Vision Australia’s response to COVID-19

Last updated April 6, 2020

Vision Australia is closely monitoring developments in relation to the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and we are acting on the advice of health authorities.

We currently have no indication that any member of our workforce or our client group has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

At present our main priorities are ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and clients and supporting efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

What you need to know about Vision Australia services

Vision Australia is committed to supporting the blind and low vision community through the COVID-19 pandemic, while also keeping you safe.

We’ve made some temporary changes to allow us to do this. We’ve temporarily suspended face-to-face services, and as of 5pm Friday, April 3 you won’t be able to attend a Vision Australia location for the time being.

This doesn’t mean you can’t keep accessing our specialist blindness and low vision services and equipment.

Our team is ready to provide you with services via telehealth. This means you can use technology to connect and receive your regular Vision Australia services from the safety and comfort of your own home. All of our services are available to new and existing clients through telehealth.

If you have face-to-face appointments impacted by our decision, we will be in touch in the near future to discuss your options. You can also contact us by phone on 1300 84 74 66 or via email at info@visionaustralia.org.

Telehealth and Vision Australia appointments

At present, we have temporarily suspended face-to-face Vision Australia appointments, but our service providers are still available to support you.

We’re offering telehealth appointments to all our clients to support you remotely.

Telehealth is a new and safe way for you to get the Vision Australia services you want. Our team uses technology such as video conferencing or telephone to conduct your appointments in your own home.

What is so good about telehealth?

  • Easy and convenient access to services in your own home, so there is no need for you to travel
  • Safe for you and our service providers
  • You can invite your family or friends to be involved in a session, as multiple people can be connected at one time in different locations
  • Lower costs as your funding is used for the service only, there are no travel costs.

What technology will be used?

A telehealth session may use one or more forms of technology during an appointment. This may include:

  • Video conferencing via Zoom platform
  • Telephone based appointments
  • Use of email/SMS
  • Combination of the above.

If you would like to know more about telehealth at Vision Australia, head to www.visionaustralia.org/services/telehealth.

If you would like to continue your services using telehealth, or would like to book in a new service, call us now on 1300 84 74 66 or email info@visionaustralia.org.

Will I be charged for telehealth services?

Telehealth services will attract a fee just like a face to face service would. The fees vary depending on what funding you have.

If you don’t currently have funding available call us to discuss what options are available to you.

Your usual phone and data costs may apply for the telehealth sessions.

If you would like to continue your services using telehealth, or would like to book in a new service, call us now on 1300 84 74 66 or email info@visionaustralia.org

Vision Store

You can still continue to access specialist blindness and low vision technology and equipment through our Vision Store.

Purchases can be made online at www.shop.visionaustralia.org or over the phone on 1300 84 74 66 Monday-Friday from 9am-7pm AEST.

From April 2, all purchases made online will include free shipping. We have also extended our returns policy from 30 days to 90 days to make sure you’re getting the products that suit your needs.

Please note, we are unable to apply free shipping or the returns policy to sales through National Disability Insurance Scheme packages, Department of Veteran Affairs or similar.

The COVID-19 pandemic may impact delivery time and availability of some products, but our team will do all they can to make sure you get the products you need.

You can find our latest product catalogue online at shop.visionaustrali.org and you can also email the Vision Store team via visionstore@visionaustralia.org.

Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs

The Seeing Eye Dogs team is continuing to carry out the vital work of breeding, raising and training Seeing Eye Dogs.

Some changes have been put into place to keep the staff, clients and volunteers safe, while allowing this work to continue. For more information, please visit www.sed.visionaustralia.org/covid19

Vision Australia COVID-19 support line

Vision Australia has established a dedicated COVID-19 support line for the blind and low vision community.

You can call the Vision Australia COVID-19 support line on 1300 88 70 58 8.30am-7pm Monday to Friday AEST.

The support line is not an emergency resource. It is designed to help people who are blind or have low vision find and access information and troubleshoot COVID-19 related issues.

The support line is manned by Vision Australia staff, who will be able to help you access information about Vision Australia services, other blindness and low vision supports, the latest government restrictions and advice, and other resources to help you stay safe and connected.

Read more about the support line here.

Check in and chat Webinars

Vision Australia has launched a new series of free webinars to help people stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every Tuesday and Thursday we’ll be holding our Check in and Chat webinars via Zoom, a communications platform.

Zoom is both accessible and fully secure. You can join Zoom from your phone, computer or tablet device from the safety and comfort of your own home.

Check in and Chat Webinars will run for 30-40 minutes and each session will be hosted by Vision Australia experts. We’ll be covering a range of different topics, including technology, entertainment, health and wellbeing and more.

Attendees will also be able to have their questions answered by our experts.

Check in and Chat webinars are free, but you will need to register to attend.

You can find out more about the Check in and Chat webinars online at www.visionaustralia.org/checkinandchat or by emailing checkinandchat@visionaustralia.org.

Government restrictions and advice

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Australian Government has introduced a number of measures.

The below information comes directly from the Australian Department of Health.

Non-essential gatherings

Stay at home unless you are:

  • going to work or education (if you are unable to do so at home)
  • shopping for essential supplies such as groceries, return home without delay
  • going out for personal exercise in the neighbourhood, on your own or with one other
  • attending medical appointments or compassionate visits

Whenever you are out of the home, always practice good physical distancing and hand hygiene.

This is especially important for people of the over age of 70, those over 60 years who have existing health concerns and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the aged of 50 who have existing health concerns. These groups should limit the contact with others as much as possible when away from home.

Essential gatherings

Essential activities include:

  • essential workplaces, where you cannot work from home
  • health care settings
  • pharmacies
  • food shopping
  • schools and universities, where you cannot study from home
  • public transport and airports

These essential gatherings must apply social distancing and good hygiene practices, including:

  • being able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people
  • providing hand hygiene products and suitable rubbish bins, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal

Self-isolation

You must self-isolate if any of the following applies to you:

  • you have COVID-19
  • you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020.

For information on how to self-isolate, refer to the Australian Department of Health website.

Social distancing

Everybody is encouraged to practice social distancing. Social distancing is designed to limit interactions between people.

You can implement social distancing at home, in the community, at work and at school.

The Australian Department of Health has resources available to download on how to carry out social distancing:

Staying connected with Vision Australia

You can contact Vision Australia via phone on 1300 84 74 66 or via email at info@visionaustralia.org.

We have a number of ways we can help people stay connected with Vision Australia and the wider community, including:

General COVID-19 advice

If you would like more information about the COVID-19 situation in Australia, please visit the Australian Government Department of Health website

If you would like to speak to somebody about your situation, you can phone the government's 24/7 hotline on 1800 020 080. You can also phone your regular GP, or in emergency situations call 000.

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and we will be in contact if we are required to take further steps.

Ron Hooton
CEO, Vision Australia