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covid COVID-19 Risk Management BusinessAdvice Business Continuity

COVID-19 Risk Management

The COVID-19 pandemic during 2020-2022 highlighted a need for increased disability settings risk management to minimise infection transmission.

The NDS COVID-19 2023 risk management revision identifies key issues for ongoing consideration by providers and includes links to Commonwealth, state and territory information and resources.


In this section:

This document is designed to be used as a risk management guide for providers operating disability support services.

The information outlines provider COVID-19 risk mitigation considerations related to policy, procedure, and operational needs in recognition that COVID-19 is predicted to remain a health risk for at least the next couple of years. While the impact of new variants is unknown the current environment of risk continues to be highlighted by health authorities across Australia.  

Responsibility for reducing the known risks is the obligation of employers as part of work, health and safety legislation. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have also communicated risk reduction recommendations associated with services and settings involving the care and support of immune compromised people, those with chronic health conditions and disabilities. The recommendations are based on pandemic evidence identifying these population groups at an increased risk of poorer outcomes from a COVID-19 infection. Health experts promote the importance of maintaining a combination of risk reducing strategies for the settings including people who are more vulnerable or immune compromised, such as disability.  

In the absence of government health authority requirements COVID-19 risk mitigation needs to be defined in organisation’s policy and procedures and discussed with workers and individuals with disabilities prior to implementation.  

Commonwealth, state, and territory weblinks have been provided throughout this guide. The weblinks are intended to assist you with your risk management decisions and planning or review of existing policies and procedures.

Hierarchy of risk management controls 

The Department of Health and Aged Care has provided three infection prevention and control guidelines for use by employers to identify and implement COVID-19 risk management policies and procedures. This includes the 2023 Control and Public Health Management of Outbreaks of Acute Respiratory Infection (including COVID-19 and Influenza) in Disability Residential Services | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care guidance document. The guidance covers outbreak management and prevention of acute respiratory infections including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, usually identified as RSV, within residential accommodation settings.

The hierarchy of controls guide outlines risk-avoidance or mitigation strategies in decreasing order of reliability. Multiple control strategies can support the elimination of, or effective minimization of, any hazards. These can be implemented at the same time or follow one another. The hazard control measures are broadly grouped into six categories with the addition of some COVID-19 disability considerations: 

  • Elimination 
    • Reduce workers/residents/visitors’ exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual 
    • Decrease the number of workers involved with COVID-19 positive person  
    • Increase infection control protocols to minimise infection transmission at onset of outbreak or when community infection rates are known to be high
  • Substitution  
    • Use online contact options if this can replace face to face interactions. This could apply to interactions with workers, family, and other residents where appropriate to context and needs
  • Isolation 
    • Policy and procedure developed and implemented to require workers who are COVID-19 positive, to isolate from work. Worker roles covered by this requirement defined and communicated
    • Development of an agreement with individual residents outlining any actions to be taken when individual is COVID-19 positive, may include: 
      • isolate from others in shared house in agreed areas of residence
      • use of communal areas at agreed times
      • not attending external activities during defined timeframe 
  • Engineering controls  
    • Increased ventilation, use of air scrubbers  
  • Administrative controls  
    • Worker COVID-19 vaccination policies
    • Policy and procedure developed regarding worker/resident reporting of RAT/PCR COVID-19 positive results to support exposure identification 
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) use and item type communicated and supplies immediately accessible. 

The hierarchy of controls should be applied in resident contact settings and other shared facilities such as: 

  • Shared areas – kitchen, lounge, laundry, bathrooms etc.  
  • Staff meeting/working areas  
  • Transport – provider fleet cars and buses, ride share and public transport  

Policy and procedure considerations 

COVID-19 risk management policy and procedure development should include consultation with workers, people with disabilities and their identified supports. A list of key focus areas for policy and procedure needs has been included below: 

Worker focused

  • COVID-19 testing supplies and who provides these – individual or disability provider  
  • COVID-19 RAT use, when needed and reporting expectations to employer and other reporting avenues
  • COVID-19 positive result expectations including employer notification for exposure identification  
  • Isolation period from defined work sites if COVID-19 positive and leave arrangements 
  • Expectations regarding return to work when asymptomatic  
  • COVID-19 vaccination and evidence requirements including what roles are included  
  • COVID-19 positive prevention, management and outbreak guidance implementation and monitoring. 

Focus on people with disabilities 

Individual rights and choices will need to be a key consideration in any discussion and development of risk mitigation agreements to protect the individual, other residents, workers, and broader community regarding infection transmission.  

  • COVID-19 exposure and testing agreements and notifications to provider relevant to service delivery or accommodation setting 
  • COVID-19 testing supplies and who provides these – individual or disability provider and any NDIS billing involved 
  • COVID-19 positive identification and development of agreements regarding: 
    • reducing the risk of infection between other residents including use of common shared spaces and social distancing etc.
    • the individual’s participation in external activities, staying at home while symptomatic etc. 
    • PPE to be worn by workers when caring for COVID-19 positive individual and the settings this will be applied. 

COVIDSafe Plans

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.

A comprehensive collection of resources, information, tools, templates, posters, and guidance for workplaces are available from the safe work sites. In some instances, COVID-19 specific details are listed separately or included under the general health and safety obligations of employers. A link to the commonwealth, state, and territory authorities responsible for work health and safety are listed below: 

A link to all state and territory authorities responsible for work health and safety are listed below.

Workers and COVID-19 vaccination   

In this section:

The following information regarding COVID-19 worker vaccinations recognises all previous mandates applicable to disability workers have ceased. Responsibility for risk management decisions related to implementation of a policy for worker vaccination requirements includes several key considerations discussed below. 

Australian COVID-19 vaccination recommendations  

The current advice from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is for all people to access the dose of COVID-19 vaccination they are eligible to receive – to remain fully protected. Vaccination reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation, and death. It is possible to be infected by COVID-19 when fully vaccinated however the risks of serious illness are known to be reduced.  

ATAGI continually reviews the clinical needs and updated guidance is released when required regarding COVID-19 vaccination recommendations and eligibility.    

The ATAGI February 2023 COVID-19 vaccination update includes a change in the timing recommended before receiving the booster dose. The new timing advice recommends the booster should not be received until six or more months have passed since a previous COVID-19 vaccination or a confirmed COVID-19 infection, whichever is the most recent. Anyone who suspects they had a COVID-19 infection not identified with a positive test result is advised there are no safety concerns with receiving the booster.  

Eligibility is not determined by the previous number of COVID-19 vaccinations and for some individuals the booster will become their fifth COVID-19 vaccination.  

The 2023 COVID-19 booster is recommended for: 

  • All adults aged 65 years and over 
  • Adults aged 18 to 64 years who have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or disability with significant or complex health needs. 

Consideration of a 2023 booster is encouraged for: 

  • All adults aged 18 to 64 years without risk factors for severe COVID-19 
  • Children and adolescents aged five to 17 years who have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or disability with significant or complex health needs. 

The booster is not recommended at this time for children and adolescents aged under the age of 18 years who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19. 

All COVID-19 vaccination information including vaccine options and primary and booster dose eligibility are available at COVID-19 vaccines | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care 

NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission 

The NDIS Commission update, 21 October, on worker vaccination outlines the obligations for providers regarding vaccination and risk management considerations. 

Referencing the NDIS Code of Conduct, the Commission highlights need for providers and workers to deliver supports and services to people with disability in a safe and competent manner. This includes assisting participants to access COVID-19 vaccination, planning for an outbreak of COVID-19 and taking precautions to minimise infection risks. 

Registered providers have additional obligations under the NDIS Practice Standards in relation to the management of risks, provision of safe supports, and to have emergency and disaster plans in place for the continuity of support to participants including during a COVID-19 outbreak. A link to the Safe work Australia COVID-19 vaccination and meeting work, health and safety obligations is recommended for further guidance and support. Links to all commonwealth, state and territory work, health and safety departments are included below. 

Australian Government Health Protection Principal Committee  

The Australian Government Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) identified the need for a proportionate approach to COVID-19 risk management in September 2022 this remains applicable for the current context and provider considerations.  Recommendations regarding risk management included maintaining continued protection of those most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 especially in settings where there is increased risk of outbreaks occurring. Risk reduction strategies include:

  • Ensure you are up to date with recommended vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are unwell and get tested
  • Speak to your healthcare professional about eligibility for treatments should you become unwell with COVID-19
  • Consider wearing a mask when outside your home and especially when in crowded, indoor environments such as public transport
  • Keep indoor spaces well ventilated
  • Practise good respiratory and hand hygiene

Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care 

COVID-19 Vaccine information 

Australian health authorities expect COVID-19 to remain a health risk for some time as the virus continues to change and as a result vaccination continues to be seen as a tool in preventing serious illness and death with new vaccine versions currently in development. Support for workers to access accurate and trustworthy sources of information about existing and future vaccination types will continue to be an important part of any risk reduction strategy, regardless of an existing vaccination requirement policy or not.  

Commonwealth, state and territory links have been included for your reference. 

Work Health and Safety obligations  

Work health and safety legislation across Australia requires employers to identify known risks as the basis for assessment of relevant requirements to protect the health and safety of workers. This includes visitors and customers.  

State and territory links have been included for your reference. 

Vaccination requirements and employer considerations 

The information provided includes input from an NDS webinar presented by Nick Maley, (Partner, Holman Webb Lawyers) and Anna Pannuzzo (Director, WorkPlace PLUS).  Presentations focused on provider considerations and questions regarding employer responsibilities and whether COVID-19 worker vaccination policies should be developed and implemented in the disability sector. A link to the NDS online seminar recording and presentation package is provided for access to each presenter's discussion of the issues. 

Fair Work Australia guidance  

Fair Work Australia identifies employers undertaking a risk assessment process to determine vaccination needs to include consultation with workers. Fair Work Australia provides guidance on worker consultations and how levels of risk vary across worker roles. Descriptions of four tiers describing worker activities and roles have been included to assess risk in relation to the worker’s level of interaction with the public. The NDS online seminar consultants identified disability client facing workers included in tier four level. 

COVID-19 vaccinations: workplace rights & obligations - Fair Work Ombudsman 

Consultation regarding any requirement that may be introduced also needs to occur with workers regardless of any previously existing government vaccine mandates. Employers need to communicate with workers about changes with mandates or requirements associated with their position, current risk mitigation needs, and the actions proposed.  

When workers are not vaccinated against COVID-19 

Organisations who develop and implement COVID-19 vaccination requirements for any workers will still need to consider the potential of some workers meeting medical exemption criteria. This can apply to COVID-19 or any other vaccination and appropriate management of this needs to be considered. Risk mitigation actions will need to be defined for business as usual and for times of increased levels of community transmission. These also need to be developed in discussion with workers.

Why not leave COVID-19 vaccination to individual worker choice?  

In response to this question during the NDS online seminar consultants highlighted the existence of other requirements employers may have of workers. Examples of the requirements included police checks, working with children checks, influenza vaccinations, professional body accreditation, first aid certificates and completion of mandatory qualifications or training to be eligible for recruitment or remain in a role. COVID-19 related requirements were then proposed as needing to be considered now as part of current business work, health, and safety environments relevant to sector and worker roles.  

When workers do not want to comply with any requirement for vaccination 

There is recognition that despite an employer completing a thorough consultation and risk assessment process it may still result in some workers refusing to comply with any requirement to maintain their eligible dose of COVID-19 vaccination. A strategy for managing this needs to be included and consider the employer legal and industrial agreement obligations.   

Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) guide

In this section:

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are strongly recommended by health authorities as an important tool in reducing infection transmission. These tests enable providers and workers to identify when COVID-19 infection risk mitigation strategies need to be increased relevant to a positive individual (worker or person with a disability) and setting context.

Worker and resident access to early testing will require immediate access to RATs at each residential site, monitored for expiry dates and stored in a manner that protects product from deterioration. Always follow manufacturers advice regarding correct storage.

Testing and reporting  

Anyone who has been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person or has symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of whether they know an exposure has occurred, is recommended by Australian health authorities to complete a COVID-19 test. The time between exposure and a COVID-19 test positive result varies from one individual to another depending on the current COVID-19 variant and their own health or vaccination level of protection. Heath authorities have identified after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, there is a risk of developing it for 14 days. While most people who develop COVID-19 will do so in the first seven days after they are exposed some people will still develop COVID-19 between day eight and 14.

The National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023 includes a table recommending when COVID-19 testing needs to occur and what actions to take when the test result is positive. The recommendations are divided into three levels based on the contact existing between an individual completing the test and the potential risk to COVID-19 illness and poorer health outcomes for the other people around them. 

Low risk person

  • Person completing test does not have close contact with a high-risk population
    Low-risk people are encouraged to stay home when feeling sick. They should complete a RAT if they have respiratory and/or other COVID-19 symptoms. If a positive COVID-19 result is received, stay home where possible and if you must leave, wear a mask, and avoid high-risk settings. Continue to monitor symptoms and engage early with your primary care provider if symptoms worsen.
  • This could be interpreted as disability workers who do not have direct care or client facing responsibilities. Providers should consider all work settings related to risks and the potential links with immune compromised individuals, for example workers or those with family members who are immune compromised.  

Low-risk person with close contact to high-risk population 

  • Low-risk people who live or work with other people who are high-risk, particularly for COVID-19, are encouraged to take a RAT if they have respiratory and/or other COVID-19 symptoms and stay home when feeling sick. 
  • If symptoms persist following a negative RAT, individuals must arrange to have a PCR through a GP or known pathology referral pathway.
    Health authorities recommend requesting a telehealth appointment for PCR testing referrals. People who have a disability, are immune compromised or at risk of poor health outcomes from COVID-19 infection and could be eligible for anti-viral treatment to discuss with their GP a plan to arrange referral paperwork for pathology provider PCR test to be available in advance for use when needed.
  • People entering high risk settings are recommended to continue to use RATs for screening and diagnosis to prevent further transmission. 

High-risk population 

  • Those at higher risk of severe COVID-19 include older Australians, First Nations people, people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people living in remote communities, people with complex underlying health conditions and the immunocompromised. 
  • People in high-risk populations who are at risk of severe COVID-19 and would benefit from antiviral treatments. People with a disability at risk of severe COVID-19, are recommended to consult with their GP about referral paperwork for pathology provider PCR test to be available in advance and eligibility for antiviral treatments to create a plan to ensure fast access to treatment.

Reporting a positive COVID-19 RAT result 

Australian health authorities recommend all people who complete a RAT and receive a positive result report this to their state or territory health department. An online portal, or a phone number is provided for anyone unable to use the online form.

Once a person has tested positive to COVID-19 re-testing is not needed for approximately 4 weeks with some minor variation in this time frame between states and territories. Re-testing is recommended after this time has finished if new symptoms are present or an exposure occurs due to the risk of a further COVID-19 infection. All state and territory weblinks related to testing are provided at the end of this section.  

Isolation recommendations  

This has varied in length from five days as a minimal recommendation to 14 days throughout the COVID-19 pandemic context. While mandated isolation may not be in place the Australian Government Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommend the minimum isolation period associated with vulnerable settings, including residential disability services is seven days following a positive COVID-19 test result. This is due to the time frame an individual is infectious regardless of symptoms being present. Symptomatic individuals are recommended to isolate while these persist to reduce interactions with vulnerable people while symptoms persist.  

Organisational policy will need to include any agreements developed with residents regarding risk reduction plans if they test positive for COVID-19.  Where any agreement to isolate has been identified this needs to include a clear description of what this will involve such as using common areas of the residence, minimizing common area interaction etc. Agreement with residents will also need to include organizational requirements associated with involvement in external activities (alone or with other people with disabilities) in relation to protecting others from infection and worker PPE expectations during these activities.  

Monitoring worker COVID-19 positive results 

NDS has available a simple survey style reporting tool for workers to submit their own data regarding a positive RAT or PCR test to their organisation identified contact. The summary of results can be download as often as needed by coordinating Management for monitoring workers results for rostering and exposure identification. The tool was developed by a disability provider in Victoria and shared with NDS for broader sector use. The January 2023 revised version takes workers approximately 2 minutes to complete and will enable the manager responsible for oversight to prepopulate a collated excel spreadsheet report as often as needed. Refer to section below for the full details regarding ease of use for Human Resources Managers to download template and establish within your own system. This ensures all data and privacy is retained within your own organisation.

Template to record worker RAT and PCR results

January 2023 revision  

NDS has available a Microsoft Forms template that was originally developed and in use by Melba Support Services, a day and accommodation service provider in Victoria. The January 2023 revision is shorter and only takes approximately two minutes for each worker to complete if they use a COVID-19 RA or PCR test and return a positive result. Any organisation that wants to add a surveillance testing question and response can add this option themselves or contact NDS for assistance with this addition if needed.

The template is shared for sector adaption and use to record worker COVID-19 test results. It can used with any IT systems that have Microsoft Office 365 Microsoft Forms.  The template enables individual organisations to create a duplicate version that can be modified to suit specific state/territory and organisation needs.  When adaption to local needs is completed, it can be shared from a specific management or HR individual or team email to all workers and the results will remain confidential with the team responsible for COVID tests result follow up.  

Instructions to access the template for use  

  • Open and download: Template_Worker COVID-19 RA or PCR Test Result Record January 2023 Revision
  • Link will open automatically within Microsoft forms with the duplicate option at the top of the form. Duplicate version is your template only
  • All worker data is retained in your organisation system when tool is downloaded from NDS this protects the privacy of worker and organisation data.  
  • Rename and save into organisational system for easy identification 
  • Settings option (available in top righthand corner of page three dots) provides option for you to include:   
    • Automatically generated email to the worker to indicate the submission is successful 
    • Automatic email to alert team/individual responsible for oversight of the response that a PCR or RAT result record has been submitted.  

Worker access to reporting record 

The team responsible for distribution of the reporting survey form can elect to use one of the following options when they click on Share tab: 

  • Send a collection message through the forms system. This is at the top of the page. Drop down arrow allows for the response restrictions within organisation  
  • Copy link icon (paperclip image) into a relevant internal organisation web page for workers to access  
  • Copy the QR code link into a relevant internal organisation web page for workers  
  • Send an email with a copy of the URL to all workers for access.  

Workers will be able to open a link to the blank form, available on PC or phone, and simply enter the required data for submission which automatically returns the information to the team/individual responsible.  

Downloading worker response data into an excel spreadsheet

The team responsible for distribution of the reporting survey are the only people who can access the data and your organisation’s copy of the survey at any time to check responses and carry out actions as needed. 

To access and download an excel spreadsheet of response carry out the steps below:   

  • Open organisation template form  
  • Click on responses tab  
  • Look for excel spreadsheet icon and download for collated responses.  

 Additional help 

These short Microsoft forms tutorials provide further instruction.  

Each tutorial runs for approximately two to three minutes in length.   

RAT storage and supply options

Government supplied RATs and eligibility for access varies across state and territory governments with the responsibility for sourcing a local site supply increasingly the responsibility of providers.  While some options for free RATs are available these are commonly small volumes and sourcing when needed may involve delays increasing the risk of transmission if a supply must be sourced at this stage.

Storage and expiry 

Most RATs remain effective for six months from development with recommendation to check expiry dates especially with any products offered at discounted rates. 

All RATs need to be stored according to manufacturer’s requirements to remain viable for use. Anyone carrying RATs in a vehicle should check the products are not exposed to the elements, especially direct sunlight or excessive heat in vehicles or site storage locations. Insulated containers may be required for outreach workers.

Refer to manufacturer’s guidance for specific details on storage. 

RAT supply estimates  

The suggested supply for immediate use below is based on the readily available RATs for purchase in the community if needed. Where supply may be less reliable in the local area the stock may need to be doubled.  

The table below provides a summary of RAT stock needs to have for immediate use on site when an exposure to COVID-19 has occurred or an individual is showing symptoms of infection.

The summary is a suggestion of stock to have readily available for workers and residents if worker surveillance testing is implemented. 

Test useSupply estimateReason for volume identified
Workers and residents Two boxes of five RATs on site for each worker delivering support in a residential of a disability accommodation or in-home support setting. Residents are also recommended to have two boxes of five RATs available for personal use.    Number of tests allows for a positive result to be identified up to day 14, testing as symptoms arise or spread out after day seven. Boxes of five RATs are a common supply volume.
Worker surveillance testing One box of five RATs for each worker. This stock only needs to be maintained if organisation implements a policy to include worker surveillance testing during times of increased infection risk in the community. 

Rapid Antigen Testing, supplies and reporting weblinks 








  • The COVID-19 test site includes PCR pathology referral requirements and sites and the locations for access to free RATs for all Victorians
  • Reporting your rapid antigen test result  
  • WorkSafe only require notification if the infection can be reliably attributed to workplace exposure and results in need for hospitalization or death



Infection prevention and control

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

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 Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare | Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 
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)

In this section:

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

PPE stock guide

Residential service providers and in-home supports should consider maintaining a readily accessible supply of PPE to for use when needed on site. In-home support workers should maintain a supply at their home or base site and carried for each individual appointment. This guidance has been informed by the several infection control expert consultants along with the disability sector insights gained during Australian COVID-19 2020-22 outbreaks, isolation, and quarantine needs. 

The requirements for COVID-19 risk levels and PPE may vary across states and territories depending on the COVID-19 context and outbreak management recommendations or if emergency health requirements are enacted. 

Correct use of PPE  

All workers need to be trained in donning and doffing of the PPE supplied and know how to fit check their N95 masks. This is essential for correct use of each item and preventing the spread of infection. It also ensures that the investment in the PPE supply is not wasted through ineffective donning and doffing that can result in an increased risk of workers becoming COVID-19 positive. 

Display donning and doffing posters at each site for workers in addition to their training.  Examples of donning and doffing posters are available on Federal, State and Territory Department of Health websites. The links for these are included below. 

Worker PPE activities and items

All PPE must be removed (doffed) and correctly disposed before going on a break and replaced (donned) before resuming shift and between contact with a COVID-19 positive individual and those at risk of being COVID-19 positive.

  • Full cover waterproof gowns: Gowns need to have long sleeves and cover the front and sides of worker, securing at the back.
    Waterproof isolation gowns may be used for extended periods in specific cohort environments. They must be replaced if torn or contaminated with body fluids. 
  • N95 respirator masks: These can only be worn for a maximum of four hours. N95 masks must be TGA-approved for COVID-19 use and supply must allow for different shapes and size of workers’ faces.
  • Face shield or goggles: Face shields were identified as the most effective option during COVID-19 outbreak periods in Victoria .Single-use goggles and face shields can be worn for an entire shift. These must be replaced after assisting with an aerosol-generating procedure.
    Where single-use face masks, face shields or goggles are used for extended periods, good hand hygiene and sanitising should be maintained. If reusable products are in use they must be cleaned and disinfected before use. 
  • Disposable gloves: allow for the variations in worker hand size and fit; small, medium, and large and any latex allergies. 
    Gloves need to be changed between every participant interaction and when contaminated or torn. 

The guidance on the use of PPE for health care workers has been sourced from the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care. 

PPE outbreak estimates of usage   

PPE stock to have available for worker use sufficient to last seven days follows the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee advice allowing for workers to implement use while organising testing for any individual where immediate testing may not be possible.  

  • Disability residential service estimate: Rule of thumb estimator is a complete change of PPE every four hours per support worker.  
  • Calculation formula: [FTE per week] X [hrs. per week normally 38]: [shift length normally eight hours.] X [PPE changes normally four to six for N95] burn rate per week  

Shift breaks: All single use PPE must be doffed and disposed of. All reusable items must be cleaned and disinfected before donning can occur again. 

Worker PPE stock supply needs calculator for COVID-19 risk environments  

The table below identifies the individual PPE stock items required for workers to wear when supporting an individual with personal care who is COVID-19 positive or when a person is displaying COVID-19 symptoms and testing is taking place. The estimated stock needs are based on how often each item must be changed by number of workers to cover a seven-day timeframe. A supply for 14 days is suggested where any difficulty in accessing supplies at short notice may occur such as rural or remote settings.

Stock itemDisposable gloves (Small, medium, and large)Disposable gown - full cover long sleeveSurgical mask - not recommended by health authorities for COVID-19 positive case environmentsP2 / N95 respirator masks Eye protection
(Goggles or face shield)
Stock icons ppe gloves ppe gown ppe mask ppe mask 2 ppe eye protection
Estimate for stock for access when COVID-19 transmission when increased risk or outbreak occurs.

Gloves need to be replaced after every interaction, remembering you need two per worker per interaction. Estimate is 15 changes each day = 30 gloves x worker x each shift.

Size guide general rule:

  • 60 per cent medium, 15 per cent small,
  • 15 per cent large,
  • 10 per cent extra-large per team.
Two for each shift and allow for change every four hours.
Always have spare available for any tears or soiled gowns.
Two for each shift to allow for changes every four hours.

Two for each shift to allow for changes every four hours.

(Can be used for estimate calculation where organisations require all workers in defined roles to wear a face mask during increased community transmission contexts.)

One each shift with spare available if damaged or soiled.  

If reusable can be one per shift with appropriate cleaning supplies.  

Environmental cleaning and waste guide

In this section:

Cleaning process and supplies guide

The Australian Government Department of Health has recommended the following COVID-19 principles for cleaning and disinfection to reduce infection transmission in residential settings: 

  • ensure all residential sites have an easily accessible supply of appropriate hand sanitizers, detergents, and disinfectant products for implementation when COVID-19 outbreaks are identified 
  • supply needs on site to allow for increased use during outbreaks to reduce the risk of infection transmission from high contact surfaces and items

Routine cleaning applies to frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, handrails, tabletops, light switches, computers and other shared equipment, shared tools, phones, entertainment devices and controls, kitchen equipment, sinks, bathrooms, and toilets. The process involves the following steps: 

  • visible grime or dirt should be removed (scrubbed off) by hand first  
  • use of detergent solution and disinfectant (as per manufacturer’s instructions) or detergent/disinfectant wipes. 

Recommendations for minimal touched surfaces, such as floors ceilings, walls, and blinds, include: 

  • use of detergent solution (as per manufacturer’s instructions) or detergent wipes for cleaning general surfaces 
  • damp mopping should be used instead of dry mopping to increase effectiveness  
  • cleaning walls and blinds when visibly dirty or dusty. 

Infectious waste disposal planning

Waste disposal needs should be identified in advance of any increased infection transmission and checked against state or territory government requirements. The information below is an example identified through the Victorian Department of Health link to EPA waste management COVID-19.  

Planning decisions should include: 

  • Do state or territory waste management regulations allow for PPE to be double-bagged and tied before placing in the external general waste bin?
  • Arranging for clinical waste contractors to be set up for use when needed in advance of any outbreaks to ensure required supply.  

Commonwealth state, and territory governments COVID-19 resources

The links below includes the range of infection control and prevention weblinks. 


The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health care has more detailed resources developed with health care settings as a focus. For providers with complex care service delivery needs these guidelines provide additional information for development of policy and procedure to increase infection control and prevention.  









Workforce infection control training  

Infection, prevention and control 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. 

Training options include short e-learning refreshers, video demonstrations of infection control practice and longer online training for workers with limited or no infection control training to support workers with the critical foundation knowledge needed for the prevention of infection transmission in day-to-day disability context.  

NDS training resources

Disability providers are welcome to contact the NDS for further information regarding COVID-19 management, support, resources, and practical disability informed online infection prevention and control training. 

Online course: Maintaining safe and effective infection control in disability settings  

NDS have partnered with the Health Education Collaborative, experts in infection prevention and outbreak management to develop Maintaining safe and effective infection control in disability settings ( This online training has been developed with input from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, Australian Services Union and 300 plus sector workers.  

Key benefits for this sector specific online program:  

  • covers essential infection control and prevention knowledge and skills needed for the current disability context 
  • addresses COVID-19 risk management and other common infectious conditions for broad application 
  • uses range of learning formats to be accessible for workers with little or no health literacy background. 

Organisations investing in the infection control capability of workers need to contact Health Education Collaborative to discuss invoicing and set up for tracking staff completion through an LMS system. Individuals can also request an invoice for access as part of professional development. The sliding scale of user costs reduces from $50 to $30 per worker for non NDS members and $23 to 20 for NDS members depending on access volume required.

To arrange for ‘Maintaining safe and effective infection control in disability settings’ course enrolment access contact Heather McMinn, NDS Disability Sector Consultant at contact Heather McMinn: submit enquiry/feedback or show phone number

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.

Explore more COVID-19 training offerings with NDS

Information and support for people with disability

A person-centred approach that includes an ongoing discussion with individuals, 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.

The resources listed below can assist providers supporting people with a disabilityto manage the risks of COVID-19.

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 for emergencies.

Home safety plan 
This Victorian example has been provided as an easy-to-follow information checklist  for clients and carers to prepare a COVID-19 home safety plan with details relevant for anyone.

COVID-19 resources

The links provided below include specific disability focused sites where identified. Language options vary across the sites identified below and where these are not easily identified should be requested through website contacts for the most current information. 


Australian Department of Health and Aged Care

Australian Government  

  • COVID-19 | Disability Gateway 
    Includes COVID-19 supports, vaccine and treatment information 
  • COVID-19 Symptom Checker 
    This Australian funded Health Direct website includes information about COVID-19, a quick symptom check, antiviral eligibility check,  support to find a health service if needed, and location of vaccination providers.


NSW - People at higher risk of severe COVID-19 | NSW Government

NT - COVID-19 | NT Health - COVID-19

QLD - People with disability, support workers and carers — COVID-19 | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government (

SA - COVID-19 health information | SA Health

TAS - Vulnerable people and Vulnerable people and high risk settings | Tasmanian Department of Health settings | Tasmanian Department of Health

VIC - People with disability | Coronavirus Victoria

WA - COVID-19 (coronavirus) (

Council for Intellectual Disability (CID)  

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Business Continuity

Business continuity planning is critical for all disability providers. Easy-access resources are grouped under the following categories

Organisational Strategy and Governance

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

Planning and Action

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 Management

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:

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.

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.

Service Suppliers

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.

IT and Systems

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.

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Updated June 2023

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Heather McMinn, Disability Sector Consultant, show phone numbersubmit enquiry/feedback