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News update
News update

Future of the SCHADS and SES Awards' COVID-19 Flexibility Schedules remains uncertain

The Schedule X in the SCHADS and SES Awards has not yet been extended by the FWC and is currently due to expire 29 October 2020.
News update
News update

Queensland State Committee Chair and Deputy Chair elected

The Queensland State Committee have elected a new Chair and Deputy Chair.

DHHS COVID-19 advice for Victorian providers

Banner reads: COVID-19 news update


NDS and DHHS hosted the webinar: Safer and Stronger – Update on COVID-19 impacts for the disability sector.  The webinar, held on Tuesday, 4 August 2020 attracted a high level of engagement from over 1000 attendees.

More than 400 questions were submitted and whilst we are unable to immediately answer all of them, we have started collating a Q&A sheet, which we will continue building with DHHS and located on the NDS COVID-19 hub.

DHHS COVID-19 Advice

Key Messages

  • Restrictions are changing to slow the spread of coronavirus.
  • There will be further announcements this week.
  • While some activities are still allowable, it is important we all rethink the need for community activities and leaving home unless absolutely essential.

Stage 4 restrictions

Essential Services
Stay at home directions for the Melbourne area provides four reasons for leaving home.  Whilst services should be provided remotely where possible, essential Services are permitted to continue:

  • These are disability supports that are essential to a person’s health, safety, behaviour and wellbeing
  • Essential services may be provided in-home, in a facility or in the community (in limited circumstances) and include:
    • Residential services, including STAA
    • In-home support
    • Behaviour support services
    • Community support within one of the four reasons listed above
    • Centre-based services - where support is essential to the person or the person’s family
    • Aids and Equipment / Assistive Technology - where essential
  • A person can be supported by more than one support worker when leaving home for one of the four reasons.

Masks and travel
All disability support workers must wear a face mask regardless of where they work in Victoria - this is a requirement for both Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions.

Disability support workers may travel into restricted areas to provide essential disability services. A person may travel more than 5 km to access an essential support if this is necessary.

Exercise and restricted activities
Under stage 4 restrictions exercise is restricted to one hour a day. A person may only exercise with one other person (no household groups) but can have two support workers if necessary.

Recreational activities are not able to be undertaken; for example, golf, fishing. Other restricted activities include indoor physical recreation and sport, outdoor sport and recreation, play centre or publicly accessible playground, skatepark, outdoor communal gym equipment, and entertainment facilities.

Stage 3 restrictions (regional areas)

Stay at Home Directions - Stage 3 commences in regional areas at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, 5 August. There are four reasons that you can leave home, and when leaving home you must wear a mask or face covering, otherwise, you must stay at home. 

Restricted activities
Any support services provided must be consistent with the Restricted Activities (Restricted Areas) Directions.  These Directions include restrictions on indoor and outdoor activities and the numbers of people who may be involved.

Key issues for further work

DHHS is currently working on a number of issues to support the response to COVID-19, including:

Additional workforce capacity

  • Backfill of workers self-isolating
  • NDIA has established matching platforms to connect with available workers
  • Continuing to work with the NDIA to match available workers to where they are required

Workforce mobilisation

  • Work with the sector to develop a framework for further minimising workforce mobility
  • Ensuring sufficient availability of workforce to enable continued service delivery

DHHS Priority actions

DHHS has already undertaken development of a number of initiatives both in response to outbreak preparation and intervention:

Outbreak response - preparation

  • COVID-19 plan for the disability services sector
  • National Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability
  • Practice advice
    • Hand hygiene, cough etiquette, social distancing
    • Appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment
    • Guidance on public health directions
  • Infection control training
  • Business continuity and preparedness training
  • Infection Prevention and Control Outreach Team - pre-emptive visits to accommodation providers
  • Advice and support on infection control procedures and outbreak preparedness

Outbreak response - intervention

  • Outbreak Management Protocol
    • Details roles and responsibilities of DHHS, NDIA and NDIS Commission
  • On identifying an outbreak within disability accommodation, an Outbreak Management Team is established
    • Co-chaired by DHHS and provider
    • Includes NDIA representative
    • Oversees and supports implementation of provider’s Outbreak Management Plan
    • Facilitates emergency PPE, in-home testing, nursing surveillance support
  • NDIA has extended SIL supports for positive COVID-19 cases
  • Disability Incident Case Manager supporting people, families and providers where suspected or confirmed case
  • Workers can access COVID-19 Test Isolation and Worker Support Payments

Thank you to everyone who attended the webinar. Slide packs and notes will be available on the NDS website later this week.

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Sarah Fordyce, Acting State Manager Victoria, 03 8341 4303,