COVID-19 (coronavirus) sector updates

The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) is aware and monitoring the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) spreading throughout Australia and globally.

We recognise the threat this virus poses to the AOD sector, particularly residential rehabilitation centres. The Department of Health and Human Services have created a resource to assist in reducing the risk of coronavirus.

You can view and download the resource here.

For more information and updates visit the DHHS website

Procedure for correct fitting and removal of P.P.E (Personal Protective Equipment)

How to put on your P.P.E (donning)

How to take off your P.P.E (doffing)

AOD Sector Funding

DHHS have indicated that state funding for services is assured:

The department does not intend to withdraw or vary Service agreement funding as a result of service impacts arising from COVID-19, this includes clients being unable to attend. Where this situation occurs, it should be captured as part of standard record keeping procedures and communicated to your Agency Performance and Systems Support (APSS) adviser.

You can access this and other information on the DHHS Funded Agency Channel here: https://fac.dhhs.vic.gov.au/

Publicly funded services operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 will have their current funding levels maintained.

Resources for the sector: Using Personal Protection Equipment (P.P.E) and infection control training

 

Infection control training

Click on the links below for advice and clinical guidance related to working in the Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advice moderates existing MATOD policy for prescribers and dispensers in relation to:

  • Takeaway doses
  • Third party collection
  • Suboxone prescribing caps.

This information is intended to provide guidance and support for increased flexibility in clinical treatment during this time.  This advice was developed by alcohol and other drug experts and the Department of Health and Human Services, and will be supported by ongoing work by the department to identify optimal pathways for vulnerable clients, including pharmacotherapy patients.

Please see the Victorian COVID-19 website for current case definition, guidance and testing recommendations.

If you have any questions in relation to this information, please make contact with your local Pharmacotherapy Area Based Network in the first instance. Alternatively you may submit questions to aod.enquiries@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Take Away Dose Guidance

Third Party Arrangements

AOD COVID19 MATOD – 2 April 2020

Welcome to the latest VCOSS COVID-19 Sector Bulletin, comprising high-level advice and resources from reputable sources, relevant to the Victorian community sector.

Suitable content will also be posted to the VCOSS COVID-19 page.

You can update your email preferences at any time.

Note: VCOSS does not provide health or legal advice. The best place to access up-to-date health advice remains dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

PLAN RELEASED

The Victorian Government has formally released a COVID-19 Plan for the Victorian Community Services Sector. This document is designed to enable the ongoing provision of vital services to vulnerable and disadvantaged Victorians. Sub-sector plans (for child and family services, housing and homelessness, maternal child health and others) can be be found here. Please note these plans may change in response to new initiatives and announcements.

PPE REQUESTS

DHHS has established a streamlined process to manage the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for members of the community sector. Demand for PPE is very high at the moment, and the government is urging community organisations to source PPE independently before making a request. DHHS has also developed guidelines and a risk assessment checklist for workers in how to use PPE properly for face-to-face interactions with clients.

EVICTIONS BAN
With the virus spreading and the economy slowing, National Cabinet has announced a six month moratorium on residential and commercial evictions. State and territory governments are now moving quickly to give effect to this plan, which also includes some brokerage funding for homelessness service system, which people can use to pay housing costs.

VCOSS COMMENT
The rules, regulations and legislation required to effectively implement an eviction ban are currently being developed at top speed. This is the correct approach. But it also means the risk of unintended consequences is real. We must get the detail right. VCOSS has developed a COVID-19 ISSUES ALERT on:  Six things to think about as we (rightly) ban evictions.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
At the VCOSS/DHHS information session on 13 March, many of you had questions regarding COVID-19 and its impact on service delivery and funding. DHHS has sought to answer all your questions in a new FAQ document.

NEW WAYS TO STAY INFORMED
The Australian Government has released an official app with the information you need to know about coronavirus. Search “Coronavirus Australia” in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. You can also access the Australian Government’s WhatsApp feature for the latest information. See how here.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENT
The Government has announced a $130 billion JobKeeper payment to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the significant economic impact caused by the Coronavirus.

A new fact sheet (PDF) has been released by the government discussing the new JobKeeper payment, including eligibility requirements.

COVID-19 WEBINARS

Coronavirus economic update for non-government schools and the NFP sector
Wednesday 1 April, 10.00am VERY SOON
Presented by Our CommunityLaw
In this special edition webcast for non-government schools and the not-for-profit sector, CommBank’s economists will share their views on the economy, policy and markets impacted by the Covid-19. The discussion will be followed by Q&A. Register to watch live or receive a recording
Contract issues for community organisations
Friday 3 April, 10.30am
Presented by Justice Connect Not-for-Profit Law
This free webinar will help your organisation understand key concepts of contract law, with a focus on COVID-19. You’ll learn tools to navigate common contractual issues – whether you’re cancelling an event, renegotiating with a funder, putting a project on hold, or changing how you purchase or deliver goods and services. Register to watch live or receive a recording

Early childhood education and care providers and services
On 26 March the Department of Education, Skills and Employment held an Information Session for early childhood education and care providers and services during COVID-19.
Watch the recording online (includes captions)

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

COVID-19 business grants
City of Melbourne is offering $5 million in grants for small to medium sized businesses and non-profit organisations to invest in online and e-commerce capabilities, take part in training and professional development, and undertake capital works.
Learn more and apply

Cash flow assistance for NFPs
The Australian Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible businesses and NFPs that employ people to assist with cash flow. Employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld, with a minimum payment of $10,000 and maximum of $50,000. Learn more here.

Grants for artists and arts organisations affected by COVID-19
City of Melbourne is offering 500 grants worth up to $4000 for individual artists or small organisations. Learn more and apply.

National funding platform established
Philanthropy Australia have partnered with the Australian Communities Foundation to provide a free online COVID-19 granting platform for Australia. This online platform will allow charities to register their funding needs and enable philanthropic funders to understand the granting opportunities available to respond to the critical needs of the sector during COVID-19.

This information provides guidance to Alcohol and Drug (AoD) services to support the continued delivery of essential frontline services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic via safe and alternative means that support the most vulnerable members of the community. It is essential that consumers continue to receive ongoing services where possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Failure to provide critical and essential services to vulnerable clients may result in:
• Deterioration of existing health conditions
• Increased demand on scarce hospital resources
• Increased social isolation for already highly vulnerable consumers.

Read More: AOD – COVID19 – 26 March 2020

Welcome to the latest VCOSS COVID-19 Sector Bulletin, comprising high-level advice and resources from reputable sources, relevant to the Victorian community sector.

Suitable content will also be posted to the VCOSS COVID-19 page.

You can update your email preferences at any time.

Note: VCOSS does not provide health or legal advice. The best place to access up-to-date health advice remains dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

TOLL RISING
Victoria has recorded its first three deaths related to coronavirus.

TOUGHER RESTRICTIONS
Stage 2 measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus are now in effect across Victoria. You should stay at home and avoid all gatherings. This reduces the chances of transmission, protects the health system and saves lives. If you’re unsure, then stay home. If you are with other people, you must observe the rule of one person for every for square metres. See all the restrictions.

Will there be further restrictions?

Yes.  Premier Andrews has clearly stated we will shift to Stage 3, at some point.

SUB-SECTOR MEETINGS
COVID-19 and the Victorian disability sector
Friday March 27, 2020. 9:30am – 10:30am.
VERY SOON.

This is a free seminar convened by National Disability Services (NDS) and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It is being run via Zoom. Details and registration here.

ROYAL INTERVENTION
Australia’s Disability Royal Commission is itself urging governments to ensure all responses to COVID-19 include dedicated strategies, and take all necessary measures, to protect and support people with disability. You can access the Commission’s Statement of Concern here.

VCOSS COMMENT ON EVICTIONS
Victorian is being urged to adopt measures allowing renters to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody can self-isolate or social distance without a home. The health, social and economic consequences of Victorians— including people who have just lost their jobs—being evicted and driven into homelessness, or forced to look for a new rental property, would be extreme. No unreasonable evictions and quick, accessible and sufficient subsidies for rental payments must be key principles going forward.

WORK PLAN
There are a lot of people out of work, and a lot of critical services crying out for help. Where possible, the Victorian Government will match people who need work with jobs that need doing. VCOSS and Trades Hall are helping design ‘Working for Victoria‘ scheme.

For now, organisations are encouraged to help raise awareness of the program by sharing details from Premier Andrews (Facebook) or VCOSS (Twitter | Facebook).

Individuals out of work can register their interest today.

KEEPING CONNECTED
The Consumer Action Law Center is lobbying companies that deliver essential services to make sure people aren’t disconnected during the Coronavirus health crisis (#KeepConnected). They’re keeping an up-to-date list of companies’ responses here.

WORK RIGHTS
Job Watch has released a Q&A on employment rights in relation to COVID-19. They includes answers to frequently asked questions like ‘Can my employer direct me to work from home or change my hours because of the Coronavirus?’ and ‘Can my employer direct me to use my paid leave entitlements?’ Read it here.

KID SUPPORT
Coronavirus is hard to explain to little ones. They can be confused, overwhelmed and anxious. Emerging Minds has created a curated selection of resources to assist parents and carers to have these conversations.

SUPPORT GROUP
The team behind Our Community has started an online peer support group on Facebook for people working in Australian not-for-profits. You’re encouraged to ask questions of each other, share important information, and provide and receive guidance during this difficult time. Join here.

VCOSS WORK ARRANGEMENTS

Please be aware all VCOSS staff are working remotely at present. If you wish to contact a staff member directly you can find their email address here. For general inquiries please email vcoss@vcoss.org.au or call (03) 9235 1000.

 

Welcome to the latest VCOSS COVID-19 Sector Update.

We will send an email similar to this—comprising the latest high-level advice and resources relevant to the Victorian community sector—at least weekly, until the pandemic subsides.

All suitable content from these Sector Updates will also be posted to the VCOSS COVID-19 page.

The best place to access up-to-date health advice remains dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

ACTIVITY BAN
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced Stage 1 of a shutdown of non-essential activities across the state from midday today. The businesses that will close due to the Stage 1 shutdown include pubs, clubs, nightclubs, Crown Casino, and licensed venues in hotels and pubs.

The autumn school holidays will also be brought forward, essentially shutting public schools from tomorrow. The government has acknowledged that there will be some confusion about these restrictions, and further details will be communicated over the coming days.

  • VCOSS COMMENT
    We believe the community sector must be exempt from any shutdown. The UK has done this. People working in child protection, disability support, family violence, homelessness, community health, residential care and dozens of other areas must be allowed to keep working. Crucially, this will take the pressure off mainstream health services so they can do their job combating the virus. Only by permitting all community service workers to keep helping people over the months ahead will we all get through these trying times. 

 

CARE PACKS
Victorians in mandatory self-isolation running short on food and unable to have any dropped-off by friends are now eligible for a “food and personal care package”, with a two-weeks supply of items like long-life milk, pasta, canned fruit, cereal and sugar, as well as some personal care items. People wishing to request a pack should call Victoria’s dedicated Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398

JOB MATCHING
VCOSS and the Victorian Trades Hall Council will be working with the Victorian Government to develop a scheme that matches people out of work with jobs that need doing during the pandemic. That might be hospitality workers helping feed people in isolation, or it could be factory workers helping clean trains and trams. The Victorian Government has announced $500 million to establish this Working for Victoria Fund.

FAQ — Is my service an essential service?

At this stage, businesses that will close due to the Stage 1 shutdown include pubs, clubs, nightclubs, Crown Casino, and licensed venues in hotels and pubs. It also includes gyms, indoor sporting venues, places of worship, cinemas and entertainment venues. Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide home delivery or takeaway services.

Further closures may be announced in future, for other non-essential activities. The full list of essential services is not yet available. We are working closely with the Victorian Government to make sure community organisations are recognized as essential services and can continue to keep delivering services to vulnerable communities. 

VCOSS will circulate further information when possible.

VIC ‘SURVIVAL PACKAGE’
The Victorian Government has announced a $1.7 billion economic survival and jobs package to help businesses and workers survive the impacts of the pandemic. Measures including full payroll tax refunds, applications for commercial rent relief, paying outstanding supplier invoices and waiving liquor licensing fees.

FEDERAL SUPPORT
Income support for individuals
Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. To be paid to both existing and new recipients of JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. Read more.

Payments to support households
The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020. Read more.

Temporary early release of superannuation
The Government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Read more.

BOARD/GOVERNANCE IMPACTS
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has released fresh guidance of what organisations should do if they’re struggling to hold regular board meetings of officially complete their Annual Information Statement. More details here.

FREE ONLINE INFECTION CONTROL TRAINING
The Federal Government is offering workers across the health, aged care, disability and childcare sectors access to a free online training module on infection control. This training module takes about 30 minutes to complete and covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19.

ADVICE FOR LEGAL PROBLEMS
A range of legal problems are emerging following the rollout of measures such as quarantining people to limit the spread of the virus. Victoria Legal Aid can provide help over the phone 1300 792 387 (please note that there may have longer wait times). Advice can also be provided through a live webchat service here.

ANSWERING KIDS’ QUESTIONS
What is the Coronavirus? Can I have play dates and birthday parties? Can we help? The kids have questions! The Age has gathered them up and answered them in a way the young ones will understand. UNICEF Australia has also released ‘Eight tips to help comfort and protect children.’

CORONA ADVOCACY
VCOSS doesn’t have a formal view on school closures. However, we have been vocal highlighting the risks to certain groups of kids, parents, carers and families if schools were to be closed, even temporarily. Victoria needs a plan to look after everybody through this period.

Read our VCOSS Issues Alert‘Eight things to consider as we shut schools’.

Welcome to the latest VCOSS COVID-19 Sector Update.

We will send an email similar to this—comprising the latest high-level advice and resources relevant to the Victorian community sector—at least weekly, until the pandemic subsides.

All suitable content from these Sector Updates will also be posted to the VCOSS COVID-19 page.

The best place to access up-to-date health advice remains dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

EMERGENCY WAGE
The Federal Government is establishing a “new, temporary wage that will be set at a higher rate than Newstart” for Australian workers set to lose their jobs due to the Coronavirus crisis. There’s no official announcement yet, but the story appeared in today’s Australian Financial Review ($).

INSURANCE UPDATES

The Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA), which is the insurer for much of the communtiy sector, has released a factsheet with general guidance about how COVID-19 might affect different insurance products. You’ll find a direct download link near the bottom of this page.

COURT CHANGES
Victoria’s Chief Magistrate, Judge Lisa Hannan, hasis making a raft of changes to how the courts will run during the Corona pandemic. These include adjourning some matters, moving others to telephone hearings and suspending all school visits. There will be no change to listing times for family violence ‘fast track’ matters. Changes are also being made at VCAT.

HOMELESSNESS FUNDING

The Victorian Government has announced $6 million for homelessness organisations “to help protect Victorians at risk of or experiencing homelessness because of the COVID-19 virus and manage any outbreaks”. This is welcome announcement in light of increased demand due to Coronavirus. You can read Launch Housing CEO Bevan Warner’s response here.

SUB-SECTOR MEETINGS
COVID-19 Community Inclusion Forum
Friday 20 March, 1:00pm – 2:30pm

DHHS is helping convene a COVID-19 information session for volunteering and community organisations that support community inclusion, wellbeing and social connection.

Speakers include Volunteering Victoria CEO Scott Miller, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria CEO Nicole Battle and Victorian Multicultural Commission chair Viv Nguyen.

Note: we are aware additional sub-sector meetings are being planned. We’ll let you know when we have details.

HAVE A PLAN
Our friends at QCOSS are making their pandemic emergency management plan public. Access it here.

HOMELESS PLANNING
Toronto Public Health have a planning guide for housing and homelessness service providers during a pandemic that may be useful for services in Victoria.

SUICIDE RISK
LIfeline says roughly a quarter of callers to its helpline over the past week wanted to talk about Coronavirus. The stress and anxiety this pandemic is causing for some people cannot be overstated. Lifeline is assuring the public it’s putting measures into place so the 13 11 14 phone line (and text service) will remain open “even if Australia is forced into lock down”.

STAFF CARE
Coronavirus has many people anxious about their personal safety and some staff may be worried about their health or the health of their clients. We encourage all workers to access their organisation’s employee welfare or support program. If you don’t have an internal service your employer may be using an external service.

KIDS IN AMERICA
An interesting development from the USA… the American Civil Liberties Union is suing immigration detention center operators and demanding the immediate release of detained individuals who face a heightened risk of illness or death because of COVID-19.

VCOSS OFFICE

Please be aware all VCOSS staff are working remotely at present. If you wish to contact a staff member directly you can find their email address here. For general inquiries please email vcoss@vcoss.org.au or call (03) 9235 1000.

VAADA and Sector representatives meeting with DHHS

The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) is working closely with DHHS to minimize the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the AOD sector.

VAADA recently met with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and other representatives from the AOD sector to plan for changes to and impacts on AOD services.

AOD sector working groups

Because of the range of AOD services, four working groups have been established on four key service areas:

  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Residential rehabilitation
  • Needle and syringe program/Harm reduction services/Medically supervised injecting room
  • Non-residential, group and community services

These groups will meet this week to discuss the specific issues facing services in these areas, and what strategies can be put in place to ensure critical services remain available to our clients.

Working group meetings will be held regularly. VAADA will post updates and information from these meetings on VAADA’s website (https://www.vaada.org.au/covid-19-sector-updates/) as information becomes available.

 

Service funding and Resources

Emergency planning tools

Organisations should be reviewing their business continuity plans and developing internal pandemic protocols. This will help organisations minimize the risk of infection for their staff and clients; ensure continuity of critical services; and respond quickly and effectively in an instance of COVID-19 exposure or infection.

Key policy and procedure samples

Primary care Connect – Infection Control Policy and Procedure

Primary Care Connect – COVID-19 Response Plan

WANADA – COVID-19 Response Plan

Service resources including personal protective equipment (PPE)

Many sectors and services are facing shortages of crucial supplies and equipment including toilet paper, food, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Unfortunately, PPE is being prioritized for acute primary health services so shortages of PPE are expected to continue for AOD and other non-acute services.

Efforts are currently underway to boost supplies like food, toilet paper and other necessities for community services, however, shortages are expected to continue in the short-term.

 

Resources, planning templates and information for services

 

Information for health services

The Victorian Government’s Health Services COVID-19 Pandemic Plan can be viewed here: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/publications/researchandreports/covid-19-pandemic-plan-for-vic

Your best source on up-to-date information on COVID-19 is the Department of Health and Human Services website: dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

You can also subscribe to daily updates from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer here: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/newsletters

The VCOSS Community Services COVID-19 Forum by VCOSS can be found on their website: https://vcoss.org.au/analysis/covid19/

 

Residential services

The Communicable Disease Network Australia (CDNA) have developed guidelines for outbreaks of COVID-19 in residential care facilities: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidelines-for-outbreaks-in-residential-care-facilities

DHHS information for health care and residential care workers can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-health-care-and-residential-care-workers

 

Workplace guidance

It is important that AOD and community service providers are reviewing and implementing their business continuity plan. It is strongly advised that these are updated for COVID-19, or that a dedicated pandemic plan be developed.

The Department of Health and Human Services has produced an official ‘Guidance Note on COVID-19 and employment-related matters for the Community Services Sector’, available here: https://vcoss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CSS-Coronavirus-Guidance-Note-001.pdf

WorkSafe Victoria has also produced a pandemic planning guide for employers: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/preparing-pandemic-guide-employers

 

Resources in languages other than English

TranslatedCOVID-19 resources can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/translated-coronavirus-covid-19-resources

 

Mental health

BeyondBlue has produced a resource relating to mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

 

Key links

Victorian Chief Health Officer coronavirus alerts: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/newsletters

Federal Government coronavirus alerts: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

Better Health provides some coronavirus myth-busting: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/blog/blogcollectionpage/novel-coronavirus-mythbusting

Easy English resources on coronavirus (from the NDIS): https://www.ndis.gov.au/media/2194/download

Wash your hands regularly printable poster: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/publications/policiesandguidelines/wash-your-hands-regularly-poster

Cover your Cough, printable poster: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/publications/policiesandguidelines/cover-your-cough-sneeze-poster

Good afternoon.

This is the second VCOSS COVID-19 Sector Update.

Our plan is to send an email similar to this—comprising the latest high-level advice and resources relevant to the Victorian community sector—at least weekly, until the pandemic subsides.

All suitable content from these Sector Updates will also be posted to the VCOSS COVID-19 page.

The best place to access up-to-date health advice remains dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

WORKPLACE GUIDANCE

The Department of Health and Human Services has produced an official ‘Guidance Note on COVID-19 and employment-related matters for the Community Services Sector’. This document is availabe in both PDF and DOC format on the VCOSS COVID-19 page.

LEGAL HELP
JusticeConnect’s Not-for-profit Law team is delivering tailored legal support for community organisations and not-for-profits that are grappling with complex legal issues arising from measures to contain COVID-19. These may include ensuring client safety, securing data with increasingly remote workforces, and managing cancelled public events.

PANDEMIC POLICY
The Australian Institute of Community Directors has produced a free Epidemic/Pandemic Policy template that you can download and tailor to your organisation. Access it here.

SUB-SECTOR MEETINGS

Aboriginal Community and Health Sector Digital Forum
Wednesday 18 March, 9.00 – 10.00 am

This forum hosted by DHHS Deputy Secretary Amity Durham, will involve presentations from the Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, and VACCHO Chief Medical Officer, Nadia Lusis.

You can stream the forum here (no registration required). To ask a question during the forum, text 0447 913 039 or visit Slido and use the event code #COVIDA19AS.

Note: we are aware additional sub-sector meetings are being planned. We’ll let you know when we have details.

COVID-19 ADVOCACY

Commonwealth must deliver emergency payments to prevent mass homelessness.
Homelessness Australia.
The national peak body for homelessness has urged the Federal Government to immediately deliver emergency payments to cover the rent for casual and contract workers who lose their income during the pandemic to prevent a “tsunami of homelessness”.

A little relief will go a long way for thousands struggling due to COVID-19
Consumer Action Law Center, VCOSS and others.

More than 30 community service organisations around the country are calling on companies providing essential services such as energy, water, finance, rental housing and telecommunications to take additional steps to support their community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Open Letter to the Prime Minister on COVID-19 Response.
Australian Council of Social Service.
ACOSS has written to the Prime Minister with recommendations on the COVID19 response to support people who are most vulnerable at this time. “We must work together as a community to deal with the health crisis in a way that supports people in the greatest need,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

VCOSS OFFICE

Please be aware all VCOSS staff are working remotely at present. If you wish to contact a staff member directly you can find their email address here. For general inquiries please email vcoss@vcoss.org.au or call (03) 9235 1000.

VCOSS-DHHS Community Sector Forum

This vital event allowed the community sector to hear directly from the experts and ask questions. Speakers included:

  • Minister Luke Donnellan on the government’s response to the pandemic
  • DHHS Dep. Sec. Argiri Alisandratos on implications for the community sector
  • DHHS Director Industrial Relations Jesse Maddison on workplace/IR implications
  • Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton regarding prevention, responding to infections, etc.
  • Director Emergency Management Andrea Spiteri regarding emergency response planning and resources

Resources from the meeting:

  • A fully accessible video recording of the forum will soon be available here.
  • A self-assessment for risk of coronavirus flowchart is available here.
  • Posters (which were available at the event) can be downloaded here. These are perfect for displaying in workplaces and community centre.

We encourage you to share these resources with people who weren’t able to attend.

While many questions were answered today, it wasn’t possible to get to all of them. We are working with DHHS on providing answers and will communicate these as soon as possible.

For now, the best source of accurate and up-to-date information remains:

dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

Materials are also available in 25 languages here.

Other ways to stay informed:

Anglicare WA have generously shared their COVID-19 plan with the COSS network.

If other organisations are in a position to share any of their plans, the sector would be very grateful. Please get in touch if you are happy to share your policies or plans.

VCOSS will continue to follow the guidance of government and health experts our response and support to the sector will evolve as necessary.