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PACFA Member Update: Victoria’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Roadmap to Reopening

As Victoria begins to gradually ease restrictions under the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Roadmap to Reopening, PACFA would like to thank our Victorian members for your dedication, patience and ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of your communities. We acknowledge in particular our members who have been busy over the last six weeks negotiating the tension between continuing to meet the needs of clients while complying with strict Stage 4 restrictions in place across Metropolitan Melbourne to reduce the risk of further community transmissions.

PACFA has written to our Victorian members to share the most recent information and advice from the Victorian Government and Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) on what the Roadmap to Reopening will mean for allied health practices across Metropolitan Melbourne and in Regional Victoria.  

The Roadmap to Reopening outlines four distinct ‘Steps’ towards the easing of restrictions across Victoria, with separate plans for Metropolitan and Regional locations. From today, Monday September 14th, modified Stage 4 restrictions have been introduced across Greater Melbourne, under the First Step  of the Reopening Roadmap for Metropolitan Melbourne. The new First Step requirements will continue to apply for Mellburnians until Sunday September 27th, with a potential easing of restrictions from September 28th, subject to ongoing rates of infection and public health advice.

AHPA has advised that for all allied health practitioners in Metropolitan Melbourne, there is no indication from the Victorian Government of any changes to the current Stage 4 workplace guidelines under First Step restrictions and all requirements relating to professional practice will remain at their current levels until the 27th of September. PACFA encourages Melbourne-based members to ensure that arrangements for client appointments during this period continue to meet the Stage 4 requirements in the Health Care and Social Assistance Permitted Workplace Guidelines and if this is not feasible for some clients, to reschedule those appointments as appropriate.

From Monday September 14th Second Step restrictions apply for all locations outside metropolitan Melbourne. The Reopening Roadmap for Regional Victoria Guidelines for Second Step restrictions list Allied health practitioners as subject to ‘Restricted’ practice and practitioners in regional Victoria should continue to comply with Stage 3 Workplace Guidelines for the Healthcare and Social Assistance Industry.

While there is no immediate easing of practice requirements for our members in regional Victoria, PACFA is hopeful that these restrictions may be lifted over the coming week. In a Media Statement released on Sunday 13th September, Premier Daniel Andrews praises  the “incredible effort of regional Victorians” to reach a daily rate of only 4.1 new infections and notes that if this trend continues “regional Victorians could move to the Third Step in a matter of days. “

PACFA will keep all Victorian members up-to-date on the potential easing of workplace guidelines and requirements as further information becomes available. Members should also note that at this stage the DHHS Guidance on Student Clinical Placements issued on the 14th of August also remains current across Victoria.

Upcoming Webinar for Victorian Allied Health Providers: Reducing COVID-19 Transmission
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is planning a webinar on reducing COVID-19 transmission for Victorian allied health providers in the week beginning September 21st. The webinar will provide the latest advice and information for allied health practitioners in a range of settings including community, aged care, and private practice and offer the opportunity to raise further questions for clarification.

Speakers are currently  being finalised and may include Victorian Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton and Chief Allied Health Officer, Donna Markham, in addition to experts from the DHHS Infection Prevention Control and Outreach team. PACFA will share event details and registration information with Victorian members with as soon as they become available.