To assist women women from migrant and refugee communities who are experiencing family violence during COVID-19 we have created this web-page to help you find;

inTouch will continue to update this page as we learn about more services so please check back here regularly.

Current COVID-19 restrictions in plain English (Victoria)- COVIDSafe Summer

FROM MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 17

Public health restrictions in Victoria have returned to COVIDSafe Summer- with a few exceptions.
We must all still be careful to make sure that any new outbreaks of COVID-19 are managed well and we can all stay safe. It’s really important that we all get tested if we are sick to make sure the virus continues to be traced and suppressed.

UPDATE: Victorian Exposure Sites

The Victorian Government has developed some different levels of response when individual cases of COVID are found in the community. You may have seen lists of places (exposure sites) that COVID-positive people have visited- if you’ve been in the same places as a COVID-positive person, you might need to get tested.

To make this a bit easier, the Government has developed three tiers-

Tier 1: You must isolate for 14 days and get tested as soon as possible. You must isolate for the full 14 days even if you get a negative result.
Tier 2: You must get tested and isolate until you get a negative result
Tier 3: Watch for symptoms and get tested if you get sick

You can find out more about exposure sites, if there are any near you and what you need to do if there are at the DHHS Website.

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The rules below come into effect from 11.59pm on 17 February, 2021.

Can I visit my friends and family in their homes? Or can they visit me at home?

Yes – but you can only have five visitors in our homes per day (children under 12 are not included in this number).

Can I see family or friends outdoors?

Yes – we can gather with our friends and family outdoors in groups of up to 20 people (children under 12 are not included in this number).

Do I need to wear a mask?

Yes – sometimes! So you must always carry a mask with you. It is currently mandatory to wear a mask in indoor places, and it is suggested if you have people over to your house. For instance- you must wear a mask when you go to work, shops, restaurants, local stores, bars and restaurants and when you are on public transport, except if you are eating or drinking. You must also wear masks in taxis and Ubers or on domestic flights. If you are in a busy outdoor public place where you can’t socially distance, you may want to wear a mask.

Shops, cafes and restaurants and other businesses

– Retail shops are now open, but must observe COVID-safe practices
– Beauty, personal services and tattoo shops are open
– Restaurants, hotels, cafes, bars, clubs open – the number of people allowed will depend on how big the venue is as the venue must ensure that people are physically distancing and safe.

We will be expected to sign in when we go to these locations.

– Dancefloors and nightclubs can now open subject to density limits
– Gyms are now open – but there are limits to the number of people who can be inside- generally capped at 50. Please contact your gym for more information.
– Contact and non-contact sport can resume for all ages, with limits to the number of people.
– Public swimming pools are open, but must limit the number of people depending on how big their facility is.

What are the limits to religious services, weddings and funerals?

Weddings, religious gatherings and funerals can now have an unlimited amount of people. If the venue is small, there will need to be less people. If the event is in a home, there can only be a maximum of 5 people. In line with current health advice, you must wear a mask if not eating or drinking.

What about work?

There is a staged return to work for small, medium and large companies. Up to 50 percent of staff can return to work if there is enough space. There must be staggered arrival and exit times. For example, your workplace may organise to have some staff start work at 9am, another group to start at 9.15am.
Victorian public service remains at 25% depending on space.
Your employer must have a COVID-safe plan in place. If you don’t feel safe, please speak to your local community legal centre, or call the COVID-19 hotline 1800 675 398 for advice.

What about schools and childcare?

Schools, adult learning and childcare centres are now open. Speak with your school for specific information and details.

What about parenting arrangements?

Shared parenting arrangements can continue for children.

What are the limits to religious services, weddings and funerals?

Weddings, religious gatherings and funerals can now have an unlimited amount of people. If the venue is small, there will need to be less people. If the event is in a home, there can only be a maximum of 5 people. In line with current health advice, you must wear a mask if not eating or drinking.

What about work?

There is a staged return to work for small, medium and large companies. Up to 50 percent of staff can return to work if there is enough space. There must be staggered arrival and exit times. For example, your workplace may organise to have some staff start work at 9am, another group to start at 9.15am.
Victorian public service remains at 25% depending on space.
Your employer must have a COVID-safe plan in place. If you don’t feel safe, please speak to your local community legal centre, or call the COVID-19 hotline 1800 675 398 for advice.

Should I get tested every time I’m sick? Or my children are sick?

Anyone who has cold or flu symptoms should be tested. This includes fever, chills/sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss of sense of smell or taste.
Whenever you and your children get any type of cold or flu symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible. Testing is free for everyone.

Where can I get tested?

There are many drive-through and walk-in testing sites for COVID-19 across Victoria. This includes some shopping centre car parks, hospitals, and community halls. You can see the full list here.
Some GP clinics are also doing COVID-19 tests. You can call your doctor to make an appointment. Some GP’s do however charge a fee for this service.

What do I do after I have been tested?

Follow the instructions you are given when you’re having your COVID-19 test. If you are sick and have any symptoms, you must stay home. If you have been a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, you must stay home until you receive your results. Do not go to work or go out shopping, stay at home.

How long does it take to get the results?

After someone has a COVID-19 test, if they have a negative result (meaning you do not have the virus), then they will receive a text message or a phone call from their doctor to tell them it is negative.
If the test is positive to COVID-19 and you have the virus, then the person will receive a call from the relevant health authorities at DHHS. DHHS will then try to support the person and conduct contact tracing to work out how or who they got it from and if they have potentially spread it to anyone else.
Results generally take 24-72 hours to come through.

I have been told I have COVID-19. What do I do?

If you have COVID-19, you will be contacted by the relevant health authorities at DHHS. There will be doctors and nurses who will also be checking on you and giving you health advice. If you don’t understand the information they are giving you, you should always ask for an interpreter. If you need an interpreter, call TIS National on 131 450.
People who have COVID-19 are not allowed to leave their home until they are told that they can by DHHS UNLESS there is an emergency. If you do have to leave your home for an emergency, you must wear a mask.
If you need extra support and help, make sure you tell the doctors and nurses that contact you.

I have been told I’m a close contact of someone with COVID-19, what do I do?

If you have been told you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, it means you were in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This means you must isolate yourself for 14 days and not leave the house. You will also be asked to get tested twice. You will need to isolate for the 14 days even if you get a negative test result.
Speak to your doctor and the health officials for more information and guidance. It is critical that if you don’t understand something that they are saying, you should ask for an interpreter.

Financial support

There are a number of support payments the government has announced to help people who need to isolate and do not have sick/personal leave available from their employer.
If you are unwell and need to be tested, you can apply for the $450 one-off payment to stay home until you get your test results. This is called the Coronavirus Test Isolation Payment.
If you need to isolate because you have COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and you don’t have sick/personal leave available from your employer, you may be eligible for either the Federal Government’s $1500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment or the Victorian Government’s $1500 Coronavirus Worker Support Payment.
For more information on the Victorian Government payments, go to the DHHS website.
For information on the Federal Government’s Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, go here.
Please note, they have different eligibility requirements. For example, you cannot receive both the Federal and Victorian Government’s $1500 payments.

Fines

If we break the rules and don’t follow the restrictions in place, we can receive on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses.
If you have been told to isolate (because you have COVID-19 or because you are a close contact) and you don’t do so, you can receive an on-the-spot fine of $4957. You can also receive this fine more than once if you break the rules.
If you have received a fine and don’t understand why or can’t pay it, you can access support by contacting Moonee Valley Legal Service or Fitzroy Legal Service. These community legal centres provide free legal advice.

For more information about police and fines during COVID-19, see:
Victoria Legal Aid website
Northern Community Legal Centre website
Police Accountability Project website
This information was taken from the Victorian State Government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
For translated information on COVID-19 visit the DHHS website here.
inTouch also has some information with links to translated resources on the website here.

If you suspect you may have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) you can call the dedicated hotline which is open 24 hours, 7 days- 1800 675 398

If you need help understanding English and need an interpreter, please call 131 450 (TIS National), then request the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398. There is no cost to use an interpreter.

Key resources for women experiencing family violence during COVID-19

During COVID-19 you may be at higher risk of family violence as social distancing and the rules put in place by the Government mean you are spending more time inside with people who use violence. People who use family violence may also use COVID-19 as a way to control or abuse you in different ways. For example they could;

  • Stop or make it hard for you to get things you need such as food, medicine, hand sanitizer or cleaning products.
  • Tell you things that aren’t true about COVID-19 to control or frighten you.
  • Use COVID-19 as an excuse to control your family’s finances (money).
  • Put you at risk by not following social distancing laws from the Victorian Government.
  • Threaten to infect you with COVID-19 or to invite people with COVID-19 to visit your home.
  • Threaten or stop you and your children from going to the doctor or hide your Medicare card.
  • Say things that aren’t true about the way you look after your children, such as blaming you if children ‘misbehave’ or are upset.
  • Isolate you or your children in the home by restricting your movement in the house, forcing you or the children to stay in specific spaces or rooms in the house, or disabling your mobility devices.
  • Keep track of your personal communication devices such as mobile phone, email, online messaging.
  • Use COVID-19 to excuse, blame or justify their abusive and violent behavior towards you and the children.
  • An ex-partner may use COVID-19 to try and enter or live in your home. They may try to make you let them stay to ‘help’ you with the children.
  • Breach a family violence intervention order.
  • Force you to travel on public transport, making you feel unsafe.
  • Tell you family violence organisations are closed or that police won’t help you during COVID-19. This is not true.

This is family violence. Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic) have put together some useful advice on how to recognise family violence during COVID-19 and help keep you and your children safe during this time. Click here to read this information.

Family violence is never ok. Organisations are here to help you stay safe. If you or someone you know needs support, you can get help from inTouch or reach out to one of these 24-hour services;

Links to important information about staying safe from family violence during COVID-19 are listed below;

Changes to the legal system

To help you understand changes to Victoria’s legal system during COVID-19 we have created these short videos.

Changes to legal service provision during COVID-19

NOTE: Information is changing rapidly in response to the pandemic and advice from your relevant government and health officials should be referred to for the most up-to-date information.

Parenting Orders During COVID-19

NOTE- Information is changing rapidly in response to the pandemic and advice from your relevant government and health officials should be referred to for the most up-to-date information.

Translated information on COVID-19

Information is being translated in to a range of languages by the Australian Government and other organisations to help you understand COVID-19 symptoms and, how to protect yourself, and travel restrictions. Links to translated information are listed below to help you find important information in your language.

Health Translations and Victoria State Government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has information about COVID-19 which is translated into various languages. You can access these under each corresponding language listed below, otherwise you can also see the full list of languages available on the Health Translations website here or the DHHS website here.

For all Victorians, anyone 12 years of age and older, must wear a face mask over their nose and mouth when leaving home for one of the four reasons. See videos on how to make a cloth face mask at home, and how to safely wear face coverings, available in multiple languages. There is also information on wearing a face covering in different languages, see posters here and hear audio recordings here.

inTouch will continue to add more links each week so please check back here often.

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inTouch will continue to update this page as more resources become available but we need your help. If you have a resource you would like to share, please email admin@intouch.org.au.