Last updated: 1 April 2020
917 cases of the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus have been confirmed as of 1 April 2020, and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has now declared a state of emergency for four weeks.
What does this mean for you and what should you do?
Know the symptoms
It is important that you can recognise the symptoms and how COVID-19 is transmitted. Reported symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
The Federal Government’s Department of Health says transmission of COVID-19 may still be infectious up to 24 hours before symptoms appear and until at least 24 hours after symptoms resolve.
Use the Victorian Government’s Department of Human and Health Services (DHHS) self-assessment tool if you are unsure or concerned about COVID-19.
If you suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), please self-isolate and call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.
Practice good hygiene
The best way to protect yourself, your friends and family is to practice good hygiene, particularly for your hands and for your lungs.
- Washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds or more or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you enter or exit a space.
- Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a disposable tissue and discard. Alternatively use your elbow only if you must.
- Try not to touch your face, to minimise the virus entering your lungs.
- Regularly wipe surfaces and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) with disinfectant, as contamination on surfaces touched by staff and visitors is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads. The virus can survive for several days on surfaces.
- Practice social distancing, maintaining 2m of distance away from people and limiting handshaking. A wave or a bow are respectful alternatives.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
- See a health care professional if you are unwell, and stay away from the workplace and other public places.
Taking these steps should be sufficient to address the main drivers of transmission:
- Contact with contaminated surfaces
- Coughing and sneezing
- Physical contact
Know where to go if you start to feel unwell
If you are feeling unwell, seek immediate medical attention. Call ahead to your GP or the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398, and they will provide appropriate instructions.
There are also specific assessment centres which have been established at 12 Melbourne hospitals, you can see the full DHHS list here. Please only go to an assessment centre if you fulfil the criteria or have been instructed by a medical professional, or you will be turned away.
Look after your physical and mental health
With social distancing, you are more likely to feel isolated and lonelier than usual. It is crucial that you try and find ways to maintain a healthy routine for your physical and mental health by:
- Staying active
- Eating and sleeping well
- Maintaining social connections
Headspace has created a great toolkit for a healthy headspace and how to cope with stress related to COVID-19.
BeyondBlue has also created a great resource on keeping active and looking after your mental health during COVID-19.
Be mindful of fake news and fake remedies
The Victorian Government’s DHHS is providing accurate, up-to-date information on what is happening in Victoria, and what steps you can take to prepare. Please take your information from this and other official sites.
However, while it is important to remain informed about what is happening with COVID-19, be aware that reading extensive/live coverage about it may make you feel anxious and stressed.
There are a lot of videos and stories on social media on remedies to boost your immunity to COVID-19. Unfortunately, the majority of these are fake, and you should always triple-check whether the sources on any remedies are verified.
Also remember to find good news stories. While there are many stories about the apocalyptic emptying of shelves at the supermarkets, communities are also banding together with acts of kindness to make sure everybody is doing okay.
Reconsider your events and travel plans
The Federal Government has announced a ban on any gatherings above 2 people. At The Victorian Government has also announced police can enforce a $1652 if they find you to be breaching these rules.
At YACVic, we are only running events via remote access options.
On domestic travel, we recommend that you reconsider all travel unless it is absolutely essential, including air travel or extended travel by bus or train. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory have enforced a strict 14 day self-isolation period for any visitors from interstate. There are exemptions in extraordinary circumstances. We suggest replacing client meetings with telephone or video conferencing where appropriate.
International travel for work or personal purposes should be reconsidered. There is a risk of being held in quarantine, being unable to return to Australia, or being prohibited from certain places, for a period. Most international flights have been cancelled, so you will have to check whether you will be able to exit and re-enter the country. As of 16 March 2020, all people returning or entering Australia from overseas are requested to self isolate for 14 days.
Reach out to communities at higher risk of infection
If you have friends or family who may be directly affected or considered at higher risk of COVID-19 such as the elderly or people with lower immunity, lung or heart conditions, make sure you check-in to see if they have all of their essentials.
It could be as simple as a short text, a phone call, or even dropping off a few essentials at their doorstep (but not interacting with them!).
If you are at a higher risk of infection, create an action plan and ensure you have the necessary prescriptions from your doctor and adequate supply of in-date medication. The Lung Foundation has created a good resource on actions you can take.
If you are a disabled young person, the National Disability Insurance Agency has created Easy Read resources on what you can do.
How to provide information to children and young people
If you are a youth worker or work with children and young people directly, it is important that you inform them of what changes may be happening to your services.
Here are a few tips in providing information:
- Remain calm and reassuring. Be factual and keep calm about the situation and it will help calm others.
- Speak up if you observe any racism occurring, including jokes that are racist or inappropriate by young people or other workers. It is important to role model good practice.
- Be available to talk and listen to young people if they have any concerns or anxieties related to COVID-19, or general health.
- Ensure children and young people know how to practice good hygiene. Put up some posters to help them see what you expect.
- Keep young people and parents or carers informed of what you are doing to keep everyone safe.
This could mean making some changes for your service:
- Before any activity, check if participants have travelled overseas, or had contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
- If they have, you should request they not participate in person, and consider if there is an online option for participation.
- Put up youth-friendly signs informing young people about how to practice good hygiene.
- Supply plenty of soap, water and tissues and encourage all program and meeting participants to practice good hygiene.
Consider how you might deliver services remotely
If you are a young person supported by a youth worker, check in with your local youth services provider about any changes which might be happening.
If you work for a service, start implementing procedures which reduce the risk of transmission with your clients. This could mean conducting more meetings, consultations and case visits over the phone, Skype or Zoom.
We recommend trialing changes for a couple of days a week, in case a lock-down does occur.
If you’re not sure where to start on how to start with Digital Youth Work, Victoria University has collaborated globally in the Youth Work e-Learning Partnership to create a module in their “Youth Work and You” resource.
More helpful resources
- Victorian Government’s information and advice about COVID-19
- Federal Government’s information and advice on COVID-19
- Victorian Government DHHS Self-Assessment Tool
- Victorian Government DHHS - Reduce your risk with these 10 tips
- Lung Foundation Australia – Advice for people living with lung condition
- National Disability Insurance Agency - COVID-19 information
- KidsHealth - How to Talk to Your Child
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Talking with Children
- Digital Youth Work - Youth Work and You
- How to Strengthen Young People Against Anxiety After News of a World Trauma
These are testing times for our community.
Stay safe. Self-isolate if you are concerned about your health.
Follow the instructions of health authorities.
If you see anything you think we have missed which is of critical importance to reducing the spread of COVID-19, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on (03) 9267 3700 between 8.45am – 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.