Important updates for PACFA members: COVID-19 pandemic response

As PACFA continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic response, we have written to members today with several updates, including clarification of recent Government announcements, new resources available on the PACFA website and some important news from Insurance House and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information on the PACFA website

We are continually adding new resources to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information page on the PACFA website. Just look for “Recently Added” links to find new information from the Department of Health, the National Mental Health Commission, the World Health Organisation, and more.  

Counsellors and Psychotherapists are valued members of the allied health workforce

PACFA would like to assure all our members that counsellors and psychotherapists are acknowledged as important members of the Australian allied health workforce. The Minister for Health recognises that all allied health professionals are essential service providers.

At this stage of the pandemic response, all practising PACFA members have permission to keep providing services. Members are strongly encouraged to provide services remotely wherever possible and to follow social distancing, infection control and, if required, self-isolation procedures.

Appropriate inclusion of counsellors and psychotherapists, and consideration of the needs of your clients in Australia’s COVID-19 response, is at the top of PACFA’s advocacy priorities.  We are advocating directly to the Health Minister in this regard.

The peak body for Allied Health, Allied Health Professions Australia, has also asked the Department of Health to be very clear that all allied health professions, including counselling and psychotherapy, are included in its forward planning for Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

Advice for members about insurance cover from Insurance House

PACFA has recently received advice for members who are insured by Insurance House regarding the implications of switching from face-to-face consultations to video or audio services.

We confirm that your Insurance House policy will cover you for practicing via online video sessions or phone calls. Please read the Advice from Insurance House carefully, to ensure that you comply with all the requirements of your policy.

Important information for NDIS Providers

Arrangements under the NDIS are changing rapidly to protect the wellbeing and livelihood of NDIS participants and providers.

For NDIS information about coronavirus, including provider obligations, how to reduce the risk to participants, and links to updates and resources, please visit Provider Alerts about COVID-19. NDIS provider alerts apply to providers in all states and territories other than Western Australia .

The NDIA has put in place additional measures to support the sector through this difficult time.  One of those measures is an advance payment to registered NDIS providers who have provided services in the last three months. This consists of a cash payment equivalent to the average monthly income they’ve received over the last month. This may suit some providers but it will also create a potential future risk as repayments will reduce provider incomes to zero until the debt is repaid (once the NDIS determines the repayment is due).

The payment from the NDIA is being provided on an opt out basis and the deadline to opt out is 5pm today, Friday 27 March. If you miss this deadline to opt out, you should contact the NDIA National Contact Centre and ask for an invoice to be issued for the repayment.