FRIDAY, 25 JUNE 2020


This week’s changes to COVID restrictions in ESSA’s three-stage recovery plan for COVID-19

The latest state and territory relaxations apply to SA, Tasmania and WA and have been summarised here. This document also includes restrictions for non-essential services on a state-by-state basis (e.g. large gyms, fitness centres, swimming pools and outdoor classes).

No other requirements have changed for non-essential or essential services. The overview of Australian requirements and recommendations can now be accessed here  in our COVD-19 home page in the Members’ Lounge. We will only update this if Australian requirements change.

State News

Information on free COVID-19 testing facilities here.

NSW members should be aware that a NSW exercise physiology clinic was visited this week by a Public Health Inspector from NSW Health along with a local council Environmental Officer. The practice was asked to submit its COVID-19 Safe Plan to its council. Please ensure if you are operating a gym or a health studio or any other non-essential business in NSW that you have a COVID Safe Plan.

If you need help, take a look at the ESSA Fact Sheet on ESSA COVID-19 Safe Planning Recommendations for Providers of Exercise Services.

If you are operating an exercise physiology clinic, you may also want to place these posters in your front window and in your clinic: 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Allied health professionals: Now open for clients 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Allied health professionals: Practice now open

The NT Government has tightened restrictions for aged care facilities as of 24 June, 2020. More details here.

Additional funding for non-urgent elective surgery

Service that were postponed to allow Queensland hospitals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic have now resumed. This includes:
· specialist outpatient appointments
· breast screening services
· elective surgery
· gastrointestinal endoscopies.

More information here.


Click here for the new road map for easing COVID-19 restrictions as of 23 June, 2020.

Victorians are urged to get tested for COVID-19 if they have any symptoms. Almost 90 clinics have been established across Victoria to test people with cold and flu symptoms for COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia.

The Australian Government is encouraging all Victorians with a cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss of sense of smell or taste, to be tested at a GP-led Respiratory Clinic or Victorian Government-run fever clinic as soon as possible. Testing at these clinics is free.

This is especially the case for those living in one of the six identified coronavirus hotspots: Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin – or anyone who has visited these areas recently. The coronavirus (COVID-19) symptom checker can help you work out if you need to get tested. If it recommends that you should be tested, it provides a map of testing locations near you.


Last chance to complete ESSA’s COVID-19 Impact Survey 2

Help us help you to advocate on your behalf. We used your responses to the first survey in our Submission to the Senate Select Committee’s Inquiry into COVID-19. The more data we have on how COVID-19 has impacted on our members, the better we can represents your interests.

The survey takes about five minutes and closes Friday 26 June. Complete the survey here.



New data shows surge in telehealth consults amidst COVID-19 pandemic Researchers at the University of Queensland have launched Australia’s first webpage reporting Medicare’s telehealth activity provides information on how people use Medicare funded telehealth appointments to access general practice, allied health, psychiatry and nursing consults.

Data shows there was a 10-fold increase in telehealth specialist consultations across all health professions, rising from 16,000 to 161,000 in March, 2020. Of those, 91 per cent of consultations were delivered by phone and the remainder in video consultations. Read more here.

Please note, the allied health infographic includes all allied health telehealth items (over and above CDM items) apart from the mental health items. Of interest is the following comparison:

Allied Health in-person services: 93.9% vs videoconferencing 2.3% vs telephone 3.8%
General Practitioner in-person services: 77.4% vs videoconferencing 0.9% vs telephone 21.7%

The latest data ESSA has identified below on telehealth services shows allied health professionals have used telephone services more than twice the rate of video-conferencing services. There is no data specifically available for exercise physiology services as the item codes are the same for all allied health professionals using these codes.


Do you employ casuals?

You may have heard the about the latest Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia’s decision from the WorkPack Pty Ltd v Rossato (2020) case. A fact sheet from ESSA’s HR partner - Strawberry Seed Consulting, explains what this means for you. Click here to read the details. For more HR resources or to book a time to speak to an expert visit the ESSA Business Network, click here.


Pregnant During COVID-19?

Our recommendations are to consider any relevant Department of Health advice and seek further advice from your treating medical professional – GP/Midwife. Queensland Health has produced a Fact Sheet on Pregnancy and COVID-19 here.

There is obviously limited information about COVID and pregnancy but being pregnant adds you to the vulnerable or at-risk group. See here for information from the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne for advice for pregnant women and a summary the research evidence.

ESSA recommends (though this is not a requirement by law) that during Stage 1 and 2 restrictions that ESSA professionals should avoid working with vulnerable populations where possible BUT they should use their own professional judgement to determine whether in-person services are necessary.

If you are pregnant, then you are considered part of the vulnerable population and therefore you may need to have a conversation with your employer about whether it is safe for you to see certain clients (if at all) and perhaps discuss alternative working arrangements. You could limit your exposure to groups and only provide one on one or telepractice services and take extra precautions such as wearing a mask etc. It is the responsibility of your employer to have a COVIDSafe plan for your workplace, including considerations all employees. This will be a choice you will need to make and we recommend you seek advice from your GP or midwife.


Going to work during COVID-19

The Fair Work Ombudsman providers updated guidance (as of 16, June, 2020) to both employers and employees on these topics:

· Directing employees to stay away from work under workplace health and safety laws
· Employees who want to stay home as a precaution
· Employers who want their employees to stay home as a precaution 

More information here.


Submissions by Peak Bodies to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19: Inquiry into the Australian Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic 

Read the submissions made by these peak bodies here:

· National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (number 64)
· Australian Medical Association (number 86)
· Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (number 125)
· Association of Counselling Psychologists (number 134)
· Lung Foundation Australia (number 185)
· Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (number 190)
· Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (number 200)
· Allied Health Professions Australia (number 208)
· National Asthma Council Australia (number 228)
· Grattan Institute (number 230)
· National Disability Services (number 244)

Department of Health (DoH) COVID-19 Primary Care and Allied Health Webinar – 25 June, 2020 

The recording of the latest webinar will be available in the next few days here.

ESSA will advise the date of the next webinar in next week’s Communique.

Answers to the questions asked below at the 12 June webinar are now available here.

Question: Can we speed up the research from ANU on COVID protocols for physical therapies please?

Question: How is the Government ensuring that the extra support for young people with MH issues through headspace actually brings more MH professionals into rural and remote communities? 

Question: How do you suggest we manage clients who have a runny nose / sore throat 
but it has been ongoing for some time (e.g. allergy / winter related). And been tested and declared COVID free once? Question: Are you aware of any outcomes from the Productivity Commission's review of allied health services - specifically mental health? I am interested (of course) about an increase to the number of sessions. Question: Will any telehealth delivery to remote communities, including indigenous communities, start to change in the next months? 

Question: The pandemic is likely to continue with spikes and clusters until a vaccine... will 
telehealth continue beyond September to accommodate this?


Reminder - Flu vaccination requirements for aged care facilities

Read the updated (as of 23 June, 2020) Fact Sheet Flu vaccination requirements for aged care facilities.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Booklet – Keep our mob safe published 24 June 2020

This booklet offers some tips for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities about coronavirus.


Summary of Sports Medicine Australia Telehealth in Sports Medicine: Beyond COVID-19 – Live panel discussion, 2 June 2020

Matthew Ternes, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist took part in this webinar alongside three Sport and Exercise Physicians (including Dr Caroline Broderick, member of ESSA’s Children’s Pre-Screening Assessment Working Group) and an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Click here to read the summary.