Covid-19 Rules

There are lots of rules that have been put in place to try and protect people from catching COVID-19, and to prevent the virus from spreading. Where there is an outbreak, these rules can often change quickly. 

It’s important to know what the rules say, so you can keep yourself and others safe, and so you can make sure you don’t get into trouble with the law.

If you are under 25, and would like some free and confidential advice about COVID restrictions, you can contact us here.

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What are the restrictions right now?

The rules and restrictions for COVID-19 are updated regularly by the Victorian Government, and it can be hard to keep on top of them!

The rules that apply will depend on things like where you live, who you live with, what you do for work, your school, and if you are feeling unwell or have been tested for COVID-19.

You can find information on COVID-19 restrictions on the Victorian Government’s website. You can also find the current public health orders (directions from the Victorian Chief Health Officer) here.

What if I don’t understand the rules that apply to me?

The COVID-19 rules can be confusing, so don’t worry, you are not alone!

If you want to check what the rules say, you can try contacting the Victorian COVID Hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice. This is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

If you are looking for help in your language, you can still call the Victorian COVID Hotline on 1800 675 398, press ‘0’ for an interpreter.

If you are under 25 and unsure about the restrictions, or want legal advice about your situation, please get in touch with us here

What happens if I do something in breach of the restrictions?

Public health orders are a type of law, which means that if you don’t follow them, you may be breaking the law.

If you are caught breaking a public health order, you can be charged with a criminal offence or given a fine. Police can issue on-the-spot fines to people for some behaviour, and these fines can be several thousands of dollars. You can find a list of possible penalties for breaching COVID-19 public health orders on the Victoria Government’s website. 

I’ve been given a fine, what can I do?

Your fine should have information about your payment options. If you think the fine was fair, but can’t afford to pay it, you can:

  • Enter into a payment plan, where you pay the fine off in instalments (The Victorian government has interest-free payment plans during the state of emergency).
  • If you are eligible, request a work and development permit (where you can reduce your fine by participating in unpaid work, courses, counselling or treatment programs)

It’s really important to pay your fine, or enter into one of these options, before the fine due date. 

If you think the fine was unfair, it wasn’t you, or because of your personal circumstances you think you should be given leniency, you can request an internal review of the fine. You can find more information about requesting a review on the Victorian Legal Aid COVID-19 website.

You can also elect to take a fine to court. This is where the Court will decide if you are guilty or not guilty of the offence, and will decide what penalty to give you. It’s important to know that there are risks and costs with going to court. There are also time limits on this option. We strongly recommend you get legal advice before choosing this option.

If you are under 25 and you have been given a fine, you can always contact us for free and confidential legal advice and information. 

School, Universities and TAFE during lockdown

You can find out information about the rules about going to school, University, TAFE and other education on the VIC Government’s website.

We know that going to school during lockdown, or doing school online, can be tough. If you are finding school hard, we encourage you to talk to your parents or carer, a teacher you trust, or your school counsellor to get some support. If you live with a disability, you can get reasonable supports to help you at school. 

If you want some legal advice about your situation at school, University or TAFE, you can contact us for free and confidential legal advice and information here. 

Employment

There are lots of ways COVID-19 can impact your employment. Some people have lost their jobs or lost hours, others face restrictions or rules about what they can do at work. The rules that apply will depend on what sort of work you do.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has some great information on their website about COVID-19 and workplace laws in Australia.

If you have lost your job, you may have rights under unlawful termination or unlawful dismissal laws. We recommend you have a look at our webpage on Getting fired and unfair dismissal. It’s important to know that there are short time limits for taking legal action for unfair dismissal. If you think you might have been unfairly dismissed from work, we recommend you get legal advice as soon as possible. 

If you are under 25 and you have an issue at work, you can contact us for free and confidential legal advice and information here. \

Safety at home and online

You have a right to be safe at home. If you are ever in immediate danger, please call the police on triple zero (000) and try to get to a safe place. Leaving home because of family violence is not in breach of the public health orders. 

If you are experiencing violence or abuse at home, please talk to someone you trust about what is happening. This could be a family member, a teacher or a counsellor. You can also contact us for legal advice about your situation.

For more information, you can have a look at our pages on child abuse and domestic violence.

If you are experiencing bullying online, or other online behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, it’s important to tell someone about what’s happening and get some support. You can find out more about online safety, and what you can do, on our website.

Support

It’s important to know that if you are finding lockdown tough, there are services that can help you.

Mental health

If you are 25 or under, you can get free counselling and support from Kids Helpline or eHeadspace:

  • You can call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 for free and private counselling (available 24 hours a day, but there can be a wait to get through). They are happy to talk to young people between the ages of 5-25 years about anything that’s troubling them. You can also email them or chat online at: http://kidshelpline.com.au.
  • eHeadspace provides counselling to young people ages 12-25 who are worried about their mental health or are feeling alone. You can call them on 1800 650 890 (from 9am to 1am). You can also email them or chat online at: https://www.eheadspace.org.au. 

ReachOut resources to help you cope during lockdown 

It’s been a stressful time all around the world as we deal with coronavirus (COVID-19) and the uncertainty it brings. ReachOut have put together some awesome resources to help you take care of your wellbeing, especially during lockdown.

Centrelink

There are Centrelink payments available for some people who are financially affected by COVID-19. You can find out more about available payments and your eligibility on the Services Australia website.

Housing

If you are renting in Victoria, there is some help for tenants who are affected by COVID-19. For more information, we recommend you check out the Tenant’s Victoria COVID-19 Guide.

If you need crisis accommodation, or if you are at risk of homelessness, please call crisis and emergency housing services Victoria, a statewide homelessness information and referral telephone service. You can call them on 1800 825 955, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or you can visit their website https://www.housing.vic.gov.au/crisis-emergency-contacts

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