Uniting remains focused on reducing the impacts of COVID-19 on our team, the people we support and the broader community.

This page will be updated regularly.


Latest update: Thursday 25 February 2021 – COVID vaccine priority rollout.

Click here for the COVID-19 Communications pack.

As you may be aware, the Australian Government has begun to implement a COVID-19 vaccine plan COVID-19 vaccine plan that will be rolled out in phases, with priority groups receiving the first doses.

Uniting continues to be guided by health directives from Commonwealth and State Governments regarding vaccine requirements and fully supports the phased rollout of the COVID vaccine as a critical public health issue.

Team members who support people with disability living in residential support settings fall into the priority category Phase 1a and will have the opportunity to become one of the first people to receive the free vaccine in Australia.  You can learn more about the priority groups on the Department of Health website.

While the COVID vaccine is voluntary, Uniting encourages all eligible team members to receive it.

What this means for people we support

Participants who live in Uniting supported accommodation homes also fall into the Phase 1a priority group, while Participants who are only supported in the community fall into the Phase 1b priority group.

Participants and their families/guardians will be contacted shortly to explain the phased rollout and how it impacts them. You may also need to support Participants to understand and access the phased rollout of the COVID vaccine. There are Easy Read and other resources available to help you with this.

Information and resources for people we support, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), will also be shared via the COVID update page in the News and Resources section of the Uniting website.

What next

Details about the timing and location for receiving vaccines are still to be confirmed. We’ll continue to keep you updated via email and on this page.

Some Participants and guardians may choose to complete a COVID vaccine consent form in advance and return it to us ahead of their vaccination. If you receive a completed consent form from a Participant, please forward it to your Service Lead or Senior Case Worker.

If you have any questions about the COVID vaccine rollout, please get in touch with your Service Lead or Senior Case Worker.

As you know, the transitional COVID restrictions in Perth and Peel ended as planned yesterday.

While masks are no longer required to be worn either inside or outside, people should continue to practice good hygiene and social distancing (2 square metre rule applies).

For more information about the restrictions that are still in place, visit the WA state government website.

For information for the people we support, see the news and resources page on our website.

To access the government advice in different languages, click here.

The hard lockdown of Perth, Peel and the South West is due to end today at 6pm.

Stay-at-home rules will be lifted, but interim restrictions will apply to Perth and Peel until 12:01am on Sunday morning, 14 February. The South West will immediately return to pre-lockdown conditions today at 6pm.

Post-lockdown measures for the Perth and Peel regions until Sunday 14 February include:

  • Masks must be worn at all times in public and while at work, unless exempt or for vigorous outdoor exercise
  • 20-person limit for private indoor and outdoor gatherings
  • 4 square metre capacity rule
  • All businesses and venues can reopen, except for Crown Casino and nightclubs
  • 150-person capacity at hospitality and entertainment venues including weddings and funerals
  • Only essential travel in and out of the Perth and Peel regions to other parts of WA.

Please note that the 4 square metre rule and 20-person limit for private gatherings do not apply to office environments.

For more information on the post-lockdown measures visit www.wa.gov.au.

Work arrangements – home, community and the office

Team members who normally work in the office are now able to work from office locations if they wear a mask. If your circumstances allow it, you may have the opportunity to continue working from home.

Residential and community-based services will operate under strict hygiene and health protocols.

For policies relating to leave, working from home and flexible work practices, please see the links below.  If you have any queries about these policies, get in touch with the People Services team.

Pandemic Leave Policy

Working from Home Policy

Flexible Work Policy

If you’re unsure about what these lockdown changes mean for you, please speak with your Practice Lead (or equivalent).

PPE – Wearing a mask

The state government have developed posters to help inform the community about mask wearing.

View this poster about when and how to wear a mask

View this poster about how to use cloth vs disposable masks

Listen to this community radio announcement about wearing masks

A reminder about COVID testing

If you have a COVID test for any reason, please notify Head of People Services, Jen Park, at jen.park@unitingwa.org.au.

For more information about COVID testing visit the WA Department of Health website.

This transcript was auto generated by YouTube and lightly edited.

Good morning team Uniting. In case you can’t tell who’s under this mask it’s Michael here, although the accent and the hair probably give it away. I’m on beautiful Whadjuk Noongar Boodja this morning, and I just wanted to send all of you a message to say how incredibly fantastic it was to see the response over the last 24 to 48 hours from our teams at Uniting to the very short notice hard lockdown that we’ve gone into to hopefully beat this community transmission of COVID-19 here in WA. By 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, messages had gone out, people had started contacting each other to organise what needed to be done to respond to the lockdown and yesterday morning when the hard lockdown response group met, we were amazed at how much had been accomplished already. So just to let you all know there’s lots and lots of information on the hub and publicly available on our website to inform you of what steps we’re taking and what’s required at Uniting in terms of response to the hard lockdown. There is a hard lockdown response group that has extended on from the COVID-19 working group that we’ve kept running all the way through 2020 and we’re meeting daily to respond to any changes initiated by the government and just to keep reassessing what we’re doing at Uniting to make sure that we’re not letting anyone fall through the gaps. So stay safe and wear a mask and take care of each other and good luck to all of us.​

 

As you know, we’re in a 5-day hard lockdown which started at 6pm Sunday 31 January and ends 6pm Friday 5 February 2021.

The lockdown affects the Perth, Peel and the South-West regions (Great Southern is not affected).

You will be kept informed of the situation via SMS, email, website, Hub (intranet) and meetings. If you have any questions, please speak with your Team Lead or Practice Lead (or equivalent).

Work arrangements – home or the office?

You are required to work from home during the lockdown unless you:

  • Work in a critical service that cannot be provided from home (such as Family Group Homes, Tranby, Street to Home outreach, My Home, etc)
  • Cannot complete your work to a suitable standard from home and have approval from your Practice Lead (or equivalent) to continue working from a Uniting office.

Anyone who wishes to use leave or change leave as a result of the lockdown may do so with the approval of your supervisor.  For instructions on how to change leave in CiA, click here.

For policies relating to leave, working from home and flexible work practices, please see the links below.  If you have any queries about these policies, get in touch with the People Services team.

Pandemic Leave Policy

Working from Home Policy

Flexible Work Policy

COVID testing

If you have a COVID test for any reason, please notify Head of People Services, Jen Park.

To view the full list of locations visited by confirmed cases of COVID-19, visit the WA Health Department website.

PPE and hand sanitiser

If you do go to work, you must wear a mask at all times outside of your home (except when driving by yourself).

We have sufficient stocks of PPE for the week and the State Government is providing additional masks for all employees and the people we support.

We also have large bottles of hand sanitiser available in the kitchens at our inner-city, Fremantle and Merriwa offices. Please re-fill your handy 50ml hand sanitiser bottles issued to you by Uniting and take them with you at all times.

Got questions re PPE? Get in touch with the Admin team.

Fleet vehicles

If you have a booking for a Uniting fleet vehicle that you will no longer use, please cancel the booking in the system.

If you do use a fleet vehicle, please remember to use your own hand sanitiser before entering the vehicle, wear a face mask, and keep vehicles clean. Please do not use alcohol-based cleaners on vehicle surfaces to avoid damage.

Contact the facilities team if you need more information.

Informing the people we support

The COVID-19 updates page on the website will be updated to help inform the people we support. Teams are also contacting people affected by reduced services.

People we support can direct their general enquiries to hello@unitingwa.org.au.

If you have any queries about informing the people we support, please contact your team lead or practice lead (or equivalent).

In WA, we have been very fortunate to have so far avoided a second wave of community transmission of COVID. However, health experts are concerned that we may need to go into another lockdown period (Outbreak of UK coronavirus variant could see WA go ‘hard and fast’ into lockdown, top health authority says, ABC news).

While we’re not currently in lockdown, you should still take standard prevention measures to protect yourself, your family, and the people you support from the spread of coronavirus.

Standard prevention measures should be followed, including:

  • Not coming to work if unwell
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Physical distancing
  • Cough etiquette
  • Ensuring good ventilation
  • Cleaning/disinfecting practices
  • Using the SafeWA app
  • Obeying self-isolation/quarantine requirements.

Since March last year we’ve held ongoing COVID-19 Working Group meetings to make sure we continue to work to protect the safety of our employees and clients.

Below is a summary of our existing COVID response measures:

  • Teams will work from home where possible – see Flexible Work Practices (which incorporates Working from Home) and Pandemic Plan – Flexible Work Policy;
  • Team members are supported to not come to work if unwell and need to seek testing/self-isolate – see Pandemic Leave Policy.
  • Programs that can do so, will deliver services via alternative methods e.g. phone, video conference and suspend non-essential activities.
  • Contractual Response: All funders will be communicated with to discuss impacts on contractual obligations and agree temporary solutions to maintain deliverables.
  • Training Modules: Infection Control (all employees) and PPE Use (relevant employees).

Face to face services – suspension of non-essential activities, limiting of non-essential people to the site/homes, pre-visit phone checks to assess risk.

  • PPE, Hygiene and Cleaning: PPE Emergency Response Kits and hand sanitiser have been delivered to all face-to-face service sites/homes with PPE stock for 3-4 days. These are not to be used for general PPE requirements. 2 x dedicated bins provided to each site to assist in contaminated PPE disposal. Service Agreement in place with Cleanaway to deliver biohazard bins. PPE and hygiene stock is being ordered centrally by ICH admin so we can monitor and maintain adequate levels.
  • Response Procedures developed to respond to a suspected/confirmed case of COVID, enter/exit an isolation area, don/doff PPE, dispose of contaminated PPE, clean reusable PPE and clean/disinfect a home/office. Procedures have been provided with the PPE kits and team members must familiarise themselves with these.
  • Access Restriction signage: Provided with PPE kits that restrict access to a home/site and isolation areas within the home.
  • Risk and Contingency Assessments for individual homes/clients to assess the risk of them contracting the virus and potential impacts/mitigations have been done.
  • Employee Contingency Planning to understand which team members are able to work in a COVID positive environment, their competencies, other employers etc. Employees are to advise their line manager if their personal circumstances will/may prevent them carrying out their normal duties/roster.
  • Participant Awareness and Support: Resources have been made available to teams to help educate and support clients. Updates have been provided to Family and Guardian reference group.

For team members delivering face to face services in a suspected or confirmed COVID environment or even in the event of known community transmission, additional precautions are outlined in Keeping COVID safe when transitioning from work to home.

If you have any COVID queries or concerns, please contact your line manager or our COVID Coordinator Carmel Whitfield, Practice Lead – Risk and Compliance.

To assist with any potential COVID contact tracing requirements, the following measures are being put in place:

  • Safe WA QR Codes will be displayed in Reception at our North, South and Central offices (other sites can be requested) – scanning QR codes is contactless and will be optional for visitors, contractors and staff
  • Manual sign in for visitors and contractors will remain mandatory
  • Team members no longer need to sign in, though this will be reconsidered if we have another lockdown situation.

All team members are encouraged to download the SafeWA app, for both personal and professional use.

As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, Uniting remains focused on ensuring the safety of our team, the people we support and the community.

Our response to the pandemic is informed by public health advice and our Pandemic Response Team. We’ll keep people informed of our actions and decisions for the duration of the pandemic.

During lockdown periods, we’ll minimise non-critical face-to-face services and work remotely wherever possible.

Critical face-to-face services continuing with improved safety:

• Tranby Engagement Hub and Homelessness services, including outreach
• Family Group Homes
• My Home / supported accommodation
• Welfare checks on participants.

Additional precautions and safety measures:

• Careful return to usual workplaces and support services after lockdowns
• Observing strict hygiene practices and social distancing
• Minimising teams working across different services
• Minimising visitor and community access to services and offices where appropriate.

We will keep you informed

We’ll continue to review our response to the pandemic and provide regular updates to our team, our volunteers, the people we support and their families.

For up to date information, we recommend you regularly visit the following websites:

WA Department of Health

Australian Department of Health