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

The Victorian Government announced additional measures to help reduce people's chances of infection and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community. This includes the shutdown of many non-essential services across Victoria. At present, it does not include the closures of TAFEs, Learn Locals or training organisations.

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 occur on campus, it is critical that social 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, social distancing advice should be strictly followed at all times.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice line

The Department has established a dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) advice line for TAFE and training providers.

You can call the advice line on 131 823 with any questions or feedback related to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on services. It’s available Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm.

TAFE and training organisation operations

Attendance

Everyone arriving into Australia from overseas from midnight, Sunday 15 March, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. This includes students and staff who may be returning from overseas.

Students should make sure they are isolated at home and not attend a TAFE or training provider for 14 days.

This same advice applies to impacted staff.

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

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. 

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

All TAFEs are refered 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.

Health and hygeine

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

If you think a student or staff member has a confirmed case or has been in close contact with a confirmed case, contact DHSS on 1300 651 160 to discuss what to do next.

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).

Social distancing

The Victorian Government confirmed gatherings would be limited to two people in Victoria. This will be enforced by an on-the-spot fine of $1,652. It excludes people who live in the same house, or those in workplaces and education facilities such as TAFEs and other training organisations.

This restriction will come into effect from Monday 30 March, and will be reviewed after four weeks.

The Victorian Government also reiterated that there are only four reasons for Victorians to leave the house:

  1. shopping for what you need - food and essential supplies
  2. medical, care or compassionate needs
  3. exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
  4. work and study if you can't work or learn remotely.

The National Cabinet has announced new social-distancing measures. On the recommendation of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the National Cabinet determined that higher education institutions remain exempt from these requirements.

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 ‘social distancing’ which provides some great tips.

Social 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 social distancing, such as staggering break times and postponing large events.

Social 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 regularly, 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 so that the payment for March can be made in April as planned. 

Commonwealth announcement on waiving work restrictions for overseas nursing students

On Tuesday, 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.