Right now there is a lot of uncertainty, disruption and anxiety across Australia and the world. We know that many people are concerned about how coronavirus (COVID-19) will affect them and the people they care about.
Amaze works every day of the year to support the autism community, and in difficult times we will do everything we can to deliver extra help and information. The wellbeing of autistic people and their supporters is our number one priority.
Amaze will continue to provide relevant updates and share information so that you stay informed. Just like all Amaze information, the information we share on coronavirus is carefully chosen to ensure it is accurate, reliable and evidence-based.
We will share this information on our website, social media channels and through our e-Spectrum newsletter. We will update this page with new information as it comes. This page is the key source of coronavirus information from Amaze.
Below are links to the most important information for the autism community. It includes links to government health authorities – where you can read about coronavirus symptoms, and how to take care of yourself and lower your chance of getting sick. While most people who get COVID-19 will only get mild symptoms, it is important to monitor your own health and ensure you stay away from vulnerable individuals if you are sick.
There are also links to the NDIS information about coronavirus, and tips on how to take care of yourself during this time.
If you need support please contact the Amaze Autism Advisors. They are available to support the autism community, especially through stressful times. You can contact them from 8am-7pm weekdays:
Phone: 1300 308 699
These resources were developed by Amaze in response to requests from families and carers of autistic school children returning to school. They provide an overview of the potential changes at school and supports autistic students may need.
From 11:59pm 13 September, some restrictions will be eased across Victoria. Regional Victoria and Melbourne Metro each have their own roadmaps, relating to how many active cases are currently in the community.
We have created a separate page which lists the changes to restrictions coming into effect 11:59pm Sunday 13th September. This page will be updated when the move to a different Step is announced by the Premier.
Under Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ Restrictions the default is that workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne are closed unless the workplace is part of a permitted industry as set out in this document. All Victorians are required to work from home, except where this is not practicable. Sole operators can continue to operate, if they do not have contact with the public, or with people other than those persons living in their primary household. The attached table outlines examples of workplaces that are closed for on-site work, open for on-site work with a COVID Safe Plan, and where there are restricted operations or industry specific obligations. This information is subject to the Directions of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.
Permit information | 5 August 2020 | Business Victoria
Permitted workers and employers can apply for a permit on the Business Victoria website.
Melbourne entered Stage 4 restrictions at 6pm Sunday 2 August, with stronger rules to limit the movement of people – and limit the spread of this virus across our city.
That includes a curfew – from 8pm to 5am – beginning tonight. The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving. Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks. There’ll be exemptions for partners who live apart and for work, if required.
The Night Network will be suspended, and public transport services will be reduced during curfew hours. This will also allow us to redeploy more of our PSOs into our enforcement efforts.
New time, distance and gathering limits will also apply for exercise and shopping.
Exercise will be limited to a maximum of one hour per day and no more than five kilometres from your home. Group size will be limited to a maximum of two – you and one other person – whether you live with them or not.
Shopping will be limited to one person per household per day. Again, the five-kilometre rule will apply. Read the full media release from the Premier
Regional Victoria Stage 3 restrictions | August 2 2020 | Office of the Premier
From 11:59pm on Wednesday, regional Victoria will return to Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions. That means there’ll again only be four reasons to be out: shopping for food and essential items. Care and caregiving. Daily exercise. Work and study – if you can’t do it from home. Read more
IDEAS has an accessible version of all the changes taking effect in both Melbourne, and regional Victoria.
From 11:59pm on 22 July 2020 if you live in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire you must wear a face covering if you need to leave home for one of the four reasons.
If you live in other parts of Victoria it is recommended you wear a face covering when you leave home and are in situations where it is difficult to maintain physical distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and others.
If you cannot purchase or make a face mask an alternative form of covering including a scarf or bandana may be used.
Infants and children under the age of 12 are not required to wear a face covering. Due to risk of choking it is not safe to use a mask on child under two years of age.
A fine of $200 may be issued to people who do not wear a face covering and do not have a valid reason for exception.
Amaze has an article with tips on making and wearing masks for autistic people and their families.
Up to date restriction information,
Childcare and kindergartens remains open for children of permitted workers. – including those working from home. These services can only be used if there is no one else in the home (i.e. single parent household; both parents permitted workers) to look after the children.
Childcare and kinder also remain open for a broadly defined category of vulnerable children – which will capture some children with disability. The definition includes:
Service providers are able to use their judgement in determining which children can be considered vulnerable according to these categories and are not required to request further evidence from families. Service providers can provide documentation to families travelling to and from early childhood services to help them explain their circumstances.
Childcare permits can be found here.
A person with disability visiting a relative for care: a person with disability is allowed to go to a relative’s house for care, including for overnight care. Such arrangements would not be subject to Stage 4 curfew or distance restrictions and are able to continue.
A relative or friend caring for a person with disability: A relative or friend can come to your home to help care for a person with disability (although use of elderly or at-risk people discouraged). They can provide support even during the curfew and they can travel more than 5km to get to your home. There is no permit for this but they should carry ID and be able to explain why they need to visit your home to assist in providing care. Link to announcement
Babysitting: People working in jobs on the permitted worker list can have a babysitter come to the home (paid or unpaid). This includes if the permitted workers are working from home.
Support Workers: Support Workers are an essential service where they provide support that ensures health, safety and wellbeing. They need a permit, and can travel more than 5km, and can provide support around the clock – including during curfew hours.
Support workers and babysitters will need a permit – visit the Business Victoria website for permit information.
On-site learning options at school remain available for:
Severe stress provision | 24 August 2020 | Department of Education and Training
The Department has updated its operational guidance for schools to allow metropolitan Melbourne schools to provide on-site attendance for students with disabilities where their families are experiencing severe stress. Under provisions for vulnerable students in metropolitan Melbourne, Principals will contact parents/carers to discuss appropriate arrangements where the school identifies that the family is experiencing severe stress due to the functional impact of the child’s disability on providing care and supervision for remote and flexible learning.
In recognition that family needs and circumstances change with time, these are ongoing discussions between schools and parents/carers.Collaboration between schools and families will seek to:
The school will consider the severe stress and any safety risks experienced by the family. Where all options for appropriate arrangements and support at the home have been explored, on-site attendance (days or part days) will be offered for children with disability. Alternative on-site supervision can also be provided for siblings at another enrolled school.
This will seek to address the severe stress families are experiencing and be consistent with the intent that on-site supervision is to be provided in limited circumstances only to limit the movement of people across metropolitan Melbourne as far as possible as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Disability* refers to all students receiving adjustments, including (but not limited to) those supported through the Program for Students with Disabilities.
Parents can request on-site learning through their school by filling out this downloadable form. On-site schooling is situational – if you have concerns regarding supports from your school please contact your local DET regional office.
As part of the changes to restrictions announced on 2 August, most students will spend at least the next six weeks learning from home.
For more information contact the Department of Education.
Disability Support Workers can be used to assist the needs of children and young people who are learning from home.
The Prime Minister in a press conference on 6 August
I also can confirm that families will be able to use their NDIS plans flexibly to support access workers in their homes, particularly in instances where children with a disability can no longer attend education or other day programs. Families should discuss their needs with their provider or contact the NDIA to seek assistance. What this means is if a family normally had a child attend a day program or special school and those facilities are not open, the family can use their existing plans flexibly to get disability support workers into their home to assist. Disability support workers are considered essential workers in Victoria.
For further information:
Services that are essential to person’s health, safety, behaviour and wellbeing should continue. Where possible, these should be provided remotely, however can be provided in-home, in facility or in the community in limited circumstances.
Disability workers: are permitted workers and can continue to provide support – including face to face where needed. Amaze is still seeking clarification around whether self-managing participants who directly employ staff need to get a permit for their care staff.
Exercise: one hour outside exercise a day is permitted, within 5kms of home. Where two support workers are needed to support exercising, this is permitted
Cleaning: Amaze is still awaiting further clarification from NDIA as to whether cleaning from a social care perspective is considered essential
Gardening: is unlikely to be seen as essential
Day services: can operate if they comply with physical distancing and other specified requirements. Attendance should only occur if essential, not essential for people living in disability residential services
Short term accommodation and respite – are permitted services. There will be controls around visitation. Access to respite would move to more emergency basis.
Staff in residential services need to work in one location, don’t want to mix between aged care and disability sector
Leaving home for behavioural support reasons: a person with disability who needs to leave home to escape harm or the risk of harm (including to themselves) may do so on the basis of care and compassionate grounds. DHHS have advised this would allow taking a child with complex behavioural needs for a drive, if needed for behaviour support. This can happen at any time (including during curfew hours) and may involve travel more than 5kms from home.
Given enforcement activity, we would advise anyone using this exemption carries evidence of the person with disability’s needs (eg, NDIS Plan, letter from their therapist/GP) and are able to articulate they are permitted to leave the house (including during curfew) for the care and compassionate reason.
Flexibility in NDIS Plans introduced during the first lockdown continues – there has been a lot of changes, and you can keep up to date on the NDIS website – or speak to your LAC or service coordinator for advice.
To better support NDIS participants during the extended coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have made a temporary change to funding arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE).
These changes apply where coronavirus (COVID-19) is active your community, and the use of PPE is consistent with current health advice.
You can now recover the costs to purchase PPE items using your NDIS funds, if you;
Plan and self-managed participants can purchase PPE and record and claim their purchases in the usual way. Agency-managed participants can purchase PPE through registered providers.
If you need PPE items like face masks, face shields and gloves, and the use of these items is directly related to your face-to-face daily living supports, you can use your core supports budget to purchase these items.
Previously only participants who used PPE as a regular part of their support arrangements were able to access PPE through their NDIS funds.
For more information visit the NDIS website.
The NDIS is making it easier for people to apply for the NDIS. You can now download the NDIS Access Request Form (ARF) and Supporting Evidence Form (SEF) online to apply for the NDIS. Click here
Up to date information on getting tested for coronavirus in Victoria including eligibility criteria, where to get tested and what happens during and after you get tested.
The new Call-to-Test service will enable some of our most vulnerable to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) at home with a qualified health clinician. The service will provide access for people who cannot leave home due to injury, mobility or other eligible reasons.
Access to the Call-to-Test service will be available to individuals who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and meet the following criteria:
People without symptoms may be eligible if they have been identified by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as being a close contact, have received direction from DHHS to be tested, and meet any of the criteria detailed above.
You will need to a General Practitioner (GP) referral for a coronavirus (COVID-19) test to access the service, unless you have been directed by DHHS to get a test, as well as demonstrate you are not able to access existing testing sites through family or community supports. The operator will discuss options available to you and support you through the process.
Call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 and select option 9 to find out if you are eligible for this service.
This Chief Health Officer daily update is intended to provide clinicians and the Victorian public with information about the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, as well as relevant public health response activities in Victoria.
Premier Dan Andrews is providing regular statements on the situation in Victoria, including key information on shutdowns, Victorian Government support, and other important information. There isn’t one link for these statements, so please look for the most up to date “Statement from the Premier” links on the Premier’s website.
If you suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days. 1800 675 398. The hotline is now also open for general information on coronavirus, including rules on staying at home.
Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.
The World Health Organisation has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic. Find out how the Australian Government is monitoring and responding to the outbreak, how you can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, and what to do if you have symptoms. There is also reports on the latest official medical advice and case numbers.
The Victorian Government has announced a one-off payment of $1,500 is available to workers who are unable to work during their isolation, have no income during this period, and are not entitled to any paid sick leave, special pandemic leave or other income support.
The Government will now extend the scheme to ensure that as soon as a person is tested, they will be eligible for a $300 support payment as long as they meet the eligibility of the existing scheme.
More information here
Access information on eligibility for the Economic Support Payment, other Centrelink services, and the changes to Newstart and Sickness Allowances here
As the coronavirus outbreak progresses and countries do their best to slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s a topic we can’t avoid. With constant updates about coronavirus (COVID-19) from the news, social media and daily conversations, your child or someone you support may be feeling anxious about the situation and have a lot of questions. Here are some tips on how to tackle the topic and ease their worries about the coronavirus.
Our Autism Advisors provide trusted and accurate information about autism and supports to Victorians.
Open from 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday
Parentline is a phone service for parents and carers of children from birth to 18 years old. We offer confidential and anonymous counselling and support on parenting issues.
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support.
Beyond Blue recognises and understands the feelings of anxiety, distress and concern many people may be experiencing in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and offers wellbeing advice here.