Second Step

11.59pm on 13 September 2020

Second Step: Work and study - regional Victoria

What does this mean I can do?

In line with the advice of the Chief Health Officer, all primary and secondary school students will begin returning to onsite learning in Term 4 if their school is located in regional Victoria.

If you live in regional Victoria, you cannot leave home except for one of the following four reasons:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  • to exercise or for outdoor recreation
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home.

From 11:59 on Sunday 13 September the reasons to leave home in regional Victoria will expand to include:

  • for outdoor social interaction with your household or up to five people from a maximum of two households (infants under 12 months are not included in the cap)
  • for the purposes of letterboxing as a candidate, employee or volunteer for a local government election campaign.

You must wear a face covering when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Even while wearing a face covering, you should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.

Your questions answered

Work

Can I leave my house to go to work?

If you can work from home, you must do so. This is important in helping to limit the number of people moving around – and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, if you cannot do your work from home, you can go to work. When at work, you should keep at least 1.5 metres between you and others. Practise good hygiene - wash your hands and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

You must wear a face covering when you leave home, this includes wearing your face covering while at work, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. This also includes when you are travelling for work purposes, for example either to or from work on public transport or in shared cars with people outside your household. For more information visit the face coverings page.

If you are unwell, you must stay home and you should also get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

To get to work, I need to travel through metropolitan Melbourne – am I able to travel through this area?

Yes. Travelling through metropolitan Melbourne is allowed. If you stop, it must be for one of the three reasons:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home.

Does my employer have a responsibility to support me to work from home?

Your employer must support you to work from home, if you can work from home. For more information, see 'What responsibilities do employers have to support staff to work from home' on the Working from home - information for business page.

If you cannot do your work from home, then you can go to work. However, you should consider flexible working arrangements with your employer including off-peak travel. If you are unwell, you must stay at home. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should get tested.

By working from home, you are helping to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are keeping those who cannot work from home safe.

What do I do if my employer and I disagree about working from home?

You and your employer should work together to identify if you can work from home. Workers can raise concerns about being asked to return to work through the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444. If a complaint is made, the employer would need to show why the employee cannot work from home.

What if I’m finding it difficult to work from home? Can I choose to work from my normal workplace?

If you can work from home, you must do so. This is important in helping to limit the number of people moving around – and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you cannot perform your role from home or another location, then you are able to attend your workplace.

For more advice on health and safety considerations of working from home, see the WorkSafe website.

Do normal workplace compensation rights apply?

If you believe you have contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) at work, you may be entitled to workers compensation. Information on entitlements and the process for lodging a claim is available on the WorkSafe website.

If you require support or additional information please contact your employer, union or the WorkCover Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

Can building sites remain open?

Yes. Building sites can remain open. The construction industry should implement appropriate measures on their construction sites in order to keep staff safe. Additional restrictions apply in metropolitan Melbourne. 

Actions for organisations, workplaces or employers

For actions that organisations, workplaces and employees should take, visit business and industry.

Can I leave home to feed livestock?

Yes. Caring for animals, including livestock, is a permitted reason to leave home.

I live in regional Victoria – do I need a permit to travel to and from work?

If you live in regional Victoria and work in regional Victoria, you do not need a permit. The permit scheme only applies to people living or working in metropolitan Melbourne currently under Stage 4 restrictions.

I live in regional Victoria and work in Melbourne, do I need a permitted worker permit?

Yes. If you live in regional Victoria, you will need a permit from your employer to work in a permitted workplace in Melbourne under current restrictions.

Volunteering

Can I leave my house to do volunteering work?

Yes. You can continue to do volunteer or unpaid work if the organisation you are volunteering for is still operating. You must wear a face covering when you leave home, unless an exception applies. For more information, visit the face coverings page.

Even with a face covering, you should keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others at all times. Practise good hygiene such as regularly washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow.

If you can volunteer from home, you must volunteer from home.

Information for current and prospective volunteers about how to support the community and stay safe can be found at Volunteer Victoria.

The following factsheet details information on how to support the community while staying safe under stage 3 restrictions.

What if I am in a high-risk group?

If you are in a high-risk group, you should stay at home as much as you can. You can still contribute to your community by volunteering online or over the phone.

High-risk groups include people aged 70 years and over, people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions, people with compromised immune systems and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50.

Study and education

Summary of restrictions

  • Childcare and kindergartens remain open in regional Victoria
  • In Term 4, all students will have a staged return to onsite learning.
  • Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) students can only attend on site for essential assessments during this week, including the General Achievement Test (GAT) on Wednesday 7 October.
  • On-site supervision for children of permitted workers, vulnerable students and students with a disability continues in line with existing guidelines.
  • In line with the up-to-date advice of the Chief Health Officer, students in regional Victoria (from Prep to Year 12) will begin returning to full-time on-site schooling. Schools can stagger the return of different year levels, with all students undertaking on-site schooling by 16 October.
  • Students aged 12 and over must wear a face covering if they are doing onsite supervision, unless they are attending primary school. Students under the age of 12 do not have to wear a face covering.
  • It is not compulsory for teachers, educators and carers to wear face coverings while teaching or caring for children. Face coverings can interfere with their ability to clearly communicate with students or children in their care. Teachers, educators and carers can choose to wear face coverings if they wish when teaching or providing care for children. Teachers, educators and carers must wear face coverings in other areas of the school/facility when not teaching or providing care.
  • University, TAFE and adult education students should continue to learn remotely or online where possible.
  • Even while wearing a face covering, you should keep 1.5 metres distance between others.

Can my child go to school?

Staged return to onsite learning for will occur for all students in Term 4 with safety measures in place.

Onsite supervision will continue for children whose parents are essential workers, vulnerable kids who can’t learn from home and children with a disability.

If a student’s school is based in metropolitan Melbourne, they will need to continue remote learning, unless they are in prep-grade 2 or VCE/VCAL which will be returning in a staged way from 12t October.

Can my child go to childcare or kindergarten?

Yes. Childcare and kindergartens are open in regional Victoria. Different restrictions apply in Melbourne. 

Can my child go to playgroup?

No, playgroups have stopped meeting. 

Do students at schools need to wear a face covering?

Students aged 12 and over who are being supervised onsite must wear face coverings, unless an exception applies. 

Children who are aged 12 or over and are attending onsite primary school do not need to wear a face covering at school. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that it is not practical to require some primary school students to wear face coverings while others are not required to.

Students who attend a specialist school are not required to wear a face covering but may do so if they or their family choose to. Students are not required to wear a face covering where their disability means it would not be suitable.

For more information on face coverings at school, visit the visit the face coverings page

Can I still go to my classes at TAFE, college or university?

Yes, if it is necessary for classes to be conducted on-site. You must wear a face covering and keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others. Avoid spending time in shared facilities such as libraries and campus study areas. Collaborative assignments and team study projects should be done using online tools. Study at home.

I attend university in metropolitan Melbourne. Am I required to transfer to be closer to home?

Study at university in metropolitan Melbourne must be done remotely so you must study from home. For more information, please contact your university or education provider.

Actions for TAFEs, colleges and universities

Institutions should continue to provide online or remote learning where possible.

Some staff and students will attend on-campus where it is necessary for hands-on, skills-based learning and research. Staff and students at TAFEs, colleges and universities must wear a face covering on-campus. 

Health and safety guidance to support schools to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and students as schools is available on the Business Victoria website.

Actions for schools

Health and safety guidance to support schools to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and students as schools is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

Actions for early childhood education and care services

Health and safety guidance to support early childhood education and care services to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and children is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

How will you enforce this? Who will enforce it?

Directions will continue to be enforced through spot checks by Victoria Police and use of emergency powers by Authorised Officers to ensure compliance with the Public Health Directions.

Industry bodies, Victoria Police, WorkSafe, and Authorised Officers will work together to inform Victorians about the directions, as well as undertake enforcement and compliance activities as needed.

Community members can raise concerns about compliance with directions through the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444. Workers can raise concerns via WorkSafe on 1800 136 089. And employers can talk to their industry regulator or peak body for specific industry related support.

A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Joint Intelligence Unit has been established to support comprehensive preparedness and responses to outbreaks and identify and manage outbreak risks.

The Department of Health and Human Services and WorkSafe will co-ordinate intelligence and information on businesses that are non-compliant.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Victoria Police can issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses for:

  • refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions
  • refusing or failing to comply with a public health risk power direction
  • refusing or failing to comply with the Public Health Directions to provide information.

Fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses are possible through the court system.
Individuals who do not wear a face covering and do not have a lawful reason can be fined $200.