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)

The Victorian government is trying to control and stop the spread of the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and there are a number of restrictions in place. For the latest and most up-to-date information, you should regularly check the Victorian State Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website by clicking here.

All of Victoria – mandatory face coverings

No matter where you live, all Victorians must now wear a face covering when they leave home. For more information on face coverings see the DHHS website by clicking here.

Metropolitan Melbourne – stage 4 ‘stay at home’ restrictions – first step towards ‘COVID normal’

As of 14 September, Melbourne’s stage 4 ‘stay at home’ restrictions will continue but there will be some changes as we move to a new strategy and the FIRST STEP towards ‘COVID normal’.

The curfew is still in place but has been extended to 9pm (from 8pm) to 5am. This means that a person cannot leave their house during this time unless there is an emergency, for permitted work, health, care, or safety reasons.

If you live alone or if you are a single parent of a child under the age of 18, you can now choose ONE person who can visit you. That one person must also choose you, and then you can visit each other. Each of you can only choose one person.

Outside of the curfew, from 5am – 9pm, you can only leave your home for one of the following four reasons:

  • To shop for necessary goods and services
    You can only travel up to 5km from your home and only one person per household can leave home to get necessary goods and services and only once a day (this means you can’t do multiple shopping trips in a day).
  • To exercise
    You must not travel more than 5km from where you live to exercise for a maximum of two hours each day. You can exercise with one other person not from your household such as a friend, family member, or neighbour, or a household can meet outdoors for two hours. If you have children you can’t leave alone at home, you can take them with you.
  • For health, medical and caring purposes
    You can leave home to receive health care or attend medical appointments. You can leave home to care for a sick or elderly relative. If you are providing care for someone you should try to keep 1.5 metres between you when you can. You can leave home to accompany someone for essential medical treatment if you are a parent, guardian or carer. You can take a pet to the vet.
  • To work or for education 
    Only if you can’t work or study from home. If you can work or study from home, you must continue to do so. Only permitted workers can travel to work.

You can still visit an intimate partner. Shared parenting arrangements can continue for children.

You can leave home if there is an emergency or if you are experiencing family violence and you are at risk. If you are stopped by police, tell them you are feeling unsafe at home and they will help you.

Regional Victoria – ‘stay at home’ restrictions – step two towards COVID normal 

As of 14 September, there will be some changes in regional Victoria as we move to a new strategy and next steps (STEP TWO) to move towards ‘COVID normal’. If you live in regional Victoria there are only four reasons that you can leave home:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • for health, medical and caring purposes
  • to exercise – there are no limits on how much time you spend exercising outside. Personal training is also permitted as long as it’s outside and there is maximum two people plus the trainer. Outdoor pools and playgrounds are open
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home.

Some public gatherings are permitted outdoors with a maximum of five people from two households. Children under the age of 12 are not included in this limit.

If you live alone or if you are a single parent of a child under the age of 18, you can now choose ONE person who can visit you. That one person must also choose you, and then you can visit each other.

Retail shops will reopen and there will be a staged return to classrooms for schools. Childcare centres and kindergartens will be open.

For all of us, the most important points to remember are:

  • we must continue to practice physical distancing (1.5 metres) when we are in public, in shops and businesses
  • we must continue to work from home if we have already been working from home
  • we must continue to practice good hygiene – washing hands and using hand sanitizer
  • anyone experiencing any symptoms – no matter how mild – should get tested. If you live in a ‘hot spot’ area you should get tested even if you don’t have any symptoms. It’s free for everyone (regardless of visa status). Find out more about getting tested here.

People who do not follow the rules and restrictions in place can be fined by the police. It is important you understand the rules and restrictions in place for where you live, so you don’t put yourself or your children at risk or get fined.

DHHS has more information on their website to help you learn and understand the rules. Click here to visit the DHHS website.

A list of some important FAQ’s for women and families is included below:

The places listed below are part of Metropolitan Melbourne;

  • Banyule – Bellfield, Bundoora, Greensborough, Heidelberg, Ivanhoe, Montmorency, Rosanna, Watsonia
  • Bayside – Beaumaris, Brighton, Cheltenham, Hampton, Highett, Sandringham
  • Boroondara – Ashburton, Balwyn, Camberwell, Canterbury, Glen Iris, Hawthorn, Kew, Surrey Hills
  • Brimbank – Calder Park, Deer Park, Delahey, Derrimut, Keilor Downs, St Albans, Sunshine, Sydenham, Taylors Lakes
  • Cardinia – Bunyip, Gembrook, Koo Wee Rup, Nar Nar Goon, Officer, Pakenham
  • Casey – Berwick, Clyde, Cranbourne, Endeavour Hills, Narre Warren
  • Darebin – Alphington, Fairfield, Kingsbury, Northcote, Preston, Reservoir, Thornbury
  • Frankston – Carrum Downs, Frankston, Langwarrin, Sandhurst, Seaford, Skye
  • Glen Eira – Bentleigh, Caulfield, Elsternwick, Glen Huntly, Murrumbeena, Ormond
  • Greater Dandenong – Dandenong, Keysborough, Lyndhurst, Noble Park, Springvale
  • Hobsons Bay – Altona, Newport, Spotswood, Williamstown
  • Hume – Broadmeadows, Coolaroo, Craigieburn, Dallas, Keilor, Mickleham, Roxburgh Park, Sunbury, Tullamarine
  • Kingston – Aspendale, Chelsea, Cheltenham, Mentone, Moorabbin, Mordialloc, Patterson Lakes
  • Knox – Bayswater, Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Scoresby, Wantirna
  • Manningham – Bulleen, Doncaster, Templestowe, Warrandyte, Wonga Park
  • Maribyrnong – Braybrook, Footscray, Maribyrnong, Yarraville
  • Maroondah – Croydon, Heathmont, Kilsyth, Ringwood, Vermont
  • Melbourne – Carlton, Docklands, Flemington, Kensington, Parkville, Southbank
  • Melton – Caroline Springs, Diggers Rest, Melton, Rockbank
  • Monash – Chadstone, Clayton, Glen Waverley, Hughesdale, Mount Waverley, Mulgrave, Oakleigh
  • Monash – Chadstone, Clayton, Glen Waverley, Hughesdale, Mount Waverley, Mulgrave, Oakleigh
  • Moreland – Brunswick, Coburg, Glenroy, Oak Park, Pascoe Vale
  • Mornington Peninsula – Blairgowrie, Dromana, Hastings, HMAS Cerberus, Mornington, Mount Eliza, Rosebud, Rye, Sorrento
  • Nillumbik – Diamond Creek, Eltham, Greensborough, Plenty, Wattle Glen
  • Port Phillip – Albert Park, Balaclava, Elwood, South Melbourne, Port Melbourne, St Kilda
  • Stonnington – Armadale, Malvern, Prahran, South Yarra, Toorak
  • Whitehorse – Blackburn, Box Hill, Mitcham, Mont Albert, Nunawading
  • Whittlesea – Epping, Lalor, Mernda, Mill Park, South Morang, Thomastown, Whittlesea township
  • Wyndham – Hoppers Crossing, Laverton, Point Cook, Tarneit, Truganina, Werribee
  • Yarra – Abbotsford, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Richmond
  • Yarra Ranges – Belgrave, Coldstream, Ferny Creek, Healesville, Lilydale, Mount Dandenong, Olinda, Warburton, Yarra Glen

From Monday 3 August, across all of Victoria, everyone 12 years of age and older, must wear a face covering whenever you leave home. If you live in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, you should only be leaving home for one of the four reasons above.

If you do not wear a mask, you will be fined. For more information on face masks, visit the DHHS website here.

To try and stop the spread of COVID-19, we must all continue to try and stay home as much as we can and follow restrictions in place. This is because the less that people interact with each other, the less likely it could spread among the community.

From 14 September, regional Victoria will ease some restrictions and move to the SECOND STEP towards ‘COVID normal’. This means that from this date and time there will be no limits on how you exercise outside, some outdoor gatherings will be allowed and ‘single person bubbles’ introduced. Retail shops will reopen and there will be a staged return to classrooms for schools. Childcare centres and kindergartens will be open. If you live in regional Victoria there are only four reasons that you can leave home:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  • to exercise
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home.
We still have to stand 1.5 meters away from people when we are in public – at the supermarket, shops, workplace, and also if you are at an outdoor gathering. For example, if you’re having a picnic with friends outside, you need to keep 1.5 meters between you. This does not include your children or household.

If you are in a family violence refuge or temporary accommodation, such as a hotel or motel, arranged for you by a family violence support service, you can remain there.

You should think of this accommodation as your normal place of residence and stay at home, unless you have somewhere safe to relocate to.

Although some people are at higher risk – for example returned travellers, health care and aged care workers – anyone and everyone can get tested for COVID-19 now. There are many sites conducting testing including medical centres, and there are drive-through testing sites at shopping centres. Click here for more information and exact locations. Testing for COVID-19 at these sites is free for everyone – regardless of visa status.

Some GP clinics are also doing COVID-19 tests. You can call your doctor to make an appointment. Some GP’s do charge a fee for this service.

The advice from our public health officials is that 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.

After you’ve had your test, you should follow the instructions of the person who tested you. If you are sick and have any symptoms, you must stay home. If you have been a close contact of someone, you must stay home until you receive your results.

Results take 24-72 hours to come through.

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 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.

After you’ve had your test, you should follow the instructions of the person who tested you. 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.

If you don’t have any symptoms and are not a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, you don’t need to isolate.

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.

You must follow the advice of the health officials and make sure that you quarantine/isolate and follow their instructions. It is critical that if you don’t understand something that they are saying, you should ask for an interpreter.

The government has released a new phone app called COVIDSafe. It is your choice if you would like to download the app.

If you do download the app, the app must be turned on when you go out for it to work.

If you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, DHHS will then know to notify you. So it helps DHHS track who people with COVID-19 have been in close contact with.

If we break these rules, we can receive on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses.

You can call your local community legal centre or Victoria Legal Aid and ask for free legal advice.

Your case manager at inTouch can help you to find the correct phone number and contact details for the legal centre.

Click to find more information about police and fines during COVID-19 from Victoria Legal Aid, Northern Community Legal Centre, and the Police Accountability Project.

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 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 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 here.

For information on the Federal Government’s Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, go to the Services Australia website here.

Please note, they have different eligibility requirements. For example, you cannot receive both the Federal and Victorian Government’s $1500 payments.

In Metropolitan Melbourne, schools will have remote and flexible learning across all year levels and across the state. There are exceptions for specialist schools and for children of health care and essential workers. If you work in an essential service or health care, you can apply for a permit on the Victorian Government website here. Children of permitted workers (who have a work permit) and vulnerable kids will be able to access childcare and kinder. A permit is also required for this, see the Victorian Government website here.

In regional Victoria, from 14 September, all school year levels will have a staged return to classrooms in Term 4 with safety measures in place. Contact your school for more information about how this will be coordinated.

If you suspect you may have 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

All information in the video is accurate as of 11 May 2020. 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

All information in the video is accurate as of 11 May 2020. 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 translated information on the current Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, including curfew times and travel restrictions, see posters and hear audio recordings. For translated information on Stage 3 restrictions across the rest of regional Victoria, see posters and hear audio recordings.

For all Victorians, anyone 12 years of age and older, must wear a face covering 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.