COVID-19 RESOURCES

Community services play a crucial role in looking after our community. WACOSS are working together with our members, other WA human service peak bodies and the WA Government to ensure you have access to the latest trusted information and resources.

This page provides general health advice and links to resources that community service organisations may find useful. For the latest WA Government information and advice, visit wa.gov.au/government/coronavirus-covid-19.

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

This page contains a lot of information relating to COVID-19 and the evolving situation we have all found ourselves in since the beginning of 2020. If you are looking for specific information, please use the search function below with a keyword e.g. “vaccinations”.

As part of WACOSS’s recent advocacy efforts, we have secured $1million in funding from the West Australian State Government  to cover additional cleaning costs incurred by community service organisations due to interaction with COVID-19 positive cases. This funding is available on a reimbursement basis for any not-for-profit community service that holds a WA Government contract providing services to vulnerable community members.

For more information and to apply please click the button below to go to our cleaning reimbursement scheme page.

WACOSS was funded to develop, implement, and facilitate the CSSP initiative. The CSSP was introduced to mitigate services disruptions in the Community Sector due to furloughing of staff, as it has impacted the eastern states at the peak of the Omicron wave.

The CSSP will allow organisations who have sufficient staff capacity to second to an organisation at risk of service disruption, so that their critical work supporting vulnerable people can continue, even if WA is faced with high COVID-19 cases.

Organisations who have capacity to share staff are encouraged to visit our website and register their willingness to contribute to the Surge Pool, and for organisations experiencing furloughing of staff due to COVID-19 to complete a Surge Request so that we can try to find a suitable match.

For more information and to register or request a surge workforce, please click the button below to go to our CSSP page

COMMUNITY SECTOR PREPAREDNESS

The following resources have been collated to help community services sector organisations to prepare for living with COVID-19.

If you have any queries or concerns about the recent announcements from the Department of Communities about the provision of RATs and PPE to the sector, please email the COVID-19 Management Incident Team (COMIT) with DoC: [email protected]

We know that service providers in other States and Territories have faced workforce shortages as high as 28%, leading to significant impacts to their ability to continue to deliver quality services to the people in the community who rely on them. Here in Western Australia we have an opportunity to learn from these experiences, and ensure that we – as a sector – are adequately prepared for living with COVID-19.

The bottom line is that there will be no surge workforce here in Western Australia and so we must all be prepared to prioritise our critical services if COVID-19 impacts our available staff.

The resources below are to be used as an example only to help your organisation to come up with its own plan for living with COVID-19 and ensuring that you can continue to deliver essential services whilst keeping your staff and clients safe.

The video below is a recording of the Department of Communities webinar held on Thursday 3 March 2022 outlining the WA Government’s commitment to providing RATs and PPE to the community sector, as well as a $1 million grant for funding for additional cleaning services and the development of a surge workfroce capacity, both to be facilitated by WACOSS.

The slides from the presentation are available to download here.

The video below is a recording of the Community Sector Workforce Preparedness webinar co-hosted by WACOSS and the Department of Communities on Friday 4 February 2022.

The slides from the presentation are available to download here.

VACCINE TOOLKIT

Access the latest COVID-19 vaccination resources from the Department of Health including posters, videos, infographics and more.

All of the assets available below are free to use and can be downloaded and distributed widely throughout your networks. We encourage members and other community service sector organisations to utilise these resources and share with your staff and the wider community.

TRAINING: How to start a conversation about COVID-19 vaccines

1 December was the deadline for workers across the community care services sector to have had their first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, and WACOSS has supported the introduction of this mandate to ensure that we can keep vulnerable members of our community safe. This is particularly important, given the likelihood of an outbreak of COVID-19, and the threat of new variants in our community, when we open up next year.

But, we know there are groups of people across the community with very low vaccination rates where historical mistrust of, and trauma associated with, our medical system and government must be acknowledged. 

The community care services sector is right on the frontline with many of the groups that remain hesitant to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine because we provide services to them every single day. Frontline community care services workers are well positioned to have conversations about the importance of getting vaccinated.

The Department of Health and WACOSS ran two webinars in early December for frontline workers in the community care services sector. These webinars were designed to equip workers with the tools they need to have persuasive conversations with vaccine-hesitant communities and dispel any myths they may have about COVID-19.

If you were unable to attend either of these training sessions then you can watch that webinar below.

We are also making the slide deck from the webinar available for download via the button below. These resources are public and provided without license – you are encouraged to share them widely amongst your staff, clients and the wider community!

Please note that due to the size of the video, we are unable to make it available for download via our website however if you would like a copy then please email WACOSS and we can provide you with a download link: [email protected] 

WACOSS COVID-19 UPDATES

Since the beginning of the pandemic, WACOSS has regularly shared information relevant to the community care services sector via our fortnightly newsletter, and via special COVID-19 updates. You can find previous updates below:

Mandatory Vaccinations for the Community Care Services Sector

On Wednesday 6 October 2021, Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook announced a new mandatory vaccination policy (the policy) for all Western Australians to ensure that when we do eventually open – hopefully sooner rather than later – we are able to do so safely.

The new policy is much broader than what has previously been mandated and will include approximately 75% of all workers in Western Australia, and approximately 81% of the public sector workforce. It is highly likely, therefore, that mandatory vaccinations will apply to all or part of your workforce by January 31, 2022 and all of our members across the sector should be prepared for this eventuation.

> Read the updated Mandatory Vaccination Policy online

The policy has been broken down into three categories as follows, into which the Community and Social Services Sector falls largely into groups 1 and 2.

Group 1: High Risk Occupations

Group 2: Critical Occupations

Group 3: In the event of a lockdown

Service delivery issues due to the vaccine mandate or COVID-19 outbreaks

WACOSS, in partnership with YACWA, have been working closely with Department of Finance, Department of Communities and the Mental Health Commission to design a process map to assist service providers who are having difficulty in delivering on their contracts and supporting their clients due to skills shortages. 

The WA Government understand that this is a difficult time, especially in regional WA, to fill staff vacancies and that their is every likelihood these difficulties may increase when we open up.

In the event that an organisations is facing difficulties in delivering aspects of their contracts they should first speak to their individual contract manager and then refer to the steps outlined in the process map.

This process map has been designed as a resource to help the community service sector through this tough time – please share it widely with your networks. 

Update on vaccine mandate: Booster Vaccinations (Restrictions on Access) Directions

On Wednesday 22 December 2021 the Premier Mark McGowan announced that a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine – a booster shot – would become mandatory for all workers covered by a vaccine mandate under various Public Health Act Directions, including community care services workers.

All employees mandated to be vaccinated for work purposes under the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy must receive a third dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine within one calendar month of becoming eligible. 

As of 4 January 2022 eligibility has been reduced from 5 months down to 4 months. on 31 January 2022 eligibility will again be reduded from 4 months down to 3 months. 

In essence, this means that anyone who had their second dose of vaccine on or before 5 September 2021 will be required to have their booster shot on or before 5 February 2022. From 31 January, anyone who had their second dose of vaccine on or before 31 October 2021 will be required to have their booster shot on or before the end of February 2022.

WACOSS has updated it’s COVID-19 vaccination policy to include the booster shot mandate. A copy of this updated policy can be found in the example policy section down below.

Community Care Services Workers (Restrictions on Access) Directions

On Monday 8 November 2021 the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet published the Community Care Services Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions effectively mandating vaccinations for the the community care services sector here in Western Australia.

To help guide other organisations in the community care services sector, and provide as many examples as possible, WACOSS asked member organisations who have already implemented mandatory vaccination policies if they would be willing to share with the rest of the sector.

None of these policies should be copied verbatim. They are being shared as an example only to help guide your Board towards implementing a policy that is in the best interests of your organisation, your staff and the communities you represent.

It is recommended you seek external legal advice if your Board has any serious concerns that cannot be resolved internally. If you have remaining questions about the directions, then I would highly recommend that you contact the Chief Health Officer directly on: [email protected]

EXAMPLE MANDATORY VACCINATION POLICIES

OTHER USEFUL DOCUMENTS RELATING TO MANDATORY VACCINATIONS

GUIDELINES FOR CONGREGATE LIVING FACILITIES IN THE EVENT OF A COVID-19 OUTBREAK

WACOSS, in collaboration with Shelter WA, have been liaising with the State Health Incident Coordination Centre (SHICC) in the Department of Health to ensure there are up to date guidelines for congregate living facilities in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Providers of congregate living services are responsible for COVID-19 outbreak preparedness within their own facilities, with guidance and support from their peak bodies and the Department of Health, Western Australia (DoH WA). These guidelines are only intended to assist service providers with that process and will not serve as an outbreak management plan in and of themselves.

Services need to prepare for prevention and response to an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by:

  • developing and maintaining an outbreak management plan;
  • ensuring management plans for workforce and supplies are in place; and
  • promoting public health and Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) principles.

The SHICC have also provided checklists for tasks to be completed and documents to be submitted to the Department of Health within the first 24 hours of a COVID-19 outbreak in a congregate living facility. The purpose of these checklists is to ensure that any further spread of COVID-19 is contained, and resident and staff safety is prioritised.