COVID-19 community update 4 - April 9



April 9, 2020
 
RESTRICTIONS
Under the stay-at-home directives in place across Victoria, there are only four reasons you can leave home:
•          To buy food or drink, receive medical services or to access essential goods and services;
•          For care or compassionate reasons like parenting arrangements, or supporting the elderly or vulnerable. Please note updated directives issued on Wednesday mean it is now allowable for a parent or guardian to take their child to another person's premises for babysitting (whether paid or voluntary) while they complete an essential activity such as work or grocery shopping, or for a person to come to your house to provide babysitting for your children while you complete an essential activity. Partners who live separately are also allowed to visit each other.
•          To attend work or education, where you are unable to do so from home;
•          To exercise – only with one person outside your home OR only with people who live with you, keeping 1.5 metres apart.

You can find out more information about permitted activities here and here.
 
Park closures have now extended to the Grampians National Park, Lower Glenelg National Park, Mt Arapiles-Tooan State Park (with the exception of locals exercising), and Centenary Park Campground. The closures include all playgrounds, barbecues, picnic shelters and tables, toilets, campsites and other park facilities. More information is available here.

CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES
Figures from the Department of Health and Human Services, correct at 3pm on April 9.


COVID-19 MODELLING
The National Cabinet for COVID-19 has released scenario modelling that is being used to help plan Australia’s response to the pandemic.
The Prime Minister has stressed the modelling does not contain Australia case data and the Australian response, nor does it provide a prediction of what will occur. Rather, it is a tool to explore scenarios and the impacts of actions the National Cabinet might take. You can find out more about this here.
Australia’s National Chief Health Officer Dr Brendan Murphy has said that modelling that includes Australian data is being worked on, but remains a number of weeks away.
 
SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES AND BUSINESSES
A summary of all available state-based assistance for businesses and employees impacted by coronavirus, known as Victoria’s Economic Survival Package, is available here. The package includes payroll tax refunds, land tax deferrals, a business support fund, and the Working for Victoria Fund.
 
At a federal level, the Australian Government’s JobKeeper initiative will ensure eligible businesses to claim a fortnightly payment of $1500 per eligible employee to keep them on the payroll. This payment is also available to sole traders. Employers can register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper payment at ato.gov.au. Payments will start from May.
 
The Jobactive hub is also available to help people who have recently become unemployed. You can search available jobs here. People can also call the Employment Services Information Line on 1800 805 260 for help finding work.
 
People who have experienced financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic can apply for assistance through Centrelink. If you are already receiving a Centrelink payment, you do not need to do anything else to receive the extra financial assistance. Centrelink is encouraging people not already registered with them to visit the myGov website where application forms can be competed online. For assistance with My Gov, contact the MyGov Helpdesk on 132 307.
 
SUPPORT FOR PARENTS
Childcare is now free during the coronavirus pandemic, with priority given to parents who need to keep working. Parents who choose to keep their children at home can remain enrolled without paying fees and keep their place for when the pandemic is over. The Australian Government will meet 50 per cent of the childcare sector’s fee-based revenue, as long as childcare centres remain open and do not charge families for care. You can read more here and here.
 
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
All Victorian government primary, secondary and special schools will move to remote and flexible learning and teaching from term 2, with most students learning from home. VCE students will still receive an ATAR score this year, but the following changes will be made to the academic timetable for VCE and VCAL students:

  • The GAT test will be moved from June to October or November;
  • End of year exams will not take place until at least December;
  • School-based assessment tasks will be reduced;
  • VCE study scores will be a combination of school-based assessments and external exams; and
  • VCAL students will have more time to complete their courses.

The Regional Education Support Network is available to regional and rural VCE students to seek help with their studies. The free online service allows students to ask a question and have it answered within 24 hours. Find out more here.

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
These are uncertain times, and it is important you seek help if you are worried or anxious. Head to Health is a digital mental health service that can link you to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. You can also call the following support services:
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Headspace – Horsham, for people aged between 12 and 25: 5381 1543
The Beyond Blue website also has excellent resources, which can be found here.
Try to get regular fresh air, exercise if you can, and stay in touch with family and friends by phone, social media or even post.

STAY INFORMED
Ensuring you have accurate information is essential. The following resources are a great place to start:

  • australia.gov.au contains information about restrictions, financial assistance, community support and health advice;
  • The Coronavirus Australia app can be downloaded to your smartphone via the Apple or Google Play stores;
  • The National Coronavirus Hotline can be reached on 1800 020 080;
  • The Victorian Coronavirus Hotline can be reached on 1800 675 398;
  • The Australian Government’s Whats App channel provides updates directly from the government. You can download the app here, and subscribe by sending a message to 0400 253 787.
  • Telstra and Optus stores remain open to help people with any digital connectivity issues. You can call the Telstra support line on 13 22 00, or Optus on 133 937 for assistance.

PROTECT YOURSELF

  • Good hygiene – wash your hands, clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Social distancing – keep at least 1.5 metres of space between you and others.
  • Get your flu shot – check in with your pharmacy or GP to see if the flu shot is available. It will not protect you from COVID-19, but getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time can make you very unwell.

In addition to these measures, ensure you maintain any current treatment and medication plans, and seek help from your doctor if you require it.

IF YOU BECOME UNWELL
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, breathing difficulties, cough, sore throat, and fatigue or tiredness. If you suspect that you or someone you know might have coronavirus, please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398. Please keep Triple Zero for medical emergencies.
 
You can also use this symptom checker.

Respiratory clinics are currently being established by the Australian Government and the primary health networks, which will be led by GPs. These clinics are being opened using a staged approach, depending on the transmission of COVID-19.  They are funded by Australia’s Department of Health, and complement Victoria’s COVID-19 assessment centres. Respiratory clinics are specifically designed to test and treat the estimated 80 per cent of COVID-19 patients who will experience only mild to moderate fevers and respiratory conditions. We will share more information as it becomes available.

WE’RE HERE TO HELP
As always, please get in touch with if I can help with any enquiries. My office will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday, but you can email emma.kealy@parliament.vic.gov.au or call 5382 0097 during normal office hours.

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