FRIDAY, 22 MAY 2020

New – HICAPS Access for Telehealth Services

HICAPS is extending its telehealth support by enabling telehealth services for Allied Health (in addition to the new temporary MBS item codes) via the HICAPS terminal.  HICAPS enabling the processing of telehealth services aims to help reduce the potential exposure to COVID-19.

Initially, the Allied telehealth services were enabled for Physiotherapists and Psychologists but now has been extended to Exercise Physiologists and other allied health modalities. 

HICAPS will be uploading more information (hopefully by COB, Friday 22 May, 2020) on the HICAPS website to support extended telehealth service in Allied Health such as the item number guide (see below) and an updated flyer for supporting health funds for Exercise Physiologists telehealth services.

The HICAPS website has a dedicated tab for COVID-19 (here) and provides information such as:

-A step-by-step guide to performing a manual/key entry claim transaction
- A list of participating health funds (as not all health funds are supporting this via HICAPS)
- Telehealth Item number guides (to be updated with the attached guide)
- FAQs etc.

Accessing Surgical Masks

Please click here for full details.

ESSA’s Response to the National ‘Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia’

Please read the latest version of ESSA’s response to the National ‘Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia’ and other Federal/State government requirements to deliver safe and clinically appropriate services. ESSA’s most current guidance was released on Monday 18 May, 2020 and is available here.

This plan includes all the latest requirements, recommendations and exemptions for ESSA members and state and territory details for each stage to continue to deliver safe and clinically appropriate services during COVID-19.

This plan includes the latest advice from the COVID-19 Sport and Health Advisory Committee and various Chief Allied Health Officers around the country.

Please take note of ESSA’s guidance on numbers which includes:

- a self – imposed ceiling on total numbers of practitioners (AEPs) and clients in clinics at any one time (up to 10 in stage 1)
- a self – imposed ceiling on numbers of clients for group exercise therapy classes (3 plus 1 AEP in Stage 1).

Department of Health COVID-19 response update for primary care and allied health practitioners – 14 May

The recording of this webinar, which had for the first time a Chief Allied Health Officer in attendance (Catherine Turnbull, Chief Allied & Scientific Health Officer for SA Health), is available here.

ESSA has provided answers to questions asked by exercise physiologists online during this webinar below on the assumption that no specific questions on clinical care for individual professions have been answered in previous webinars and that ESSA does not expect that specific questions on clinical care for individual professions will be answered in future webinars.   

The next webinar is scheduled for Thursday 28 May, 2020 from 2:30pm to 3pm AEST. Ms Catherine Turnbull will be on the panel with Professor Michael Kidd, and Ms Alison McMillan. The panel will be discussing telehealth. Details of the webinar will be available here.

Department of Health Checklist for Receptionists

The Department has released a checklist for receptionists during COVID-19 here.


Department of Health - Advice on Face to Face Social Support Groups

Only where state and territory restrictions permit, providers may re-commence delivery of face to face social support activities with appropriate safeguards in place. Any decision to recommence services must consider the following -

•          Vulnerable people continue to be at risk of serious illness from coronavirus. This includes people who:

  • are aged 70 years or over
  • are aged 65 years or over and have a chronic medical condition
  • are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, aged 50 years with a chronic medical condition
  • have a weakened immune system.

Relevant jurisdiction advice is available here:

New South Wales



South Australia

Western Australia


Australian Capital Territory

Northern Territory



Q. Does my insurance cover me if a patient/client claims he/she has contracted COVID-19 from me or whilst at my practice?

A. If insured with Guild Insurance, your professional indemnity and public liability insurance cover will continue you as per the usual terms and conditions of the policy if there is an allegation against you, as long as you comply with public health laws and with government directives regarding COVID-19 and take reasonable precautions to prevent injury/infection or property damage. If practitioners do not abide by public health laws and government directives, then they will not be covered by professional indemnity and public liability insurance.

Aon have also confirmed that if insured with Aon under their Health Combined Professional Indemnity, Public & Products Liability policy, cover will continue if the above requirements are met.

If insurance is through another provider, ESSA recommends confirming with your insurer directly.

Department of Health (DoH) Allied Health Webinar questions

Q. Given the ESSA recommendations for who can have an in-person consultation with an EP, should members be refusing to see clients classified as vulnerable even if they insist on in-person appointments?

A. During Stage 1 and 2 of the recovery plan, ESSA’s recommendation is that vulnerable clients should be encouraged to stay at home and access telehealth services if it clinically safe to do so.

ESSA’s recommendation is made on advice from trusted health sources like this from Healthdirect Australia, a national, government-owned, not-for-profit organisation:

“People 70 years of age and older, those 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions, people with weakened immune systems and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with a chronic medical condition are strongly advised — for their own protection — not to leave the home unless absolutely necessary.” 

Q. Any specific advice for Physio or Exercise Physiologist-led small clinical exercise groups? Governing bodies are indicating these are allowed with limited numbers and excluding vulnerable clients.

A. As per the above answer, ESSA is following external trusted advice in its recommendation in respect to vulnerable clients.

ESSA has also provided guidance on numbers which includes:

- a self – imposed ceiling on total numbers of practitioners (AEPs) and clients in clinics at any one time (up to 10 in stage 1)
- a self – imposed ceiling on numbers of clients for group exercise therapy classes (3 plus 1 AEP in Stage 1).

ESSA has received communication from one Chief Allied Health Officer confirming that her state government has no specific guidance on group numbers or types of group classes, apart from adhering to previously published guidance on screening, hygiene, social distancing, infection control and record keeping of client details.  

State News

QLD – Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grant Program

New grant program for Queensland members that have a turnover of over $75K and payroll of less than $1.3M and whose have business revenue has been significantly impacted since 23 March, 2020 over a minimum 1-month period due to the onset and management of COVID-19.

Available grant amount is up to a maximum of $10,000 per eligible small or micro business.

The grant will pay for strategic advice, equipment, software etc. to help them adapt their business to digital delivery, diversify revenue streams etc.

Once the program budget has been fully allocated, applications for the program will close. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 small businesses will be supported through this program.

More information and online application here.

SA – Earlier Date for Lifting of Stage 1 restrictions

Stage two of the new measures will also be introduced on June 5, three days earlier than scheduled.

WA – Free temporary access to HealthDirect video platform

Various Primary Health Networks (PHNs) have started supporting local practitioners to access the HealthDirect video platform. HealthDirect is based on the Coviu platform. The West Australia Primary Health Alliance, which operates the three Primary Health Networks in Western Australia – Perth North, Perth South and Country WA, has recently expanded access to include free (temporary) access to any allied health professionals in WA. Practitioners accessing this Commonwealth funded opportunity will have access through to 30th June 2020. Access after that will be reviewed and funding may then become the responsibility of the practice.

You can find out more about the HealthDirect platform at this link: HealthDirect Video Call platform. For practices that wish to arrange for a HealthDirect clinic to be created, they should please visit the Practice Assist website .


Business Support - JobKeeper (Last date to enrol is 31 May, 2020)

ESSA strongly recommends you talk to an accountant if you have not already done so about JobKeeper.

•          Not too late to enrol: closes on 31 May 2020

•          Eligible if your business has experienced a fall in turnover of at least 30%

•          Identify your employees & obligation within 7 days of enrolling, you must provide an Employee nomination notice to each of your employees

•          Can start with paying staff for JobKeeper Fortnight 4 (11 May – 24 May)

•          Employees need to be paid on or before 24 May

•          You (or your accountant) need to apply through the ATO’s Business Portal, in ATO online services using myGov if you are a sole trader or through a registered tax or BAS agent.

•          All or nothing rule: If you decide to participate in the JobKeeper Payment scheme, nominate all your eligible employees. You should not choose to nominate only some employees. However, individual eligible employees can choose not to participate.

Am I an eligible sole trader?

– Simply put, if you are an AEP or AES with an ABN, you are a sole trader / self-employed and SHOULD consider JobKeeper if you won’t already receive it via an organisation you work for.

– The turnover being considered is derived from work invoiced under your ABN, and does not include contracts where you are on an organisation’s payroll.

– Unfortunately, if you are an employee of another company or a casual employee with employment longer than 12 months, you will not be eligible for JobKeeper as a sole trader.

All your FAQs answered and link to enrol here.


COVID-19 Commercial tenancy relief laws in Australia - Quick reference guide

DLA Piper, a global law firm has prepared a summary of the different applications of the Code in each State and Territory and the status of that law here.

The summary covers each State and Territory’s response to the National Cabinet’s announcement on 7 April, 2020 of the Mandatory Code of Conduct – SME Commercial Leasing Principals During COVID-19 (Code).  The Code provides a set of principles to be applied during negotiations between relevant landlords and tenants to allow the parties to reach tailored, bespoke and appropriate temporary arrangements that will apply during the pandemic period as well as an appropriate recovery period.

Each State and Territory of Australia has, or will, give effect to the Code through legislation.  This means that the rights and obligations of commercial tenants and landlords differs around the country.


Update on private health insurance from Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)

Australians have continued to use their private health insurance, including during COVID-19, to access vital health services and treatments. Health funds paid $21.75 billion in benefits in the 12 months to 31 March 2020, an increase of 3.7% on the previous year, according to APRA's March quarterly report released today. The annual growth in benefits paid for prostheses (medical devices) (5.8%) and prostheses utilisation (7.5%) have continued to increase out of proportion with growth in hospital claims (0.5%). The APRA data confirmed industry expectations there would be a decline in member claims as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions. Benefits paid for 'extras' during the March 2020 quarter were down -4.4% compared with the December 2019 quarter.

To read the full report, click here.


Telehealth Continues in Exercise Right for Active Ageing (ERAA)

The ERAA project team reports that many providers (Accredited Exercise Physiologists and Accredited Exercise Scientists) involved in delivering the ERAA project are continuing to provide Australian Government subsided group exercise classes for older Australians though telehealth even after ESSA provided  guidance to resume in-person group exercise classes and governments have lifted other restrictions. 

The ERAA home page has been updated to reflect which providers are delivering in-person and telehealth classes here and to allow for the resumption of in-person classes here.

Our sincere thanks to our providers who have worked hard to transition to telehealth since the beginning of the year which has enabled many older Australians to exercise from the safety and comfort of their own homes during COVID-19. 

For more information on the ERAA project, contact


Loneliness Key Stressor - ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey

Loneliness was the most widely reported source of personal stress for Australians during April, according to the third Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey. Loneliness affected more women (28 per cent) than men (16 per cent). Around one in five people (19 per cent) also reported that they were experiencing difficulties maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which was more of a problem for those aged 18 to 64 years (22 per cent) than those aged 65 years and over (9 per cent). Australians have also made significant changes to their working lives, with nearly half (46 per cent) of all working Australians working from home in late April and early May.

ESSA suggests considering promoting the social benefits of your services, particularly group exercise classes. Full report available here.


Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 Australian Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Senate Select Committee has held nine public hearings since its establishment. You can read transcripts of these hearings here where the Committee has called Professor Brendan Murphy, Chief Medical Officer; and various Department of Health officials including Ms Caroline Edwards, Acting Secretary.

ESSA is preparing a submission for this Inquiry. Any issues or positive initiatives that members have encountered during COVID-19, please send to by COB Monday 25 May, 2020.


Pop-Up Telehealth Services

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is concerned about a surge in telehealth models and businesses that are not linked to the patient’s usual General Practitioner. Please encourage your clients to continue to maintain their care with their usual GP. Details from the RACGP’s media release here.

Please share any concerns about pop up telehealth allied health or pop up exercise physiology services with


Students and Graduates: COVID-19 Subsidised Higher Education Certificates

To support workers recently displaced by the COVID19 crisis, the Australian Government has supported universities and private providers with funding to deliver heavily discounted short online courses to help Australians retrain. You can retrain or upskill in 6 months with various undergraduate and postgraduate certificate courses in areas of national priority.

Some higher education providers are also offering short courses in areas that are not listed as national priority. Fees for those non-priority courses are not discounted and will vary from provider to provider. Providers may have additional eligibility requirements for their courses. In some cases, this may mean that eligibility for a course is limited to workers who have been affected by the downturn caused by COVID-19.

Students who complete an online short course will be awarded either an Undergraduate Certificate or a Graduate Certificate depending on the level of their studies. The Undergraduate Certificate is a new qualification that has been added to the AQF to ensure that people who complete short courses at undergraduate levels of study receive a formally recognised qualification.

Examples of courses that might interest ESSA student members and full members include:

  • Graduate Certificate in Aged Care
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Aged Care
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Counselling
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Creative Arts and Health
  • Graduate Certificate in Dementia Care
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Dementia
  • Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Studies
  • Graduate Certificate in Digital Health
  • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Mental Health
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Public Health
  • Graduate Certificate in Strength and Conditioning

More information and FAQs are available here and you can search for the short course here (select short course under the course category).  Please check with your provider before enrolling whether a course can articulate into an existing course you are enrolled in.

Other Continuing Professional Development

UQ Business School

UQ Business School is providing a number of online courses for $8.00 to support those interested in furthering their education or learning to adapt and pivot their business. Usually valued at up to $540, this heavily discounted rate covers our partner edX’s administration processing costs and will give you a certificate of completion.

The courses available cover leadership, innovation, management and resilience-building across a range of industries:

  • Design Thinking and Creativity for Innovation Course
  • Leading High-Performing Teams Course


Free Course: Telehealth: Embracing technology in healthcare, Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health (UDRH), Charles Sturt University

This free online course has been designed as an introduction to telehealth incorporating a range of interactive opportunities for the learners in the course content information, patient scenarios, resources and guides which are based on current practice with a high focus on telehealth service delivery in the Three Rivers footprint. The online modules will also include digital media specific to the local area in telehealth service provision.

The telehealth course covers 4 modules

  • Telehealth overview
  • Telehealth technology
  • Telehealth in practice
  • Sustainable telehealth

More information here.

Free leadership development program: La Trobe University’s Business School/The Centre for Sport and Social Impact

Leadership Professional Development Program—in response to this challenging time across the sport sector, La Trobe University Business School is offering National Clearinghouse for Sport members access to a fully online and free of charge leadership development program delivered by our MBA staff and alumni.

The Modules include:

  • Leading Self
  • Leading Others
  • Leading for Results

You will explore:

  • The way you lead and reflect on your personal leadership style
  • Determine your leadership strengths and areas for development using selected diagnostic tools
  • Identify the characteristics of successful teams and the role of followership
  • Formulate and implement creative, feasible solutions to a range of organisation/business related issues
  • Identify and analyse forthcoming challenges
  • Apply creative problem solving and critical thinking skills to provide possible solutions to a problem facing organisations.

To join the National Clearinghouse for Sport, click here.

To register for the leadership development program click here.


Free Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) Webinar in collaboration with Curtin University and La Trobe University: Bringing telehealth and digital patient education together to support patient experience and health outcomes

May 26, 2020 12:00 noon (AEST)

The panel will offer their perspectives on telehealth and digital patient education in both pre and post COVID-19 contexts including:

- How digital patient education is being used to support telehealth and better health outcomes

- Supporting chronic disease self-management during COVID-19 and beyond

- Enhancing telehealth services with tailored digital health resources


  • Tina Campbell - Managing Director, Healthily
  • Natalie Wischer - CEO, National Association of Diabetes Centres
  • Donna Parkes - Telehealth Manager, Agency for Clinical Innovation, NSW Health

Register here.


Aged Care Webinar: Update: Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes by COTA Australia, Dementia Australia, National Seniors Australia and OPAN

Join this special webinar to hear updates and information about the finalised Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes, and to provide your feedback.

The panellists on this webinar are:

  • Craig Gear, CEO | OPAN
  • Ian Yates, CEO | COTA Australia
  • Maree McCabe, CEO | Dementia Australia
  • John McCallum, CEO | National Seniors Australia

The final code is available here:

There will be opportunities to ask questions and provide your input during the live webinar.

This webinar is free to all registered guests. Please RSVP via the ‘Register’ button here.


Expert Consensus Statements - Returning to Exercise after Recovery from Coronavirus

Two new expert-consensus statements on from pulmonologists and cardiologists have published separately in The Lancet and JAMA Cardiology.


American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) COVID-19 Reopening and Return to Sport/Play Resources

ACSM has created and curated a number of resources on the reopening of fitness facilities, sporting event considerations and returning to training/ play after illness. Details here.

COVID-19 Sports and Health Committee

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has endorsed the establishment of the COVID-19 Sports and Health Committee comprising the Commonwealth Deputy CMO, Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Medical Director, an infection control expert, representatives of Federal, State and Territory Departments of Health. Read the National principles for resumption of sport and recreation activities here

Fitness Australia Operations Framework for gyms

ESSA members working in Fitness Australia accredited businesses should review the Fitness Australia Operations Framework for gyms released yesterday 21 May, 2020.


Message from the Shadow Minister for Sport

The Shadow Minister for Sport, Senator the Hon Don Farrell, Senator for South Australia recently sent the ESSA President a letter acknowledging the work of those in the sport sector during COVID-19 with the following message:

Australian Greens

The Australian Greens have released a Recovery Plan: Invest To Recover for a cleaner, fairer Australia. Read the full plan here