Coronavirus (COVID-19)

THIS PAGE IS REGULARLY UPDATED WITH THE LATEST INFORMATION.

Please refresh your browser window if necessary. Last updated Monday 30 March.


This website will provide information pertinent to local residents in Macnamara about managing the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Things are moving fast at the moment, and although we are trying to keep up as best we can, this is not a definitive guide, but it is a great reference or starting point for finding information and links, with many specifically related to our local area.

Labor’s priority during this outbreak is to protect jobs, help Australian workers, businesses, families and communities through this difficult time, and ensure vulnerable Australians are supported. Labor will continue to be a supportive, responsible and constructive Opposition, and will ensure there is a sense of urgency where it is lacking or absent.

 

Click on any link below to skip to the information you seek:

 


 

Contacting My Office

I’ve asked my staff to work from home until further notice, and my office doors will be closed to the public. We’ll still be working and available to assist constituents with all kinds of issues. The best way to contact us by email on josh.burns.mp@aph.gov.au or to use the contact form at the bottom of the page. My office phones are now on redirect – so if you need to speak to us, give us a ring on (03) 9534 8126. Right now, we’ve all got to do our bit to avoid unnecessary contact, so my team are doing ours. But rest assured – if you need us, we’re here.

Due to the spread of Covid-19 I have also made the decision to postpone all scheduled community events. I apologise for any inconvenience.

 


Important Information and Contacts/Links

 

Community Service Announcement from the ABC

Below is a video from the ABC where Dr Norman Swan provides simple advice regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

Victorian State Government Hotline & Updates

If you are concerned, call Victorian Government coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

For information in languages other than English (to have information translated) call 131 450. See also translated advice available online from the Federal Government below.

Please keep triple zero (000) for emergencies only.

The Victorian State Government is providing up-to-date statewide information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) at dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19.

 

Federal Government Coronavirus Hotline & Updates

If you are concerned, call the Federal Government coronavirus hotline on 1800 020 080.

Please keep triple zero (000) for emergencies only.

The Federal Government is also providing regular updates about COVD-19 at health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert.

 

 

Information in Languages Other than English

The Australian Government has started to provide translated resources which can be found at health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/translated-coronavirus-covid-19-resources. Thus far the translations include; Arabic, Vietnamese, Simplified & Traditional Chinese, Farsi, Korean and Italian.

 

 

FAQ & resources from health.gov.au

COVID-19 resources including FAQs are available at health.gov.au/resources/collections/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-resources.

 

 

“Coronavirus Australia” Government App

You can use the Australian Government Coronavirus app to:

  • stay up to date with the official information and advice
  • find important health advice to help stop the spread and stay healthy
  • get a quick snapshot of the current official status within Australia
  • check your symptoms if you are concerned about yourself or someone else
  • find relevant contact information
  • access updated information from the Australian Government
  • receive push notifications of urgent information and updates

Download the “Coronavirus Australia” government app in the Apple App Store or from Google Play

 

 


Remember to check the validity of information before passing it on to avoid misinformation being spread on social media. Look for trusted sources like the State and Federal Government websites (above) and the ABC Coronavirus News Stream.


 

 

Looking after yourself & preventing the spread

 

Ten ways to reduce you risk of coronavirus

  1. Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
  2. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  3. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  4. Isolate yourself at home if you feel sick. If you take medication, ensure you have adequate supplies.
  5. Phone your GP first if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.
  6. Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and now is the time to quit smoking. Call the Quitline 137 848.
  7. Don’t wear a face mask if you are well.
  8. Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.
  9. Get the flu shot (available late-March/early-April).
  10. Shaking hands is optional!

 

Physical Distancing

We should all be practicing social (or physical) distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Physical distancing involves changing your social habits to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. While effective, physical distancing cannot eliminate risk of transmission entirely and is not appropriate in many circumstances.

For example, things you can do include:

  • keeping a full arm-span (about 1.5 metres) between yourself and other people where possible
  • avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others
  • avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example non-essential business meetings
  • avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
  • avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment.

 

Common symptoms of COVID–19 infection

Many people who contract COVID-19 will suffer only mild symptoms. However early indications are that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.

The most common symptoms reported include:

    • Fever
    • Breathing difficulties such as breathlessness
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue or tiredness

 

Self-assessment for risk of coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Victorian Government has produced an interactive self-assessment is for those living in or travelling from overseas to Victoria. The self-assessment uses the latest advice and will help you better understand the risks and precautions you need to take based on your personal circumstances. The self-assessment is updated in accordance with the coronavirus case-definition available on their page for health services and general practice and was published on 25 March 2020.

 

 

 

If you feel you may have the symptoms of infection

If you are in any of the risk categories and begin to feel unwell and develop a fever or shortness of breath, a cough or respiratory illness either during your period of isolation (self-quarantine), or in the 14 days since arriving home from international travel or coming into close contact with a confirmed case, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Call ahead to your GP (see the link below to find your local GP) or the emergency department and mention your overseas travel before you arrive at the doctor’s office so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.

If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance and tell the operator your recent travel history.

 

 

Local doctors

To find your local General Practitioner Doctor in Macnamara please visit healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services

Make sure that you call ahead to your GP rather than just show up. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients. You should also wear a facemask before entering a healthcare provider’s office.

 

 

Using TELEHEALTH to consult with doctors and other health professionals

As of Monday 30 March, you will be able to consult with a doctor, mental health professional, nurse and a range of other bulk billed health services using either the telephone or video conferencing (TELEHEALTH), and it will be covered by Medicare.

Doctors, nurses, midwives and mental health professionals are allowed to deliver temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule and Department of Veterans’ Affairs items via TELEHEALTH, provided those services are bulk billed. More doctors are now encouraged to bulk bill as the financial incentives to do so have been doubled.

An incentive payment will also be established to ensure practices stay open to provide face to face services where they are essential for patients with conditions that can’t be treated through TELEHEALTH. Physical (social) distancing measures will be consistently applied, if at all possible, including in clinical settings. The rule of 1 person for every 4 square metres must be maintained to ensure a safe physical distance.

If you have concerns about your physical, or even mental health, then I encourage you to speak to someone today. During these difficult times, this should be made as easy as possible.

Call your doctor or other health service provider to see if they are offering this service. But if you are having trouble breathing, or need urgent medical attention, please call 000.

 

 

Local screening clinic

A state screening clinic has been established at:

The Alfred Hospital
55 Commercial Rd, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9076 2000.

The Alfred COVID-19 Screening Clinic is open 7 days a week from 8am-6pm.

Testing Criteria

Please note the Alfred is currently only testing people who meet the following criteria:

 Clinical criteria

  • Fever* OR
  • Acute respiratory infection (for example, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat)

Epidemiological criteria

  • Travelers from overseas with onset of symptoms within 14 days of return OR
  • Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with onset of symptoms within 14 days of last contact OR
  • Healthcare workers and residential aged care workers meeting clinical criteria OR
  • Aged and residential care residents meeting clinical criteria OR
  • Patients who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people meeting clinical criteria

The following patients will also be tested:

  • Patients admitted to hospital with acute respiratory tract infection AND fever*

* Fever means ≥ 38 degrees, without another immediately apparent cause such as urinary tract infection or cellulitis

Before attending the clinic, please call 9076 2000 to ensure you meet the criteria for testing. If you do attend the clinic, please wear a mask if you have access to one.

 

 

Looking after your mental health

It is really important to look after your mental health throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 is rapidly changing the way we go about our lives – but it is important to remember that this is something we will get through together.

Simple steps

It is not unusual for there to be more feels of anxiety present and particularly during periods of self-isolation or quarantine, but there are heaps of things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing.

  1. Keep in contact with friends and family on skype
  2. Exercise
  3. Manage consumption of media
  4. Stick to a routine
  5. Maintain practical and calm approach
  6. Seek support
  7. Working from home healthily

Talk to someone

There is a lot of support out there – if you’re feeling like you need to talk to someone you can call: Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

If you would prefer to speak to someone online you can chat online at from 3pm to midnight daily

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue have provided some very helpful wellbeing advice if you have feelings of anxiety, distress and concern) in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19). It can be found here: beyondblue.org.au/coronavirus-outbreak

Headspace

Headspace is the national youth mental health foundation who you can call at 1800 650 890 or you can access their resources online at headspace.org.au/young-people/how-to-cope-with-stress-related-to-covid-19/

New Zealand nationals

The New Zealand Government has provided resources to look after your well-being, and FAQ’s about mental health during COVID-19 here: mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/covid-19

 

 

Looking after elderly residents

If you are having concerns about COVID-19 you can call the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 237 981 from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday to discuss your concerns about COVID-19.

Some supermarkets have also introduced special shopping hours for older and lesser abled residents to ensure they are able to purchase staples.

Woolworths introduced a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and people with a disability 7am to 8am from Tuesday 17th to Friday 20th March. This trial has been extended until at least 27th

Coles will be holding Community Hour from Monday to Friday from 7am to 8am in all Coles supermarkets, with access exclusively for elderly customers and others in need of assistance. Further details can be found at coles.com.au/customernotice

 

 

Self-isolation – and what it means

Shops will stay open and deliveries will keep happening.

If you’ve stocked up, please let others get immediate essentials. There is no need to panic buy. We are a community, and we need to share with each other the same kindness and consideration that we ask for ourselves.

Never, ever, ever abuse staff. They are under pressure and they deserve our thanks and respect, always.

See also “Emergency Relief Packages for Victorians in need” on this page.

Self-isolation is not the same as social distancing – which just involves avoiding large crowds and minimising physical contact. The goal of self-isolation is to put as much distance between you and other people as possible. More information can be found at health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-isolation-guidance.

 

 

 

National Disability Insurance Scheme

Labor’s Shadow Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and the nation’s peak disability service providers body, National Disability Services, have joined forced with several unions to seek reassurance that the Government has a plan to look after people with disability, their carers, the workers and support organisations.

The Labor Party stands along with the NDS & joint unions in their sensible requests to government outlined in their joint statement available here and we will continue to fight for their immediate implementation.

If you are having difficulties accessing NDIS etc., please contact my office.

 

 


Wider precautions to prevent the spread

If everyone complies with these stronger coronavirus measures today, then they would only last a number of weeks, and there wouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. BUT if we don’t take these measures seriously, millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because our healthcare system could collapse.

Read “Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance. — What the Next 18 Months Can Look Like, if Leaders Buy Us Time” by Tomas Pueyo in Medium.

 

 

Victorian State Government State of Emergency

A State of Emergency has been declared in Victoria to combat COVID-19 and help to provide the Chief Health Officer with the powers he needs to enforce 14-day isolation requirements for all travellers entering Australia and cancel mass gatherings of more than 500 people, as agreed by National Cabinet.

The State of Emergency begins on Monday, 16 March 2020 and ends on Sunday 12 April 2020.

Under this State of Emergency, the Victorian Government has:

    • Prohibited mass gatherings of more than 500 people.
      • However, airports, schools and universities, food markets, and emergency services are among the current exemptions.
    • Banned indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people.
      • Schools exempt for now, but large gatherings such as assemblies or lectures are being restricted.
      • Large public spaces needed for people to pass through such as Federation Square or Bourke Street Mall are also excluded.
      • In a given occupied space, there must be a density of no more than one person per four square metres of floor space.
    • Placed restrictions on aged care facilities in Victoria.
    • Enforced a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone who has returned from overseas travel to Australia.
    • The ability to conduct spot checks on people in enforced self-isolation, the ability to detain any person to eliminate risk to public health, and to prevent any person or group from entering a defined emergency area.
    • The ability to impose penalties of up to $20,000 on individuals who fail to comply with a direction under the state of emergency. Body corporates can be fined up to $100,000.

For more information on the announcement visit vic.gov.au/state-of-emergency-declared-in-victoria-over-covid-19/ & https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/more-restrictions-put-in-place-in-the-fight-against-covid-19/

 

Stage One Containment Enforcement

Victoria Police has established a coronavirus enforcement squad of five hundred officers to ensure containment measures that have been put in place to combat coronavirus are followed. Coordinated through the Police Operations Centre, the officers will be out in the community doing spot checks on returning travellers who are in 14-day isolation, as well as enforcing the bans on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

This includes the decision of the National Cabinet to implement Stage 1 of a shutdown of non-essential activity across the country from midday today which is aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The businesses that will close due to the Stage 1 shutdown include:

  • pubs
  • clubs
  • nightclubs
  • Crown Casino
  • licensed venues in hotels and pubs
  • gyms
  • indoor sporting venues
  • places of worship
  • cinemas
  • entertainment venues.
  • Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide home delivery or takeaway services.

 

Stage Two Containment Enforcement

From midnight on 25 March Wednesday, these activities and businesses will be restricted or not allowed to continue:

  • Auction houses are to be closed
  • Real estate auctions and open house inspections are banned, except for private inspections by appointment
  • Markets, whether indoor or outdoor, are to close unless it is a food market. If the market has non-food stalls, these non-food stalls must close.

Cafés and food courts

All cafés and food courts must stop providing table service, but may continue to offer delivery and takeaway.

Cafes and canteens may continue to operate at:

  • Hospitals
  • Care homes or schools
  • Prisons and military bases
  • Workplaces, although only as a takeaway service
  • Food services for the homeless can continue without restriction.

Beauty and personal care services

Hairdressers, barber shops and hair salons may continue to operate, ensuring no more than 1 person for every 4 square metres of space and for a maximum of 30 minutes with each client.

All other personal care services where there is close contact for a prolonged period must cease, including:

  • Beauty therapy, spray-tanning, waxing and nail salons
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Spas and massage parlours

Allied health services, such as physiotherapy and podiatry are not required to close.

Entertainment venues

The following entertainment venues where groups of people may come in close contact for extended periods must close:

  • cinemas and theatres
  • nightclubs
  • casinos, gaming or gambling venues
  • adult entertainment premises such as strip clubs, brothels and sex on premises venues
  • concert venues
  • arenas, auditoriums and stadiums where performances are held (except where a small group performs to an online audience via live-streaming or similar technology)
  • amusement parks and arcades
  • children’s play centres, both indoor and outdoor.

Community and recreation centres

These venues must close:

  • health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities
  • social sporting-based activities
  • swimming pools, both public and shared
  • saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres
  • community and recreation centres. (These facilities may remain open for the purposes of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services).

Boot camps and personal training services can continue only if they are outdoor, and then only up to a maximum of 10 people at any one session, ensuring no more than 1 person for every 4 square metres of space. [See Stage 3 Restrictions now in force]

Caravan and camping parks

Caravan and camping parks must close, except:

  • where the accommodation is for the purposes of respite, for victims of family violence, other vulnerable groups or for care purposes
  • where people live there permanently or as an interim abode where the primary residence is not available

Non-residential institutions

These venues must close:

  • zoos, petting zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks, except for the maintenance, care or rescue of animals
  • museums, national institutions and historic sites
  • galleries, libraries, toy libraries
  • community centres, youth centres and community facilities – such as community halls, clubs, RSLs, PCYCs. (These facilities may remain open for the purposes
  • of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services).
  • local government non-essential facilities and services (such as libraries and pools).

Places of worship

All places of worship must close, except for the conduct of weddings and funerals in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Weddings may be held in places of worship (or other venues), but only with the couple, celebrant and maximum of two witnesses in attendance.
  • Funerals may be held in places of worship, funeral parlours or other venues, with a maximum of ten mourners in attendance.

 

Stage Three Containment Enforcement

The previous gathering limit of 10 people had been cut to 2 people.

The two-person limit in Victoria does not apply to people who live in the same house, and excludes workplaces and schools.

However, you should only be outside for one of the following 4 reasons:

  • shopping for what you need – food and essential supplies
  • medical, care or compassionate needs
  • exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
  • work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely

You could be fined for being outside your home without a valid reason.

The Stage 2 rules for weddings and funerals remain:

  • No more than 5 people are allowed to attend a wedding – the 2 people getting married, a celebrant and 2 witnesses.
  • For funerals, no more than 10 people can attend, as per the previous direction.

People aged over 70, those with a chronic illness aged over 60, and Indigenous Australians over the age of 50 should stay at home as much as practical.

Fines of more than $1600 for public gatherings of more than two people.

Persons or businesses could be fined on the spot:

  • if they fail to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving at an airport in Victoria from a flight originating from overseas, as set out in the Airport Arrivals Direction.
  • if they organise or attend a mass gathering prohibited by the Prohibited Gatherings Direction.
  • if they organise or attend a wedding that has present more than the two persons being married, the celebrant, and two witnesses, or a funeral that has more than 10 persons, as prohibited by the Prohibited Gatherings Direction.

Skate parks, outdoor gyms and playgrounds are now closed under this stage of the shutdown.

 

 

Federal Government Travel and Border Restrictions

From 9pm Friday 20 March only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia.

All travelers to Australia are required to self-isolate for 14 days, either at home or in a hotel.

Australians are urged to stay in the country, and a level-four travel ban is in place for the entire world.

From 9:00pm on 20 March 2020, you cannot enter Australia unless you are:

  • an Australian citizen
  • a permanent resident of Australia
  • a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia
  • an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

If you currently overseas and in one of these categories and wishing to return to Australia, you should do so as soon as possible.

 

 

Victorian Quarantine for Australians arriving in Melbourne from overseas

As of midnight, 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving into Melbourne from overseas will be quarantined for two weeks in hotel rooms and other accommodation facilities after submitting an Isolation Declaration Card.

Interstate travellers can return to their home states after fulfilling the mandatory 14 day quarantine requirements.

 

 

 

Advice for public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is placing limits on organised gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups. Details can be found at https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-public-gatherings-and-visits-to-vulnerable-groups

 

 

Event Cancellations and Venue Closures

Large gatherings of people are an easy way to transmit the virus quickly across our population, so it is sensible that we all take measures to contain the virus to as few people as possible.

Following the announcement from the Federal Government on 18 March, there is now a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more. Australians are still advised to stay away from non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 or more.

Many local events have already been cancelled. Take this as your cue to think twice before organising or attending an event where there is a possibility of people to be in close enough contact to transmit the virus. People will understand, just as you should be tolerant of event cancellations.

 

 

ANZAC Day Services

All states and territories aside from South Australia, NT and ACT have cancelled Anzac Day services to protect older veterans from the spread of COVID-19. A selection of dawn services will be held across the country, but the public will be asked not to attend. Any marches or midday services will be cancelled.

On April 25, when you can’t go to a local dawn service, the RSL is asking that instead you tune in via radio, social media or television and take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our veterans and those who are still serving today.

 

 

Religious Gatherings

Most synagogues and other religious meeting places across Victoria have been suspended in line with Stage 1 restrictions. Check with your own organisation as to what they are doing before travelling.

See the conditional closure of ALL Place of Worship in the Stage 2 Containment Enforcement (above)

 

 

Universities, Colleges and TAFEs

Some Universities, Colleges and TAFEs will be closing on campus courses and shifting to virtual learning. Tertiary institutions are also making academic consideration for students (international or local) who are affected by travel restrictions. Check with your Tertiary institution.

Monash University (including Caulfield Campus in Macnamara)

  • Monash University will stop delivering face-to-face classes from close of business (5:00pm) Wednesday 18 March to Sunday 19 April.
  • All students have been advised of the change and we are now preparing to deliver virtual classes.
  • Monash University are implementing social distancing measures of 1.5 meters on campus and in our support staff locations.
  • On Sunday 15 March, Australia’s Federal Government reiterated that ‘essential functions’ such as universities should continue.
  • Monash University’s occupational health and safety team has implemented specific first aid controls across all of our campuses.

 

 

School Closures

Most Victorian school students have already been told to bring their school books and assignments home pending notification from their schools of impending closures. Many local private schools have already closed their doors and transitioned to virtual learning. Contact your school for more information.

At this stage, and in line with International and Federal advice, Victorian State Schools will remain open except where coronavirus has been confirmed to have been present.

UPDATE

On Sunday 22 March, the Premier announced additional steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), including bringing forward the school holidays in Victoria to commence from Tuesday 24 March. More information will be provided shortly.

This year’s NAPLAN tests which were due to be sat in May, have been cancelled. The tests – sat annually by children in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – will resume next year.

To keep up to date with any new developments contact or wait for contact from your school, or visit the Victorian Department of Education coronavirus information webpage.

SEEKING FEDERAL ASSURANCE

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Education, Tanya Plibersek, has written to the Federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan, asking for assurance that the Government is appropriately considering the needs of families including hygiene in school, online learning options, and support for at-risk children or children with parents who are unable to take time off work.

View the letter here

 

 

Council Closures

City of Melbourne Closures

  • All City of Melbourne libraries will be closed from 2pm on Monday 16 March until 31 March 2020, with the possibility of this closure being extended.
  • All City of Melbourne aquatic and recreation centres, including Melbourne City Baths, Kensington Recreation Centre, Carlton Baths and North Melbourne Community Centre (which are run by the YMCA) will be closed from 2pm on Monday 16 March until 31 March 2020, with the possibility of this closure being extended.
  • There will be a suspension on any permits for events of 500 people or more for the foreseeable future.
  • All City of Melbourne arts and cultural venues, including Meat Market, Signal, ArtPlay, Arts House, River Studio and Boyd will be closed from 2pm on Monday 16 March until 31 March 2020 with the possibility of this closure being extended. This excludes artists’ studios.
  • The Queen Victoria Market will continue trading as usual at this time.
  • All City of Melbourne childcare facilities will operate as usual at this time.
  • They are currently exploring contingency plans for all Council meetings. This will include the use of video conferencing facilities, teleconferencing and pared-back agendas.

For more information visit melbourne.vic.gov.au/community/health-support-services/health-services/Pages/novel-coronavirus.aspx

 

City of Port Phillip Closures

  • Council-owned childcare facilities will continue to operate, but may be subject to closures or changes pending further government announcements. Council is developing a contingency plan in case a centre needs to shut.
  • All Council-managed and bookable community facilities will be closed until 13 April 2020, including Town Hall auditoriums, pending further government announcements. Refunds will be provided for events and programs cancelled within this timeframe.
  • Delivered meals and Café Meals Services will continue to operate, but may be subject to closures or changes, pending further government announcements.
  • The City of Port Phillip Design and Development Awards have been postponed with a new date to be confirmed.
  • Effective from 18 March 2020, all City of Port Phillip Library branches are closed until further notice.
    • The Libraries’ extensive range of online resources including e-books, audio books, films and music will remain available 24/7 online.
    • All scheduled library programs and planned group activities are also suspended for the next 30 days starting Monday 16 March.
  • Maternal and Child Health Centres will continue to operate, but may be subject to closures or changes, pending further government announcements.
  • Social Support Programs, including Linking Neighbours and those based at the Cora Graves Centre, and guided heritage walks are suspended until further notice. This includes the Linking Neighbours upcoming trips to Melbourne Tramboat’s Fish N Chips at Williamstown and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
  • South Melbourne Market will continue to operate, but may be subject to closure or changes pending further government announcements or COVID-19 concerns. South Melbourne Market has been exempted from current mass gathering rules as a fresh food provider. The Market will soon announce a click and collect service in the York Street Car Park for those unable to go inside, and is working to introduce a home delivery service in coming weeks. To find out about any changes to market operations or opening hours, please check the South Melbourne Market website.
  • Some weekly Sport Phillip programs are currently suspended until further notice. Please visit the Sport Phillip page for the latest updates. The This Girl Can Week local program of events has also been postponed.
  • The St Kilda Esplanade Market will continue to operate, but may be subject to closure or changes pending further government announcements or COVID-19 concerns.
  • To find out about any changes to market operations or opening hours, please check the St Kilda Esplanade Market website.
  • The St Kilda Film Festival, which was due to open on 28 May, will not go ahead in its current form. Options, including postponing the Festival to later in 2020 or hosting it online, will be considered.

Please visit portphillip.vic.gov.au/novel-coronavirus.htm for updates on this situation.

 

City of Glen Eira Closures

  • All non-essential Residential Aged Care visitations have ceased.
  • No contractors or deliveries are permitted to go onsite to Residential Aged Care.
  • Residential Aged Care Tours have ceased, and we are not accepting new residents at this time.
  • All City of Glen Eira major events, including Party in the Park and Groove and Graze have been cancelled.
  • All Glen Eira Libraries remain open, but all library programs have been cancelled including StoryTime and BabyTime.
  • City of Glen Eira are postponing older adults’ exercise, the Explorers program and group social support programs.
  • City of Glen Eira Deliberative Community Panel scheduled for 29 March has been postponed until further notice — online communications and discussion will continue.
  • City of Glen Eira leisure centres will remain open, but the spa, steam room and sauna at Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre are closed.
  • The Youth Sustainability Workshop scheduled for 20 March; the Teen School Holiday Program from Tuesday 31 March to Thursday 9 April; and the YMCA Skate Park scheduled 2 April have been cancelled.
  • Family Day Care Playgroups have been cancelled until further notice.
  • The City of Glen Eira citizenship ceremony scheduled for 25 March has been cancelled.
  • City of Glen Eira will not be holding our proposed ANZAC Day Ceremony in April.
  • All local RSLs have also cancelled their own services on the back of advice from RSL Victoria.

All other Council services will continue at this time. Essential services remain operational and City of Glen Eira will consider each upcoming event based on nature of participation and levels of risk. Please visit gleneira.vic.gov.au/services/support-and-safety/public-health/coronavirus-disease-covid-19 for updates on this situation.

 

City of Stonnington Closures

  • All Stonnington libraries will be closed until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended. eLibrary services (including ebooks, downloadable magazines, documentaries, films and music) are still available and we are looking into an increased book delivery and pickup program, become a library member to access these services.
  • Phoenix Park Community Centre. Full closure until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended. Community groups who use the centre are being informed.
  • Prahran Square. Prahran Square remains open to the public but organised events have been cancelled until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended.
  • Chapel Off Chapel. Full closure until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended. Full ticket refunds issued for any cancelled shows.
  • Grattan Gardens Community Centre (Prahran). Council supported community programs and room hire closed until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended.
  • Alfresco Social Support Program Day outings cancelled until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended. Chris Gahan Centre program cancelled from Monday 23 March until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended. Phoenix Park Community Centre lunch cancelled from Monday 23 March until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended.
  • Aged services. Assessment services to be replaced with phone assessments until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended.
  • Community transport. All non-essential transport programs cancelled until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended.
  • Middle Years and Youth Services. Events at The Hub cancelled until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended. Middle Years and Youth Services building will be closed until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended. Case management services will be provided over the phone where possible.
  • Prahran RSL. Closed until Monday 13 April, with the possibility of this being extended.
  • Pets in the Park event on Sunday 22 March and Climate Change Forum on Tuesday 24 March have been postponed.

Please visit stonnington.vic.gov.au/Council/Media-Centre/Latest-News/Community-information-Coronavirus for updates on this situation.

 

 

City of Port Phillip Beaches, Botanical Gardens & Skate Parks Closed

As of 27 March 2020, Port Phillip Council is closing all its beaches and the St Kilda Botanical Gardens until further notice.

While people will still be able to access the beaches as a thoroughfare, such as for a run or walking a dog, the closure is aimed at beaches not being used as a gathering place during the COVID-19 crisis. Swimming is allowed at this stage, as long as social distancing and mass gathering rules are obeyed. Boat launches at St Kilda Marina are unaffected.

Although the botanical gardens are closed, all other parks, including the Catani Gardens, remain open but will be closely monitored.

The Council ‘s two skate parks and exercise stations at parks are also closed.

Council locals laws officers will support Victoria Police as its members enforce the government restrictions.

 

 

Workplaces

Some workplaces will also be downsizing, closing for a short duration, or making alternative working from home arrangements. Check with your employer before heading to work.

See the Financial Support section on this page for information on new job opportunities and increased social benefits available to you.

See also [Call for Skilled Health Professionals to join the frontline]

 

 

Creative Victoria (Galleries, Libraries and Museums)

Victoria’s state-owned cultural institutions have announced the announced temporary closures of their venues from Monday 16 March and the cancellation of programs and events in response to COVID-19. Arts Centre Melbourne, Museums Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, State Library Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre and Geelong Arts Centre have all announced temporary closures as a precautionary measure to help slow the transmission of the virus in Victoria and help protect Victorians.

 

 

St Kilda Penguins Viewing Area

Due to COVID-19, Parks Victoria will be installing temporary fencing and preventing access onto the breakwater as of the 15th March. This decision has been made for the welfare of volunteers, Parks Victoria employees and visitors. Earthcare St Kilda, Parks Victoria and friends of the penguins appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this time. For more information please visit stkildapenguins.com.au

 

 

Supporting Healthcare Workers

It’s everyone’s responsibility to support essential healthcare workers – such as doctors and nurses – to stay at work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Healthcare workers may need extra help to ensure their children have care so they can work during this period. Where possible, partners of essential healthcare workers – who are not healthcare workers themselves – should support them to continue working by taking care of children.

Older people – such as grandparents – and other at-risk groups should not be engaged as carers to reduce their risk of infection.

Any healthcare or residential aged care worker with a fever or respiratory symptoms must be tested.

Additional personal protective equipment and testing equipment are due to arrive in the coming weeks.

See also [Call for Skilled Health Professionals to join the frontline]

 

 


Consumer rights

The ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) has some useful information for Australian consumers when a service you subscribe to, an ongoing membership you have, or an event that you bought tickets for has been cancelled, or if you no longer wish to partake due to concerns about COVID-19. Are you entitled to a refund? Are you entitled to compensation for related expenses incurred separately?

For information on:

  • Travel cancellations and changes
  • Event cancellations
  • Product price increases
  • Gym memberships
  • Food delivery services

visit accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-consumers

 

 


Financial Support

 

What if I have to stay home from work?

Many Australian workers will be called upon to stay home to either self-isolate, or because their employer is temporarily shutting down, for the duration of the outbreak. This situation could become a serious financial burden for you if your employer is not making a provision of unconditional sick leave, or if you are a casual or contracted worker who is not entitled to sick-leave.

If you have serious concerns regarding your off work situation, at this stage I am advising that you contact:

And if you also think that it is important to look out for every worker who is going to be involuntarily impacted by this situation, then please consider signing the Australian Unions petition calling on the Morrison Federal Government to guarantee two weeks paid special leave for all workers.

See also “Emergency Relief Packages for Victorians in need” on this page.

 

Stimulus payments to households

The Federal Government will provide one-off payment of $750 to 6.5 million lower-income Australians, including pensioners, other social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The one-off payment will be paid from 31 March 2020.

To be eligible, you must be residing in Australia and be receiving one of the following payments or hold one of the following concession cards on 12 March 2020:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Youth Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit, including Double Orphan Pension
  • Carer Allowance
  • Pensioner Concession Card holders
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
  • Veteran Service Pension; Veteran Income Support Supplement; Veteran Compensation payments, including lump sum payments; War Widow(er) Pension; and Veteran Payment.
  • Veteran Gold Card holders
  • Farm Household Allowance

For further information on the payment visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/households

For financial assistance visit servicesaustralia.gov.au and dva.gov.au and dss.gov.au.

 

Government’s Second Stimulus Package

The Federal Government is due to announce a second stimulus package early next week. This is no time for heal-measures or delay. It is urgent that we get more money circulating in an economy which is in desperate needs of support right now. This package must support workers, pensioners, families, employers and communities as soon as possible, and Labor stands ready to facilitate all of those things.

Labor has urged the National Cabinet and the banks to immediately develop and implement a plan to help ensure that people don’t lose the home they own or rent because of the virus. The second package must ensure our creative industries are supported in the wake of mass event cancellations and the loss of months of income in just the past few weeks. Sole traders did not receive a single cent of direct support from the government’s first package and it is essential they are included in the next package.

 

Centrelink Support Payments

 


If you’ve lost your job, been stood down or your income has reduced, you could be entitled to JobSeeker payments.

To apply for this, go to my.gov.au and log on or create a MyGov account.  Then click on “register intention to claim”.

Someone from Centrelink will then call you in the coming week to assist you through the process.  Make sure you answer any calls from a private number and have your driver’s license and Medicare care handy.

There is no need to queue outside a Centrelink office.

If you already have a CRN, you can lodge a claim for JobSeeker Payment online 24/7 through your MyGov account.

Services Australia are open Monday to Friday, 8am – 8pm and weekends, 9am – 5pm.

For more info visit servicesaustralia.gov.au/COVID19

If you are still having issues with getting support from Services Australia please contact my staff for help and advice


 

UPDATE ON ONLINE APPLICATIONS & OTHER CHANGES

The government on Wednesday 25 March announced significant changes to registering for the JobSeeker payment.

Users with myGov accounts will now be able to register their intent to claim online without a pre-existing CRN or having Centrelink accounts already linked to their myGov account.

I’ve included a screenshot here of what the home screen looks like now when users log on to myGov.

All claims will be backpaid to Monday, if that is when they were initially stood down, terminated or first experienced loss of income (such as sole traders).

Centrelink may still call anyone who has lodged an intent to claim online to ask for further details (such as identity checks) but the onus is no longer on the user once they have lodged online, and all payments will be backpaid.

Just a reminder that separation certificates are no longer required as evidence, but instead new JobSeekers will have to sign a declaration that they are currently stood down or experiencing loss of income.

 

 


 

For information if you are affected by coronavirus and are receiving or want to receive a payment from Services Australia visit servicesaustralia.gov.au/COVID19

If you get an older Australians, students & trainees or disability payment there will be no changes to your payment due to coronavirus.

Carers

If you’re not affect by coronavirus your payment will not change.

Respite days are available for carers and care receivers who are separated due to coronavirus, or who are self-isolating. You can use 63 respite days each calendar year to take a break from caring without your payment stopping.

If you run out of respite days, please contact my office.

Families

Your Child Care Subsidy (CCS) may be impacted if your child cannot attend child care, or if your activity hours change. You may be exempt from the activity test if you’re experiencing exceptional circumstances, which is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If you use child care, and are in temporary financial hardship because you can’t work, you can apply for Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) Temporary Financial Hardship.

Job Seekers

If you’re isolated at home because of coronavirus, they’ll grant you a Major Personal Crisis exemption for 14 days.

Mutual obligations requirements have changed. Face-to-face meetings with job service providers have been suspended and will take place over the phone or video chat instead.

Job Plans will be adjusted to a default requirement of four job searches a month – or fewer at provider discretion.

However, disappointingly the Federal Government is still requiring job seekers to attend any schedules job interviews and take up offers of suitable work, with existing compliance penalties applied where this does not occur

See also [Call for Skilled Health Professionals to join the frontline]

People who do not currently receive a Centrelink payment

Even if you don’t currently receive a Centrelink payment, you may get help from Services Australia if you or your family are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

There are still residence rules, maximum asset and income limits and eligibility qualifying periods, but the eligibility rules have changed to include coronavirus impacting circumstances, such as being:

    • unable to work
    • in isolation or hospitalised
    • caring for children.

You may get one of the following payments:

    • Newstart Allowance
    • Youth Allowance
    • Parenting Payment
    • Sickness Allowance.

Note: From 20 March 2020, JobSeeker Payment will replace Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance. If you get one of these payments, you may transfer to JobSeeker Payment.

 

Casual Workers

It is very concerning that the Federal Government is yet to release its plan to support the 3.3 million Australians that are employed in casual or insecure work.

We are calling upon the Morrison Government to support casual and insecure workers through these difficult times and ensure that workers don’t face a financial penalty for doing the right thing and staying at home. We hope that the Government announces specific measures for casual workers in its second stimulus package.

 

 

Job Keeper Allowance for Employers

The Federal Government will subsidise the wages of up to 6 million Australians during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to stem the wave of people being forced onto welfare.

The $1,500-per-fortnight flat payment will be given to employers who have lost 30% or more of their revenue to pass onto their employees in order to keep them on the books during the COVID-19 crisis.

The new “Job Keeper Allowance” will apply to workers who have lost their job since 1 March and encourage employers to bring full-time staff back on when restrictions are lifted.

We will update this section with more information as it is released. The Government has announced its intention to pass additional legislation to introduce this new measure so at the moment they are only taking expressions of interest.

Employers should contact the ATO for more information and to register interest.

 

 

 

Victorian Government Business Hotline

On Thursday 19 March, the Andrews Labor Government launched a hotline for businesses who are dealing with the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, businesses across the state can access information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

 

Victorian Government Economic Survival and Jobs Package

Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $1.7 billion economic survival and jobs package:

  • Full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million
  • The same businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021
  • Commercial tenants in government buildings can apply for rent relief – a move private landlords are also being encouraged to undertake
  • 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses
  • The Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days – releasing up to $750 million into the economy earlier
  • The Government will also support the hospitality sector by waiving liquor licensing fees for 2020 for affected venues and small businesses
  • $500 million to establish a Business Support Fund. The fund will support the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail
  • $500 million Working for Victoria Fund in consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council to help workers who have lost their jobs find new opportunities, including work cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food – providing vital contributions to our state’s response to the pandemic and affording those Victorians security when it’s needed most
  • The Government will also facilitate job matching to help Victorians find short-term or casual roles

See also [Call for Skilled Health Professionals to join the frontline]

 

Australian Banking Association for Small Business Relief

On Friday 20 March the Australian Banking Association announced a small business relief package from Australia’s banks where small businesses will get a six-month break from making repayments on their loans. This package (pending ACCC approval) will apply to more than $100bn of existing small business loans and depending on customer take up, could put as much as $8 billion back into the pockets of small businesses. Small businesses employ 5 million Australians and this package is designed to help them keep doing just that.

If you are a small business owner, I would encourage you to get in touch with your bank and see what your bank can offer you as they are willing to take measures to help their consumers at this difficult time.

 

Reserve Bank of Australia

On Thursday 19 March the Reserve Bank of Australia cut the cash rate to record new lows and is committed to maintaining that rate until progress is made toward full employment and its inflation target. The RBA is acting with necessary urgency to protect our economy and to protect jobs and small business.

 

Personal Banking and Home-loans

 


In response to worsening economic conditions due to the coronavirus outbreak, Australia’s major banks will be allowing home loan customers to defer their home loan repayments for up to six months. This is likely a good move if your financial situation has suddenly become precarious.

Check with your bank how to do this … sooner rather than later.


 

Bank Assistance

All offering six months of repayment relief for businesses and individuals suffering from hardship due to coronavirus.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

  • Up to $10 billion in repayment deferrals for small businesses and home loans for up to six months
  • 76,000 businesses to be auto-enrolled into loan deferral arrangements from April 1. Digital registration available for home loan customers.
  • 125 basis point reduction in variable small business loans, and waiving of merchant and redraw fees for businesses in hardship.
  • 70 basis point reduction in home loans with fixed terms of one, two or three years, a 60 basis point increase in 12 month term deposits.
  • Reduction in minimum repayments for principal and interest home loan accounts from May 1.

Westpac

  • Small business customers’ overdrafts reduced by 200 basis points from April 6.
  • Variable interest rates of small business cash-based loans cut 100 basis points from April 6.
  • Fixed home loan customers offered 2.29 per cent per annum rate on principal and interest repayments from March 27.
  • 70 basis point increase for 12-month term deposits up to $500,000. Rate of 2 per cent for those aged 65 plus. From March 27.

ANZ

  • Reduction of some fixed-rates by 0.8 per cent of new loans for small businesses and 0.49 per cent for home loan customers.
  • Variable small business rates reduced by 0.25 per cent per annum and variable rates decreased by 0.15 per cent.
  • Small and medium businesses given access to 12 month increases in overdraft facilities.

NAB

  • Cutting 200 basis points from the rate on all new loans and overdrafts on some products from March 30.
  • Reduce variable rates on small business loans by 100 basis points from March 30.
  • A 60 basis point reduction to fixed-rate home loans.
  • A 10-month deposit rate of 1.75 per cent for term deposits.

 

 

Emergency Relief Packages for Victorians in need

Victorians self-isolating due to coronavirus (COVID-19) with no access to food and essential supplies will receive emergency relief packages under a program introduced by the Victorian Government in partnership with Red Cross and the Food Bank Australia (Victoria). The program will support people in mandatory self-isolation, who have little or no food, and no network of family and friends to support them. Each eligible household will receive a two-week supply of essential goods.

For more information about the support services people can receive, call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit the website: dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus. The hotline can also refer people to other support services if needed.

 

 


How you can help others

 

Local Social Services

A lot of people are hurting right now and need help. Things as simple as putting food on the table and getting essential medicines are tough when you don’t have an income. And as hard as it is for those of us with a roof over our heads, it’s impossible for those who are homeless.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bit extra to give, here are a few suggestions of local organisations you can donate to right now:

 

Donating Blood

It is important to remember that blood and plasma donation remains absolutely vital, and travel and venue restrictions do not prevent people from giving blood.

Red Cross Australia are asking existing blood donors to keep their appointments if fit and well and invite new donors to come forward to help us meet the needs of Australian patients over the coming weeks and months. Their donor centres are safe places to visit and they are taking all necessary steps to ensure that stays the case.

For more information visit donateblood.com.au/page/coronavirus-update

 

 

Call for Skilled Health Professionals to join the frontline

Healthcare specialists, including retired doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics and allied health professionals, are being called on to return to work as part of the Victorian Government’s coronavirus response.

Are you interested in working within the Victorian health system as part of the response to coronavirus (COVID-19)? If you believe you have the drive and skills to help deliver quality health services that are safe and responsive for Victoria, then express your interest!

You will be asked to provide further details about yourself, including where you live and your relevant experience/background. You will then be a part of a state-wide talent pool accessible across the Victorian health system for employment consideration.

Register your interest in potential roles in the following areas:

  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Medical
  • Allied health (therapies and sciences)
  • Paramedics
  • Patient Services Assistant/Assistant in Nursing

For more information and to express interest visit healthworkforceresponse.dhhs.vic.gov.au/

 

 


 

Positive Stories

It’s really important right now to remember there are positive stories.

 

Positive Social Media

The Kindness Pandemic Group on Facebook has 120,000 mostly Australians. A lot of stories about people helping each other.

 

Contact

Connect with Josh.

Contact Josh, drop into the office, join the mailing list or connect with him on one of his social media channels.

Send a message

Start a conversation by sending Josh a message. Use the form below, or just send an email.

Visit the Electorate Office

219 Barkly Street, St Kilda, Victoria 3182
Office Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

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Call the office on (03) 9534 8126

Josh Burns MP respectfully acknowledges the past and present traditional owners of the land of the Indigenous people, the traditional custodians of this land, and respect their culture and identity which has been bound up with the land and sea for generations.
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