Last update: 21 October 2020
We understand that this is a confusing and unpredictable time, but we ask that you look out for one another. Older people are one of the groups most vulnerable to the coronavirus. It is important that we all practice good hygiene and take sensible precautions to keep ourselves and each other safe.
COVID-19 restrictions are still in place across Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria. Please refer to the following sections of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website for the most up-to-date information.
Please note that there are different restrictions in place for services such as residential aged care facilities and hospitals.
For the most up to date information on Victorian restrictions, please call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au.
Jump to a section: General information | Factsheets | Digital and alternative media | Aged care information | COTA Victoria services | Health and wellbeing | Mental health | Essential goods and services | Financial support
To help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should:
- Practise good hygiene – wash your hands and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
- Keep your distance – stay 1.5 metres away from anyone you don’t live with.
- Stay at home and get tested if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild.
- Wear a face covering when you leave home, no matter where you live. Note that there are a number of lawful reasons for not wearing a face covering.
Where to find information
For the most accurate and up-to-date health advice, visit:
DHHS has created an online self-assessment for people in Victoria who think they may have COVID-19. Testing is open and encouraged for anyone with symptoms.
The following link has a list of resources in different languages.
General phone lines
- 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.
- National Dementia Helpline
Phone 1800 100 509, Monday to Friday, 9 am – 5 pm.
The national helpline provides information and advice about Dementia and COVID-19.
- Seniors Rights Victoria
Phone 1300 368 821, Monday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm
A free, confidential helpline to assist people who are experiencing, or know someone who is experiencing elder abuse.
- Interpreting service
If you need an interpreter, call TIS National on 131 450.
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia has worked with the federal government to produce a fact sheet for older Australians. It provides clear and practical information about reducing the risks of COVID-19 and answers many frequently asked questions.
COTA Australia has also put together a frequently asked questions page.
Information for people with dementia and their carers is available from Dementia Australia.
NDIA have produced some easy English information sheets about COVID-19.
For information in your language, the Department of Home Affairs have translated factsheets into languages other than English.
Digital and alternative media
The COVIDSafe App speeds up contact tracing for people exposed to COVID-19. It’s released by the Australian Government and is voluntary to download and use. Read more about how it works, your privacy and how to download on health.gov.au.
COVID-19 action plan to help you manage your risk related to COVID-19
Living well in the COVID-19 pandemicto help people to make COVIDSafe decisions about work, transport, and social activities in the COVID-19 pandemic
Listen to coronavirus news and information in your language at SBS.
Download the Australian Government’s official app, ‘Coronavirus Australia’ from the Apple Store or Google Play. The app includes a symptom checker, advice, resources, news updates and the ability to register your isolation status.
Join the official WhatsApp channel. Download the app from either the Apple Store or Google Play, then visit http://aus.gov.au/whatsapp in your mobile browser. It will prompt you to ‘send’ a request to join the channel.
For informative discussion and answers to common questions, ABC has created the Coronacast podcast. The daily episodes are around 10 minutes long and available through the ABC listen app, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.
For aged care facilities
An Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 was released in May. The Code creates a nationally consistent and agreed industry approach that ensures residents can receive visitors while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The Federal Government has introduced new rules around visiting aged care facilities. Some facilities may have extra rules in place beyond what is required. Before you visit a centre, check with them directly to see whether this is the case.
If you have concerns with a centre’s actions or cannot access a facility, call Elder Right’s Advocacy on 1800 700 600 or (03) 9602 3066 for free and confidential advice.
COTA Victoria services
Our Information Line – 1300 13 50 90 – will continue to be available to older Victorians. We’ve extended our hours and the line is now staffed from 9.30 am to 4 pm. You can also email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Little Lonsdale Street office is now closed, but most of our services are still being provided by staff working from home.
We’ve postponed our upcoming in-person events. If you attend an OM:NI group, COTA Cycling or Strength for Life, please contact the organiser of your group directly to find out if any alternative activities are on offer.
If you’re unsure if an event or program is still running, please contact our Information Line on 1300 13 50 90 or email email@example.com.
What support is available
Health and wellbeing
It is important you continue seeing your doctor for regular and ongoing health issues.
Many doctors are now offering telehealth consulting. This allows you to see and talk to your doctor without having to go into a clinic. It may not be suitable for all appointment types and you don’t have to use telehealth if you don’t want to. Call your clinic directly for more information.
Flu vaccinations are strongly recommended for older people and are free for people aged over 65. Over-65s will receive a special vaccine. It’s encouraged to get your vaccination as soon as possible this year. If you haven’t already received yours, call your doctor to find out more.
Dentists have postponed regular checkups and cleaning, due to the risk of spreading the virus through aerosols. Emergency dental appointments are still available. Call your clinic for more information.
Testing locations: Find a testing location near you.
It’s normal to feel anxious, confused, or worried during a crisis. Look after yourself though and remember that you are not alone. Please reach out to one of the following services if you need support. They are there to help and to listen.
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 are feeling 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.
The Department of Health have put together a page about mental health and COVID-19. It provides information, resources and tips on maintaining good mental health during the crisis.
Essential goods and services
Many supermarkets, including Coles, Woolworths and some IGAs, are offering priority delivery or click and collect services for people unable to come into a store. Most shops have stopped their community hours and have instead extended their shopping hours for everyone. Many stores have also reinstated product limits on popular items such as toilet paper. Check online or contact your local store directly for more information.
Many pharmacies are offering free home delivery of prescriptions to vulnerable members of the community. Speak to your pharmacy to find out if they are offering this service.
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 Card holders
- eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and concession card holders
- National Debt Helpline
Phone 1800 007 007, Monday to Friday, 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
The helpline provides free and confidential advice from professional financial counsellors.
Australian banks have begun issuing debit cards to people who don’t already have one and who may be self-isolating. We’ve put together a list of answers to questions you may have.
The JobSeeker (previously Newstart) payment is boosted with a ‘Coronavirus supplement’ of $550 per week. The supplement will be paid from 27 April, for 6 months.
If you have lost or been stood down from your job and are over 66 years old, you will need to apply for the age pension instead of the JobSeeker payment. You should apply as soon as possible – even if you’re still working – as the application process can take several weeks.
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 a range of 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 9am to 4.45pm.