National COVID-19 update: New government recommendations for disability workers
What you need to know
- COVID-19 cases are rising and expected to rise further.
- Protection from COVID-19 for vulnerable people with disabilities remains a priority.
- Infected support workers and visitors are strongly recommended not to work or attend for seven days and while symptoms persist.
- Vaccination against COVID-19 remains effective for preventing severe illness or death for people with disability.
COVID-19 cases expected to increase in coming weeks
COVID-19 cases have increased across Australia, with NSW and Vic cases increasing by 25 per cent in the last week. With this and overseas data, the NSW and Victorian Chief Health Officers predict a COVID-19 surge in the coming weeks.
This highlights the continuing risk of COVID-19 transmission and the need for maintaining infection prevention strategies and ensuring outbreak plans are ready.
Disability providers should check that staff know how to implement COVID-Safe plans and have the appropriate resources on hand, including outbreak PPE supplies.
Australian Department of Health and Aged Care updated disability recommendations
Disability providers should review the updated guidance from the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care about worker and visitor isolation and vaccination for disability settings.
They should also make appropriate changes to their COVID-19 risk management strategies and communicate the changes to their workers and people with disabilities.
COVID positive isolation guidance
To protect vulnerable people, the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care strongly recommends that disability workers not attend work or provide support services for seven days after testing positive and while symptoms persist.
This recommendation also applies to visitors to disability residential and day settings, highlighting the importance of a visitor risk management procedure to reduce the chance of COVID-19 infection.
Advice on isolation prepared by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) in September is still current and their recommendations can be read on the Department of Health and Aged Care website.
Because many states and territories have removed the mandated vaccination requirements for disability workers, the recommendations reinforce the value of keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. ‘Up to date’ means completing all the doses recommended for one’s age and health status. To protect people with disability from COVID-19 infection, the vaccination of workers is an important part of a COVID-19 management strategy.
AHPPC have identified vaccination as a risk management decision for organisations and their guidance can be found in their statement about booster vaccination for disability support workers.
Disability support providers and workers should continue to stay up to date with public health advice and requirements in their state or territory.
Online meeting: Moving forward with COVID-19 risk mitigation
Date: Thursday 24 November 2022
Time: 2:00 to 4:00pm (AEDT)
NDS will hold an online meeting with Workplace PLUS, Holman Webb Lawyers and Australian Department of Health to discuss COVID-19 risk management for disability sector employers. The discussion will include Work, Health and Safety obligations for COVID-19, as well as risk management strategies.
Questions can be submitted in advance: submit enquiry/feedback