All disability service providers must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to a potential or actual outbreak of COVID-19.

Information about outbreaks, case locations and public exposure sites is updated regularly at Case alerts – public exposure sites.

COVID-19 testing

There are three ways people with disability, their carers and disability support workers may access testing:

  • Attend one of the COVID-19 testing sites available for all community members. To find the closest COVID-19 testing location, visit Where to get tested.
  • The Call-to-Test service is for people who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and cannot leave home due to injury, mobility or other eligible reasons. To access the Call-to-Test service, visit Call-to-Test – reaching out to vulnerable Victorians.
  • In-home testing is available for residents of disability residential accommodation, including group homes and respite facilities. This service is available if residents have COVID-19 symptoms or if they have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. To request in-home testing, the disability residential service provider must contact RREMoutbreak@dffh.vic.gov.au and make a referral obtain a testing request form.

Priority processing arrangements are in place to provide test results quickly.

Outbreak management plans

All disability service providers have a responsibility to develop and implement business continuity plans. This includes an outbreak management plan which can be activated immediately if a staff member or a resident has a suspected or positive coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis. The plan will include key actions and responsibilities for team members according to the organisation’s management processes.

A confirmed positive diagnosis of coronavirus in one or more staff or residents of a disability residential service is an outbreak. It must be managed to prevent further exposure and transmission of COVID-19.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for suspected and confirmed outbreaks

Service providers are responsible for ordering adequate PPE supplies. At least two days of PPE supplies should be stored onsite that can be accessed immediately whilst further stocks are ordered.

The NDIA has introduced new support items so that providers in Victoria can claim for PPE used when delivering face-to-face supports assisting participants with daily living.

NDIS participants in Victoria can purchase PPE from their core support funding if they receive at least one hour per day face-to-face supports assisting with their daily living.

For further information on purchasing and accessing PPE:

For further information on the use of PPE, including posters and videos on the correct technique to put on and take off PPE, visit:

Notifications

A disability service provider must notify the following as soon as possible after becoming aware of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the service:

  • NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission - complete and submit the COVID-19 Notification of event form
  • COVID Readiness and Response within the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (see below)
  • A Notifiable Incident must be reported to WorkSafe within 48 hours when COVID-19 is confirmed in any person who has been at the worksite
  • The Health and Safety representative at the work premises
  • Transfer providers should continue to report through their existing mechanisms.

Notifying COVID Readiness and Response

COVID Readiness and Response within the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing was established to respond early to COVID-19 infection and deliver rapid prevention, preparedness and outbreak activities to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of people with disability and staff in impacted service settings. In response to an outbreak, COVID Readiness and Response ensures all necessary supports can be quickly mobilised, and preparedness activities are put in place to minimise COVID-19 transmission risk.

When a service provider becomes aware of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in either a staff member or resident of a disability service setting, including disability residential services and centre-based services, they are required to email RREMoutbreak@dffh.vic.gov.au.

This notification process ensures clients and staff get the support they need and the impacts of COVID-19 on clients and service delivery are assessed.

This process is in addition to the testing, contact tracing and health monitoring conducted by the Department of Health (DH) to manage the health impact of COVID-19 in the Victorian community.

The COVID Readiness and Response team will respond immediately to notifications of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents and staff in disability residential services, support DH during an outbreak as directed, and be the key conduit between DH and the NDIS.

Any other positive tests at the site should be raised directly with the COVID Readiness and Response team. Transfer providers should continue to report through their existing mechanisms.

Isolation management for disability residential settings

In disability residential settings, a resident with a positive diagnosis may be isolated within the accommodation setting if they are well enough. Residents who are considered close contacts must be isolated separately.

Many disability residential settings do not have an appropriate space to isolate residents safely. Where isolation requirements cannot be met, relocation to another facility may be required.

Further information and support
  • Care facilities – restrictions, declarations, visitors and conditions see Visiting care facilities and Victoria's restriction levels
  • Disability Senior Practitioner – the Disability Senior Practitioner provides information and practice advice to providers and practitioners who are supporting people with disability through the coronavirus pandemic. This includes proactive strategies to lessen the impact of coronavirus restrictions and diffusing tense situations during coronavirus.
  • Aged care sector – for further information visit Aged care sector.
  • COVID-19 information for people with disability is available in accessible formats at: Information for people with disability.

NDIS providers have obligations under the NDIS Code of Conduct and the NDIS Practice Standards as well as conditions of registration that relate to the delivery of safe, quality supports and services, and the management of risks associated with the supports provided to NDIS participants.

The NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission have issued a fact sheet for providers about COVID-19 outbreak preparedness, prevention and management. This resource contains practical guidance to support providers to ensure workers take reasonable precautions to protect people with disability and themselves, prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19, respond to suspected or confirmed cases in different types of service settings, and manage an outbreak of COVID-19.