The announcement on Sunday October 18 relating to the easing of restrictions in Victoria extended to some Allied Health professions but not to counselling and psychotherapy. This is extremely disappointing as some very vulnerable clients have been waiting a long time to receive face to face services.
For the latest changes to restrictions in Victoria, see the DHHS website.
Counsellors and psychotherapists in regional Victoria had already been allowed to return to face to face service delivery from 16 September, although if they can work from home they are still advised to do so. However practitioners in Metropolitan Melbourne continue to be covered by the Permitted Worker Scheme.
The government announced on Sunday that “Allied health providers that are currently listed on the Permitted Work Premises list will be able to return to delivering all routine care”. As counsellors and psychotherapists in private practice are not Permitted Work Premises, this means we still can’t deliver face to face services.
PACFA is advocating, via Allied Health Professional Australia, for counsellors and psychotherapists to be able to return to delivering face to face services without further delay.
PACFA’s position is that it is not reasonable that Allied Health practitioners that are regulated by AHPRA can return to “delivering all routine care” but that as we are not AHPRA-regulated, we still can’t provide any face to face care at all, even for the most vulnerable clients.
The only exceptions are for the very narrow categories of a Chronic Disease Management Plan, or a care plan endorsed by NDIS (including self-managed plans), TAC, Workcover or DVA, in order to prevent deterioration in functional independence. Counselling and psychotherapy provided within funded mental health services are also considered Permitted Work Premises.
Until we receive announcements about further easing of restrictions, counsellors and psychotherapists in private practice in Melbourne should continue to deliver services via telehealth (phone or video).
We are hopeful that we will be able to return to face to face service delivery soon. When we do, all businesses in Victoria that have people working on site or customers attending the work premises, must have a COVIDSafe Plan in place. For information see the DHHS website.
Practitioners should be preparing their CovidSafe Plan now, if you have not already done so, in preparation for the return to face to face service delivery. For information on how to create a CovidSafe Plan, including templates, see the Business Victoria Website.