AQA
  • AQA and COVID-19

    This page offers helpful information on COVID-19 and related guidelines for the community associated with AQA. Updated on 2 March 2022.

Are you due to report your third vaccine dose? Here's how 

The second and final deadline for workers in disability support to show evidence that they have received a third vaccination against COVID-19, which is also called a booster vaccination, is Saturday 12 March. (The first deadline was on 12 February.)

The requirements apply to staff working on-site - for example, support workers serving clients in their homes or in the community. Workers who cannot show evidence of a third vaccination by the deadline relevant for them may not continue to work on-site until they do supply that evidence. Valid medical exemptions may be accepted.

FINDING EVIDENCE OF VACCINATION

You need to supply the evidence to your employer. It's likely that the best and easiest evidence to supply will be an updated COVID-19 digital certificate, which you will find in the Medicare section of your MyGov online account within a few days of receiving your third vaccination.

You can find help with accessing your digital certificate, and with finding other ways of proving your vaccination status, at this official page (link opens new browser tab).

SUPPLYING YOUR EVIDENCE TO AQA

The best way to supply your digital certificate or other proof to AQA is through our online COVID-19 Vaccination Evidence, Consent and Collection Form. You'll find that form here (link opens new browser tab).

If you are having difficulty using the online form, please contact AQA.

BOOKING YOUR THIRD VACCINATION

If you still have not received your third, or booster, vaccination you'll find help for booking an appointment further down this page, or use this link.

The requirement that workers in disability support and other key occupations receive a third vaccination against COVID-19 is part of new rules announced by the Victorian Government on 10 January 2022.

What are the latest COVIDSafe restrictions?

COVIDSafe settings currently in force are detailed at this page, maintained and updated by the State Government. Updated official data on the number and location of active cases and new infections can be found at this page.

What counts as a face mask, and when do I need to wear one?

Face masks are no longer required in most indoors settings, but are still recommended. To understand the public settings where they are still required, like public hospitals, taxis, and airports, visit the face mask information page.  

It is also recommended that each of us uses a mask even outdoors when we can't distance physically from other people.

Note that your face covering needs to be a fitted face mask rather than a loose scarf, bandana, neck gaiter, or unsealed face shield, and that this requirement is enforcible.

Official guidance notes that the point of wearing a mask is chiefly to protect other people from the possibility you have COVID-19. A mask helps contain your coughs or sneezes, which can transmit the disease. A mask also presents a barrier to your inhaling infectious material released by others.

AQA continues to respond to advice from health authorities on the use of face masks and other PPE when delivering care at a client’s home. As of 2 March 2022, that advice recommends that staff wear face masks at all times indoors, and outdoors whenever physical distancing of 1.5 metres or more cannot be maintained. 

It is no longer mandatory to wear face-shields or other eye protection when working with healthy clients.

AQA encourages support staff and clients to discuss how they shall use PPE when delivering and receiving care.

Reporting symptoms

AQA requires any support worker who is developing symptoms consistent with their having a cold, or the flu, or COVID-19, to stay home from work, seek medical advice, and contact AQA as soon as possible.

AQA requires any client who is developing symptoms consistent with a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, to wear a face mask when receiving support workers. 

The Victorian Government strongly recommends that anyone developing such symptoms get tested as soon as possible for COVID-19. Anyone returning a positive test must contact AQA immediately.

Rapid tests now reportable, and close contacts defined

The rapid spread recently of COVID-19 from the Omicron variant has led authorities to increase reliance on self-administered Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT), require reporting of a positive RAT result, define who is a close contact of an infected person, and adjust isolation requirements.

The rise in new cases to tens of thousands a day in January in Victoria shows that even fully vaccinated people can become sick with COVID-19, and even if you don't become sick you can pass an infection to others.

To report a positive result from an RAT, either call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 or follow the official instructions for reporting online, which you'll find at this page. You do not need to confirm a positive RAT result by also attending an authorised testing centre, which would administer a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.

You must also report a positive RAT or PCR test immediately to your employer.

If you have tested positive, or if you are a household-like contact of someone who has tested positive, you are required to quarantine at home, in most cases for seven days. A household-like contact is anyone who has spent more than four hours in a house or other accommodation with an infected person. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, you can find out how long you need to self-isolate for and what else you need to do at this official COVID Checklist page for Cases.

If you are a household contact or have otherwise been in face-to-face contact with someone who has COVID-19, you can find out whether you need to self-isolate, and what else you need to do, at this official COVID Checklist page for Contacts

Safety tips for gatherings

Keep groups small, open windows, and go home early are among suggestions from the Victorian Government on how you can minimise your risk from COVID-19 at gatherings.

The Government has published the advice at a dedicated web page, titled COVIDSafe Gatherings, at its Coronavirus information site.

The advice also makes the obvious point that you should cancel your attendance - or should you be hosting, cancel your hosting - if you are feeling sick with a typical symptom of COVID-19 on the day, and get tested instead.

It recommends that time with others indoors be kept under four hours. That is in part to limit the opportunity for transmitting disease, and in part to avoid facing a mandatory quarantine period if one of the other attendees later tests positive.

If you have spent more than four hours indoors with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you are considered a household contact and must quarantine whether or not you test positive, the page advises.

Gatherings hosted outdoors bypass this possibility and also reduce the risk of disease transmission.

It is recommended you refrain from using other guests' plates, drinking glasses or cutlery, among other advice and a checklist for hosts at the COVIDSafe Gatherings page

​Is it time for your booster? Here's how to book

The Government has urged everyone who is eligible to seek a third vaccination against Covid-19, also known as a booster vaccination, and AQA strongly supports that encouragement. Here is where you can find out how to book a vaccination appointment

Everyone aged five years or older is now eligible to receive free vaccination. If you don't have a Medicare card, you can still get free vaccination at any government clinic or vaccination hub.

The Victorian Government is maintaining an online vaccine information page for people with disabilities, carers and support workers. Follow the link for more detail.

From Saturday 12 March 2022, evidence of a third vaccination will be required for all support workers and other authorised workers in Victoria who are working on-site (unless they can show that they have a valid medical exemption). AQA staff are expected to comply with this mandate.

Surviving COVID-19 with quadriplegia: One man's story

A Melbourne man who has a C2-4 spinal cord injury has described his experience of contracting COVID-19 from a household member, and how his support workers responded, for a story hosted on AQA’s Spire website. Mild early symptoms led to a torrid 18 days in hospital.

Income support for test isolation

The Victorian Government has made available a payment of $450 to support people who must stay home from work and lose income while awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

The Government has also made available a payment of up to $1500 to people who must stay home from work and lose income because they have tested positive for COVID-19, and have been ordered by health authorities to self-isolate for seven days or more. This payment is also available to people who have been ordered to self-isolate because they are a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

The Victorian Government's COVID-19 financial and other support page outlines other payments available to people for reasons related to restricting transmission of the disease.

Find out whether you need a test

If you or a person you are working with is feeling sick, you can find out on the Victorian Government's Coronavirus Getting Tested page whether you should report your symptoms to the Coronavirus Hotline, your doctor, or a hospital emergency service, or just follow advice on getting tested for COVID-19.

Some people can be tested at home

Health authorities have introduced in-home testing for people who are showing early symptoms of COVID-19 and, for a range of reasons that include injury, have difficulty leaving home and travelling to a test site.

Referral to the service is through your GP.


Thank you to our amazing support workers

Clients, staff and directors of AQA came together in 2020 to compile a video that expresses their appreciation and gratitude for the resilience of disability support workers and carers.

The latest updates on coronavirus

As AQA operates in the State of Victoria, the most relevant information resource for us is the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) page maintained by the State Government.

The page offers helpful information on vaccination, mental health, where to get tested, and current restrictions (which it lists under the menu item COVIDSafe Settings).

The key supplementary resource for AQA is the Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert page.

Authoritative information on how the new coronavirus is affecting nations around the world can be found at the World Health Organisation Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic page.

AQA encourages discussion among clients, support workers and office staff

AQA encourages support workers and their clients to talk about what measures they will take when working together to minimise the likelihood of transmitting coronavirus or an influenza virus. 

A blog post authored by Wayne Bradshaw, an AQA information officer who has paraplegia, explains why conversations of this kind can be so helpful for AQA clients.

A blog post authored by Peter Van Benthem, who lives with a C4 spinal cord injury, and who receives in-home personal care from a team of support workers, shares some steps he and his carers have taken to reduce their risk of cross-infection.

AQA also encourages support workers and their clients to consult AQA office staff if they need to raise specific concerns they have about coronavirus or flu infection when working together. The best person to raise concerns with is the client’s Service Partnership Coordinator, who can be contacted through AQA reception.

Naming the coronavirus

Finally, if you feel confused by the different terms associated with the new coronavirus you may find some relief in the World Health Organisation’s official coronavirus naming page.

Here the WHO tells us that the official name for this coronavirus is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or (SARS-CoV-2). 

The official name for the disease associated with the virus is COVID-19. However, in communicating with the general public, the WHO has decided to call the virus the COVID-19 virus. On that page it explains its decision.