Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Government support for care providers and workers



 

As with most industries, the disability and aged care sectors are facing unprecedented challenges during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Commonwealth, state and territory governments have issued a range of measures to support disability and aged care providers and workers through this time.

The primary source of information is the Australian Government’s dedicated website Australia.gov.au.

Information for businesses can be found at Business.gov.au.

Information related to the NDIS

 

Information related to aged care

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 11 February 2021.

Australian Government measures

Measure: COVID-19 vaccination rollout
Description:
The Australian Government has released the COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy.


Measure: NDIS Disaster Response

Description:
A package for providers that includes:

Measure: Funding boost to support aged care – First Announcement (Department of Health)
Description:
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck has outlined measures to protect residents, staff and their families at facilities across the country. These include: 

      • Upskilling aged care workers in coronavirus infection control;
      • Boosting staff numbers, support and training for residential care homes where an urgent health response is required;
      • Telehealth consultation service provided by both GPs and specialists, for anyone over the age of 70; and
      • Specialist onsite pathology services ensuring residents don’t have to leave facilities and to quickly respond to potential cases.
      • Further information can be found in the following link:

Measure: Funding boost to support aged care – Second Announcement (Department of Health)
Description:
A second funding boost was announced by the Australian Government in March 2020. Funding allocations include: 

      • $234.9 million for a COVID-19 ‘retention bonus’ to ensure the continuity of the workforce for staff in both residential and home care;
      • $78.3 million in additional funding for residential care to support continuity of workforce supply;
      • $26.9 million to supplement the viability of residential aged care facilities (including National Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Program and Multi-Purpose Services and homeless providers);
      • $92.2 million in additional support to home care providers and organisations which deliver the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) including for services such as Meals on Wheels; and
      • $12.3 million to support myagedcare to respond to the needs of older Australians.
      • Further information can be found in the following link:

Measure: Updated regulatory response to infection control in aged care
Description:
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has updated its regulatory response to COVID-19. It has adjusted its routine regulatory activities so as to minimise infection risks to aged care consumers, staff and our own employees. This means adjusting its approach to fulfilling regulatory responsibilities and limiting site visits to those that are absolutely necessary on the basis of the Commission’s assessment of risk. Key elements include: 

      • The Commission will notify the provider in advance and ensure that its practices are tailored and compliant with infection control requirements; 
      • The Commission will undertake assessment contacts with services by telephone to monitor and support the quality of care and services to consumers;
      • If a provider has an upcoming reaccreditation audit, the Commission is making arrangements to ensure continuity of accreditation during this period;
      • The Commission has developed an online self-assessment tool to support providers to evaluate their infection control program; and
      • The Commission is continuing to work closely with the Department of Health and with the sector to develop further practical tools to assist providers as new information becomes available.
      • Further information can be found in the following link: 

Measure: Aged care preparedness (PPE supplies in aged care)
Description:
Aged care providers that require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must now email agedcarecovidppe@health.gov.au for all requests.

      • Requests can be made by aged care services and any workers providing support to people receiving aged care support living in the community.
      • The Department of Health will triage the request to determine priority and may be in contact with the requester for further information.
      • Once approved the request for supplies will be shared with the National Incident Room who will work with the requester’s State or Territory Government to distribute the supplies.
      • For a list of information requirements to be included in the request email, please use the following link: 

Measure: Cash flow assistance – boosting cash flow for employers
Description:

      • The Australian Government will support small and medium-sized businesses to manage cash flow challenges via a tax-free payment to small and medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ workers. This measure will provide up to $25,000 back to employers, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses.
      • Further information can be found in the following link:

Measure: Economic Response to Coronavirus – supporting apprentices and trainees 
Description:

The Government is extending and expanding the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy. 

      • The subsidy will be available to support small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 200 employees, including those using a Group Training Organisation, who retain an apprentice or trainee.
      • Support for small business is available for wages paid from 1 January 2020 – 30 September 2020.
      • For small and medium business who retain an Australian Apprentice engaged as at 1 July 2020, eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of an apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021, up to a cap of $7,000 per quarter.
      • Employers of any size, including Group Training Organisations, that re-engage an eligible out-of-trade apprentice or trainee will also be eligible for the subsidy.
      • Further information can be found in the following link:

Measure: JobKeeper Payment
Description:

      • Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by COVID-19 will be able to access a wage subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. 
      • Affected employers (including not for profits) will be able to claim a fortnightly payment per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, until 28 March 2021.
      • The existing JobKeeper Payment will remain in place until 27 September 2020. From 28 September 2020, the JobKeeper Payment will be targeted to businesses and not-for-profits that have been most significantly impacted, the payment rates will be stepped-down and two tiers of payment will be introduced. 
      • For further information, including eligibility and application requirements, please refer to the following link:

Measure: Increased Income Support
Description:
The Government has temporarily increased eligibility for income support payments, including the JobSeeker Payment. From 1 January 2021 the Coronavirus Supplement will be $150 per fortnight until 31 March 2021. 

Measure: SME Guarantee Scheme
Description:
From 1 April 2020 the federal government will guarantee 50% of new loans, up to $250k, issued by eligible lenders to small and medium entities.

Measure: ATO administrative concessions for businesses affected by the coronavirus
Description: 
Some of these may be available to businesses who contact the ATO:

      • Deferral of income tax and GST payments;
      • PAYG instalment variation;
      • Change of business reporting cycle to monthly where GST refunds are available;
      • Remission of interest and penalties on tax liabilities incurred after 23 January 2020 for COVID-19 affected businesses;

The ATO may apply a low interest payment plan on ongoing tax liabilities for affected businesses.

Measure: Instant asset write-off
Description: 
Immediate deduction for assets costing less than $150k for business with aggregated annual turnover of <500m. On 9 June 2020, the Government announced a six month extension to the Instant Asset Write-Off to 31 December 2020.

Measure: Accelerated depreciation until 30 June 2021
Description:
Accelerated depreciation deductions (50% on installation) for businesses with aggregated annual turnover of <500m.

Measure: Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
Description:
Government is temporarily increasing the threshold which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company ($5,000 -> $20,000), and time companies have to respond from personal liability for trading while insolvent.

Measure: Support for sole traders
Description:
The Australian Government has measures to support sole traders who do have any employees, including providing access to the JobKeeper Payment for Sole Traders, Backing Business Investment (BBI), income support payments, and SME Guarantee Scheme. 

Measure: Medicare support for telehealth services
Description:
The Australian Government will expand Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for Australians.
Note, NDIS services can also be delivered via teletherapy. There is no separate line item, billing is the same as for a face-to-face session.

Measure: Paid Pandemic leave for some awards  
Description:
The Fair Work Commission has extended access to paid pandemic leave, which will be available to eligible residential aged care employees covered by the Aged Care Award, Nurse Award and Health Service Award.

Measure: Unpaid pandemic leave & annual leave changes to awards
Description: 
The Fair Work Commission has recently extended the unpaid pandemic leave. There are different end dates for the extended unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave provisions in each award.

Measure: Local Jobs Program
Description: 

The Local Jobs Program runs to 30 June 2022 in 25 regions throughout Australia. It brings together expertise, resources and access to funding at the local level to focus on reskilling, upskilling and employment pathways for people in each region.  The program is part of supporting Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 19 March 2021.

Measures in New South Wales

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to New South Wales please see the New South Wales State Government COVID-19 page.

 

Measure: Supporting NSW through COVID-19
Description:
Services NSW are providing supporting for individuals and businesses via phone calls and online resources. Resources include free legal advice, Australian Government payments and supports, and Emergency relief packages.

 

Measure: Grants, loans and financial assistance
Description:
Services NSW are providing various financial assistance to business including a Regional job creation fund and Jobs Plus program.  

 

Measure: Small business fees and charges waiver
Description:
The NSW Government has announced several measures to support small businesses including a stimulus package, changes to payroll tax and fee waivers.

 

Measure: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supplies Portal 
Description:
Buy.nsw have established a PPE supplies portal for industry and the community to secure supplies needed for safe and robust operations. The list has over 900 suppliers who have indicated they can service PPE needs through business-to-business transactions.

Measure: NSW Business Connect 
Description:
Business Connect is a dedicated and personalised NSW Government program that provides trusted advice to help you start or grow your small business. 
If your business has been affected by COVID-19 or bushfires, you can access free business advice and webinars.  

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 11 February 2021.

Measures in Victoria

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to Victoria please see the Victorian State Government COVID-19 page.

Measure: Information for Community Services - COVID-19
Description:
The Department of Health and Human Services has developed an information page for providers in Community services, including those in the Disability sector. Information includes a COVID-19 plan for the disability services sector, isolation management in disability accommodation settings and information for disability service providers.

Measure: Medical Equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) Supplier Directories
Description:
To assist businesses in sourcing the supplies they need, including PPE, the Victorian Government has developed a series of directories to help identify suitable suppliers of locally manufactured products.

Measure: Business Support Package
Description:
The Victorian Government has released a new $534m Business Support Package to provide support to businesses and workers through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measure: $450 COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment
Description:
Victorian workers can apply for a $450 COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment that provides financial support while they self-isolate to wait for the results of their COVID-19 test.

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 11 February 2021.

Measures in Queensland

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to Queensland please see the Queensland State Government COVID-19 page.


Measure: Business Queensland COVID-19 business assistance finder
Description: 
The Queensland Government's business assistance finder lists financial assistance and other types of relieve available. The finder allows businesses to view tailored information based on their business size, industry, local government area and other criteria.

 

 

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 11 February 2021. 

Measures in Western Australia

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to Western Australia please see the Western Australia State Government COVID-19 page.

Measure: Small business grant/relief and Payroll tax threshold adjustment
Description:
The Western Australian Government is offering a series of measures for businesses in response to COVID-19. This includes a $607 million stimulus package to support WA small businesses through COVID-19, including a one-off grant of $17.5k to small businesses paying payroll tax. Other measures include, deferring payroll tax payments for business impacted by COVID-19 until July 21, 2020, and $114 million in additional measures to support small businesses. 


Measure: COVID-19 Business tools and Information 

Description: 
The WA Government's Business tools and information page offers updated information and tools in relation to COVID-19 including COVID-19 safety plans and guidelines, information on events, support for business and information for community service providers.  

 

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 11 February 2021.

Measures in South Australia

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to South Australia please see the South Australia State Government COVID-19 page.


Measure: Support for Businesses

Description:
The South Australian Government is providing support to businesses in South Australia including sole traders, companies and employers. Business support measures include financial support, information and resources for developing a COVID-19 Safe Plan and practical advice and tips to support business in recovering and rebuilding.


Measure: Support for businesses, jobs and the community impacted by COVID-19

Description:
The South Australian Government has announced a $530m Business and Jobs Support Fund as part of the 2020-21 Budget to directly assist individual businesses facing potential collapse due to COVID-19. A $265m Community and Job Supports Fund was also announced to assist community organisations. 


Measure: Mental Health Support COVID-19

Description:
To support the mental health of South Australians during this time SA Health have established a Virtual Support Network of services based locally in South Australia.


Measure: Local Jobs Program, Adelaide North, Murray and South East 
Description:
The Local Jobs Program runs to 30 June 2022 in 25 regions throughout Australia. It brings together expertise, resources and access to funding at the local level to focus on reskilling, upskilling and employment pathways for people in each region.  The Program is part of supporting Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Measure: COVID-19 Strategy for Residential Aged Care Facilities
Description:
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 within South Australia, the State Coordinator has issued a Direction under the Emergency Management Act 2004 to limit entry into residential aged care facilities in South Australia.  


Measure: Aged care, retirement village and disability sectors: COVID-19 health advice
Description:
Restrictions and requirements have been implemented by the South Australian Government to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Measure: COVID-19 Provider Update  
Description:
There has been a provider update as of March 2, 2021 in South Australia. This update aims to support local GPs, general practice staff and other primary health care providers working on the frontline across Adelaide to support the COVID-19 response.

 

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 19 March 2021.

Measures in Tasmania

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to Tasmania please see the Tasmania State Government COVID-19 page.

Measure: Tax Relief and Business Stimulus Measures
Description:
The Tasmanian Government has introduced a number of business stimulus measures in response to the impact of COVID-19. These measures include: home building, payroll and land tax measures.

Measure: Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC)
Description:
The Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council provides advice to the Premier on strategies and initiatives to support the short to medium; and the longer-term recovery from COVID-19.


Measure: Business Tasmania Coronavirus Information

Description:
Business Tasmania has collated a series of information sheets on COVID-19 relevant to business owners. Information is available on current business restrictions, COVID-19 business support, grants and loans and COVID-19 safety plans.


Measure: Rapid Response Skills Matching Service
Description:
To help move workers into new jobs as quickly as possible, the Rapid Response Skills Matching Service has been established to help match and prepare job-ready workers with industries and businesses. Businesses that have immediate job needs and opportunities available can register for this Service. 

Measure: Communities, Sport and Recreation Grants Program
Description:
The Tasmanian Government is implementing a COVID-19 Sport and Recreation Grant.

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 19 March 2021.

Measures in the Australian Capital Territory

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to the Australian Capital Territory please see the ACT Government COVID-19 page.

Measure: Community Support Package
Description:
The ACT Government is working with non-government organisation partners on the $7m package to provide food relief and support for vulnerable members of the community and meet increased service demand for emergency relief.

Measure: Commercial tenancy relief  
Description:
The ACT government has developed a scheme that provides relief for business tenants and owner-operated commercial properties.

Measure: Infection control training  
Description:
New nationally recognised infection control training is available from 5 June for workers in customer facing roles to help them understand how to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading.


Measure: COVID-19 tax relief measures
Description:
The ACT Revenue Office has developed a list of COVID-19 tax relief measures that are available to help businesses and households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Measure: Rental relief to tenants of ACT Government owned properties
Description:
Commercial tenants significantly affected by COVID-19 may receive rental relief from 1 April 2020 for up to six-months.

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 11 February 2021

Measures in the Northern Territory

For general COVID-19 updates and guidelines specific to the Northern Territory please see the Northern Territory Government COVID-19 page.

Measure: Jobs first plan
Description:
The Northern Territory Government’s jobs first plan and business recovery website provides information on supports that are available to businesses and not-for-profits. Website users can search for information by business type.


Measure: Government fees and charges increase freeze
Description:
Any regular increases on government fees and charges, including electricity costs, will be put on hold.

 

Please note: this list is not exhaustive and is correct as at 11 February 2021.