Jump to a section: Our services | Our work | Current health advice and restrictions | Health advice and restrictions | Contact tracing (and QR codes) | Financial support | Useful contacts – COVID-19 | Useful contacts – mental health | Useful contacts – elder abuse | Future planning and medical treatment decision-makers
Last update: 17 March 2021
Our Information Line is still available to older Victorians from 9.30 am to 4 pm weekdays. You can call the information line on 1300 135 090 or email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our office is still closed, but most of our services are still being provided by staff working from home. If you’re not sure whether an event or program is still running, please contact our Information Line, and we’ll be able to give you an answer.
In 2020, COTA Victoria and the City of Whittlesea conducted a survey with older people to inform future work around COVID-19. The survey aimed to describe what older Victorians were saying they needed to support them during the pandemic. The survey is now closed, but you can access the full report at COTA Coronavirus survey.
We used data from this survey to inform our submission to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee’s Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s response to COVID-19. You can access the final submission at COTA submission on COVID-19.
COTA Victoria continues to meet regularly to assess whether the pandemic services and information being made available in Victoria is meeting the needs of older people as we continue to work towards recovery. To read more about our work in 2020 please consider page 5 of last year’s Annual Report, and know we are still advocating on your behalf.
Current health advice and restrictions
- You should carry a face mask with you at all times when leaving your home. There are a range of public settings where it is mandatory to wear a face mask unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so.
- Make sure you do your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands regularly and practising good hygiene.
- Make sure you keep up-to-date with the list of COVID-19 case locations and outbreaks to ensure you have not been exposed to the virus.
- If you think you may have been exposed to the virus or have symptoms, you should get tested immediately and quarantine at home until you have received a negative result. The Victorian Government has created an online self-assessment tool for people who think they may have COVID-19. You can find a list of testing locations on the Department of Health and Human Services website. If you have an injury, chronic health issue or frailty that affects your mobility, you may be eligible to have a COVID-19 test done at home through the Victorian Government’s Call-to-Test Service.
- For the most up to date information on restrictions in Victoria, please call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit the Department of Health and Human Services website.
- You will need two separate injections to complete your COVID-19 vaccination. These doses need to be given a number of weeks apart. The Victorian Government has published some additional information about the vaccination and what you need to do to prepare.
- The vaccine is being rolled out in stages to ensure priority is given to those who are most at risk.
- Phase 1a of the rollout commenced in late February and prioritised aged care residents and workers. Phase 1b of the rollout will commence on 22 March and will cover all Victorians who are over the age of 70. The Australian Government has published a fact sheet that lists all Victorian health care providers that will be administering the vaccine.
- The Australian Government has also released a Vaccines Eligibility Checker that you can use to determine whether or not you can book a COVID-19 vaccination.
- You can access current information about the vaccination roll out from the Australian Government Department of Health website.
- If you have any outstanding questions about the vaccine or the rollout, you can call the National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline on1800 020 080 or send an email to email@example.com.
- If you want to keep up-to-date with the latest news about vaccines in Australia, you might be interested in listening to Coronacast. Coronacast is an ABC podcast that aims to answer all of your questions about COVID-19.
As you start to get out and about in the community again, you will notice that a wide range of public venues, including pubs, cafes and restaurants, will now ask you to ‘sign in’ using a QR code. This involves providing the venue with your name and contact details before you enter.
Why do I need to provide my personal information?
- Having a record of who has visited a venue at a specific time is an important part of contact tracing.
- When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the Victorian Government will gather information about any public venues they may have visited while infectious with the virus.
- Providing your name and contact details when you sign into a venue makes it possible for the government to:
A) Know whether you might have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.
B) Contact you if they think you might have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
What is a QR code, and how does it work?
- The letters “QR” stand for “quick response”.
- A QR code is just like a barcode, but it contains information that can be read using the camera on a smartphone or tablet.
- If a venue uses a QR code system, scanning the code using your smartphone or tablet will take you to an electronic form to enter your personal information.
How do I scan a QR code using my smartphone or tablet?
- In most cases, it’s as simple as opening the camera app on your device and pointing it at the QR code.
- For instructions on how to scan a QR code using an Apple device, click here.
- For instructions on how to scan a QR code using an Android device, click here.
What if I don’t own a smartphone or tablet?
- COTA Victoria is aware that many older people will not own a smartphone or tablet, so will not be able to use QR codes. Most businesses are already mindful of this fact and are assisting in helping people sign in. Staff at venues can use their device to sign in someone without a smartphone.
- If you feel anxious about visiting a venue because you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, you might like to phone them ahead of time to let them know that you will need assistance. This way you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you arrive.
- If you visit a venue with a friend or family member who can scan the QR code, there is also the option for them to add you as a dependent when they check-in.
- We will continue to work with government and industry to raise awareness of businesses’ need to ensure there is help available to those who need it.
- If you are ever refused access to a venue because you can’t sign in using a QR code, please contact us and let us know. However, we stress that this is an improbable outcome, and encourage you to start getting back out into your community and supporting your local businesses. This is new to all of us, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
The Australian Government will provide eligible Australians with an additional $250 stimulus payment in December and another in March. If you receive any of the following payments or hold any of the following healthcare cards, you are eligible for these payments:
- Age pension
- Disability Support Pension
- Carer Payment
- Family Tax Benefit, including the Double Orphan Pension (but not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
- Carer Allowance (but not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
- Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders (not in receipt of primary income support payment)
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Cardholders
- eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and concession cardholders
If you require financial assistance, you might like to contact the National Debt Helpline. The helpline provides free and confidential advice from professional financial counsellors. You can contact the helpline on 1800 007 007, Monday to Friday, 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
- Coronavirus Hotline
Phone 1800 675 398, 24 hours.
If you think you may have COVID-19, you can call the hotline for information. Call 000 in a medical emergency.
- National COVID Older Persons Information Line
Phone 1800 171 866
Personal support, questions and guideline information specifically for older people and their carers. It’s operated by Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, National Seniors Australia, Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and Dementia Australia.
- Multilingual Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line
The support lines can be contacted Monday to Friday between 2 pm and 5 pm AEST, except on public holidays: Italian (1800 549 844), Greek (1800 549 845), Vietnamese (1800 549 846), Mandarin (1800 549 847), Cantonese (1800 549 848), Arabic (1800 549 849).
- National Dementia Helpline
Phone 1800 100 509, Monday to Friday, from 9 am – 5 pm.
The national helpline provides information and advice about Dementia and COVID-19.
Mental health support
Phone 13 11 14, 24 hours
Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
- Older Australian’s COVID-19 Support Line
Phone 1800 171 866, Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 6 pm
Offers support to older people who feel lonely or distressed, troubled, or confused, or need to talk to someone about their concerns caring for an older person during COVID-19.
- Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service
Phone 1800 512 348, 24 hours
Operated by Beyond Blue, it offers phone counselling from trained mental health professionals. It can also assist with referrals to other services such as services that offer financial support.
- Red Cross COVID Connect
Register online or phone Red Cross on 1800 733 276
A nationwide telephone outreach service for people who are feeling lonely or isolated during COVID-19. It connects trained Red Cross volunteers with people who want a friendly chat, with options for daily or weekly calls.
- Carers Australia
Phone 1800 242 636 Monday to Friday, 8.30 am – 4.30 pm.
Carers Australia Provides Short-term counselling psychological support services for carers and their families.
Elder abuse support
- Seniors Rights Victoria
Phone 1300 368 821, Monday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm.
A free, confidential helpline to assist people experiencing or know someone who is experiencing elder abuse.
Future planning and medical treatment decision-makers
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more people to think about their future planning, with many now considering making legal documents such as an advance care directive or enduring power of attorney.
These are complex documents that should not be completed in a rush.
Take the time to reflect on, discuss with others and write down your wishes, preferences and values about various matters. This ensures that if you ultimately choose to complete legal documents, they will reflect what you really want.
Visit the Office of the Public Advocate website for more information or call their advice line on 1300 309 337, Monday to Friday 9 am to 4.45 pm.