Protecting older Australians: COVID-19 update 25 March 2020

Information about a new eLearning module on personal safety, Senator Colbeck’s thanks to aged care workers, and further arrangements for Commonwealth Home Support Programme providers.

Date published:
Health sector

Today we have launched the first module in a new eLearning training program for workers across the aged care sector. This is the first of 9 modules that will continue to be released over the coming days.

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, wrote to aged care workers today to thank them for the critical care they are providing to older Australians, highlighting how important they are in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

New eLearning module now live

We have released the first module in a new eLearning program aimed specifically at aged care workers on appropriate health management techniques in all aged care settings.

Module 1: Personal safety

On completion of this module, participants will be able to:

  • describe how you can minimise the risk of developing COVID-19
  • identify what to do if you develop symptoms of COVID-19
  • demonstrate to others how to perform effective hand hygiene
  • explain how to practise cough and sneeze etiquette

More modules will be released this week and information on how to access will be available on our website.

Senator Colbeck's thank you to aged care workers

Today Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck wrote to aged care workers to personally thank them for the important care they are providing to our older Australians, highlighting the exceptional job of our workers in challenging circumstances. Senator Colbeck stressed that aged care workers are critical to the wellbeing of so many senior Australians and to Australia’s success in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The letter also details the Australian Government’s recent announcement of $444.6 million in additional support to help the sector stay strong, including a retention bonus for aged care workers.

The letter will be distributed in the coming days and we ask for your assistance to ensure it reaches workers across the sector.

Further arrangements for Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) Providers

Advice for CHSP Social Support Group Providers

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are new restrictions on non-essential gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups. From 23 March 2020, all non-essential gatherings are suspended for 4 weeks.

If you provide Social Support Groups and group activities, you should suspend them for 4 weeks. You can continue to support clients by re-directing their funds to other non-face-to-face activities and support services. Please communicate any change to clients and their carers and families as soon as possible.

Flexibility provisions

CHSP service providers now have complete flexibility to re-allocate up to 100% of their funding between their funded service types in 2019–20 and 2020–21. Providers may only use flexibility provisions to transfer funding between already funded services.

This does not extend to transferring funds between aged care planning regions (ACPRs). We must approve requests to transfer funds between regions in exceptional circumstances .

CHSP service providers are encouraged to use the flexibility provisions to direct resources towards delivering critical services, such as ensuring clients have access to meals and groceries, undertaking welfare checks, and undertaking phone/video call social interactions with their clients.

Providers are encouraged to use their workforce creatively to respond to increasing demand for critical services, including using workforce that is underutilised (for example, staff involved in group social support) towards other funded services (for example, delivery of meals, phone based social connections), wherever possible.

Providers that have underutilised staff, and are not funded for services that are experiencing high and unmet demand, should seek to collaborate with other providers in their area, to potentially offer short-term staffing assistance, wherever possible.

It is important that staff be retained during this period. We will take into consideration the current circumstances when reviewing acquittals data for 2019–20 and 2020–21. Where funded outputs are not delivered, but funding is redeployed to other services or to actions that promote the retention of staff, these will be considered to be mitigating circumstances.

Other Australian Government support available

The Government announced $92.2 million of additional support for home care and CHSP providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $70.2 million is for unsolicited proposals by CHSP providers ($40 million in 2019–20 and $30.2 million in 2020–21).

Where there is significant impact on the ability of CHSP providers to continue delivering services, or where there are time-limited demand pressures to support additional clients due to COVID-19, providers may submit an unsolicited proposal for additional grant funding. You must first use the expanded flexibility provisions before submitting an unsolicited proposal. To request an application form, email or your Funding Arrangement Manager.

We will continue to review these arrangements over the coming weeks, and will provide further guidance to providers so that they can sustain their important contributions in supporting older Australians in the current environment.


As part of the Australian Government’s national coronavirus information campaign a suite of educational videos are available below:

Coming soon

  • Guidance on influenza vaccine
  • Further details accessing the Government’s support packages
  • Rapid response teams where an urgent health response is required
  • Updated live FAQs

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