Access to allied health services under Victorian COVID-19 restrictions

Published 6 August 2020, revised 7 September 2020

Stage 4 restrictions are in now in place in metropolitan Melbourne and Stage 3 applies to the rest of Victoria.

Stage 4 restrictions – Melbourne

Stage 4 restrictions define permitted workers and work premises including how these definitions apply in the healthcare and social assistance sector. The following information applies to allied health.

  • Allied health professionals delivering services in a public or private hospital can continue to do so.
  • Allied health professionals working in private practice can continue to operate under strict conditions. See ‘Provision of services’ below.
  • Allied health professionals involved in the repair/maintenance of assistive technology such as hearing devices, prostheses and wheelchairs are permitted to undertake repairs or maintenance. This may include audiologists, optometrists, occupational therapists and orthotists/prosthetists. From permitted work premises – ‘other services’ : “Automotive, machinery and equipment repair and maintenance are permitted to operate where providing support to a permitted service or industry or where required to maintain the health and safety of Victorians at home or at work.”

Provision of services

Routine services in private practice settings are not permitted under Stage 4 restrictions.

  • AHPRA-registered professionals (plus social workers, speech pathologists, dietitians and audiologists) can provide in-person services only if those services are necessary to prevent significant clinical deterioration that would require an increased level of care e.g.:
    • specialist input/review
    • increased care needs and/or alternate accommodation
    • hospital admission or emergency department presentation.
  • Other allied health professionals can also provide in-person services that meet the above criteria but only for Chronic Disease Management Plans (MBS) or care plans under NDIS (including self-managed plans), TAC, Workcover or DVA.
  • A medical referral is not required to provide allied health services that meet the above criteria.
  • There are no restrictions on the delivery of allied health services via telehealth. Practitioners are encouraged to use telehealth wherever possible. Refer to AHPA’s Telehealth guide for allied health professionals for practical advice.

Moving around Melbourne

  • All permitted workers must carry a ‘permitted worker permit’ and should carry photo identification when travelling to and from work.
  • Information on how to issue/apply for a permitted worker permit is available for employers, employees, sole traders, contractors, casual workers etc.
  • AHPA recommends that allied health professionals also carry proof of their AHPRA registration or membership/accreditation from their professional association.
  • Guidance is available regarding the movement of healthcare workers and health service employees across and within health services.
  • Provision of allied health services within a client’s home is permitted providing the reason for care meets the required criteria.
  • Consumers can leave home to visit health care providers under the guidance for care and health care. The 5km limit does not apply to care and health care.

Workplace safety

  • All workplaces in Victoria must have a COVID Safe workplan in place to operate during Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions. This applies to allied health even if you are only providing telehealth services.
  • All healthcare workers in Victoria (under Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions) who have direct contact with clients must now wear eye protection in addition to a mask. Guidance on the use of PPE for health workers and specific advice for allied health professionals in private practice is now available
  • Provision of services within a client’s home should be conducted the same as in a clinical setting i.e. with appropriate infection prevention control and use of PPE. Each client visit should be considered a change of workplace.

Stage 4 restrictions under Victoria’s declared State of Disaster are intended to limit movement within areas of high community transmission. They are designed to protect the public and health workers, reduce infection and ultimately save lives. Allied health professionals should consider if an in-person service is critical for their client in the next 6-week period and if there is an appropriate alternative, such as telehealth.

Stage 3 Restrictions – Regional Victoria

  • Allied health services can operate under Stage 3 restrictions. Consultations can also be done via telehealth.
  • All Victorian workplaces must have a COVID Safe workplan in place.
  • New PPE guidance applies to all healthcare workers in Victoria.
  • All Victorians must wear a mask when leaving home.

For profession-specific advice, allied health practitioners are encouraged to contact their relevant professional association.