Jump to a section: Our Services | Our work | Current health advice and restrictions | COVID-19 vaccines |COVID-19 testing | Managing COVID-19 at home |Contact tracing and QR codes | Financial support | Useful contacts – COVID-19 | Mental health support | Elder abuse support
Last update: 19 January 2022
Our Information Line is 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 email@example.com.
If you are not sure whether one of our events or programs is running, please contact our Information Line for advice.
Our staff continue to meet regularly to assess whether the information and services being made available in response to the pandemic are meeting the needs of older people. 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.
In 2020, we worked with the City of Whittlesea to conduct a survey of older people to inform our 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.
Current health advice and restrictions
The Coronavirus Victoria website is the most up-to-date source of information about restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. You can also access information about current restrictions by calling the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
There are separate rules in place for people visiting residential aged care facilities. If you are experiencing difficulty visiting someone in aged care, you can call Elder Rights Advocacy on 1800 700 600.
Am I eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
All older Victorians are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We recommend you speak to your doctor for advice before getting vaccinated – particularly if you have a chronic health condition. If you have any outstanding questions about the vaccine, you can call the National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline on 1800 020 080.
Which vaccine will I receive?
All older Australians are now eligible to access any of the following vaccines:
Where can I go to get vaccinated?
You can get vaccinated at:
- A state vaccination hub
- A participating general practice
- A participating pharmacy
- An Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
- A community Health Centre
- Book online using the web portal
- Book over the phone by calling the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398
- book directly through any participating GP clinic, pharmacy or health centre
Can I get vaccinated at home?
You can get a COVID-19 vaccination at home for your first or second dose. An at-home appointment means a healthcare professional (such as a doctor or nurse) visits your home to give you a COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on wait times, it may take you longer to receive your vaccination at home. Visit the Coronavirus Victoria website to find out how to book an appointment.
I’m already double vaccinated, do I need a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine?
A third dose, or booster of a COVID-19 vaccine prevents waning immunity (loss of protection) against COVID-19. Boosters are not mandatory but are recommended for anyone who had their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine more than four months ago.
If you are immune suppressed, it is recommended that you receive a third primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This will give you the same level of protection as the general population.
It is recommended that you have your third primary dose 2-6 months after you’ve received your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Read this fact sheet from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to find out more about the immunocompromising conditions and therapies for which a 3rd primary dose is recommended. You can also find out more by visiting the Coronavirus Victoria website.
People who are immune suppressed are eligible to receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 4 months after receiving their third primary dose.
Note: At present, home appointments are only available for first and second vaccinations – not boosters or third primary doses.
How much will it cost me to get vaccinated?
COVID-19 vaccinations are free. Vaccination providers cannot charge you for the vaccine. They can’t charge you for the appointments you make to receive the vaccine either. This applies to first and second doses, third primary doses and boosters.
If your vaccination provider charges for any costs associated with the administration of the COVID-19 vaccination, you should call the Provider Benefits Integrity Hotline on 1800 314 808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I access proof to show that I have been vaccinated?
You will be asked to show proof that you’ve been vaccinated in order to access some businesses or services. There are 5 ways you can show COVID-19 proof of vaccination to gain entry to businesses and venues in Victoria. These are:
- A COVID-19 digital certificate via the Service Victoria app
- A COVID-19 digital certificate saved to a smartphone wallet
- A printed copy of COVID-19 digital certificate
- A printed copy of immunisation history statement
- An eligible proof of vaccination exemption
Visit the Coronavirus website for further information about how to access your proof of vaccination.
Note that at present, you only need to show proof of your first two vaccinations. You cannot be prevented from accessing goods, services and facilities if you are double vaccinated but have not yet received a third dose.
When should I get tested for COVID-19?
If you have been in contact with someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19 or you develop symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible. The Victorian Government has created an online self-assessment tool for people who think they may have COVID-19.
Should I have a rapid antigen test or a PCR test?
Your first option should be to use a rapid antigen test (RAT). You can perform the test at home on your own. You’ll get a result within 15-30 minutes of completing the test.
If you cannot complete a RAT for any reason, you should have a PCR test done as soon as possible. You can locate a testing centre near you by visiting the Coronavirus Victoria 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.
Can I access free rapid antigen tests?
Rapid Antigen Tests can be purchased from supermarkets, pharmacies and other retailers. They can vary in price but usually cost around $15 to $20 each.
If you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case or have symptoms of the virus, you will be able to pick up a free RAT at any state-run testing clinics.
From 24 January, people who hold any of the following cards will be eligible to access 10 free rapid antigen tests every 3 months:
- Pension Concession Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
- Health Care Card
- Low Income Health Card
Free tests will be available from participating pharmacies.
What should I do if I return a positive rapid antigen test?
If you test positive on a rapid antigen test, You are required to notify the Victorian Government as soon as possible. To report your result, call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 or complete this online form.
Take a look at this checklist to find out what other steps you should take if you return a positive rapid antigen test.
Managing COVID-19 at home
Can I manage my symptoms at home?
The majority of people who contract COVID-19 will be able to manage their symptoms at home. You can safely stay at home if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Runny or blocked nose
- Sore throat
- Aches and pains
- Dry cough
- Loss of or change in taste and smell
- Loss of appetite or nausea
- Feeling sad, worried, or frightened.
Someone with mild symptoms should be able to speak in full sentences and move around the house to do normal activities without becoming breathless.
While you are at home recovering, you should:
- Drink plenty of water (aim to drink 2 to 2.5 litres a day)
- Eat healthy food
- Take medicines – as discussed with your doctor or pharmacist, or medicines that you usually already take.
For further guidance on managing COVID-19 at home, visit the Coronavirus Victoria website.
When should I contact my GP?
If your symptoms are getting worse or you are unable to do basic tasks such as shower, put on clothes, go to the toilet or make food, you should contact your GP for advice about what to do next. You could also contact Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024 for advice on what to do next.
Contact a doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Mild shortness of breath when moving around or coughing (but still able to speak in full sentences without becoming out of breath)
- Coughing up mucous regularly
- Severe muscle aches and pains
- Feeling very weak and tired (but still able to get out of bed and move around the house)
- Not urinating as regularly as normal or not needing to urinate at all
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- A temperature above 38 degrees Celsius
- Shakes or shivers.
When should I seek emergency help?
some symptoms are serious and should not be ignored. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should call 000 immediately:
- Severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Becoming short of breath even when resting and not moving around
- Becoming breathless when talking or finding it hard to finish sentences
- Breathing that gets worse very suddenly
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Coughing up blood
- Lips or face turning blue
- Skin cold, clammy, pale or mottled
- Severe headaches or dizziness
- Fainting or feeling like fainting often
- Inability to get out of bed to look after yourself
- Confusion (for example, inability to recall the day, time or people’s names)
- Difficulty with keeping eyes open.
When you call 000, let the operator know you have COVID-19 so the paramedics know how to treat you safely.
Ambulance transport to the nearest and most appropriate medical facility is free if you have a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card. Ambulance cover is also included under most private health insurance.
Contact tracing and QR codes
As you move about in the community you will notice that a wide range of public venues including cafes, restaurants and supermarkets 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. Businesses now have the right to deny you access to their venue if you do not check in.
Why do I need to provide my personal information?
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 as part of the contact tracing process.
Providing your name and contact details when you sign into a venue makes it possible for the Victorian Government to:
- Know whether you might have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- 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 use QR code on Apple device.
For instructions on how to scan a QR code using an Android device, click use QR code on Android device.
What if I don’t own a smartphone or tablet?
Businesses are required to provide assistance to customers who cannot check in using a QR code. This might involve them using their own device to check you in or providing you with an alternative record keeping method (such as pen and paper).
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 are ever refused access to a venue because you can’t sign in using a QR code and there is no alternative offered, please contact us. However, we stress that this is unlikely. This is new to all of us, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
If your job, business or income has been affected by the pandemic, there are a range of ways the Victorian Government can help. Go to financial support for business and workers.
If you require personal 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.
Useful contacts – COVID-19
- 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 onlineor 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 636Monday 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.