Updates for counselling and psychotherapy during Covid 

Last updated 12/10/2021

 Practice under ‘stay at home’ orders

For those members who are new to working under ‘stay at home’ rules, there are a range of resources available to assist you in making the transition to practice online/via telehealth. See Information for practising during Covid-19.

It can be difficult to stay across the latest Covid updates for practice. Here are the most recent updates as related to therapeutic practice: 

 

NSW

Workers (including counsellors and psychotherapists) in regional areas who have received one vaccination dose will be permitted to return to their workplace from 11 October, and will be given a grace period until 1 November to receive their second dose.

Workers in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Central Coast should continue to work from home via telehealth, and workers who are not fully vaccinated are required to work from home until 1 December 2021 (subject to COVID19 restrictions).

From 11 October, fully vaccinated workers can begin to return to work if they wish, but continuing to work from home is advisable.

All workplaces must have COVID-safe check-in processes, such as QR codes, set up.

View the NSW Roadmap guidelines.

Masks

 Masks are required for all staff and clients in all indoor settings (except children under the age of 12).

Masks no longer required in outdoor settings (except for front-of-house hospitality staff).

Please see advice for allied health professionals from the NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, on practice under ‘stay at home’ orders.

 

Victoria

Stay-at-home restrictions are in place for Metropolitan Melbourne, Moorabool Shire, City of Greater Shepparton and Mitchell Shire. If you can work from home, you must. You can travel to your place of work to collect items required to work from home.

The Chief Health Officer’s directions mandate telehealth/online therapy delivery. ‘Urgent clinical care’ that cannot be provided via telehealth or online is the only exception to this.

PACFA has a range of resources to support members to transition to providing therapy online. For more information go to Information for Practicing During Covid-19

Permits will be required to leave the house for authorised work, consistent with the arrangements that were in place in 2020. Allied and mental health professionals are recognised as an authorised workforce when:  

  • working as authorised workers in hospitals or in residential care facilities providing critical clinical care or as directed by the hospital
  • working in private or public community services, whether clinic-based or home-based, providing urgent clinical care. (Note: face to face appointments should only occur for urgent clinical care that cannot be deferred - routine face to face care is not permitted but may be provided via telehealth)
  • working in private practice providing care through telehealth and other virtual care options
  • students on placement providing authorised care in hospitals or in residential care facilities, or through telehealth

For those in private practice, you may only attend your workplace if you are unable to work from home. Therapy must still be provided via telehealth unless providing urgent clinical care.

A permit is required when leaving your home for authorised work.

Read the FAQs for allied health professionals.

Face to face practice resumes in regional Victoria 

For those in regional Victoria (except Mitchell Shire, Moorabool Shire and City of Greater Shepparton),

The Victorian Department of Health has updated its advice for allied health practitioners in regional Victoria:

    • Allied health private practices can resume services with a COVIDSafe Plan in place. This includes compliance with record keeping, density quotients, face masks and cleaning.
    • Be mindful that there is active community transmission in regional Victoria and take this into consideration when making appointments. Risk mitigation strategies should remain in place, such as screening patients before they come into the clinic or practice for any symptoms.
    • All businesses in Victoria must use the free Victorian Government QR Code Service in the workplace, except for essential support groups and health services where confidentiality is typically required.
    • All COVIDSafe principles should apply to the work premises, including maintaining physical distancing where possible and encouraging regular hand hygiene
    • A density quotient of one person per four square metres applies to work premises, except hospitals. This requirement extends to treating rooms, staff offices, administration offices and waiting areas.
    • Please note that vaccination requirements are in place. Further information can be found here: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/information-workers-required-be-vaccinated and updates will continue to be provided
    • Allied health private practice from a residential address in regional Victoria (excluding LGAs under lockdown restrictions) can continue to operate if this is the usual place of business. A separate entrance must be provided for patients or clients.
    • Group therapies and interventions can re-commence for allied health practice in regional Victoria, (excluding LGAs under lockdown restrictions) however, must abide by the density quotient requirements of one person per four square metres.

Masks

- Must be carried at all times.
- Must be worn indoors and outdoors by Victorians aged 12 years or over except at home, or if a lawful reason not to wear one applies. Lawful reasons may include having a physical or intellectual disability that makes mask wearing difficult or harmful to health.


For the latest covid information go to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria | Coronavirus Victoria

 

South Australia 

From 4:00 pm on Monday, 4 October 2021, the Local Government Areas of Mount Gambier City, District Council of Grant and Wattle Range Council will be under Level 3 restrictions with some additional restrictions:

  • A COVID Safe plan is required
  • 1 person per 4 square metres
  • Must take reasonable steps to maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • Approved contact tracing required (other than in-home health services)
  • Masks are required for shared indoor places

The rest of South Australia is currently under Level 1 restrictions with some additional restrictions. There have been numerous exposure sites in SA over the past few days. Check exposure sites regularly and follow health advice.

PACFA advises that counsellors and psychotherapists in South Australia are encouraged to provide services via telehealth or virtually.

Masks 

Masks (covering the mouth and nose) are required in health care services, high risk settings such as aged care, indoor fitness facilities, and shared indoor public places. 

For the latest information and full details please visit the SA government Covid Restrictions page.  

 

ACT

The ACT lockdown has been extended until at least 15 October 2021.

The ACT Government advises that telehealth or other virtual care options should be considered wherever possible and where clinically appropriate. If you can work from home, you must work from home. 

For those members who are new to working under ‘stay at home’ rules, there are a range of resources available to assist you in making the transition to practice online or via telehealth. See Information for practising during Covid-19.

Reasons to leave home

People living and working in Canberra are asked to leave their home only for essential reasons:

  • Essential employment
  • Healthcare (including COVID-19 vaccinations)
  • Essential groceries and supplies
  • Up to one hour of outdoor exercise.

Allied health and mental health workers considered ‘essential’

The following allied health workers are included in the definition of essential workers:

  • Allied health services provided by allied health professionals working as essential workers in hospitals or in residential care facilities providing critical clinical care;
  • Allied health services provided by allied health professionals working in private practice or community services;
  • Students, medical/nursing/midwifery/allied health on placement providing essential care in hospitals or in residential care facilities.

The following mental health workers are included in the definition of essential workers:

  • the hospital emergency or inpatient psychiatric services;
  • allied health professionals providing mental health services in hospital;
  • private consultant psychiatry practice;
  • allied health professionals providing mental health services in community settings.

Masks

Mandatory mask wearing will be reintroduced for anyone over 12 years of age.

 Keep checking the Covid exposure locations, as they are updated regularly.

 

Northern Territory

Face masks must be worn outside and in workplaces when you are unable to physically distance.

The Territory Check-In App is mandatory for business, organisations and places.

 

Queensland

Masks

Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Palm Island and Townsville have entered increased face mask restrictions from 30 September 2021. Other areas of South East Queensland are still considered impacted areas with additional mask restrictions.

Rest of Queensland:
You are only required to wear a mask in some locations such as airports on domestic flights and in stadiums. You need to wear a mask if you:

  • have been in a locked down area or impacted area; or
  • reside in the same household as a person who has been in a locked down area or impacted areas

We recommend everyone else in Queensland should keep a mask with them so that if you are in a situation where you may not be able to maintain physical distancing, you have some added protection.