Updates for counselling and psychotherapy during Covid 

Practice under ‘stay at home’ orders

For those members who are new to working under ‘stay at home’ rules, there are a range of resources available to assist you in making the transition to practice online/via telehealth. See Information for practising during Covid-19.

It can be difficult to stay across the latest Covid updates for practice. Here are the most recent updates as related to therapeutic practice: 

NSW  

Lifting of restrictions in some areas of regional NSW

Parts of regional NSW currently deemed low-risk and which have seen zero COVID cases for at least 14 days emerged from lockdown on Saturday 11 September 2021. These areas will continue to operate under some restrictions to ensure the safety of regional NSW communities.

Masks

  • Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports. 
  • Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
  • Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors. 

Local Government Areas (LGAs) still seeing COVID case numbers will continue to follow stay-at-home orders and will be monitored by NSW Health with updates provided as circumstances develop.

Areas of regional NSW remaining under stay-at-home orders are:

Local government area (LGA) When and who the rules apply to
Bathurst Regional, Bourke, Brewarrina, City of Broken Hill, Central Coast, Central Darling, City of Cessnock, Dubbo Regional, Eurobodalla, Gilgandra, Goulburn Mulwarre, Kiama, City of Lake Macquarie, City of Lithgow, City of Maitland, Mid-Western Regional, Narromine, City of Newcastle, City of Orange, Port Stephens, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional, City of Shellharbour, City of Shoalhaven, Walgett and Wingecarribee. 
  • Starts from 14 August 2021
  • Applies to anyone who has been in these LGAs.
Albury
  • Starts from 6pm on 16 September 2021
  • Finishes on 23 September 2021
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Albury LGA from 10 September 2021
Byron
  • Starts from 5pm on 21 September 2021 
  • Finishes on 29 September 2021 
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Byron LGA from 18 September 2021  
Cowra
  • Starts from 5pm on 20 September 2021
  • Finishes on Tuesday 28 September 2021
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Cowra LGA from 13 September 2021
Glen Innes
  • Starts from 6pm on 17 September 2021
  • Finishes on 24 September 2021
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Glen Innes LGA from 13 September 2021
Hilltops
  • Starts from 6pm on 17 September 2021
  • Finishes on 24 September 2021
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Hilltops LGA from 13 September 2021
Kempsey
  • Starts from 5pm on 21 September 2021 
  • Finishes on 29 September 2021 
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Kempsey LGA from 14 September 2021 
Lismore
  • Starts from 6pm on 16 September 2021
  • Finishes on 23 September 2021
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Lismore LGA from 7 September 2021
Tweed
  • Starts from 5pm on 21 September 2021 
  • Finishes on 29 September 2021 
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Tweed LGA from 18 September 2021 
Yass Valley
  • Starts from 12:01am  on 14 September 2021
  • Finishes on 28 September 2021
  • Applies to anyone who has been in the Yass Valley LGA from 9 September 2021

 


 
Greater Sydney and local government areas of concern

Stay at home rules apply to people who live in, usually work in, or usually attend a university or other tertiary education facility in Greater Sydney until the end of September. Masks must be worn in all outside areas unless exercising.

On 20 August 2021, the NSW Government tightened rules for people living/working in Sydney local government areas of concern, Bayside, Strathfield, Burwood, Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta and some suburbs of Penrith. For authorised workers living in these local government areas of concern:

  • Authorised workers who work outside their LGA of concern are only permitted to work if rapid antigen testing is implemented at their work-site or they have had their first vaccination dose by 30 August. 
  • From Saturday, 28 August, authorised workers from the LGAs of concern are required to carry a permit from Service NSW declaring that they are an authorised worker and cannot work from home; and
  • From Saturday, 28 August, anyone entering an LGA of concern for the purposes of work must carry a worker permit issued by Service NSW.
  • From 12.01am Monday, 23 August, workers from the Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland and Fairfield LGAs will no longer have to have been tested for COVID-19 in the previous 72 hours to work outside their LGA.

Read more rules and restrictions in the ‘local government areas of concern’. 

Read more about restrictions and rules in Greater Sydney.

Read more about rules and restrictions in regional and rural NSW.

Read more about case locations.

Please see advice for allied health professionals from the NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, on practice under ‘stay at home’ orders.

Victoria  

Stay-at-home restrictions are in place for metropolitan Melbourne, City of Ballarat, City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire.

Read more about restrictions under the current lockdown.

The Chief Health Officer’s directions mandate telehealth/online therapy delivery. ‘Urgent clinical care’ that cannot be provided via telehealth or online is the only exception to this.   Group interventions (unless online) and face to face interventions are not permitted. 

PACFA has a range of resources to support members to transition to providing therapy online. For more information go to Information for Practicing During Covid-19
 
Authorised work 

Permits will be required to leave the house for authorised work, consistent with the arrangements that were in place in 2020. Allied and mental health professionals are recognised as an authorised workforce when:  

  • working as authorised workers in hospitals or in residential care facilities providing critical clinical care or as directed by the hospital  
  • working in private or public community services, whether clinic-based or home-based, providing urgent clinical careNote: face to face appointments should only occur for urgent clinical care that cannot be deferred - routine face to face care is not permitted but may be provided via Telehealth;
  • working in private practice providing care through telehealth and other virtual care options; or 
  • students on placement providing authorised care in hospitals or in residential care facilities, or through telehealth
  • providing mental health services in community settings by telehealth, or by face-to-face (but only for urgent clinical care that cannot be deferred where telehealth is not clinically appropriate). 

Read the FAQs for allied health professionals.

3. Check exposure sites 

Exposure sites are being updated frequently. Please check the list of exposure sites and isolate/get tested if necessary.  

For the latest covid information go to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria | Coronavirus Victoria.

Regional Victoria

From 11.59pm on 9 September, the 'stay at home' rules ceased in regional Victoria but the City of Ballarat, the City of Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire entered a seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Sunday 19 September.

For allied health professionals working outside of areas in lockdown, face to face care is still only permitted for essential care that is unable to be provided online/via telehealth. Group face to face interventions are not permitted.

For the latest Covid information go to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria | Coronavirus Victoria.

South Australia 

Level 2 restrictions are now in place across South Australia. PACFA advises that counsellors and psychotherapists are encouraged to provide services via telehealth or virtually. Face-to-face services are only to be provided in the instance of emergency clinical care for potentially life-threatening situations where telehealth is not clinically appropriate. 
 
In addition, PACFA advises that counsellors and psychotherapists are regarded as essential workers only in the following circumstances: 

  • allied health professionals providing mental health services in hospital 
  • allied health professionals providing mental health services in community settings by telehealth or by face-to-face (but only in the instance of emergency clinical care for 
  • potentially life-threatening situations where telehealth is not clinically appropriate). 

For the latest information and full details please visit the SA government Covid Restrictions page.  

ACT

The ACT lockdown has been extended until at least 15 October 2021. 

The ACT Government advises that telehealth or other virtual care options should be considered wherever possible and where clinically appropriate. If you can work from home, you must work from home.

Practice under ‘stay at home’ orders

For those members who are new to working under ‘stay at home’ rules, there are a range of resources available to assist you in making the transition to practice online or via telehealth. See Information for practising during Covid-19.

Reasons to leave home

People living and working in Canberra are asked to leave their home only for essential reasons:

  • Essential employment
  • Healthcare (including COVID-19 vaccinations)
  • Essential groceries and supplies
  • Up to one hour of outdoor exercise.

Mandatory mask wearing will be reintroduced for anyone over 12 years of age.

Allied health and mental health workers considered ‘essential’

The following allied health workers are included in the definition of essential workers:

  • Allied health services provided by allied health professionals working as essential workers in hospitals or in residential care facilities providing critical clinical care
  • allied health services provided by allied health professionals working in private practice or community services
  • students, medical/nursing/midwifery/allied health on placement providing essential care in hospitals or in residential care facilities.

The following mental health workers are included in the definition of essential workers:

  • the hospital emergency or inpatient psychiatric services
  • allied health professionals providing mental health services in hospital
  • private consultant psychiatry practice
  • allied health professionals providing mental health services in community settings.

Check Covid exposure sites

 Keep checking the Covid exposure locations, as they are updated regularly.

For further information about the 7-day lockdown

Coviu is an Australian developed platform designed specifically for the delivery of Telehealth, and is used by the Australian Government through HealthDirect. PACFA has secured a 30% discount for PACFA Registrants who wish to take up a subscription to Coviu. Read more here.

Northern Territory 

Restrictions on leaving home in Greater Darwin and Katherine have been lifted. 

Travel is now permitted outside of Greater Darwin and Katherine. 

Face masks must be worn outside and in workplaces when you are unable to physically distance.

The Territory Check-In App is mandatory for business, organisations and places.

Queensland 

Until 4pm Friday 24 September increased face mask restrictions continue to apply to the 11 Local Government Areas in South East Queensland. These Local Government Areas are declared impacted areas and include the following:

  • City of Brisbane
  • Moreton Bay Regional Council
  • City of Gold Coast
  • City of Ipswich
  • Lockyer Valley Regional Council
  • Logan City
  • Noosa Shire Council
  • Redland City
  • Scenic Rim Regional Council
  • Somerset Regional Council
  • Sunshine Coast Regional Council

You must wear a face mask at all times when you are indoors, including workplaces unless:

  • you can stay 1.5 metres away from others (only in your workplace)
  • you are at your residence and there is no one else there except people you live with
  • you are eating or drinking
  • it is unsafe to wear a mask

You must wear a face mask outdoors when you are unable to stay 1.5 metres away from people who are not from your household.