feedback

Note: This document was developed by SCOPE Australia and reviewed by DHHS (now DFFH) in 2020. It was made available for use and adaption by service providers. NDS wishes to acknowledge and thank SCOPE for making this publicly available. NDS has updated the document with the latest links and requirements for providers in Victoria.

NDS welcomes any information or recommendations from providers to include in this document. Providers are also encouraged to regularly review updates on the Victorian Government coronavirus website.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks in disability services - Immediate Action Steps

Developed by DHHS, this plan is designed to enable disability service providers to continue essential services to people with disability. This advice gives guidance on how the disability sector can operate and prioritise their efforts in this current stage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

Download Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak management plan in disability services (Word) 

Snap Lockdown Guide

A comprehensive checklist developed by NDS to assist preparations in the event of a sudden lockdown. It covers a complete range of considerations. It is acknowledged that some of the recommendations will not be relevant to all services.

Guide for Snap Lockdowns

Mandatory Notifications

You are required to notify the following as soon as possible after becoming aware of a COVID-19 case in your service:

Handy guide to key COVID-19 contacts and resources

A handy guide of the key contacts and resources for COVID-19 compiled by NDS, to assist Victorian disability providers.


Business Continuity

Disability service providers are operating in a dynamic and challenging environment, made more so with the onset of COVID-19.

These business continuity easy access resources will help providers overcome business viability challenges, and maintain and build choice and control options for people with disability.

Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning helps disability service providers continue operating during an unplanned disruption or changes. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of having a business continuity plan.

When facing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is suggested that boards and leadership teams concentrate on a small number of key initiatives or actions to maintain viability. Organisations should focus on realistic worst-case scenarios and prioritise key actions to address the business imperatives.

There are six business continuity categories that encompass every aspect of a provider’s operations to meet the service provision needs of people using disability services. A business continuity plan should include contingencies or backups in a scenario where there are negative changes to any or all of these.

Disability service providers have access to many quality organisational strategy and governance resources, including those produced by NDS and our partners.

NDIS in Practice is an interactive website launched by NDS to support disability providers build capability under NDIS.

Topics include:

  • Communication through change (case study)
  • Navigating through the eye of a perfect change storm
  • Redesigning organisations and leaders for the cyber-physical age

Conducting a SWOT analysis
Business Queensland has an online eight-step guide to complete a SWOT analysis - a tool for documenting internal strengths (S) weaknesses (W) external opportunities (O) and threats (T).

Mergers and Acquisitions

NDS led discussions in 2021 with disability provider Boards and CEOs on the challenges in setting strategy and executing mergers and acquisition. Four videos from the presentations outline the steps and considerations to help ensure success.

Graeme Kelly, Optimate Consulting

Graeme Kelly of Optimate Consulting and formerly CEO at Tipping Foundation when they merged with House with No Steps in 2018, becoming Aruma, talks about merger and acquisition and growth. 

Video length: 17:39

James Beaumont, Pitcher Partners

James Beaumont from financial services practice Pitcher Partners provides an overview of the merger and acquisitions process.

Video length 16:43

Paul Lougheed, Southern Stay Disability Services

Southern Stay Disability Services CEO Paul Lougheed, CEO tells the story of the merger of STAY Residential Services Inc. (Hamilton) and Southern Way Direct Care Services Inc (Warrnambool) in December 2017. 

Video length 15:03

Jonathon Teh, Russell Kennedy

Jonathon Teh from Russell Kennedy lawyers provides tips and hints in mergers and shares some of the good and bad stories.

Video length: 10:55

NDS Training and Resources

How to Scenario Plan for COVID-19
Scenario planning helps prepare for an uncertain future and guide communication with staff, boards and clients. 'How to Scenario Plan for COVID-19' is an easy-to-follow online scenario planning guide and templates, with COVID-19-related examples from the Washington Management Center.

Planning for Business Continuity in Times of Disaster
A step-by-step scenario planning document for community-based organisations from Community Services Industry Alliance.

NDS Training and Resources

Risk, Incidents and Complaints Management
Easy to use resources developed by NDS for individuals/sole traders and small and medium sized providers, to manage and respond to risks, incidents and complaints effectively.

Victorian Government Risk Management Framework
A useful guide to the minimum risk management requirements for funded agencies.

Preparing a risk management plan
A step-by-step guide to risk management planning from Business Victoria which includes a crisis planning template.

Risk management tools, guides and kits
A range of handy software tools and templates from the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority.

Risk management resources
A risk education hub for the community sector, with checklists, tools and fact sheets, from specialist insurer Ansvar Risk.

It’s a time of financial challenges and opportunities for the disability sector. Boards and leadership staff need to be proactive and clear in their decisions and actions.

Damn Good Advice for Board members
A handy list of finance questions for board members from Our Community

Strategies to improve investment outcomes
A guide bursting with ideas and tools to build income through fundraising from Our Community

NDIS in Practice is an interactive website launched by NDS to support disability service providers build capability under the NDIS.

Resources include:

NDS Training and Resources

People and Capability
Webinars and case studies demonstrating how to create an environment for staff to thrive, recruit and retain staff with the right values, skills and capabilities.

NDS Training and Resources

  • Workforce Hub: A comprehensive NDS hub of practical disability workforce including the Disability Workforce Resources Toolkit interactive PDF.

While you may be prepared for a sudden change in business operations, your suppliers may not. Providers should have contingencies in place to secure alternative services or goods at reasonable costs and without time delays.

Panel arrangements
A step-by-step guide to establishing panel arrangements for the procurement of goods and services from the federal Department of Finance

Service level agreement templates
Free templates and step-by-step guide for establishing service level agreements.

Technology tools for not-for-profits
The disability sector has access to donated and discounted IT products, online learning and specialised consulting services from Social justice company Infoxchange and charity Connecting Up.

Customer Relationship Manager tips
15 features to look for in a CRM is an easy-to-read article outlining selection criteria for selecting CRM software.

Cyber security self-assessment tool
Victorian Government Cyber Maturity Benchmark online self-assessment hub and cyber resources for organisations and board members.

COVID-19 has put the focus on facilities for many disability service providers.

Problem-solving to fix physical distance issues video
NDS member GenU in Frankston shows in this short video how they employed problem-solving skills to identify and correct physical distance issues in the workplace.

COVID-19 risks in an office environment
Guidance about managing risks of exposure to COVID-19 in an office environment from WorkSafe.

COVID-19 Information for workplaces
Comprehensive health and safety guidance and resources for workplace requirements from Safe Work Australia. Check the relevant requirements in each State and Territory.

Dispose of clinical waste from COVID-19
A fact sheet explaining how to manage clinical waste from COVID-19, and arrange for collections in various workplace settings from the Environment Protection Authority.


Infection Prevention and Control

These infection prevention and control (IPC) practical resources selected by NDS will provide useful information and tools for the disability sector.

Clinical Governance

Effective IPC is underpinned by a clinical governance framework that monitors the implementation of policies and procedures in an organisation.

The significance of clinical governance for disability service providers has emerged through the COVID-19 pandemic. The capacity of organisations to effectively embed and monitor IPC will determine how providers can deliver services safely.

Effective clinical governance regarding IPC includes the recognition all staff must be trained and supplied with the required resources for their roles and responsibilities to enable an organisation-wide approach focussed on safety.

There are key elements to the establishment of an IPC framework which need to be actioned to reduce the risks from avoidable infectious agents - gastroenteritis, influenza or COVID-19.

NDIS Provider Toolkit
NDS's set of self-assessment exercises to check that IPC is embedded in your business.

COVID-19 risks in the healthcare and social assistance industry
Guidance about managing risks of exposure to COVID-19 in clinical and non-clinical settings, including patient transport from WorkSafe

Coronavirus insurance quick reference [PDF]
Useful tips and prompts to consider if undertaking new activities in response to COVID-19 in this guide from the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority.

Pandemic Risk Alert Series
A series of tools and supports including a practical guide to good governance and risk management in a pandemic from Ansvar Risk.

COVID-19 IPC risk management plan
This fact sheet guides health service organisations to undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment and develop a Risk Management Plan from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Australian workplaces must have a COVID-19 safe plan identifying the actions to prevent infection and responses to a suspected or positive case of COVID-19. Regular reviews of plans are essential to ensure workplace procedures align with relevant jurisdictions.

National COVID-19 safe workplace principles
A comprehensive collection of resources, information, tools, templates, posters and guidance for workplaces from Safe Work Australia.

All state and territory governments have agreed to the COVID-19 principles identified by Safe Work Australia through the National Cabinet. COVIDSafe Plans in all jurisdictions must reflect these principles.  

There may be variations in jurisdictions, including specific COVIDSafe plan templates for disability sector settings.

Victorian COVIDSafe Plan

Infection prevention and control policies and procedures will need to include hyperlinks to relevant Australian, State or Territory guidelines. These can change and must be checked regularly to respond if outbreaks occur. 

Areas of guidance include:

  • planning 
  • IPC requirements (including PPE)
  • movement restrictions and border controls
  • outbreak management
  • case locations/risk environments
  • testing facilities and processes
  • disability-related requirements not within the NDIS Commission jurisdiction.  

Disability service providers delivering a range of community, aged care and disability activities must implement the guidelines and requirements that align with their primary funding source, setting or specific activities.

Infection, prevention and control online training for disability workers
A new NDS online IPC course gives more disability workers the chance to learn critical skills essential in COVID risk environments.

Disability services sector in Victoria
Disability service providers need to check the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) website for COVID-19 advice, directions and support

Infection control resources
A one-stop guide on infection prevention control for Victorians in healthcare and non-healthcare sectors, including disability, from DFFH. This link includes guidance, posters, checklists, fact sheets and templates.

Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare guidelines
These guidelines on Safety and Quality in Healthcare provide the basic principles of infection prevention and control in healthcare settings produced by the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Commission.

Safety in healthcare toolkit
A set of resources for health service organisations, healthcare professionals and consumers from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects against infection when the correct PPE applicable to the nature of the infectious agent is available and donned (put on) and doffed (taken off) in the right sequence. 

PPE for disability service providers
Updates on PPE requirements for the disability sector during the coronavirus pandemic and useful posters on correct PPE use from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Keeping you and your employees safe during COVID-19
Australian Government webpage with useful information and visual resources to help keep workers safe and provide a COVIDSafe work environment.

PPE COVID-19 outbreak supply calculator
The outbreak support calculator has been informed by Health Education Collaborative consultants and disability sector insights to estimate the amount of PPE to be readily accessible within a disability residential setting or in home support settings.

How to use (and not use) face masks
NDS and Health Education Collaborative have produced four short videos on the correct use of face masks and what not to do with them. They are clear, informative, at times surprising and essential viewing for anyone working in a healthcare setting.

Electronic record-keeping at disability facilities accelerates access to contacts in the event of contact tracing. These can include client registration databases to track visitors with arrival and departure or electronic QR systems.

The Victorian Government has developed many resources to assist workplaces in Victoria to stay COVIDSafe, including resources specifically for the disability sector. Particularly useful resources include:

Victorian QR Code
Free for all Victorian businesses, organisations, clubs and events.

Workplace signs, posters and templates
COVIDSafe workplaces resource has numerous signs, posters and templates which are applicable to disability setting.

Visiting care facilities guidance
Screening systems are required in disability facilities for workers and visitors. This webpage provides updates on screening restrictions in disability facilities.

Creating a COVIDSafe workplace
Information and resources for creating a COVIDSafe Plan for the workplace.

Worker and visitor declarations
Handy templates for worker and visitor declarations for disability residential services and centre-based services

Workforce restrictions for disability service providers
This fact sheet outlines the requirements for disability service providers and workers under the Permitted Worker and Childcare Permit Scheme Directions during the declared state of emergency.

Cleaning and disinfection in disability settings and the correct disposal of clinical waste are key components in reducing the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19.

Preventing infection in the workplace
Victorian coronavirus webpage includes Victoria’s cleaning and disinfection guidelines [Word], fact sheets, templates and checklists to help providers engage and monitor cleaning services and train cleaning staff.

Routine cleaning and disinfection
Safe Work Australia easy-to-follow guide. Use checklists, signs and posters to clean in the workplace. Includes information on cleaning following a case or suspected case of COVID-19.

Environmental cleaning
Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Health Care fact sheets, infographics and product selection guides for environmental cleaning.

How to dispose of PPE
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Victoria fact sheets outline how to dispose of PPE at home and in the workplace.

EPA posters reinforce correct procedures

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) information and training is critical for the disability workforce, including direct and indirect support workers, casual workers, transport providers, cleaners and volunteers. 

Providers must monitor staff training and regularly review relevant Department of Health or NDIA infection prevention and control changes, which may require further training.

Community services COVID-19 training
Three practical free eLearning modules for community services workers developed by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing in collaboration with Anglicare Victoria and Eve Learning. The 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.

Correctly using PPE video
A short video presentation of how to don and doff PPE for disability support workers from the federal Department of Health.

Free National COVID-19 related eLearning

NDS Training and Resources

A person-centred approach that includes an ongoing discussion with individual clients, their families and carers will assist in finding a balance between a social model of health and reverting to a clinical model in response to COVID-19.

There are resources to assist people with disability in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Planning for People with Disability
Person-centred emergency preparedness guide from Collaborating 4 Inclusion is an excellent resource for support workers to use with individuals and families to plan ahead for emergencies.

Home safety plan
Easy-to-follow information for clients and carers about preparing and following a home safety plan during the pandemic on the Victorian coronavirus website.

Dispose of PPE waste at home
Environmental Protection Agency Victoria fact sheets outline how to dispose of PPE at home and in the workplace.



The Wellbeing Toolkit contains resources and guidance materials to help disability service providers support positive mental health and wellbeing for themselves, their staff and their clients.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of people across Australia. This situation has highlighted the need for disability services to actively support the wellbeing of their employees in line with their employer responsibilities and to contribute to business continuity.

Mental health and wellbeing challenges experienced in the disability sector workforce resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have included:

  • fatigue and burnout,
  • indirect or vicarious trauma
  • increased fear of job insecurity
  • fear of COVID-19 infection,
  • sense of being overwhelmed due to increased workloads
  • anxiety about possible side effects of the vaccine.

An integrated approach to wellbeing in the workplace

Mental health programs in the workplace are most effective when they take an integrated approach to support the mental health of employees and clients, which:

  • prevents exposure to job stressors through effective job design or organisational change
  • builds resilience in individuals by strengthening their ability to cope with short term stressors
  • minimises the effects of stress-related problems when they occur.
  • equips leaders and people managers to identify stress and poor mental health (in themselves and their staff) and the knowledge and resources to be able to respond.

A report released in December 2020 by the superannuation and insurance industry mental health support organisation SuperFriend, found that 60 per cent of workers experienced a mental health condition in 2020. The Indicators of the Thriving Workplace Report stated 45 per cent reported their workplace took action to address mental health, and casual workers found the culture of their workplaces less mentally healthy than their permanent colleagues.

Workplace legal responsibilities
Australian Human Rights Commission outlines organisations’ legal responsibilities and the benefits of creating a mentally healthy workplace.

Managing mental health at work during COVID-19
WorkSafe guide for employers includes obligations and strategies to control risks to employees' psychological health during the pandemic.

Black Dog Institute Mental Health Toolkit [PDF]
A practical guide to understanding common mental health issues in the workplace, with useful resources and strategies.

Seven actions to help create a mentally healthy workplace [PDF]
Simple steps to promote positive mental health, protect against mental health risks, and support employees with mental health conditions from Heads Up.

Workplace resources for better mental health
Heads Up have an interactive online tool to create an action plan and provide training and resources for a mentally healthy organisation.

Mentally healthy workplace with WorkWell 
A free online toolkit from WorkSafe steps business leaders through a prevention-led approach to creating a mentally healthy workplace.

Workplace psychosocial survey
Australia’s only validated psychosocial risk assessment survey from People at Work, which assesses a number of the most common psychosocial hazards and factors. The survey is a part of a five step process to identify, assess and control risks to psychological health at work.

Design workplaces to make life better
Thrive at Work is a wellbeing initiative centred on designing work that helps employees, organisations and industries to thrive.

The framework is based on helping people get well, stay well and be the best they can be.

Disability service provider managers and human resources staff need to be able to recognise and support staff who are struggling at work. The resources can help identify staff who may need support and includes options to refer them for assistance.

Digital mental health toolkit
Head to Health is an Australian Department of Health online toolkit, linking to more than 680 digital mental health resources from trusted providers.

Mentally Healthy Workplaces during COVID-19
The Mental Health Commission provides practical tips and resources to recognise the signs a colleague may need support and how to assist them to find help.

WorkSafe Trauma Toolkit
The Victorian Government online WorkWell program provides comprehensive and clear steps to help understanding and actions to address workplace trauma.

Psychosocial risk assessment survey tool
A free risk assessment process from the Queensland Government to help organisations comply with their health and safety duties

Movement and Mindfulness programs
Non-profit organisation, Collective Being, provides a range of accessible, trauma informed body-mind services for community organisation and people with disability.

Wellbeing resources for people leaders
A collection of online resources from mental health organisation, Superfriend to help leaders care for themselves and their staff.

Over the course of the pandemic, NDS has heard many providers talk about the high levels of fatigue present in the disability workforce. These resources address the causes of fatigue and provide strategies to address it.

A workers guide to managing fatigue
A fact sheet from Safe Work Australia for employees on how to manage fatigue.

Managing the risk of fatigue at work 
Practical Guide for people managers from Safe Work Australia contains a Fatigue Checklist and Risk Management Chart to identify, assess and control fatigue-related risks.

Work-related fatigue: a guide for employers 
An online publication from WorkSafe outlines the legal duties of workplaces to reduce fatigue-related injuries among employees.

Workplaces can assist staff to manage their own mental health and wellbeing, through promoting the quality, cost-free resources that are available online.

Mental health assessment tool
The Black Dog Institute provides a free, confidential mental health assessment tool for anyone over 18 who is worried about their mental health. A downloadable report comes back with suggested support services and resources.

Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service
Beyond Blue’s website provides information, advice and strategies to help people manage mental wellbeing during the pandemic. It explores a range of topics that impact many of us adjusting to COVID-normal.

Self-care plan for mental health professionals
ReachOut Australia has a guide for workers engaging with young people, to enhance their own health and wellbeing, manage stress, and maintain professionalism at work.

Building lifelong resilience course
Proven online resilience course from Jem Fuller is self-paced and focuses on enabling individuals to build their own resilience and wellbeing.


National Disability Services has made every effort to ensure that the information contained in this resource is correct at the time of publishing. This toolkit is intended for general use only. It does not constitute formal advice and does not take into consideration the particular circumstances and needs of your organisation. The information provided should not be relied on instead of other legal, medical, financial or professional advice. The toolkit contains links to resources on external websites. Please contact NDS at submit enquiry/feedback if a link is broken or a resource is no longer available. NDS cannot attest to the accuracy or accessibility compliance of non-NDS and non-government websites.

Updated May 2021

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Sarah Fordyce, State Manager Victoria, 0447 441 505, submit enquiry/feedback