Last update: 26 May 2020
We understand that this 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.
Jump to a section: Factsheets | Digital and alternative media | Aged care information | COTA Victoria services | Health and wellbeing | Mental health | Essential goods and services | Financial support
For the most up to date information on Victorian restrictions, please visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au.
The current advice is to stay at home unless necessary. As of May 14, there are five reasons to leave home:
- shopping for food and supplies that you need
- care and caregiving – including attending regular doctors appointments
- exercise and outdoor recreation
- work and education – if you can’t do it from home
- visiting friends and family – if you really need to, with a maximum of 5 visitors.
Restrictions will be lessening from June 1:
- up to 20 people can be at a residence
- overnight stays can resume at private residences and accommodation
- libraries, community facilities and swimming pools will re-open, with restrictions
- cafes and restaurants can offer dine-in meals, with restrictions.
Find out more at DHHS.
If you leave your home, practice social distancing. The Victorian Government is issuing spot fines for people breaching these conditions. If you are aged over 70, aged over 60 with a pre-existing condition, or an Indigenous person aged over 50, you should stay at home.
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 now open to anyone with symptoms.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 which is be available from mid-April. It’s encouraged to get your vaccination as soon as possible this year. 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.
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
Some 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. 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.
- 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.
Two $750 Economic Support Payments will be provided to Australians currently receiving a welfare payment. This will be automatically paid to you in April and in June/July. You do not need to contact Centrelink to access these payments.
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.