To assist women experiencing family violence, and professionals providing support to migrant and refugee communities during COVID-19 we have created this web-page to help you find;

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

Current COVID-19 restrictions in plain English (Victoria)

From 11:59pm Monday 16 August

The Victorian Government has found a of number COVID-19 (Coronavirus) cases in the community. To investigate this, and to stop people getting infected, there is currently a lockdown in place, meaning that you must try to stay at home to avoid catching or transmitting the virus.

To find additional resources in your language, please visit the Government’s Coronavirus website.

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 Coronavirus Website. It’s a good idea to check this regularly.

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The rules below come into effect in Melbourne from Monday 16 August.

You must wear a mask when you leave the house- in all indoor and outdoor settings. You can remove it to eat or drink in public so long as you aren’t consuming alcohol. You don’t have to wear a mask when exercising vigorously outside (for example jogging) but you must have a mask with you at all times.

  • If you have any symptoms, no matter how mild, you must get tested. Here’s some testing locations.
  • If you leave your home for any of the below reasons, you still need to check in everywhere you visit using the Service Victoria QR code app, or sign in using a pen and paper no matter how long you spend at that location.

Under the changes, Victorians will need to Stay at Home. You can only leave your home for five reasons:

  1. Shopping for necessary goods and services (one person per household, once per day, a support person can accompany if required, or your children if you can’t make other arrangements)
  2. Caregiving, compassionate and medical reasons
  3. Authorised work or education
  4. Exercising (up to two hours per day with one other person if you wish, as long as they are not more than 5kms from their home, or you live with them)
  5. Receiving a vaccination

You can leave your home in an emergency or if escaping family violence. When leaving home to exercise or get shopping, it’s important to stay within 5kms of your home. You can check this here.

Also, a curfew is now in place. Between 9:00pm and 5:00am, you cannot leave your home (or the home of your intimate partner or bubble buddy- more information below). You can only leave home between 9:00pm and 5:00am if-

  • You are doing authorised work (and have a permit to do so).
  • Health and medical reasons
  • Caring for or supporting a child, or someone with special needs
  • You are in an emergency situation, or to escape harm or family violence.

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

  • No. If you live alone or are a single parent, you can form a single social bubble with one other person. You can only choose one person, not a whole household.
  • This other person can visit your home. You can visit their house when they are alone at home too.

Can I see family or friends outdoors?

  • Not right now- social gatherings are not permitted
  • You may visit your intimate partner or a person in your “single bubble”

Shops, cafes and restaurants and other businesses

Open-

  • Essential retail, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, butchers, green grocers, bottle shops, petrol stations, post offices, banks, food stores, newsagents, liquor stores, and pet stores.
  • Cafes and restaurants are open for take-away and delivery only.
  • Childcare and kindergarten, however playgroups and public playgrounds are closed because of recent COVID transmissions at these places. You don’t need a permit to take your child to childcare.

Closed-

  • Restaurants and cafes (except for take-away or delivery)
  • Non-essential retail
  • Schools (remote learning except for vulnerable children and children of authorised workers)
  • Higher education and training (remote learning unless permitted study)
  • Places of worship (except to broadcast services with a maximum of 5 people wearing masks and social distancing)
  • Gyms, indoor and outdoor sports facilities and swimming pools
  • Community facilities including libraries (some libraries will have “click and collect” services available).

We are still expected to sign in where possible using QR codes. Find out more about this here

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

Religious gatherings are on hold for now. Funerals will be able to go ahead indoors and outdoors with up to ten people, plus those required to conduct the funeral. Weddings are only permitted for end of life or for deportation reasons. Only 5 people are permitted (the two persons being married, a celebrant and two witnesses)

What about work?

Only authorised workers may go to work- the 5km rule and the curfew does not apply to this. You can check if you are an authorised worker here. You must continue to wear a mask at work unless you have an exemption or are eating or drinking- social distance from your colleagues at all times. You also must carry a permit, signed and authorised by your employer as well as your ID. You can find out more about this here.

If you own a authorised business, you must have an authorised provider permit.  It’s important we follow these rules carefully to protect each other, and avoid getting fined.
Most workplaces must also limit the amount of workers allowed in one space- 1 person for every four square metres.

What about schools and childcare?

  • All schools will close, except for vulnerable children and children of authorised workers or authorised providers, who can attend for onsite supervision. Students over the age of 12 must wear masks at all times, unless they have a medical exemption.
  • Schools will continue to support students through remote learning or providing learning materials for use at home.
  • Universities and TAFEs will close or move to remote learning.
  • Childcare, family day care, early learning centres and kinders will remain open. A permit is not required.

What about parenting arrangements?

Shared parenting arrangements can continue for children.

Who can get a vaccine? How do I get one?

Currently, anyone over the age of 40 can get a free vaccine, including migrant and refugee people. You don’t need a Medicare card, but you do need to bring photo identification.

Currently, anyone over the age of 40 can get a free vaccine, including migrant and refugee people. Younger people can speak to their doctor if they wish to have an AstraZeneca vaccine, or may qualify for the Pfizer vaccine (which is recommended by health experts for people under the age of 40) if they meet certain requirements. Find out about these here.

You don’t need a Medicare card, but you do need to bring photo identification. If you need information in your language, you can find that here.

It’s best to make an appointment by calling the COVID Hotline. More info here or call 1800 675 398.

Need an interpreter? You can call TIS on 131 450 and ask to be put through to the COVID Hotline. 

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

If you can’t work due to COVID, you may be eligible for support from Centrelink. Read about this on their website.

There are also 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 Government’s Coronavirus 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 
For translated information on COVID-19 visit the COVID Government website here.

For the latest information on COVID-19, see the Victoria State Government’s COVID website here. If you suspect you may have coronavirus you can call the hotline: 1800 675 398 – open 24 hours, 7 days.

If you or your client requires a free interpreter, please call 131 450 (TIS National), then request the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

Key resources for women experiencing family violence during COVID-19

During COVID-19 many women may be at higher risk of experiencing family violence as many services are changing the way they operate, and women are forced to spend more time with the perpetrator of violence due to social distancing, self-isolation and shut-down measures.

Further to this, people who use family violence may also use COVID-19 as a way to control or abuse victim-survivors in different ways. For example they could;

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

Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic) have put together some useful advice on how to recognise family violence during COVID-19. Click here to read this information.

A list of key resources to support women at risk of family violence during COVID-19 is included below;

Translated information on COVID-19

inTouch have compiled links to key translated resources to empower the communities we support to access critical information inLanguage. You can also share this information with the clients or communities you assist.

The translated resources can be found on this page with accessible and translated resources for women experiencing family violence.