As Australia continues to move towards COVID Safe operating, it is important to make sure your church or organisation has the necessary risk management strategies in place to operate safely. Ultimately the required public health measures are determined by the individual states and territories. These restrictions differ state-to-state and may change frequently depending on the local situation and heath advice. It is essential that you monitor the requirements as they pertain to you.
To assist you, we’ve put together a guide of where to find up to date information and resources.
A great place to start is reviewing and updating your risk register and Business Continuity Plan. This will help identify risks that require immediate attention. You may already have some controls or treatments in place that can be modified to respond to the COVID related risks. For example you may have a regular and thorough cleaning schedule in place but need to increase the frequency.
What does my church/organisation need to do?
Most organisations are required to have a documented COVID Safe plan and in some cases this must be registered with the relevant state or territory government. In addition, occupancy limits may apply and some organisations will be required to nominate a Hygiene Marshal and/or record contact details for all attendees on the premises for contact tracing purposes.
These requirements differ depending on the organisation’s location, facilities and industry sector. The individual state and territory governments have established dedicated webpages outlining local requirements and resources available to assist with COVID Safe operations. Information for each state and territory (including specific information for places of worship) is listed below.
Health direct provide a regularly updated COVID-19 Restriction Checker detailing restrictions for various types of gatherings, activities and businesses in each state and territory.
As your organisation moves through the various stages of COVID Safe operating, it is important to clearly communicate with your stakeholders. Changes to your operations may need to occur quickly if government regulations are tightened or there is a suspected outbreak linked to your location. A communications plan can assist with providing clear and accurate information in a timely manner. It may also prevent confusion about who will be providing the information and how it will be delivered.
Is COVID Safe training available for my organisation?
The Australian Government together with state and territory governments have established an $80 million Infection Control Training Fund to fast-track fee free (or low fee) infection control training to support the re-opening of customer-facing businesses nationwide.
Training is offered by select TAFE and Registered Training Organisations and delivered through short accredited training courses. More information is available here and below.
How should I collect contact tracing information?
It’s important to check the specific requirements for your state or territory and sector as they may differ. If you are required to collect contact information, this must be done in accordance with privacy obligations. The Office of Australian Information Commissionerhas provided the following guidance when collecting information:
You should only collect the personal information required under the Direction or Order
Individuals should be notified before you collect the personal information
Information should be stored securely once you have collected it
You should only provide this information to relevant health authorities who undertake contact tracing activities, when requested to do so
Information should be destroyed once it is no longer reasonably necessary for the purpose of contact tracing
You may choose to use a digital recording system (example: QR code) however it’s important to have an alternative tracing method available in case of a technical issue or for those unable to use the QR code system.
If you elect to use a paper-based system, consider having a staff member or volunteer record the details on a form that is kept private. This also eliminates the need for multiple people to touch the same pen and paper. It’s recommended to digitise records collected on paper within 24 hours (example: scan/photograph) and store the file confidentially and securely.
Where can I find resources (e.g. signs and posters)?
Safework Australia and other government departments have created a range of resources, in multiple languages, that organisations can download and display. Posters cover topics such as hygiene (example: handwashing and cough etiquette), maintaining a distance, capacity limits, mental health and general information. Links to some of these resources are available below.
What should we do if a suspected infectious person has visited our church or organisation?
Safework Australia outlines the steps to follow if you suspect someone could have the virus and is present at your organisation or has visited recently.
All areas of suspected contamination must be thoroughly cleaned before the area can be used again. More information about cleaning can be found in the Additional Resources section below.
State & Territory information
Expand the sections below for more information about restrictions and available resources for your state or territory.