For some, life has returned to a certain degree of normality, but for others, things remain uncertain. If you feel impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, go to Head to Health for information, tips, and resources to support you and your loved ones’ mental health, or contact the Carer Gateway.
COVID-19 Winter dose
The government has updated its recommendations (at 7 July 2022) for a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine to help reduce severe disease from the emerging surge of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariant infections, and to reduce the burden on Australian hospitals and the healthcare system in coming months. This is because vaccinations can wane over time. This includes:
- Adults aged 65 years and older
- Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
- People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.
- Adults aged 50 to 64 years
- Adults aged 30 to 49 years can receive a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, however the benefit for people in this age group is less certain.
More information on booster and winter doses is available here.
‘Hey EVA’ – Book your COVID-19 vaccine by text
The Easy Vaccine Access (EVA) service provides Australians with an easy way to book their COVID-19 vaccination. Text ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382 to receive a call back from a trained agent from the National Coronavirus Helpline to arrange a time for your appointment. The agent can also provide information and advice on COVID-19 vaccines and connect you with free interpretation support. For more information on the EVA, initiative go here.
Alternatively go to the governments COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder here. You can use the Vaccine Clinic Finder to book for yourself, your children, or someone else.
Rapid Antigen Testing Concessional Access Program ends 31 July 2022
If you have an eligible Commonwealth concession card, you can still access up to 20 rapid antigen tests (RATs) through participating community pharmacies, at no cost to you until 31 July 2022. You can access a maximum of 20 rapid antigen tests, but no more than 5 tests in any month. More information is available here.
Support for people living with disability and their carers
For National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) specific COVID Information and support go here or call the NDIS Contact Centre on 1800 800 110, Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (local time) and select option 5 for plan enquiries related to COVID-19.
The Disability Information Helpline is for people with disability, their families and carers who need help because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Helpline is free, private and fact-checked. Phone (free call): 1800 643 787 or if you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can also call the National Relay Service on 133 677. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST). It’s not available on national public holidays.
The Disability Gateway also has information and resources specific to COVID-19 here
For information on work and financial support visit the Australian Government website to access:
- A range of financial supports and services available during COVID-19, and
- Assistance with finding a job as there are organisations looking for workers and ways to find work suited to your skills and experience.
Information for older Australians
If you are a carer and need access to support, services or information, contact your current service provider or call the COVID-19 support line on 1800 171 866 (free call). This is a dedicated service for older Australians and their carers. It provides a safe place to speak with an expert who can listen and offer practical help and advice. The support line is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 6pm, excluding public holidays.
Emergency leave for aged care residents extended to 30 June 2023 – This will allow aged care residents to continue to take emergency leave during unpredictable COVID-19 outbreaks. Emergency leave will continue to be available to residents who wish to temporarily relocate to stay with family at these times. Support is available through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) for up to eight weeks. Please note that residents who take Emergency Leave must continue to pay their basic daily fees, means tested care fees and daily accommodation payments. More information is available here.
- Tier 1 support is available for residents who temporarily re-locate from an aged care home that is significantly impacted by COVID-19. This support covers personal care and nursing services equivalent to a Level 4 Home Care Package. Contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600 for more assistance to apply.
- Tier 2 support is available for all people who decide to temporarily return to the community from their aged care home during the pandemic. This support covers meals, transport, individual social support, unaccompanied shopping, allied health and therapy services, and lower-level nursing and personal care. To access this support, residents or their family can contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
Information for carers of people receiving palliative care
CarerHelp is an online toolkit specifically for those caring for someone at the end of their life. The Project has produced some specific factsheets related to COVID-19 to support carers and palliative care needs during this pandemic. The resources are available here. Carers Australia are a proud partner in the CarerHelp initiative.
Support for children to receive the vaccine
Children aged 5–11 years are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. More information related to safety, consent and reactions to the vaccine can be found here.
There are also many resources available to assist in making a decision on getting children immunised and to discuss this with them:
- Kids and COVID-19 vaccines: everything you need to know here
- Decision aid for parents and carers: Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine for my child? here
- COVID-19 vaccination – Colouring in activity for kids here
Support for if you or someone you care for has COVID
There are resources available that may help, including:
- ‘What to do if you get COVID-19’ here which talks about what you need to do if you test positive for COVID-19, including isolating, who you need to tell, and how to look after yourself.
- ‘If you have COVID-19 or are a close contact’ here on what symptoms you can expect, and how to look after yourself and the people around you.
- ‘Caring for someone with COVID-19’ here
- ‘COVID-19: family guide’ here contains information for parents and carers, including specific guidance on COVID-19, isolation, quarantine or lockdown: children with disability, autism or other conditions.
- ‘COVID-19 and medicines – frequently asked questions’ here
- ‘Have COVID? Here are a few tips to help you get through it’ here which focuses on maintaining wellbeing
- ‘Managing COVID-19 at home with assistance from your general practice’ here which includes an action plan and symptom diary
- ‘Managing COVID-19 at home’ here which includes monitoring symptoms, treatment, recovering and caring for someone
The Senate Select Committee on COVID-19
On 8 April 2020, the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on COVID-19 to inquire into the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee concluded its inquiry when it tabled its report on 7 April 2022 and lists 19 Recommendations. The final report is available here.
Carers Australia appeared before the Committee at a hearing on 1 July 2020. You can see the Hansard of this Hearing here.
Help stop the Flu
Influenza vaccination is particularly important this year. With the easing of international and domestic public health measures arising from the COVID-19 global pandemic, a resurgence of influenza is expected in 2022, with the Australian community potentially more vulnerable to the virus this Winter.
A reminder the 2022 influenza vaccines for the National Immunisation Program (NIP) became available from 4 April. This means that people in the following groups can get the vaccine for free:
- Pregnant women
- People aged over 65 years
- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People
- Children aged 6 months – 5 years
- People aged over 6 months with medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe influenza and complications.
Some states and territories may provide free influenza vaccines for other groups not listed above. You are encouraged to start to book appointments with a GP or pharmacist from mid-April to ensure the best protection at the peak of the season which is usually between June and September. More information is available here.
If you need someone to talk to you can call or visit:
- Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service – 1800 512 348
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800
- Young adults between the ages of 12-25 can visit Headspace for youth targeted mental health resources
- Black Dog Institute