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COVID-19

Information and resources

The COVID-19 situation can change rapidly. WA remains in a State of Emergency, with important public health and social measures in place. 

It is important to keep up to date with the most recent information from credible sources and ensure necessary preparedness and planning is in place. Every service is responsible for their compliance with Public Health Directions, planning and preparedness for changing COVID situations in WA, and for an outbreak in their services.

Listed below is a range of available resources and links to key information sources; however, it is not an exhaustive list. The Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing cannot provide specific advice regarding COVID-19. The information provided below is intended as guidance only. All efforts were made to ensure the information is true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.

As the peak body representing women’s specialist domestic and family violence, community-based women’s health and sexual assault services in WA, we are also available to help with specific COVID-19 related queries. You can contact us at admin@cwsw.org.au.

On this page

General resources

Western Australian

National

Preparedness and planning

The principles of preparedness are similar for all services, however the application of the principles will be tailored to individual services. Preparedness and planning includes:

  • Developing and maintaining an outbreak management plan
  • Ensuring management plans for workforce and supplies are in place
  • Promoting public health and infection prevention and control principles.

Planning should be supported by organisation protocols, policies, and procedures. Considerations for preparedness and planning should include different scenarios (i.e. staff positive case, client positive case, school closures) and include areas like:

  • Infection prevention and control measure
  • Physical distancing
  • Workforce
  • Record keeping
  • Vaccination
  • Other business considerations e.g. ensuring all staff, including casual staff and volunteers, are provided with current information on COVID-19 and the control measures being used in the service.

Resources to support preparedness and planning

As WA transitions to living with COVID, and caseloads are higher within the community, businesses, facilities and service providers will be required to play a more involved role in managing communications within their workplaces.

The WA COVID-19 TTIQ Plan provides guidance and resources for businesses, facilities, and service providers to assist with this transition.

The key documents for community care providers can be found under the Aged care and community care providers tab here, including advice for use of PPE for workers in community settings and managing the risk of COVID-19 using the Hierarchy of Controls. 

There are also key documents under the Business, industry and local government tab here (including infection prevention and control, PPE, ventilation, TTIQ Plan and local government resources) and the COVID-19 in the workplace – Information for employers and employees page here (including COVID-19 TTIQ Workplace Checklist Congregate Living Facilities, Congregate living and large households safe isolation for cases and contacts, preparation and COVID-19 prevention, positive COVID-19 case in the workplace and talking to employees about COVID-19.

Vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccine is an important measure to keep the community safe and healthy. The vaccine is free for everyone in Australia – whether a citizen, permanent resident, an overseas visitor, migrant worker, or asylum seeker.

There are a range of Public Health Directions that prevent workers from entering or remaining at specific facilities and locations if they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandatory vaccination requirements, including booster vaccination, cover approximately 75% of the workforce in WA, including community services. 

The current relevant Public Health Directions can be found here

Services and staff have a responsibility to ensure any information provided about vaccination is clear, factual and from reliable sources. There are many resources available for people who have questions about the vaccine, however it is important to be cautious of misinformation from sources that are not reliable. If staff or clients are concerned about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, or don’t know how to choose the right vaccine for their situation, the best person for them to speak to is their doctor.

It is important to ensure any communication about vaccination is not false or misleading and communication is within appropriate boundaries. In the event of false or misleading communications, organisational policies and procedures should be followed.

Vaccination resources

Frequently
asked questions

The Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing have collated responses to some frequently asked questions. The information provided below is intended as guidance only. All efforts were made to ensure the information is true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information. Questions and information will be continually updated as more information becomes available.

Both quarantine and isolation involve separation from the community to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Quarantine is for people who have been assessed as being at greater risk of having COVID-19, even if they are feeling well, for example they have had close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19. Isolation is for people who have been confirmed as having COVID-19. If you have tested positive to COVID-19 you will need to stay in isolation in accordance with public health advice. Quarantine and isolation both mean you must remain in your home, hotel room or other accommodation for the specified period, unless otherwise directed by an authorised officer. During this period, you must follow public health advice regarding infection prevention and control measures, and you cannot be in the same room as anyone else who lives at the premises you are residing, unless they are quarantining or isolating with you. More information is available here.

If your test is positive using a rapid antigen test (RAT), follow the isolation protocols for a confirmed case. You must also register a positive RAT test here.

Rapid Antigen Test FAQs are available here.

Most people with COVID-19 can care for themselves with some support from their GP. Information about managing COVID-19 at home and in the community is available here.

A Community Service Support Referral Pathway for COVID Positive People from the Department of Communities and Department of Health is available here.

For people who require additional support and monitoring WA COVID Care at Home delivers home monitoring and care for people who have risk factors that put them at greater risk of requiring hospitalisation. This is a free service that people need to register for. People are enrolled based on risk factors like age, vaccination status, severity of symptoms medical history and social factors. The program will consider alternative accommodation in some circumstances, including if there is the potential for domestic and family violence.

Read more about COVID Care at Home here

Watch the Health Consumers’ Council WA COVID at Home Community Conversations video with Dr Robyn Lawrence here.

The WA Child and Adolescent Health Service has a useful video with Dr Andrew Martin, Perth Children’s Hospital describing how COVID-19 can affect children and how to care for them at home. Watch the video here

Based on the Chief Health Officer’s advice to the WA Government, from 5 February 2022 a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is required for workers captured under the mandatory vaccination Directions. Currently, anyone aged 16 years and older who had their second COVID-19 vaccination 3 or more months ago is eligible for a booster dose.

Workers captured under the mandatory vaccination Directions, who were eligible to receive a booster dose at or before 4 January 2022, must receive their booster dose by 5 February 2022.

After 4 January 2022, as workers who are captured under the mandatory vaccination Directions become eligible to receive a booster dose, they must do so within one calendar month of becoming eligible. The table below sets out the dates by which the booster is required to have been administered for affected workers.

Date of second vaccinationEligible for booster    Due date for booster
On or before 4 September 20215 months after second dose (on or before 4 January 2022)    4 February 2022
5 to 30 September 20214 months after second dose (5 to 31 January 2022)    5 to 28 February 2022
1 to 31 October 202131 January 2022    28 February 2022
1 November 2021 onwards3 months after second dose (1 February 2022 onwards)    1 March 2022 onwards

The WA COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment is a single $320 payment for workers living in WA who have been directed to quarantine while awaiting a COVID-19 test result, are unable to work from home and do not have access to paid leave or other income. More information is available here

Workers may be eligible for the Australian Government’s Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment if they are required to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 or are caring for someone who has to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19, cannot work and have no leave entitlements. More information is available here.   

Yes. Community services are essential services and cannot deny services to any client or make those services contingent on vaccine status of clients.

It is important to remember the primary purpose of vaccination is to provide protection to the person who has received the vaccination. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people can be infectious with COVID-19. Regardless of vaccination status of clients, all services should implement COVID-19 management strategies at all times (universal precautions) e.g., infection prevention and control measures, density limits, physical distancing, PPE use, accurate record keeping, improved ventilation and use of outdoor spaces. 

Service providers should consider the service and whether the health and welfare of their staff can be protected in line with occupational health and safety requirements. How a service is delivered, and the risk management strategies employed may change dependent on the vaccination status of clients depending on the service delivered. It is important that service providers consider how services can be delivered to clients in a way that ensures the safety of both clients and staff. 

It is key that service providers work to establish different models of service delivery that focus on risk minimisation for both clients and staff.  This could be a mix of:

  • Infection prevention and control measures where face to face is required
  • Remote service delivery (if possible)
  • Other outreach and off-site accommodation options
  • Established risk management tools and processes that support decision making and tracking of occupational health and safety risks

Staff should consider the necessity of transporting clients and minimise where possible. When transportation of clients is required, services should continue to use their usual processes e.g., staff transporting clients or rideshares/taxis. The following should be implemented if staff are required to transport clients (including for testing):

  • choose the largest vehicle available
  • wash or sanitise hands before and after transportation
  • use PPE as per latest directives and public health advice
  • sit client in the back seat
  • minimise the number of clients who are transported in one car where possible
  • drive with the windows open or ensure the air conditioning is switched to outside air, not recirculated
  • ensure the vehicle is cleaned between uses, particularly frequently touched surfaces.

Where a client is required to isolate or quarantine there are limited reasons they can leave isolation – for a COVID-19 test, medical assistance or in the case of an emergency (see here for more information). If clients in isolation or quarantine are required to travel, they must:

  • wear a mask
  • travel directly to their destination
  • stay 1.5m away from other people
  • not use public transport
  • walk, cycle, use their own private vehicle, or travel in the back of a taxi or rideshare vehicle in the seat diagonally behind the driver
  • if transport by staff is required, follow the taxi and rideshare guidance and recommendations above.

In very limited, case-by-case circumstances transportation may be provided by WA Government agencies where a COVID-19 positive person requires transportation to alternative accommodation as decided by the WA Health State Health Incident Coordination Centre (SHICC).

Many clients may be unvaccinated for a variety of reasons, including a health condition or hesitancy.  It is important that staff do not assume clients are anti vaccination and are conscious of their own biases.

Staff can support women and their children by:

  • Keeping updated with COVID-19 facts, to counter answer any questions about vaccination
  • Asking sensitive and appropriate questions around the barriers to vaccination
  • Providing up to date verbal and written educational information about vaccination and booster information
  • Offering practical assistance (transport or child-minding) so the client and/or their children can get to vaccine clinics
  • Assist with vaccination bookings

WACOSS have vaccine toolkit resources available on their website, including a training webinar on how to start a conversation about COVID-19 vaccines for frontline community care service workers. The resources can be found here.

Staff can support them to obtain it through the following options:

  • Where a client does not have a smart phone but have their MyGov login, this can be printed on their behalf
  • With the client’s permission ask their GP, pharmacy or community health centre where they received their vaccination to print their immunisation history statement for them.
  • If a client has a smart phone but isn’t registered with Service WA, can support them to install it
  • Call the Australian Immunisation Register 1800 653 809 to get an immunisation history statement. Please note this may take up to 14 days to arrive. 

More information can be found here.

To support the WA Health response to COVID-19, the Minister for Health has confirmed that those people who are not eligible for Medicare AND who present to WA Health facilities for assessment in relation to COVID-19 infection, will not be charged out of pocket expenses. This means testing at public COVID-19 clinics (metropolitan and regional) is free and no Medicare card is required.

COVID testing clinics can be found here

Similarly, COVID-19 vaccination is free for everyone in Australia, even if you don’t have a Medicare card. There are many places to access free COVID-19 vaccination. If a client is not eligible for Medicare, GPs can still provide vaccination but cannot bill for the service. A GP may ask a client who does not have Medicare cover to access vaccination at a Commonwealth or State vaccination clinic, or a pharmacy. More information can be found here.

Ventilation and air cleaning can help reduce exposure to COVID-19. Ventilation alone will not protect people from the virus and other public health measures, including vaccination, social distancing, face masks where recommended, good respiratory and hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and objects, must still be implemented.

WA Health have resources with information about air purifiers/cleaners, building ventilation and ventilation at home available here.

WACOSS, Youth Affairs Council of WA and Western Australian Mental Health Commission have worked with the Department of Finance and Department of Communities to develop a process map to assist service providers who are having difficulty supporting their clients and aspects of their contracts due to COVID-19 related skill shortages (vaccine mandate or outbreaks). View the process map here.

No. In line with the national approach, reference to casual contacts has ceased in WA. High risk exposure locations related to close contact, where all contacts cannot be identified, will continue to be listed online. Low risk exposure sites may also be listed in circumstances determined by Public Health.

All close contacts at service sites should be able to be identified based on service record keeping. The Public Health team would also consider the confidential nature of services and the potential negative impact of listing sites publicly.

It is at the discretion of an individual business where the information is stored.

Where evidence of vaccination status is provided, the Directions require all reasonable steps are taken to protect the records from misuse and loss and unauthorised access, alterations or further release.

Evidence of an employee’s vaccination status must be stored for as long as the Directions are in place or the until the Public Health State of Emergency ends.

The definition of a critical worker has been released for when Western Australia enters into a very high caseload environment and new testing and isolating protocols take effect.

This definition is vital to maintaining critical services and avoiding catastrophic losses, such as loss of life, ongoing access to care and essential goods, and workplace safety.

It will only take effect when WA reaches a high caseload environment, subject to the latest health advice.

The definition of a critical worker in WA is someone whose role cannot be undertaken at home who:

  • Performs a role that is critical to the COVID-19 response, or continuation of critical services that prevent significant harm (e.g. loss of life, catastrophic impacts to safety or welfare, lack of access to essential goods) to an individual or the community.
  • Performs a role that is necessary for the safe continuation of services and/or has specialist skills in a specified industry.

The specified industries include health care services and social assistance and residential care services. It is not intended that all workers in the specified industries are considered critical. Critical worker information should be registered with the WA Government via an online registration system.

More information on critical worker definitions, registration and the protocols for critical workers in a very high caseload environment can be found here 

To support Community Service Organisations (CSOs) the Department of Communities has launched an online ordering system for Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing (PPE/C) and Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). More information about eligibility and the online request form can be found here.

Other Government Agencies (including WA Police, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Corrective Services, Department of Communities, Government Trading Enterprises) and third party organisations are required to provide PPE request information first to the Department of Finance via PDWSalesReports@finance.wa.gov.au and establish stocktake and ordering process.

PPE request information includes:

  • who and under what circumstances will they be using it  
  • likelihood and consequence of exposure to an infection source or a non-infectious agent (e.g. pathogens, irritants, toxins)
  • consequence of their service not being provided
  • what and how much PPE is being requested and how effective it will be in reducing exposure
  • what stocks they hold
  • what their usage rates are (per item per week).

The Department of Finance will then vet these based on an agreed set of guidelines (including PPE use guidelines) and send the request to the Department of Health for review, if the Department of Finance is unable to source directly itself. The Department of Health will then review and approve based on availability and risk as appropriate.

More information on this process can be found here.

Service providers can also purchase PPE through whole of government Common Use Arrangements (CUAs) and therefore be eligible for government pricing. Purchases should be arranged directly with CUA contractors. To be able to access CUAs, service providers must:

  1. be registered as charities with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
  2. set up access to CUAs through Finance by emailing Access to CUAs.

For more information, please contact the CUA contract manager or email Community Services Procurement Policy.

Community service organisations are able to apply to the COVID-19 Cleaning Reimbursement Scheme for funds to reimburse costs related to cleaning required in response to a positive COVID-19 case. 

The scheme is facilitated by WACOSS and is available for any not-for-profit community service that holds a WA Government contract providing services to vulnerable community members. 

More information is available here.

It is the service providers responsibility to manage industrial and employee relation issues. Communicating with staff about their concerns and risk management strategies that are employed may be useful.  It is important to remember the primary purpose of vaccination is to provide protection to the person who has received the vaccination. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people can be infectious with COVID-19. Regardless of vaccination status of clients, all services should implement COVID-19 management strategies at all times (universal precautions) e.g., infection prevention and control measures, density limits, physical distancing, PPE use, accurate record keeping, improved ventilation and use of outdoor spaces. 

If required, legal advice should be sought in relation to the employee relations arrangements for staff working with unvaccinated clients.

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