WA COVID-19 Guide

Posted on 2 March 2022- updated 4 March 2022

WA clarification on COVID-19 advice- Update 4 March

On Wednesday 2 March we sent information regarding the WA Government COVID-19 Framework for System Alert and Response (SAR) and the escalation to a ‘Red Alert’ level state-wide.

We have received further clarification as to how this impacts other psychology settings such as private practice. 

Essentially SAR sets the minimum standards for public services such as hospitals, as well as public community, home and outpatient mental health services. 

We have been advised that private practice should view the SAR information as recommendations to manage and mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 transmission, from a workplace health and safety perspective as well as extra protections for clients and members of the public. Psychologists working in private practice or NGO settings should carefully review SAR to determine their own strategies and responses pending any further Government advice. 

As with everything COVID-19 related, please carefully consider all information provided so that you understand your individual and workplace obligations. 

We will continue to provide updates and information as they become available. 

Further information

COVID-19 Guidelines for healthcare practices in the community in a high and very high caseload environment 

COVID-19 Framework for System Alert and Response (SAR)


The following information is provided as a summary of the currently available advice. Psychologists must ensure they have a thorough understanding of the rules and requirements as they relate to their particular circumstances.

Update 2 March 4.47pm AWST

Never a dull moment with COVID-19. Just as we sent our COVID-19 Guide, we received the following update.

From tomorrow Thursday 3 March all regions in WA are shifting to a Red alert level.

We understand this will mean the following:

General Guidance

  • All staff working in clinical areas at a healthcare facility (HCF) to wear a surgical mask on entry & exit to the facility and whilst transitioning to their ward/unit whereby they are to change their PPE to a PFR (P2/N95 Particulate Filter Respirator) and protective eyewear for the duration of their shift, this includes in shared areas such as meeting rooms, tea rooms 
  • Comply with physical distancing requirements in all Health Care Workers (HCW) break areas where possible 
  • All non-clinical staff entering a HCF and staff working in non-clinical areas can continue to wear a surgical mask with the addition of protective eyewear if they transit through clinical areas 

Mental health services- community, home and outpatient services 

  • Face to face appointments are to cease, be deferred or held virtually where possible and clinically appropriate
  • Group therapy sessions are to cease, be deferred or held virtually where possible and clinically appropriate
  • If urgent care is required in outpatient setting, community or home and cannot be deferred or delivered via alternative methods (e.g. telehealth), assessment and treatment (including
    administering medication) will be provided and PPE advice in Amber Alert (COVID-19 ALERT) should be followed  
  • Paediatric mental health services should ensure both parents are considered as essential visitors/carers and are able to attend appointments and family therapy together – complying with Visitor and PPE Guidelines

    Health Care Worker (HCW) staff screening and testing, includes volunteers and student/clinical placements- assumes HCW are fully vaccinated

  • HCWs are to seek immediate testing if they develop any symptoms compatible with COVID-19 with a RAT as soon as possible. If RAT negative & symptoms persist, repeat RAT in 24 hours. 
  • Positive RAT should be considered confirmed COVID-19 case 
  • For asymptomatic HCW working within healthcare settings managing vulnerable patients (e.g. transplant ward, haematology unit, oncology ward, renal dialysis units, labour & birth suite, maternal foetal medicine units & post natal wards, burns, IV lounge/similar day units). Recommended voluntary RAT three times a week, but consideration may be given to limiting to symptomatic staff only, if supply issues.

Telehealth

If you need assistance with transitioning to telehealth, please reach out. AAPi members can access discounts with COVIU.

We also have a number of telehealth webinars including:

The Psychology of Telehealth

Telepsychology Update: Evidence, Efficacy, Extended Funding

We also have a number of telehealth resources here.

And please ensure you are using the correct item numbers! You can find our telehealth reimbursements guide here.

Further information

Please read the following information carefully for your individual circumstances and workplace.

https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus/COVID19-Framework-for-System-Alert-and-Response

https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/Corp/Documents/Health-for/Infectious-disease/COVID19/WA-Health-COVID-19-Framework-for-System-Alert-and-Response.pdf 

 

We are here to help! Please reach out if you need anything. We will provide further information or clarifications as soon as possible.


COVID-19 has presented a complex and constantly evolving set of challenges for businesses and individuals. We understand that our members are seeking clarity and direction on how to conduct their business and uphold their professional, ethical, legal and safety responsibilities. AAPi will continue to provide further advice and guidance as it becomes available. 

Psychologists are required to follow lawful directions from the WA and Federal Government (such as public health directions), from their employer and from Ahpra/the Psychology Board of Australia.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

There are health orders in place in WA relating to the mandatory vaccination of health care workers, including booster requirementsFair Work Australia has further information regarding workplace vaccinations.

At the present time, there are no mandates that require clients/patients to be vaccinated to access face-to-face health care. 

A business or practitioner can make their own determinations about who they will permit to enter their premises to receive service as long as they act within the relevant anti-discrimination laws in their jurisdiction. Please review the Ahpra statement regarding access to care. If you are unsure of your rights and responsibilities, we would encourage you to seek further clarification pertaining to your practice plan or business circumstances by obtaining legal or HR advice. 

Promoting Safety for Staff & Clients

Business owners, employers and sole traders have a duty of care to reduce the risks of COVID-19 to their clients and staff in their workplace as much as possible.

Please refer to the WA Government's general workplace preparation guide and the COVID Safety Plan Guidelines

Face masks are currently required unless a valid exemption applies. 

When developing your practice plan some considerations include:

  • Pre-appointment screening checks for Covid-19 with appointments rescheduled if client is symptomatic
  • The impact on and needs of the client, yourself and your team
  • Alternative service delivery methods (telehealth & telephone)
  • Practical ability & capacity to minimise close client-staff and client-client contact
  • The reason and the urgency of consultation
  • The vulnerabilities of staff, clients and visitors and any other health & safety risk factors
  • Current public health directions and advice
  • Whether the use of PPE, ventilation and cleaning could be increased 

Private Practices in WA do not currently have to check in clients or maintain a contact register.

Telehealth is available

Where clinically appropriate and at the discretion of clients and psychologists, telehealth is available. This is particularly helpful for those with vulnerabilities or at times of high local transmission of COVID-19.

Critical Worker Furloughing

In the event of very high levels of COVID-19 and shortages of critical workers, the WA Government has developed a guide for certain critical workers who are close contacts and do not have any symptoms to temporarily leave isolation to attend work in certain circumstances.

HR Advice

AAPi has partnered with WorkPlacePLUS Australia’s leading workplace investigation and HR consultancy supporting the healthcare, aged care, community, public and NFP sectors. We have paid for all members to have an initial consultation for any workplace concerns. This service is available to employers, employees and contractors.

Find out more about this service here.

You can also watch this recent webinar with WorkPlacePLUS which goes through current COVID considerations. 

WorkPlacePLUS has also prepared a handy reopening guide.

A final note from AAPi  

The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for us all. As we enter the next phase of this journey and encounter the inevitable obstacles we urge patience, kindness and respect. While AAPi is unable to provide individual legal advice we are happy to listen and provide guidance based on the current directions. 

AAPi will continue to provide information to assist our members in navigating the changes to requirements as soon as they become available.