Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for TAFE, training providers, apprentices and trainees

The Department of Education and Training (the Department) is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Victorian Chief Health Officer to monitor and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19).

TAFE and training providers will continue to offer face to face training where necessary and ensure the provision of hands-on skills-based learning is provided in line with health advice. Online and remote learning will continue in its current form until further notice.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice line, updates and frequently asked questions

If you have questions or feedback about coronavirus (COVID-19) and your sector:

If you have a general enquiry about coronavirus (COVID-19), contact the dedicated coronavirus hotline (open 24 hours, 7 days) on 1800 675 398.

You can also subscribe for the Department's coronavirus (COVID-19) updates for the higher education and skills sector.

Frequently asked questions about coronavirus (COVID-19)

TAFE and training organisation operations

Support package for universities

This package will support Victorian universities to help thousands of Victorians to stay in work and contribute to the state’s economic recovery.

Visit the Support package for universities page for information on:

  • the Victorian higher education state investment fund
  • payroll tax support
  • support for international students. 

Support for the sector to respond and recover

On 17 April, the Victorian Government announced a $260.8 million support package to ensure Victoria’s TAFE and training system is ready and able to continue to train Victorians in priority industries.

The package will provide Victoria’s TAFEs, dual-sector TAFEs, Learn Local registered training organisations and AMES Australia with $191.9 million in grants to support business continuity until 30 June 2020.

Funding will support providers in paying as many staff as possible, enhancing online training capacity and capability and maintaining the quality and safety of face-to-face training where this still needs to occur.

The package also includes $68.9m over the next three months in crisis support to ensure Victoria’s public training system can respond and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Providers will be informed of their grants and do not need to apply.

All TAFEs (including dual sector TAFEs), AMES and Learn Local registered training organisations will be supported to continue skilling our state. This package will also help provide greater security and certainty for staff.

Current students will continue to have access to the training they need to get a job and help us get through the coronavirus crisis. New students, particularly those who find themselves in changed circumstances, will benefit from TAFEs increasing their online and remote learning. Business and industry will benefit from TAFEs’ continued ability to produce graduates with the skills we need to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

TAFEs are a key partner in the Working for Victoria initiative, which helps Victorians who have lost their jobs due to the economic impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19), to find new work opportunities.

For more information on the support package see the Victorian Government’s media release.

Resources for training organisations

The Department has published new resources on the Skills Victoria Training System (SVTS). Login to access the following resources:

  • CN 2020-05 Government Response to Novel Coronavirus – information about the arrangements under the VET Funding Contract to support continued training activity during coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Fact Sheet COVID19 - Disrupted Training and Reapportioning – helps training providers understand and comply with their reporting obligations during this period
  • Skills First and Covid-19 – Questions and Answers – answers to commonly asked questions.

Learn Local pre-accredited training

The ACFE Board has issued two fact sheets on the funding and delivery arrangements for pre-accredited training for the remainder of Term 2, 2020.  

Training remotely or online

The Department is communicating regularly with universities, TAFEs and training organisations to ensure they have the most up-to-date information from the Victorian Chief Health Officer and the Australian Chief Medical Officer.

All TAFEs and training organisations are encouraged to increase their ability to deliver training remotely or online where possible. Learn Locals should adopt these approaches to support continuity of provision of pre-accredited training where there is existing capability and capacity.

We understand that this may be difficult for some courses, such as trades. Where activities continue to happen on campus, it is critical that physical distancing guidelines are strictly followed in line with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer. 

Any staff who can work from home should now be working from home. If this is not possible, physical distancing advice should be strictly followed at all times.

Term 2

Education remains one of the essential reasons that Victorians may leave their premises, and there are a number of courses for which face to face instruction is required. TAFEs and other institutions will conduct a small number of classes on campus where necessary, following all of the physical distancing directions issued by the Chief Health Officer.

If remote or online learning is not possible, physical distancing measures should be strictly followed by staff and students undertaking face-to-face learning.

You should continue to attend training if classes are still being conducted.

However, if classes are available online, you should carefully consider whether you need to physically attend the campus. Avoid spending time in shared facilities such as libraries and campus study areas. Collaborative assignments and team study projects should be done using online tools. Study at home.

If you have concerns about your placement, contact your training organisation in the first instance.

The Department is aware of, and is monitoring, the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on student placements and is working with universities, TAFEs and training organisations to provide advice and support. 

Attendance

From 9pm AEDT 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia.

From 11.59pm AEDT 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving in Australia will be required to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (for example, a hotel), in their port of arrival.

This includes students and staff who may be returning from overseas excursions or other travel. Any person who is self-isolating must not visit a TAFE or training provider for any reason.

TAFEs or training providers should inform their staff and students of this advice through your TAFE or training provider’s communication channels.

Advice for international students

We encourage international students to get the most up-to-date information by:

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides information about coronavirus (COVID-19) in many languages.

The Department is working closely with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and universities, TAFEs and training providers to understand and respond to the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) on international students.

Emergency support for international students

On Wednesday, 29 April, the Victorian Government announced a $45 million International Student Emergency Relief Fund. This fund supports international students facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The fund will provide one-off payments of up to $1,100 to vulnerable international students who have either:

  • lost their jobs
  • had a significant reduction to their employment as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

International students at TAFEs, training organisations and Vocational Education Training (VET) providers may be eligible for this payment.

The one-off payment follows other support available to international students, including:

VET in Schools delivery at TAFE

Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS) will continue as normal, as it is considered a part of students’ regular learning program.

We have advised schools that there is no need to cancel VETiS arrangements at present. This includes where Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have students attending VETiS classes from a range of schools, or where students travel from their home school to another education setting to undertake VET studies. 

On 26 May, following advice from the Chief Health Officer, face-to-face provision on school sites resumed for senior secondary (Year 11 and 12) VCAL and VCE students, including students undertaking Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs.  

Find more advice for VET providers on the return to school.

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) guidance note - Victorian Public Sector

All TAFEs are referred to the Guidance Note Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) guidance note - Victorian Public Sector.

This Guidance Note applies to the Victorian TAFE Sector and provides useful information about safe working practices, managing leave requests and employees undertaking overseas travel.

Childcare services

There are a number of providers that also deliver childcare services.

These providers can subscribe to the Department of Education and Training early childhood education and care COVID-19 updates.

Health and hygiene

If a student or staff member is or has had contact with a confirmed case

Contact the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on 1300 651 160 to discuss what to do next if you think a student or staff member:

  • has a confirmed case
  • has been in close contact with a confirmed case.

DHHS defines ‘close contact’ as someone who has either:

  • had at least 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • shared a closed space for more than two hours with someone who is a confirmed case.

Unless you have a student or staff member in one of the two above categories, you do not need to take further action.

You should continue to encourage good hygiene practices as this is the most effective way of minimising the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If there is a confirmed case at your training provider

If there is a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), DHHS undertakes contact tracing to identify anyone who may have been in contact with the confirmed case. If you are impacted, you will be informed as soon as possible by DHHS or your training organisation. 

Physical distancing

The Victorian Government has announced it will gradually ease restrictions – while we continue to ensure the safety of our state.

New arrangements came into effect at 11.59pm on Sunday 31 May.

Find out more about the gradual easing of restrictions on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website.

Physical distancing tips

There are still a number of actions that organisations can take to help reduce the risk of infection and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Victorian community. 

You are encouraged to look at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) advice on ‘physical distancing’ which provides some great tips.

Physical distancing measures include non-contact greetings (no handshakes) and maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between individuals where possible.

Consider reducing the number of large student and staff gatherings as a way of practicing physical distancing, such as staggering break times and postponing large events.

Physical distancing is important in reducing physical contact and maintaining high standards of hygiene and will help reduce the spread of the virus in the community.

Maintaining good health hygiene

Remind your staff and students that everyone can protect against infections by practising good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.

Here are some tips that everyone can follow:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue, or cough into your elbow.
  • Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
  • Wash your hands often, after using the toilet, and before eating.

Health promotion materials are available to distribute and promote to your staff and students, see:

Wellbeing

As the nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak evolves and we continue to be more confined to our homes, health and wellbeing should be a priority for all of us. It’s important that we continue to look out for ourselves, and for each other.

The following organisations have web pages with advice on looking after your mental health:

Administration

Advice for Learn Local organisations

Learn Local organisations with a current Business Governance Status (BGS) assessment due by 31 March 2020 are advised that the ACFE Board has approved a six-month extension to this requirement until 30 September 2020. You can find more information about this in the latest memo.

VET funding

The Department continues to meet its obligations to pay for eligible training services under the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Funding contract. 

All providers should ensure their student and training data is updated and submitted on Skills Victoria Training System (SVTS) early this week. This is so that the payment for March can be made in April as planned. 

Commonwealth announcement on waiving work restrictions for overseas nursing students

In March 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the Commonwealth Government will relax international student nurse visa work conditions to provide workforce continuity for aged care facilities, home care providers and other health care workers.

This will allow international student nurses and other aged care workers to work more than the 40 hours a fortnight that they are currently. This measure will be examined on an ongoing basis.

Working for Victoria initiative

On 21 March 2020, the Premier announced a $500 million Working for Victoria Fund.

The fund will connect workers with new jobs that will support our state's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This program includes retraining and certifying workers for direct employment now and to have skills for the post- coronavirus (COVID-19) economy.

Those wanting to register their interest in jobs or training should visit the Working for Victoria website.

Maintaining high quality training provision

Under Skills First, the Victorian Government has set a high benchmark for training quality and qualifications that will lead Victorians to employment. Skills First includes significant investment in the ongoing monitoring of the quality of training by the Department. 

The Department continues to examine training data and will monitor any evidence of non-compliance under the VET Funding Contracts to reinforce expectations about quality training and expenditure at this time. 

The Victorian Government is making a concerted effort to ensure that its training providers understand their obligations to deliver quality training through a range of measures, including better information, free professional development training to be delivered online, facilitating best-practice guidance and hosting quality workshops. 

Apprentices and trainees

The Department is monitoring the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) on apprentices and trainees. We’re working with federal and state entities to support apprentices and trainees during this time.

Advice and support for apprentices and trainees

Apprenticeship support officers

Apprentices and trainees who need advice and assistance can contact the apprenticeship support officer program.

Call 1300 311 820 or email apprenticeship.support@edumail.vic.gov.au

Group Training Organisations

If you are an apprentice of trainee employed by a Group Training Organisation (GTO) you can contact the GTO directly for advice and support. A list of recognised GTOs is available on the VRQA website.

Apprentices and trainees who have been suspended, or lost their job completely

You can apply for the new Jobseeker payments if both apply:

  • you're not receiving Youth Allowance (Apprentice) payments
  • you’ve lost your job and are not receiving an income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you’re seeking Jobseeker payments, you do not need to provide an employment separation certificate. This means that if you have had your apprenticeship suspended – but not terminated – you’re still eligible for Jobseeker payments.

If you’re looking for alternative employment you can:

Information for employers of apprentices and trainees

The Australian Government administers employer incentives and training contracts through its Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers.

It has implemented two new programs that support employers to pay the wages of apprentices and trainees:

Advice on accessing these payments is available from your AASN provider. In most cases the relevant AASN provider is the one which processed your apprentice or trainee’s training contact. Find contact information for AASN providers.

The Australian Government also has a range of programs to assist businesses and individuals during coronavirus (COVID-19).


Advice on changing training contracts

Employers, apprentices and trainees may need to change training contracts due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Information about doing this, including frequently asked questions and contact details for further assistance is available on the VRQA website.

About apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships combine:

  • work-based training with an employer
  • formal training from a training provider.

They’re established under training contracts between the employer and the apprentice or trainee. They’re regulated by government.

The Department administers several programs to support apprentices and trainees.

The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) regulates the training contracts.

The Australian Government administers training contracts and employer incentives. It’s responsible for a range of new funding programs to support businesses and individuals during coronavirus (COVID-19).