Victoria

COVID-19 Communications

Please expand the below headings to read the communications to members at that time.

1. 22 April 2022 - VIC COVID-19 Restrictions Easing

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced on Wednesday that due to the high vaccination rate in the State, many of the restrictions will be easing from 11:59pm 22nd April 2022. [Announcement]

Quick Recap

  • Vaccination requirements are still in place for workers
  • Vaccination status is not required to be shown when entering any venue
  • Check-In requirements will no longer be required
  • Mask requirement will end in certain settings
  • Close contacts will no longer have to quarantine – other requirements are required
  • Hospital restrictions will be removed except for mask requirements
  • Those who have had COVID-19 will be exempt from testing or quarantine for 12 weeks after.

Should any other changes be announced that impact the healthcare industry, we will keep you notified.

2. 22 February 2022 - Victorian Easing of COVID Restrictions

The Victorian Government has announced the easing of some COVID-related restrictions. They are as follows:

From 11:59pm Friday 25th February 2022:

  • Mask will no longer be required. They are recommended if you are working facing members of the public. This will now become the choice of the practitioner to wear one and whether they choose to enforce this in their clinic for their clients.

From 6pm Friday 18th February 2022:

  • QR Code Check-in is now only required in venues that require vaccination as proof of entry.
  • Density limits are also no longer required

Please note that the public are entitled to healthcare, regardless of their vaccination status, provided it can be done safely.

If there are any further changes, we will provide email updates.

3. 13 January 2022 - Victorian Vaccination Direction Update

Happy New Year! We hope you all managed to get some well-deserved rest during the festive season. As you may be aware, the Victorian Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Order 2021 (No.1) expired at 11:59pm last night. This has been replaced by the new Orders which took affect from 11:59pm 12th January 2022 until 11:59pm 12th April 2022.

Which ANTA Members Does this Effect?

As per the previous Order, this updated order still only affects:

  • Practitioners who are Acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbal Medicine;
  • Practitioners who work in a public or private hospital (regardless of what work you perform);
  • Person’s who work for Medical or Allied Health professionals (ANTA members are not Allied Health unless you are Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine). This includes contractors and administrative staff

If you work in retail, education, aged care, or any other industry, please seek guidance from your respective authorities on those areas as we are only providing information specific to the healthcare industry.

Vaccination

This Order requires the above persons to be vaccinated with a booster to continue working as a healthcare worker.

  • If you were fully vaccinated BEFORE 12th September 2021, you will be required to receive your booster vaccination by 12 February 2022.
  • If you were fully vaccinated AFTER 12th September 2021, you will be required to receive you booster vaccination by 29th March 2022.

Medical Exemptions

Please read through the Order as Medical Exemptions also apply. This includes being diagnosed with COVID-19. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are unable to get your booster vaccination as a result, you are required to show proof of your COVID-19 Certificate in either digital or printed forms.

Definitions

Premises – does not include a worker’s ordinary place of residence.

This means that these Orders do not apply to people who work from their ordinary place of residence.

4. 16 December 2021 - New Victorian Orders

As per our email yesterday, the new Orders have been released by the Victorian Government under their Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.

After reading through the new orders, there are no changes to this industry and everything remains the same. As mentioned yesterday, not all ANTA members operate their business the same way and may fall under a different Order, depending on the definition of their business.

To read the new orders which apply to vaccination, restrictions, healthcare, retail and education etc, please click the link below.

New Pandemic Order Register << website link

Guidance for the Pandemic COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Order 2021 (No. 1) << (PDF)

These Orders take effect from 11:59pm 15th December 2021, until 11:59pm 12th January 2022.

RECAP

  • Vaccination is only required for AHPRA registered practitioners, or those who work for an Allied Health or AHPRA registered operator, to continue working from a “healthcare facility” (as defined in the Orders).
  • All patients are entitled to healthcare regardless of their vaccination status.
  • Telehealth consultations are acceptable. Face-to-Face consultations are acceptable.
  • QR Codes are to be displayed for patients to check in.

We want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. It has been an interesting year and we hope that the new year brings better news and busier clinics!

5. 15 December 2021 - Victorian State of Emergency Ending

As many of you are aware, the State of Emergency in Victoria is set to end at 11:59pm tonight. All of the current health directions in place also end with it, but the Premier recently had new laws passed giving him the power to implement rules and mandates to keep the people of Victoria safe.

There has been many media statements released from his office today and we strongly urge members to read the ones they feel are relevant to them.

Updated Public Health Protections to Keep Victorians Safe <<<< please read the current media statement by the Premier’s Office.

The link above discusses the new pandemic orders under the new Public Health and Wellbeing Act, which will come into effect from 11:59pm tonight and will be in place until 12th January 2022.

Please take the time to read this announcement and any others that may be relevant to you. ANTA members operate their business in the health sector, retail sector, education sector and in other ways, and we simply cannot be across every industry to help you understand these in the way you have chosen to run your business.

This may be the last update we provide before we close for Christmas. We would like to wish all Victorian’s a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year!

6. 19 November 2021 - Updated Directions - No Changes

As many of you may be aware, the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Direction (No 12) expired at 11:59pm last night. This was replaced by COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Direction (No 13).

This new Direction is due to expire on 15 December 2021 (the same date as the Victorian State of Emergency).

There has been no changes in this updated Direction. The Direction still only applies to people who are Allied Health or AHPRA registered (Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine) or anyone who works in an Allied Health or AHPRA registered owned/operated facility.

We understand the DHHS website has conflicting information, however, as the Directions are the legally enforceable documents we are only concerned with what is written and defined within them.

7. 18 October 2021 - Victorian Return to Work Update

Yesterday Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the movement to Phase B of the National Plan (70% double dose vaccinated) for Victoria will occur at 11:59pm on Thursday 21st of October and the Melbourne lockdown will end.

For those of you in Melbourne metropolitan areas, this means from Friday 22nd of October 2021 you will be able to return to routine clinical care.
This is obviously fantastic and welcome news for you and for your clients.
The Victorian Roadmap can be viewed HERE and reference to healthcare can be found on page 8.

In line with the Phase B restrictions, it is important to note the following:

  • Covid Safe Plan must be in place for your business
  • No specific limits to number of patients in your facility, providing the density quotient of 4sqm rule is followed
  • No vaccination requirement for patients

Please be mindful of the dates for mandatory vaccinations for people working in specific facilities as listed in our correspondence on the 8th of October.

On a personal note, ANTA would like to extend our heartfelt well wishes to all of our Victorian members who have had to endure these extended lockdown periods, had their businesses and their livelihoods interrupted, and had their client’s lives impacted by the inability of their trusted healthcare providers (YOU) to be able to help them in the many ways that you do.

We trust that the 22nd of October marks a positive step forward, and that you are able to once again get back to doing what you do best.

8. 8 October 2021 - State-Based Vaccine Mandate Information

Recently, we have seen the introduction of a number of mandates for vaccinations in Australia for various industries as part of the fight against COVID-19.

Understanding these mandates, how or if they relate to your and your practices is challenging to say the least.

ANTA has been working hard to elucidate the facts and provide them to you in as clear a way as possible.

Please note that the information we provide here is simply a summary of the vaccine mandates for states in which they are currently in place.
Please also note that the information we provide here is current to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing, and that new and updated information may be provided by government at any time.

Lastly, please note that mandatory vaccination orders are, and can only be, put in place by Chief Health Officers in each state, and they are not mandates placed on you by ANTA or any other body.

At the time of release of this statement, there are mandatory vaccine mandates for the health services in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Currently there are no vaccine mandates for Queensland, Australian Capital Territory or Northern Territory.

Not all state-based mandates apply to ANTA members, and those mandates that may apply to some ANTA members, do not apply to all.

Victoria
In the state of Victoria, vaccinations are mandatory for practitioners who are AHPRA registered (Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioners) and other health practitioners who fall under the definition of Allied Health as per the Victorian Health Department definition (link).

All non-AHPRA registered practitioners are not mandated to be vaccinated unless they work in a practice that is owned/operated by an Allied Health or AHPRA registered practitioner, or if they work in a public or private hospital. See the full Victorian Health Orders (No. 6) HERE.

If you fall under the mandatory vaccination rules, you must have your first dose of the vaccine on or by the 29th of October. Your second dose must be received by December 15th 2021.

Currently, the reopen date for businesses appears to be around 26th October. This will be dependent on the State getting to 70% or more vaccination status. Therefore, regardless of your vaccination status, if you are not considered an essential worker you are unable to reopen at this time.

New South Wales
In the state of New South Wales, vaccinations are mandatory for all registered and non-registered health practitioners. The definition of a health practitioner references the Healthcare Complaints Act 1993 (link).

This means that all practising New South Wales, ANTA members must be vaccinated as per the NSW Health Orders, dated Sept 29th 2021, regardless of the setting in which you work.

Health care workers are required to have had both doses of the vaccine by the 30th of November 2021.

Tasmania

The Tasmanian Health Department has published directions for health care practitioners as listed in (THIS) letter are required to have received their first vaccination by the 31st of October 2021.

ANTA members who are listed in the letter (AHPRA registered and Allied Health practitioners according to the Tasmanian Health definition) are included in these directions for mandatory vaccinations.

The complete Health Orders have not yet been issued, but are expected soon. For further information please refer to the Tasmanian Health Department (link)

South Australia

On the 7th of October, South Australia Health released public health orders that required health practitioners working in health care settings, as defined in the (orders) as public and private hospitals and ambulance services.

The definition of health care workers as per the Orders does not include any of the categories of ANTA membership.

For further information please refer to the (Orders).

Western Australia

The Western Australian Department of Health has issued mandatory vaccination orders for health practitioners and employees working in WA health system entities (hospitals, government health settings).

The definition of health care workers as per the Orders does not include any of the categories of ANTA membership.

For further information please refer to the government of WA health department website (HERE)or (HERE).

To fully understand the obligations for your business with regard to vaccinations, please refer to the relevant state-based agencies.

9. 16 September 2021 - Regional Victoria to Open

As per the Victorian Premier’s announcement yesterday, Greater Shepparton has lifted restrictions, therefore practitioners will be able to return to practice.

In line with these new rules, the authorised worker list will be removed and clinical practices are once again permitted to provide standard care.

Masks must be worn at all times and there are density quotients.

Indoor group exercise classes are not permitted yet, but outdoor group exercise is permitted for up to 10 people plus the person responsible for the class.

While it has not been explicitly noted, we recommend that services provided at home-based clinics, should only be conducted by those with a separate entrance and facilities.

Visiting people in their homes is not permitted at this time, so for this reason “in-home consultations” (i.e. mobile services) for your patients/clients should not occur.

Of course, please ensure you maintain a high standard of cleaning and sanitisation at all times, and that you undertake the appropriate screening process for COVID symptoms prior to accepting client bookings.

Members within the City of Ballarat

As per yesterday’s announcement, the City of Ballarat will enter into a lockdown for seven days until 11:59pm on Wednesday, 22 September.

This lockdown has the same restrictions that Metropolitan Melbourne, expect for the curfew. Therefore, only Telehealth Consultations should be conducted (where possible) during this lockdown.

AHPRA members are able to work but only for essential care.

For the full statement and list of changes to the rules, click here.

10. 23 August 2021 - Regional Victoria Locked Down Again

Over the weekend the Victorian government has put Regional Victoria back into lockdown. This is from 11:59pm 21 August 2021 until 11:59pm 26 August 2021. Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria)(No. 25)

The same circumstances apply as last time where working is concerned. If you are Acupuncture or Chinese Herbal Medicine, you are considered AHPRA regulated Allied Health and can work, but only under urgent clinical care.

What is Urgent Clinical Care?

Care that:

  • avoids a potential hospital admission or emergency department presentation
  • prevents/delays the need for further specialist medical or surgical intervention
  • prevents an increase in care needs that would necessitate carer support or change in accommodation needs
  • limits secondary post surgery
  • where deferral would lead to long term adverse consequences (i.e. delays to child development).

If you are able to operate via telehealth, then you should do so.

11. 17 August 2021 - Metropolitan Melbourne Lockdown Extended Again

Metropolitan Melbourne has had their lockdowns extended by an additional 2 weeks. From 11:59pm 16 August 2021 until 11:59pm 26 August 2021. Restricted Activity Direction (Metropolitan Melbourne)(No. 9).

Nothing has changed in relation to the ability to be able to work. However, the Victorian Chief Allied Health Officer would like us to express the definition of Urgent Clinical Care for our AHPRA-registered members.

Note: face-to-face appointments should only occur for urgent clinical care that cannot be deferred – routine face-to-face care is not permitted by may be provided via Telehealth.

Urgent Clinical Care:

  • that avoids a potential hospital admission or emergency department presentation
  • that prevents/delays the need for further specialist medical or surgical intervention
  • that prevents an increase in care needs that would necessitate additional carer supports or change in accommodation needs
  • that limits secondary post surgery
  • where deferral would lead to long term adverse consequences (ie. delays to child development).

We will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available.

12. 13 August 2021 - Metropolitan Melbourne Lockdown Extended

This is a quick announcement to confirm the Victorian government has extended the Metropolitan Melbourne lockdown by 7 days. The lockdown is now due to end at 11:59pm 19th August 2021.

We are confirming the Chinese Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture practitioners have been deemed under Allied Health by the Federal Chief Allied Health Officer, and can continue working in clinic if your client requires essential clinical care.

Practitioners who have the ability to consult via telehealth should do so. This includes Naturopaths, Nutritionists and Herbalists and anyone else who can feesably work via this method.

Restricted Activity Direction (Metropolitan Melbourne)

13. 9 August 2021 - Regional Victoria Restrictions Easing

This is a quick announcement for Regional Victoria, the restrictions are easing from 11:59pm tonight. Please read the Premier’s statement here.

The mask mandate is still in place and we will communicate to Victorian’s when Greater & Metro Melbourne restrictions are easing.

14. 6 August 2021 - Victorian Lockdown until 12 August 2021

AHPRA Members are considered registered health professionals and are able to work during this lockdown for essential clinical care only.

Regarding yesterday’s announcement of a 7 day lockdown in Victoria means that all members operating in Victoria must close from 8pm Thursday 5th August until 8pm Thursday 12th August, except by telehealth / virtual consultation only.

The Victorian government has stated that only services provided by “allied health professionals working in private or public community services, whether clinic-based or home-based, providing essential clinical care where telehealth services are not clinically appropriate” are permitted.

For this purpose, essential clinical care is defined as:

  • to prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs (e.g. an increase in frequency of treatment needed, an increased need for prescription medication due to a significant increase in pain, requirement for specialist input or review, an increase in care needs, and/or a substantial increase to anticipated recovery time associated with a delay in receiving services)
  • to provide assessment and diagnostic services to clients / patients whose care have been delayed as a result of previous restrictions, with any further delay likely to result in deterioration in functional independence or adverse health outcomes (including access to diagnostic imaging services or assessment for prescription of assistive equipment and technology)
  • to provide services that are essential as part of a broader plan of care with a medical practitioner (e.g. fitting a brace post-surgery)
  • to provide services that are part of a conservative management plan to avoid or delay elective surgery (as agreed with treating team)
  • to provide services immediately following elective surgery that prevent secondary complications or aid functional recovery (as agreed with treating team

Please note that routine care is not permitted.

To read the full statement from the Victorian government, please follow this link – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/seven-day-lockdown-keep-victorians-safe

We understand this next week will impact all of you, your businesses and your clients. We trust that this lockdown will serve the intended purpose and help minimise the risk of further cases in the community.

ANTA is here to support you however we can, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf, while providing you with updated information as it comes to hand.

15. 27 July 2021 - Restrictions Easing

This is a courtesy email to advise the Victorian restrictions ease from 11:59pm tonight. ANTA members are able to return to practice from tomorrow.

Restrictions

  • 1 person per 4 square metres
  • Masks are required
  • individual and small group (up to 10 people) exercise classes can resume with density quotient

16. 23 July 2021 - AHPRA-Regulated Allied Health

It is with pleasure we advise that late yesterday afternoon we received a notification from the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia that The Chief Allied Health Office has updated their website to include Chinese Herbal Medicine, which also includes Acupuncture.

Please see below what this means for members in each state:

SA: Chinese Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture can work if they operate from a Hospital

NSW: Chinese Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture can work in any location under any circumstance

VIC: Chinese Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture can work for essential clinical care. Please click this link to go through to a previous communication to see the points that determine “essential clinical care“.

This is a small win and something we can continue to reference into the future.

If there is anything further we can assist you with please feel free to contact us at info@anta.com.au.

17. 20 July 2021 - Victorian Restrictions Extended

Unfortunately, the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, has announced today that the Victorian Restrictions that were due to end tonight have been extended for another 7 days.

These restrictions will remain in place at least until 11:59pm Tuesday 27th July 2021. This means the current settings will continue during this extension.

Financial Assistance

Please visit the below links for different financial assistance that may be accessible to Victorian’s.

18. 16 July 2021 - Snap Lockdown for Victoria

Thank you for your patience and we apologise for the incorrect date on yesterday’s email as ANTA staff had not heard the press conference and was referencing the only written date provided by a media outlet.

The 5 day snap lockdown took effect from 11:59pm Thursday 15 July 2021 and is due to end at 11:59pm Tuesday 20 July 2021 – for the State of Victoria.

This is a Stage 4 lockdown. This means you can only leave your home for the following reasons (Stay At Home Directions [VIC] 2):

  • Shopping for necessary goods and services
  • Care and care giving, including medical care and getting COVID tested
  • Exercise (2 hours per day)
  • Authorised work and permitted study
  • COVID vaccination

You must stay within 5km of your home for shopping and exercise. This limit does not apply to work. If you live further than 5km from essential services, you may travel further to get these. Face masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors, except in your own residence or in your personal vehicle when alone.

This Stage 4 lockdown restricts all natural therapy practitioners, excluding AHPRA registered practitioners (conditions apply, see below), from working during these 5 days.

Authorised Health Services – Please visit this link for a list of authorised health services. Practitioners who are able to operate by telehealth should do so.

Medications and Supplements

A client can collect herbs and supplements without contact as it is considered for medical purposes, even outside of the 5km radius.

Home and Mobile Services

Under this stage 4 lockdown, this is not advised.

Telehealth

If you are unable to provide telehealth services from your home, you are able to provide this from your workplace provided you are alone.

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

The Victorian Chief Allied Health Officer has confirmed that AHPRA registered members are allowed to continue to operate under the same conditions as Allied Health professions who have clients who require essential clinical care:

  • to prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs (e.g. an increase in frequency of treatment needed, an increased need for prescription medication due to a significant increase in pain, requirement for specialist input or review, an increase in care needs, and/or a substantial increase to anticipated time associated with a delay in receiving services
  • to provide assessment and diagnostic services to clients/patients whose care have been delayed as a result of previous restrictions, with any further delay likely to result in deterioration in functional independence or adverse health outcomes (including access to diagnostic imaging services or assessment for prescription of assistive equipment and technology)
  • to provide services that are essential as part of a broader plan of care with a medical practitioner
  • to provide services that are part of a conservative management plan to avoid or delay elective surgery (as agreed with treating team)
  • to provide services immediately following elective surgery that prevent secondary complications or aid functional recovery (as agreed with treating team)

Routine Care is not permitted.

These restrictions have been implemented by the Victorian government on health advice by the Chief Health Officer.

If there is anything we can assist you with please contact us at info@anta.com.au or on 1800 817 577.

19. 15 July 2021 - Snap Lockdown for Victoria

The Victorian government has held a press conference this afternoon declaring a 5 day snap lockdown for Victoria. This lockdown is considered Stage 4 and will begin from 11:59pm Friday 16th July 2021. We will provide more detailed information tomorrow once the government website has been updated, to answer some of the specific inquiries we receive from members.

** Please hold off on emailing us or calling us on this topic until you have received our follow-up email tomorrow. **

20. 10 June 2021 - QR Code

QR Code

The Victorian government is requiring businesses to make available a QR code to their clients/customers for contact tracing purposes.

All businesses and venues are encouraged to use the Victorian Government QR Code Service for record-keeping. They are also recommending that businesses proactively encourage customers to check-in using the QR code.

We understand that some of you have lost clients in the past as a result of the QR Code check-in. Provided the code is available within your business, you do not need to force or argue with your client to check-in as you hold all of the relevant details about them for their appointment.

Mobile Services and Home-Based Services

From 11th June, mobile services and home-based services can resume. This must be done within the restrictions still in place during that time. Travel is restricted for metropolitan Melbourne to 25kms, metropolitan Melbourne cannot go into Regional Victoria, and Regional Victoria are not able to enter into metro Melbourne.

As always, we are here to help you were we can. If there is anything we can assist you with please contact us at info@anta.com.au or via phone on 1800 817 577.

21. 9 June 2021 - Lockdown ending Thursday 10th June 11:59pm

Following today’s announcements from the Victorian Acting Premier, the following changes have taken place:

Metropolitan Melbourne

From 11:59pm 10th June, individuals will be permitted to leave the home for any reason, but cannot travel to regional Victoria except for specific reasons.

Clinical practices will be permitted to open for standard services with a density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm. Face masks should be worn indoors at all times unless an exemption applies.

Indoor exercise classes are still not permitted. Outdoor exercise classes are permitted with a density quotient and a cap of 10 people per group.

Regional Victoria

From 11:59pm Thursday 10th June, individuals can leave the home for any reason, but cannot travel to Melbourne metropolitan areas except for specific reasons.

Clinical practices will remain open for standard services with a density quotient of 1 person per 4sqm.

Face masks must be worn indoors but may be removed during the delivery of services.

Indoor exercise classes are now permitted with a density quotient and a cap of 10 people per group.

Please follow this link to read the complete list changes that occur as of 10th June 2021. https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/statement-acting-premier-3

Further clarification is being sought for home and mobile-based services. We will provide a statement about this as soon as we can. We also expect to hear soon about mandatory implementation of government QR codes in all businesses.

ANTA continues to be here to support you however we can and we look forward to bringing further good news to you all soon.

22. Update: Lockdowns, Classifications, Collaborative Associations & NTREAP

Update: Lockdowns, Classifications, Collaborative Associations & NTREAP

The ANTA National Council have involved themselves in monitoring and reporting on the effects and levels of government support provided to ANTA practitioners affected by the fourth Lockdown in Victoria since February 2020.

Our staff and directors have formed an alliance with members and directors of other professional associations to learn and share their knowledge with like-minded administrators throughout the COVID 19 pandemic to understand the lockdown restrictions applied across Australia from the beginning of 2020 to the present time.

Through collaboration with the management, staff and board members of four other practitioner-based organisations we have a clearer picture of what can be achieved throughout restriction of clinical practices, business shutdowns and dealing with Health Departments across Australia. Association members have been subjected to category of worker changes that aligned them with workers unrelated to health service delivery, some of whom are subjected to more stringent lockdown measures in some states. The confusion that existed throughout state health departments was surprising when we considered the most referred to description within the National Code of Conduct clearly describes our members as “Health Care Workers” across Australia.

The National Code of Conduct embraced by most states and territories across Australia provides a title for all natural and traditional medicine therapists including but not limited to Remedial Massage and Myotherapists, Aromatherapists to Naturopaths, Nutritional Medicine/Clinical Nutrition Practitioners, Western and Chinese Medicine Herbalists and Acupuncturists across Australia. Five of the State and Territory based Health Complaints Commissions agree that the title of “Health Care Worker” is sufficient to encompass the practices of the Natural and Traditional Medicine community in almost all states and territories that have adopted this regulatory instrument as the “Negative Licensing” legislation applied to the ethical and professional practices of these health care providers.

It seems some state health departments had difficulty determining which category our health care worker; manual and natural therapists should be allocated to. This remains a mystery following the decision of the Council of Australian Government Ministers to allocate natural and manual medicine practitioners to the Health Care Worker category. This group of ministers is now known as the National Cabinet as of May 20, 2020.

Council Of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA)

The staff and Directors at ANTA are acutely aware that most ANTA members are Sole Traders, Contract Therapists, Tenants Under License, Business Partners or some other structure to allow them to function as small business operators. In addition to collaborating with like-minded associations and engaging an individual lobbyist, ANTA joined COSBOA to better understand business operators’ needs and how we can best support our members.

The ANTA Executive Officer attended a meeting called by COSBOA on Tuesday, 1st June this week to determine how they can approach State and Australian Governments with a stronger chance of achieving support for small business operators and sole traders across Victoria. It appears the Victorian Government is hearing the appeals for worker and business support. The same day the Acting Premier of Victoria announced and additional allocation for more than $200B to be added to the existing relief package in Victoria and address the broader workforce and business losses that are down to the latest lockdown.

It is obvious the meeting was timely and the lobbying power of organisations like COSBOA is formidable. The meeting addressed the shortfalls and anomalies that are occurring to exclude most of our members from financial support, it would seem progress has been made so that other ways of recognizing training standards for recipients have now been accepted as valid codes for recognizing authentic recipients. ANZSICS Codes (8539) have now been accepted as indicators to identify suitably trained health care workers in Victoria that may allow them to qualify for financial support packages and reach a broader section of ANTA’s membership going forward.

Professional Associations should represent their members to the highest authorities in the country. ANTA’s record for engaging in these campaigns is strong and will continue to develop through a robust board of directors representing your interests as members of ANTA.

Collaborative Associations

The confusion with the government categorisation of manual and natural therapists occurred to the detriment of many Health Care Workers across Australia in February 2020 and sparked the collaboration of four national practitioner associations across Australia. Our work is to ensure any further messages from state and territory health departments would be evaluated by members of the combined associations and a common thread developed so members from all associations would receive relevant, consistent and quality information country wide. This process included challenges to the health departments who did not abide by the titles written into the index legislation.

The professional collaboration has now grown to five associations that recently addressed other inconsistencies affecting the common interests of each association. This has led to breakthroughs in reducing certain practices affecting Private Health Fund rebates generally. Through their combined effort and pooling of resources the combined associations have agreed to a consistent standard of entry into their participating organisations. This document is being presented to Registered Training Organisations, to highlight gaps in training that appear to cause problematic clinical practices. These practices have resulted in an increasing number of therapists being audited, suspended and banned from providing health services for rebate from some health funds. In some cases therapists have been ordered to repay rebates received for services deemed ineligible for benefits. In other words, when a therapist processes a payment for a service they must ensure they have delivered a service listed by the fund so the rebate can be correctly allocated.

It is a matter of record that the private health funds have the means to track activities electronically and record levels of activity through individual clinics. This allows them to determine when an audit of a clinic should be started to examine the practices at that clinic and determine if all those services are related to the correct category of claims made.

Professional Association Initiatives

ANTA has continued to meet with peak bodies for Private Health Funds in Australia. ANTA has maintained contact with these bodies to maintain a collaborative effort to push for the abandonment of the cumbersome and costly “review of the review”” also known as the NTREAP – 2019.

This is the process initiated by the Chief Medical Officer to address the perceived failings of the NHMRC to address the standards they established for the initial Natural Therapy Review Advisory Committee (NTRAC) in 2014-15. This process has now continued since early April 2019 with no definitive outcomes, however the costs to taxpayers continue to accumulate without a perceivable benefit.

ANTA holds the view this latest, current review will not produce any appreciable changes to the outcomes produced in 2015. It is also the view of other prominent professional associations the repeat of a review under the leadership of the offices that produced the 2015 outcomes is unlikely to produce any essential or material changes to previous outcomes.

ANTA concludes that any decisions affecting the private health funds’ business should be the domain of the individual funds, otherwise it may appear any restrictions imposed are construed as restrictive practices where no evidence exists – the reasons given for banning alternative health practice rebates such as: These practices are unsafe, lack quality, are clinically inefficient and pose an ineffectiveness regarding the cost to the user.

The evidence that does exist shows these health care services and practices are safe, provide quality training through the Australian Government Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency criteria and satisfy user needs regarding cost effectiveness and clinical efficacy. ANTA is pursuing the termination of this conflation of two distinct forms of medicine being subjected to criteria and standards that are applicable only to one of them!

23. 2 June 2021 - Lockdown Extended for Melbourne & Eased for Regional Victoria

Metropolitan Melbourne

Today the acting Victorian premier released a statement outlining that the current lockdown in Victoria will continue for a further 7 days for the Melbourne Metropolitan area.

This means that unless you are an Allied Health practitioner providing a service in a private or public community services, whether clinic-based or home-based, providing essential clinical care where telehealth services are not appropriate, you are not permitted to operate in the Melbourne metro area until 11:59pm on Thursday 10th June.

Essentially, no change since the current restrictions were implemented on 27th May 2021.

Regional Victoria

Members in regional Victoria will be permitted to open from 11:59pm on Thursday 3rd June. There is still a requirement for you and your client to wear a mask at all times, and there is a density quotient of 1 person per 4sqm.

It is also required that the identification of each person entering your clinical premises is checked, to ensure they are not a resident from the Melbourne metro region.

Home-Based Clinic & Mobile Clinic (Regional Victoria)

Please note the ruling states that there can be no visitors to the home, either in Melbourne metropolitan areas or in regional Victoria. This means that home-based clinics or mobile Clinical services are not permitted to operate until Thursday 10th June at 11:59am, even in regional Victoria where some other services are permitted to operate from tomorrow.

Please refer to the following link for the full details – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/statement-acting-premier-2

Financial Assistance

The Victorian government has approached the Federal government to request that Job Seeker be reinstated as a result of the extended lockdown for Metropolitan Melbourne. Please keep an eye out for further information about this on the relevant government websites.

Please visit the link to access other Financial and Other Support for COVID-19 offered by the Victorian government. They have also mentioned that access to relief fund applications will be made available to Victorian’s from Thursday 3rd June. There will be up to $2,500 available for people locked down for the first 7 days, and up to $5,000 available for those continuing in the lockdown for the following 7 days. Please check the eligibility requirements on the government website for this funding also.

Metropolitan Melbourne

  • City of Banyule
  • City of Bayside
  • City of Boroondara
  • City of Brimbank
  • Shire of Cardinia
  • City of Casey
  • City of Darebin
  • City of Frankston
  • City of Glen Eira
  • City of Greater Dandenong
  • City of Hobsons Bay
  • City of Hume
  • City of Kingston
  • City of Knox
  • City of Manningham
  • City of Maribyrnong
  • City of Melbourne
  • City of Melton
  • City of Monash
  • City of Moonee Valley
  • City of Moreland
  • Shire of Mornington Peninsula
  • Shire of Nillumbik
  • City of Port Phillip
  • City of Stonington
  • City of Whitehorse
  • City of Whittlesea
  • City of Yarra
  • Shire of Yarra Ranges

24. 27 May 2021 - Victorian Lockdown

Regarding today’s announcement of a 7 day lockdown in Victoria means that all members operating in Victoria must close from 11:59pm tonight (Thursday) until 11:59pm next Thursday 3rd of June, except by telehealth / virtual consultation only.

The Victorian government has stated that only services provided by “allied health professionals working in private or public community services, whether clinic-based or home-based, providing essential clinical care where telehealth services are not clinically appropriate” are permitted.

Our members are not currently considered Allied Health professionals as per the https://ahpa.com.au/allied-health-professions/ definition.

To read the full statement from the Victorian government, please follow this link – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/statement-acting-premier-1

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Can treat under the following circumstances:

1. Scope of permitted practices (under lockdown):

• to prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs (e.g. an increase in frequency of treatment needed, an increased need for prescription medication due to a significant increase in pain, requirement for specialist input or review, an increase in care needs, and/or a substantial increase to anticipated recovery time associated with a delay in receiving services)

• to provide assessment and diagnostic services to clients / patients whose care have been delayed as a result of previous restrictions, with any further delay likely to result in deterioration in functional independence or adverse health outcomes (including access to diagnostic imaging services or assessment for prescription of assistive equipment and technology)

• to provide services that are essential as part of a broader plan of care with a medical practitioner (e.g. fitting a brace post-surgery)

• to provide services that are part of a conservative management plan to avoid or delay elective surgery (as agreed with treating team)

• to provide services immediately following elective surgery that prevent secondary complications or aid functional recovery (as agreed with treating team).

2.  Mask wearing requirements (i.e. wearing both indoors and outdoors)

3. Other cleaning and hygiene protocols between clients should continue to be adhered to

4. COVID Safe Plan must be in place

We understand this next week will impact all of you, your businesses and your clients. We trust that this circuit breaker will serve the intended purpose and help minimise the risk of further cases in the community.

ANTA is here to support you however we can, and we will continue to advocate on  your behalf, while providing you with updated information as it comes to hand.

25. 25 May 2021 - New Restrictions for Greater Melbourne

Please note that due to the most recent COVID cases in Melbourne, the following restrictions are in place (in Greater Melbourne) from 6pm 25th May 2021:

  1. Face Masks must be worn in all indoor spaces by anyone 12 years or older
  2. No more than 5 visitors in the home per day. This may impact therapists practicing from home-based clinics
  3. Public gatherings are limited to 30 people

Please ensure you have your COVID Safe Plan in place and are maintaining a high standard of hygiene and infection control. For more information about these restrictions, or any other matters relating to COVID, please phone the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 650 172.

26. 17 February 2021 - COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Lockdown Easing

This morning Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the current “Circuit Breaker” restrictions will be lifted from midnight tonight (17 February 2021).

This means that all practitioners can return to their workplaces as they were prior to Friday last week, with one addition. Masks are required to be worn at all times both indoor and outdoors. A client’s mask may be removed in the clinical setting where it is absolutely necessary to allow for assessment or treatment of the face. This rule is to be in place until midnight on Friday 26th of February 2021.

Please be sure to continue maintaining effective records of all people who enter your premises, and to ensure they are clear of any COVID-19 symptoms prior to arriving for their appointment.
A full list of the current restrictions can be found here.

27. 12 February 2021 - COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Lockdown

Victoria has today announced that a snap, circuit breaker lockdown will be enforced from 11:59pm Friday 12th February, 2021 until 11:59pm Wednesday 17th February, 2021.

The DHHS website has announced the following for health care professionals:

  • allied health services provided by allied health professionals working in private practice providing care through telehealth and other virtual care options.

This means that all therapists have to work from home via telehealth or other virtual options. If you cannot work via telehealth, then you are not permitted to work.

Face Masks

Face marks must be worn indoors and outdoors except if at home, or if an exemption applies.

Mobile Clinic Services

Mobile Clinic Services are unable to operate at this time. If you cannot work from home via telehealth, you are not permitted to work.

Information for Practitioners who Dispense Herbs

For those that dispense herbs, if you cannot make the formulas on site (i.e. at home), then the prescriptions will have to be organised through a dispensary and distributed through a courier or postal service.

Travel Limit

There is a 5km travel limit in place of primary residence. Please stay at home unless

  • Shopping for necessary goods and services (one person per household, per day)
  • Caregiving or compassionate reasons
  • Essential work or permitted education
  • Exercise (can leave for two hours of exercise)
  • Other specific reasons (specific exemptions apply)

For more information, please contact the DHHS here. For more information about the restrictions, see here.

28. 22 January 2021 - COVID-19 Restriction Update

Victoria has updated it’s restrictions on their coronavirus.vic.gov.au webiste, which are as follows.

Face Masks

From 11:59pm on Sunday 17th January 2021, face masks will no longer be mandatory in all public indoor settings.

They will be mandatory in the following locations:

  • on public transport
  • when riding in a ride share or taxi
  • in large retail stores (over 2,000sqm), such as department stores, electronic stores, furniture stores, hardware stores or supermarkets
  • inside shopping centres, including the retail stores inside shopping centres, such as clothing stores. (If you have a clinic inside a shopping centre, masks must be worn)
  • inside indoor markets
  • on domestic flights to and from Victoria
  • at airports
  • in hospitals
  • when working in or visiting hospitals and care facilities (if you have clients in aged care facilities, you will need to wear a mask).

You must always carry a face mask with you when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason not to. It is also recommended you wear a mask if you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others.

Working from Home

You must have a COVIDSafe Plan in place, and the work space is subject to the density quotient and cleaning requirements as per other work settings.

Home-based businesses no longer require a discrete work area in order to operate, subject to the restrictions of their industry.

Mobile Clinic Services

At this time, the Victorian government has not been clear about this activity, however, based on the information relating to other industries, access to private residences, face masks and the ability to now work from a home-based business, it appears that the government will allow this service. You should use your own discernment in relation to wearing a mask. It is not required in a private residence, but if you are entering a residence that is not your own you should consider the ability to control the environment and whether you should be wearing a mask.

29. 26 October 2020 - COVID-19 Victorian Return to Work Date!

This afternoon Premier Daniel Andrews made extensive announcements regarding the easing of restrictions.

We are thrilled to notify you that Melbourne metropolitan therapists will able to return to working in their clinical practices from Wednesday 28th of October (Tues 11:59pm).

The wait has been long and taxing and we fully appreciate that our Victorian, and especially our Melbourne community has had a very tough time.

A full run down of the most up to date statement can be found here – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/statement-premier-79

As per our previous email, please make sure your COVID-Safe plan is up to date and that you are prepared with the appropriate PPE as you return to practice.

Home Based Clinics

Update here from the Chief Allied Health Officer.

To operate a ‘business from the home’, the owner/practitioner of the business must ensure their compliance with Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions as follows;

  • The residential premise must be registered as a business premise and have a COVID-safe plan in place
  • A separate entry/exit point must be available for patients/clients to access the premise
  • Patients/clients cannot access any shared facilities in the owner/practitioner’s place of residence – including bathrooms/toilets and foyer areas
  • Density quotients, physical distancing and PPE requirements remain applicable
  • Patients/clients must wear a face covering for the duration of the intervention/treatment – the only exception being where a patient/client is legally exempt from the requirement to wear a face covering as per DHHS directives; https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-vic-covid-19#exceptions-for-not-wearing-a-face-mask

PPE Requirements

Recent changes to the requirements for PPE in clinical setting has meant that therapists are not required to wear eye coverings / face shields in addition to face masks, unless the therapist is in a high risk setting or dealing with high risk clients.

If you are ensuring your clients have been appropriately screened for COVID symptoms and you are not performing any therapeutic interventions that would put you in a situation where body fluid could come in contact with your face, then it is not considered necessary to wear face shields.

However, it is mandatory to wear disposable face masks at all time and of course to ensure that appropriate cleaning activities are performed at regular intervals. Please also ensure you have an up to date COVID-Safe plan in place.

Mobile Clinic Services

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has not as yet provided specific details on the suitability of home (or other) visits by therapists. However, by applying the requirements regarding hygiene and infection control, having a COVID-Safe plan for the clinical environment and other guidelines for the safe delivery of therapeutic services, it does not at this time seem to be appropriate that ANTA members would deliver their services in this manner. Please refrain from providing your services in your clients home / hotel room or other locations until such time that the government has provided further guidance.

As always, we are here and ready to support you in any way that we can.

30. 26 October 2020 - COVID-19 Victoria

As you would be well aware, announcements we had all expected to receive on Sunday about the easing of restrictions and an opening up of various industries did not occur as planned.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews cited a number of outstanding results related to the northern suburbs outbreak as being the reason for delaying these announcements. He did however state that the current plans (yet to be outlined) are likely to still be delivered as planned. This means Melbourne metropolitan (non-registered/non-AHPRA) therapists may be able to return to their clinical practices within the next week. The exact date is yet to be confirmed, but as soon as it has been made clear, we will be sure this information is provided to you.

In Sunday’s statement there were some changes made to regional Victoria’s restrictions, which are outlined here – https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/third-step-restrictions-regional-victoria-covid-19 – PDF document on the regional Victorian restrictions at the bottom of the statement.

For now, we encourage you all to ensure your COVID-Safe plans are complete and up to date, that you are continuing to utilise the required PPE (disposable face mask and eye covering), maintaining a high standard of infection control and keeping accurate records of any individual who enters your premises.

ANTA continues to advocate for you and to provide accurate and current information to you, to the very best of our abilities. We thank you all for the incredible show of community strength that Victoria has displayed and we trust that all of those clients who have waited so long to once again receive your valuable services will be incredibly grateful.

31. 19 October 2020 - COVID-19 Victoria

Following on from the Victorian state Premier’s announcement yesterday, we have been working hard to gain further clarity about the new rules and how they apply to our members.

At this point in time, it has been determined that AHPRA registered practitioners can return to standard clinical care.

The latest advice we have received for our non-AHPRA registered practitioners is that the restrictions that applied prior to yesterday, still apply for now. (I.e. that clients would still need to have a chronic disease care plan, and be requiring care that would prevent a significant change/deterioration in their functional independence).

This is very disappointing and we will continue to push for change that more accurately represents the value that your services provide to the community.

While we expect that from November 1st there will be further easing of these restrictions, we understand that another two weeks is a very long time with regard to your clients and their care. So we’ll keep you up to date with any further developments as they occur.

32. 16 October 2020 - COVID-19 Victoria

We know and understand the frustrations you have been experiencing with regard to the restrictions that have existed for therapists in the Melbourne metropolitan area.

This Sunday we are expecting some announcements to be made by the Victorian government about an easing of restrictions in both Melbourne metro and in the broader regional Victoria. While we had been expecting to see Melbourne move to the same stage 3 restrictions that regional Victoria are currently experiencing, it appears that this will not be the case. Instead there will some changes made but the degree to what those changes will include remains to be seen on Sunday.

It may be the case that whatever announcements are made by the Victorian Premier on Sunday in his press conference, may not be detailed enough to clearly spell out the degree to which those changes may impact you and your practices specifically. We will do everything we can to clarify if and how any changes to restrictions will affect you. If we can achieve any further information on Sunday, we will share these on the  ANTA Facebook page. Failing that, we commit to providing you with a statement by email on Monday morning after 11am AEDT.

33. 29 September 2020 - COVID-19 Victoria

Today a meeting was conducted by the Chief Allied Health Officer and other government departments to provide further clarification on the current status of allied health and other practices in Victoria.

For regional Victoria, the same rules still apply, in that face-to-face clinical practice is permitted for all AHPRA registered and non-AHPRA registered practitioners, providing appropriate PPE is used and that there is a COVID Safe plan in place. You can access the resources needed for COVID Safe plans here – https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/covidsafe-plan?fbclid=IwAR1-0NGCwvWS7Yn06262FByi01hrpb7jjvh2HG16yr681tqFRqArEo0Bad0
Where possible, Telehealth / Virtual consults are recommended.

For Melbourne metro, there are no changes for non-AHPRA registered practitioners expected until October 19th, at which time Melbourne expects to move to the same rules as regional Victoria currently has in place.

Currently non-AHPRA registered practitioners can only see clients face to face if they fall under the category of providing services that are part of a patient’s endorsed care plan (Work Cover, NDIS), AND where these therapies are needed to help prevent a significant deterioration in functional independence, resulting in an escalation of care needs (such as increased frequency in treatment, significant increase in pain, specialist input, or substantial increase in recovery time as a result of delayed care).

AHPRA registered practitioners in addition to Social Work, Speech Pathology, Dietetics, Audiology, Exercise Physiologists, Orthotists and Prosthetists are able to practice face to face but only under very specific circumstances outlined here…

  • Prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs (e.g. an increase in frequency of treatment needed, an increased need for prescription medication due to a significant increase in pain, requirement for specialist input or review, an increase in care needs, and/or a substantial increase to anticipated recovery time associated with a delay in receiving services)
  • Provide assessment and diagnostic services to clients/patients whose care has been delayed as a result of Stage 4 restrictions, with any further delay likely to result in deterioration in functional independence or adverse health outcomes (including access to diagnostic imaging services or assessment for prescription of assistive equipment and technology)
  • Provide services that are essential as part of a broader plan of care with a medical practitioner (e.g. fitting a brace post-surgery)
  • Provide services that are part of a conservative management plan to avoid or delay elective surgery (as agreed with treating team)
  • Provide services immediately following elective surgery that prevent secondary complications or aid functional recovery (as agreed with treating team).

Routine care is not yet permitted.
Indoor group classes are not permitted.

More information about restrictions can be found here – https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-sector-guidance-health-care-and-social-assistance

And there is also an opportunity to for you view a Webinar update by the Department of Health on the topic of Primary and Allied Health, tomorrow (30th Sept) at 11:30am AEST here – https://publish.viostream.com/app/s-n9bif9i?fbclid=IwAR1HO8XQ_PxxMJQTZNNLWo8SqsKyz5mMDShXiR5hGcLWblWQtAM94rdqrwc

We deeply appreciate the challenges that these restrictions are placing on so many of you, and we will continue to provide you information as it comes to hand

34. 17 September 2020 - COVID-19 Victoria

Today a statement was released (see attached) from the Chief Allied Health Officer, Donna Markham regarding some minor changes to the ruling around allied health services in the Melbourne metro region.

Essentially, the statement reads that all AHPRA registered practitioners, in addition to audiology, dietetics, exercise physiology, orthotists and prosthetists, social work and speech pathology now have two additional situations where it would be considered appropriate to see a patient. These include assessment or diagnostics (for imaging or for the purpose of assistive technology) where further delay would result in deterioration, or to provide essential pre-operative or post-operative elective surgery care.

These reasons are in addition to the previously stated reason – To prevent a significant deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs (such as increased frequency in treatment, significant increase in pain, specialist input, or substantial increase in recovery time as a result of delayed care)

For non-AHPRA registered practitioners, the reasons for seeing patients remain mostly unchanged, in that they may only provide face to face services which would prevent a significant deterioration in functional independence resulting in an escalation of care needs (such as increased frequency in treatment, significant increase in pain, specialist input, or substantial increase in recovery time as a result of delayed care) for those people who are on an endorsed care plan.

To further clarify, this does not mean if a patient obtains a GP referral for treatment that they can see a non-AHPRA registered practitioner. They must have an endorsed care plan AND be presenting with a case that would otherwise seriously deteriorate, impact their ability to care for themselves and require specialist care.

Government modelling suggests that it will likely be around the 26th of October when Melbourne metropolitan practitioners will be able to return to seeing patients for more general purposes.

We understand the frustration of this situation and the strain it is putting on all of our Melbourne members, and we will continue to be here to support and provide up to date information for you as it becomes available. We are also vigilant in our role to seek out opportunity to contribute to government level conversations and exert influence where we can, to ensure all of our members can return to practice safely as soon as possible.

35. 16 Septmeber 2020 - COVID-19 Victoria

We welcome the announcement that regional Victoria will take the Third Step to reopening at 11:59pm tonight, Wednesday 16 September 2020. This will continue the loosening of social restrictions for regional Victoria.

The right to practice for natural therapists in regional Victoria will continue as has been the case under Stage 3 restrictions. Full details on the Third Step details are available here: https://www.vic.gov.au/third-step-coronavirus-road-to-recovery.

For our Melbourne Metro members, we are hopeful that there will be further announcements soon that may indicate some good news for all. As always, ANTA is here for our members and will continue to do everything we can to ensure you are kept updated and informed about changes as they occur.

36. 7 September 2020 - COVID-19 Victoria

To all our Victorian members, we appreciate the difficult and challenging time you are all facing right now. With yesterday’s announcement from the Victorian Premier, a timeline and criteria for the easing of restrictions has been set. While we will still be seeking further clarity and asking more specific questions of government, it is fair to say that at this point, the following assumptions can be made.

Melbourne Metro – Current restrictions on clinical practice stand until 26thof October, assuming other infection rate criteria are also met. Transition from “heavily restricted” to “restricted” at that time (more info to come).

Regional Victoria – Current clinical practice requirements/ restrictions stand until Victoria records no new cases state wide for 28 days, no active cases state wide, and no outbreaks of concern in other states.

ANTA will continue to provide updated information as it comes to hand.
We wish you all the very best and remind you that we are here to support you in any way we can.

37. 7 August 2020 [3pm] - Further Information for Victorian Practitioners

Further to ANTA’s email this morning, additional information has been added on the DHHS website in relation to the COVID-Safe Plan, please see below.

 

COVID-Safe Plan for ALL of Victoria

DHHS Victoria has provided a statement that the Public Health Commander requires a COVID-Safe Plan to be in place for ALL permitted workplaces across Victoria which have more than 5 employees. This applies to regional Victoria also.

The requirement is to have COVID-Safe plans in place by 11:59pm on Friday 7th of August 2020. We understand that this is very late notice, but the statement has just been provided to us, such is the nature of this evolving situation.

ANTA also recommends that employers put a COVID-Safe Plan in place regardless of the number of employees they have, so that they can demonstrate due diligence with regard to hygiene and safety, and be prepared in case the ruling changes.

This is the link to follow to source the required information – https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/covid-safe-business/covid-safe-plan

For additional support on this matter, please phone the Business Victoria Hotline on 13 22 15.

Information for Practitioners Who Dispense Herbs

Please see the following link and note that “community-based health services” which include allied health and others are permitted to operate at this time; https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/health-care-and-social-assistance-restrictions-covid-19

However, we need to be clear that this does not mean that those services are able to deliver face-to-face consultations with clients, and should only be dispensed via post to avoid contact.

Each person attending the workplace will need to have a Permitted Worker Permit provided by the employer, or if self-employed https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/permitted-worker-scheme-covid-19

*Note – except in situations where staff and/or practitioners themselves are required onsite to dispense herbal remedies, we recommend that staff and/or practitioners only work from home.

38. 7 August 2020 - URGENT Update for ALL Victorian Practitioners

We have once again been working closely with our allies (Myotherapy Association Australia, Massage & Myotherapy Australia and Australian Traditional Medicine Society) to provide accurate and up-to-date information for you all. The following is the current situation with regard to Victorian members.

Regional Victorian members:
Your stage 3 restrictions permit you to continue practising at this time, but we do urge you to exercise a high level of caution with regard to clients you accept, ensuring they are adequately screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their appointment, that appropriate hygiene processes are adhered to, and that both you and your client are wearing a mask at all times.

Melbourne metropolitan members:
Stage 4 restrictions are aligned to Victoria’s current State of Disaster and are understandably focused on saving and protecting the lives of all Victorians through restricting non-essential movement across the State.

Under the ‘Permitted Work Premises for the purposes of the Restricted Activity Directions (Restricted Areas)’ instructions, if you provide critical Allied Health services within the context of an ‘approved workplace’, such as a public or private hospital, you can continue to deliver this service/s without issue.

If you operate as a private practitioner or within an Allied Health private practice setting, you (or your employer) will need to ensure that your patients/clients fit within the prescribed inclusion criteria for an ‘essential’ service; see here.

‘All AHPRA registered health workers – and in addition, social work, speech pathology, dietetics and any other health worker required to fulfill a care plan endorsed by NDIS, TAC, Workcover or DVA –  to provide services that prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence necessitating escalation of care (e.g. a requirement for specialist input/review, an increase in care needs and/or alternate accommodation, avoiding a hospital admission or emergency department presentation)’.

What does this mean for you??
1. Routine services are not permitted.

2. Care must only be provided if the absence of, or delay of this care, would result in a significant change/deterioration in the patient/client’s functional independence necessitating escalation of care – as described above.  These directives are about protecting the public and protecting health workers.  Practitioners must critically consider if the service is essential for the patient/client in the next 6 week period.  This is about saving lives.

3. Services provided by ‘any other health worker’ (i.e. those not AHPRA registered excluding social work, speech pathology or dietetics) may only provide care to someone with an endorsed plan and only if that service is preventing a significant deterioration in functional independence.  Again, the intent is about saving lives.

4. Please note you do not require a medical referral to provide care.

5. There are also no restrictions on the delivery of Allied Health services via Telehealth.  We would encourage private practitioners to consider using Telehealth / virtual consultations where at all possible so that patients/clients can continue to benefit from their Allied Health services.

The upshot is that unless your client has a medically endorsed care plan, and if their presentation/condition is considered critical, i.e. to maintain functional independence and stay out of the hospital, then you are not permitted to treat them face to face at this time.

We very much appreciate that these restrictions will mean that closing your practices, for now, will be the only option for many Melbourne-based therapists. Your association is here for you at this time and we will continue to advocate for you in every way we can.

Stay safe and take care of one another.

39. 1 May 2020 - Manual Therapists as Essential Services

Joint Association Statement

To all of our members, we write to you today feeling positive and grateful for the results achieved thus far in clarifying the position that our professions hold in the broader health care landscape.
To date, we now have formal confirmation from all states and territories that Myotherapy and Remedial Massage are deemed essential services!These outcomes have occurred as the result of countless hours of communication and advocacy, and we are very pleased that our combined efforts have achieved an improved standing for Remedial Massage and Myotherapy across the country.
This demonstrates clearly that YOU provide an essential service that helps to keep our country moving and healthy.

Thank you very much to all of you who continue to provide support and encouragement for one another and for your association, it is only through this positive and proactive attitude that anything great is achieved.

We look forward to continuing to provide a voice and a united front for you all as we work through this period and into the future.

Please click here to view the email correspondence received from the Tasmanian COVID-19 Emergency Coordination Centre, Department of Health.

To access current state and territory statements regarding your profession, please refer to:State by State Rulings.

Friday, 1st May 2020

Joint Associations,
ANTA, Massage and Myotherapy Austraia, ATMS and Myothearpy Association Australia

40. 25 April 2020 - Manual Therapy Practitioner Update

In what can only be described as a roller-coaster of emotions over the past month, we, the Australian Natural Therapists Association are absolutely elated to announce Myotherapy is permitted in every state and Remedial Massage is permitted in every state except Tasmania. We are hopeful that we will also have a green light from Tasmania shortly.

These results have not come about by chance. This is the result of an immense amount of advocacy, conversations with all state and territory departments and ministers, emails, carrier pigeons, you name it, we used it. This is also the result of 4 of our major industry associations, ANTA, ATMS, Massage and Myotherapy and us, MA coming together to provide one VERY LOUD voice. And it cannot go without being said that this is also the result of you, our members, strongly standing behind what you do, ensuring that your work is understood as an essential health service, contacting your own state and territory departments, and being proud to say, this is who we are, this is what we do, this is why we are essential.

Updated State Ruling Document

41. 22 April 2020 - Continuing to Advocate for our Industry

Joint Association Statement

We continue to advocate on your behalf – our members, our community.

Together as industry associations ANTA, ATMS, Massage & Myotherapy and MA have been working on behalf of our members, asking all State and Territory governments to clarify whether remedial massage and myotherapists can continue to practice during Coronavirus restrictions.

One by one, governments have come back to us with sensible responses that allow essential healthcare services, such as remedial massage, myotherapy and soft tissue therapy to continue caring for patients.

In a victory for common sense, yesterday, the Queensland government responded to our member advocacy permitting these services to operate. Their updates to the Directive can be read here.

We will continue to strive for more clarity for Tasmania and South Australia and will provide updates as they become available.

You can find a full summary of the state-by-state rulings for all modalities below.

State by State Rulings

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020

Joint Associations,
ANTA, Myotherapy Association Australia, ATMS and Massage and Myotherapy Australia

42. 17 April 2020 - Joint Association Statement | Manual Therapists

Joint Association Statement

Since our first joint statement on 26th March 2020, the landscape continues to be ever changing. The joint Associations have been working tirelessly in order to provide all members the facts and will continue to seek clarity from both Federal and State Governments as to the direction orders for Therapeutic, Remedial Massage and Myotherapy services in each individual state.

As of today, 17th April 2020, the following is a summary of what has been received in writing from the different states and territories:

The following states and territories have confirmed that remedial massage and myotherapy members are permitted to provide professional services at this time:

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia

The following states have confirmed that remedial massage and myotherapy are not permitted to provide professional services, at this time:

  • Queensland
  • Tasmania

We continue to seek clarification from South Australia.

Obtaining the facts as they stand on a day-to-day basis has been achieved as a result of the efforts of the combined Association initiative between the Australian Natural Therapies Association (ANTA), Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS), Myotherapy Association Australia (MAA) & Massage & Myotherapy Australia (M&MA). We thank you for continuing to support the work that your association is doing at this time, and stay united as a community of health care providers.

Please view THIS DOCUMENT to verify the rulings state by state. This document will be updated as any new information comes to hand.

Friday, 17th April 2020

Joint Association,
ANTA, Massage and Myotherapy Australia, ATMS, Myotherapy Association Australia

43. 9 April 2020 - COVID-19 Update | Remedial & Myotherapy

Joint Association Statement

It certainly has been a challenging time for our profession over the past few weeks.

We hope that you can find confidence in the fact that four major associations are continuing to work closely in an effort to obtain more clarity on government directions, greater unity within our industry, and a stronger positioning of our members as important contributors to the health care setting.

Every day presents us with a new challenge to tackle. We know that some of you are grappling with your decisions to close or not close your practices at this time, while others have been directed by their state government to close due to local restrictions.

Please note that we are working constantly to ensure you have the most current information available, and that the relevant stakeholders in the various government departments are well informed of the services being provided by our members and the benefits that they provide the community.

It is at times like this that being a member of an industry association that exists to support and advocate for its members is most important, and we take that role very seriously. Thank you for your faith in us and for allowing us to work for you at this time.

As we approach the Easter weekend, an Easter like no other we have experienced before, please remember to keep supporting your colleagues, industry, friends and family, be respectful, patient and kind. We are all in this together and will come through the other side stronger, united and proud for the remarkable services we provide.

Thank you.

9th April 2020

Joint Associations,
ANTA, Massage and Myotherapy Australia, Myotherapy Association Australia and ATMS

44. 31 March 2020 - Latest Update - Remedial Massage & Myotherapy

Joint Association Statement

As the COVID -19 situation persists through March and into April 2020 affecting members and industry nationwide, we trust that these joint statements are of assistance. The joint statements aim to help all our members better understand the COVID -19 situation as it applies to massage and myotherapy in the face of unclear interpretations of the term “massage parlour” across a range of jurisdictions.

The Australian Government has described a healthcare setting as an essential indoor gathering. At this stage it is apparent that directives to specific health service providers are being informed state by state, further adding to the confusion.

While services provided by remedial massage and myotherapists currently fall within this category (an essential indoor gathering) in some states (see below for state directive) we encourage you to consider the risk environment and public safety when making decisions about whether you are providing to your patients’ essential services within those states and territories yet to provide a clear directive.

You would have received the email or social media message advising that we continue to seek clarity or a single definition from both Federal and State Government as to the exclusion of these health services. This is important now and in the future to establish a definitive and clear message. In the interim ARHG support the position of their participating health funds in removing access to the Hicaps facility until the government advises that the virus is contained. They have further advised that claims submitted by other means will be reviewed carefully and audited if necessary.

Police is some States are instructing some therapists that are open to close down but not in others.

It is important to note that Associations have no legal authority to tell you to open or close. We can only provide members with the guidance and advice from confirmed sources which we will continue to do.

As of today, Tuesday 31st March, we are advised Massage and Myotherapy are considered non-essential services in  Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Victoria, and therefore remedial massage therapists and myotherapists in those states should cease face-to-face practice immediately.

Until absolute clarity can be demonstrated such as in Queensland and Victoria please co-operate with any instructions from Police and do not put your business or self at further risk.

31st March 2020

Sincerely,

Joint Associations
ANTA, Massage and Myotherapy Australia, Myotherapy Association Australaia and ATMS

45. 27 March 2020 - COVID-19 | Joint Association Statement

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for all of you.

We have joined together to issue this joint statement to help all of our members better understand the current situation as it applies to massage and myotherapy.

Our Boards and staff are working very hard to bring you factual, up-to-date information relevant to your practices. Given the ever-changing nature of the current situation, we are fact-checking before we communicate with you. This means we are in regular communication with State, Territory and Federal government departments and Ministers to clarify the situation for our members. They all have a lot of responsibilities right now and we respect the time it takes for them to respond.

Please be patient and respectful with our staff. We are working through our enquiries as quickly as we can.

Latest Update

QLD Health Department released a statement late on Thursday 26th March, outlining that exemptions to continue work applies to Health services provided by health practitioners registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, with social distancing observed to the extent possible.

On 26 March, we attended a briefing with the Principal Medical Advisor at the Department of Health. Key messages from that briefing are:

  • government encourages healthcare workers to continue working, to help ease the pressure on our hospital system; and
  • where you don’t need a face-to-face consultation, government encourages audiovisual consultations.

Please find a letter from the Department of Health here.(File no longer available)

  1. This week, the private health funds contacted us to ask us to help them with policies on audiovisual consultations for health practitioners during Covid-19. We are collating evidence to help the health funds formulate appropriate audiovisual consultation policies during this time.
  2. So far, government has listed activities that are not allowed. Our understanding is that if you are not on that list, you do not have to shut. However, we are actively pursuing this with government and will let you know as soon as we have an answer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Close My Practice?

This is the number one question from our members and there are no black and white answers.

The short answer is that we cannot advise that you are required to close your business. Government encourages healthcare workers to continue working, to help ease the pressure on our hospital system.

You need to consider your own personal situation when deciding whether to close your practice. You, or someone you live with, may have healthcare concerns that make it prudent for you to limit your physical interaction with others.

Government is asking practitioners to refrain from using masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and help conserve stocks for hospitals and other higher need areas.

Whatever decision you make, always remember to respect government advice on Covid-19 hygiene.

Am I Covered by my Professional Indemnity Insurer to Continue Practicing?

Our insurers have confirmed that you are covered as long as you:

  • practice within your scope;
  • follow all the latest government Covid-19 advice; and
  • keep comprehensive notes.

Here are some resources to help you and your patients with Covid-19 hygiene:

 

Can I Provide Audiovisual Consultations?

Remedial Massage – it is difficult to see how massage could be provided remotely. However, you may choose to provide your clients with some stretches, exercises if in scope, or self-manage tips to help them.

Myotherapy – Yes, you can provide audiovisual consultations to your clients. In fact, where you don’t need a face-to-face consultation, government encourages audiovisual consultations.

You are insured, as long as you practice within your scope of practice and keep comprehensive notes. Insurance providers are suggesting that, where possible, initial consultations should still occur face-to-face, as it may be more challenging to perform an initial client assessment online.

On 26 March, private health funds do NOT provide rebates for audiovisual consultations. It is important that you tell your clients this so there are no misunderstandings later.

Please note – we are working with private health funds in the hope of implementing rebates for audiovisual consultation services.

Where Do I Access Information About Financial Help?

There are a lot of resources out there that you can access.
This information focuses on help available for small businesses. Here is another link.

We want to reassure you again that we are here for you and doing everything we can to bring you fact-checked information as it becomes available.

Thursday, 26th March 2020

ANTA – Elizabeth Greenwood, President  |  Jim Olds, Executive Officer

Myotherapy Association Australia – Nick Steward, President  |  Anna Yerondais, CEO

ATMS – Peter Berryman, President  |  Charles Wurf, CEO

Massage and Myotherapy Australia – Andrew Gallagher, President  |  Tricia Hughes, CEO