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COVID-19 Hub

LIV & Government FAQs for the legal profession

COVID-19 Restrictions Victoria – LIV FAQs (and new Mandatory Vaccination FAQs)

Updated 11 October 2021

These questions and answers are still subject to final confirmation from the Department of Health and Human Services and have been compiled with the best of our knowledge based on Chief Health Officer Directions to date.

The LIV is presently seeking clarification from government on several questions we have received from our members arising from the publication of the new COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions. The current Chief Health Officer directions are available here.  We are also preparing a workplace-specific COVID-19 Vaccination Guidance for the legal profession, to address these queries in further detail.

These FAQs are not intended to provide legal advice, and the LIV recommends that employers seek independent legal advice if considering mandatory vaccination policies or disciplinary action arising from them.

Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of authorised workers: FAQ

Directions:

The COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions (‘the Directions’) commenced at 11.59PM 7 October 2021 and end at 11:59PM on 21 October 2021. The purpose of these Directions is to ‘impose obligations upon employers in relation to the vaccination of workers, in order to limit the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-02) within the population of those workers’ per clause 1.

Background:

On 1 October 2021, the Victorian Government announced mandatory vaccination requirements for all authorised providers and authorised workers who are not working from home. Under clause 5(3) of the Directions, a worker (being a worker identified in Column 1, Schedule 1 of the Directions) will not be permitted to continue working on site after 15 October 2021, unless they have been vaccinated  or show proof of a booking to receive the first vaccine dose by Friday 22 October . They will need to be fully vaccinated by 26 November.

It is noted that the timeframe for vaccination reflects Victoria’s Roadmap, which anticipates that from 5 November, workers in both Metro Melbourne and regional Victoria will be able to return to work if fully vaccinated. This will follow the milestone of over 80% of persons aged 16+ being fully vaccinated.

Q1. Are lawyers considered ‘workers’ under the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions?

Yes, Australian legal practitioners are considered ‘professional service workers’ where they provide services ‘in connection with the administration of justice where the services cannot be provided by an online communication, teleconference or by means of an audio-visual link facility.’

Clause 8(8) of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions defines employers and workers as follows:

(8) For the purpose of these directions:

(a) employer in relation to a worker means:

(i) the person who employs or engages the worker; or

(ii) if the worker is self-employed—the worker.

(b) worker means a person identified in Column 1 of Schedule 1, whether paid or unpaid, but does not include:

(i) a Commonwealth employee; or

(ii) a person who works in connection with court proceedings.

Note: Please note that clause 9(24) refers to judicial officers or court or tribunal staff.  See also the message from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria dated 8 October here.  

Schedule 1 refers to professional services worker, which is defined at clause 9 (23) as below:

(a) Australian legal practitioner has the same meaning as in the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014;

(b) legal worker means an Australian legal practitioner who provides services in connection with the administration of justice where the services cannot be provided by an online communication, teleconference or by means of an audio-visual link facility;

(c) professional services worker means:

… (ii) a legal worker.

The LIV understands that at present, the Directions do not apply to legal support staff.

It is important to note, that Schedule 1 outlines the following dates relating to professional services workers which are referred to throughout the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions:

  • Relevant date: 15 October 2021
  • First dose deadline: 22 October 2021
  • Second dose deadline: 26 November 2021

Q2. Do these directions apply to legal practitioners in both Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria?

As noted above, the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions apply to workers’ outlined in Schedule 1 of the Directions. The LIV has been in discussions with government, and understand that the Directions apply to all regions of Victoria.

Q3. Employer obligations regarding the vaccine mandate

Clauses 4 and 5 of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions outline an employer’s obligation  to collect, record and hold vaccination information of workers, and to ensure unvaccinated workers do not work for that employer outside their ordinary place of residence (see below for further information).

Clause 5(6) outlines that an employer must notify their workers who are, or may be required to work outside their ordinary place of residence after the relevant date of their obligations, as soon as reasonably practicable after the commencement of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions.

An employer is not required to comply with their obligations under clauses 4 and 5 if an exceptional circumstance pursuant to clause 6 applies. Determining whether an exceptional circumstance applies is ultimately a matter of legal interpretation, and you must form your own conclusion on a case-by-case basis – see question 7 below

Q4. Must an employer collect vaccination information of employees who work outside their ordinary place of residence?

Employers are obligated to “collect, record and hold” vaccination information of workers, in circumstances where a worker is or may be scheduled to work for that employer, outside their ordinary place of residence on or after the relevant date. Refer to clause 4 of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions for further information.

An employer must collect the vaccination information, as soon as reasonably practicable after the commencement of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions pursuant to clause 4(4).

An employer must comply with the request of an Authorised Officer to produce vaccination information held. Refer to clause 7 of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions.

Q5. What is vaccination information?

Vaccination information is defined at clause 8(7) of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directionsas follows:

(7) For the purposes of these directions, vaccination information is information about a person’s vaccination status and includes information that is derived from a record of information that was made under, or in accordance with, the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 of the Commonwealth.

Note: Vaccination information may be recorded in a variety of documents, such as a letter from a medical practitioner, a certificate of immunisation or an immunisation history statement obtained from the Australian Immunisation Register.

The coronavirus website also states:

“Evidence of your vaccination can include: Immunisation history statement available from Medicare

The Victorian Government is in the process of adding another option to quickly and easily prove your vaccination status through the Service Victoria app. This is expected to be available in October.”

Q6. Can unvaccinated workers continue to work from home?

Yes, unvaccinated workers may continue to work from home but they must not work outside their ordinary place of residence. Clause 5 of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions outlines that an employer must not permit an unvaccinated worker to work outside their ordinary place of residence on or after the relevant date.

An employer may only permit a worker to work outside their ordinary place of residence where an exception provided at clause 5(3)-(4) applies. Pursuant to clause 5(3) an employer may permit an unvaccinated worker who has a booking to receive, by the first dose deadline, a dose of a COVID-19 vaccination to work outside their home.

Q7. Are there any circumstances in which an employer can allow an unvaccinated worker to attend the office?

Clause 6 of the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions provides that an employer is not required to comply with their obligations under clauses 4 and 5 where one or more of the exceptional circumstances outlined in clause 6(2) applies. Where an exceptional circumstance applies, the employer must take “all reasonable steps” to ensure that the worker doesn’t work outside their ordinary place of residence longer than necessary (clause 6(3)).

The exceptional circumstances pursuant to clause 6(2) are:

  • a worker is required to perform work or duties that is or are necessary to provide for urgent specialist clinical or medical care due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance; or
  • a worker is required to fill a vacancy to provide urgent care, to maintain quality of care and/or to continue essential operations due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance; or

Example 1: a large number of workers furloughed due to exposure at a Tier 1 site.

Example 2: a medical practitioner is required to work outside their ordinary place of residence on short notice due to an emergency situation.

  • a worker is required to respond to an emergency; or

(d) a worker is required to perform urgent and essential work to protect the health and safety of workers or members of the public, or to protect assets and infrastructure.

Q8. How will the Directions be enforced?

On or after the relevant date, businesses will be required to ensure that they hold vaccination

information for all their onsite workers and if an employer does not have the required vaccination information, the employer must treat the worker as unvaccinated. (Clause 5(2)).

If an authorised officer attends a workplace and finds workers who are not vaccinated, or do not have the required vaccination information by the relevant date, both employers and employees can be fined. The penalties are the same as other breaches of restrictions or directions (refer to the Fines Victoria website here). On-the-spot fines of up to $1,817 can be issued to individuals and up to $10,904 for businesses for failing to comply with the directions, whilst a court can impose a fine of up to $21,808 for individuals and $109,044 for an employer.

Q9. On what grounds can a worker object to getting vaccinated?

The Victorian Government Coronavirus website advises that the only exemption available is on medical grounds – there is no exemption for religious or other beliefs.

A person is an ‘excepted person’ pursuant to clause 8(5) of the Directions:

(a) if the person holds certification from a medical practitioner that the person is unable to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical contraindication; or

(b) if the person holds certification from a medical practitioner that the person is unable to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine due to an acute medical illness (including where the person has been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2).

A medical contraindication is defined at clause 10(7) to include one of the following contraindications to the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine:

(a) anaphylaxis after a previous dose;

(b) anaphylaxis to any component of the vaccine, including polysorbate or polyethylene glycol;

(c) in relation to AstraZeneca:

(i) history of capillary leak syndrome; or

(ii) thrombosis with thrombocytopenia occurring after a previous dose;

(d) in relation to Comirnaty or Spikevax:

(i) myocarditis or pericarditis attributed to a previous dose of either Comirnaty or Spikevax; or

(e) the occurrence of any other serious adverse event that has:

(i) been attributed to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by an experienced immunisation provider or medical specialist (and not attributed to any another identifiable cause); and

(ii) been reported to State adverse event programs and/or the Therapeutic Goods Administration;

By October 15 a worker must either show proof they have received or booked their first vaccination by October 22 (Refer to clause 5(3)), in order to work outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence.

Q10. What happens if a worker refuses to get vaccinated?

The coronavirus website states: “If the employee does not have a medical exemption, the employer is required to take reasonable steps to prevent entry of unvaccinated workers, or workers who choose to not disclose their vaccination status.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman advises the following:

“An employer should, as a first step, ask the employee to explain their reasons for refusing the vaccination. If the employee gives a legitimate reason for not being vaccinated (for example, an existing medical condition that means vaccination is not recommended for the employee), the employee and their employer should consider whether there are any other options available instead of vaccination. This could include alternative work arrangements. Whether disciplinary action is reasonable will depend on the circumstances.

Restrictions applicable for Metropolitan Melbourne

Note: The restriction levels in Mitchell Shire and Mildura Rural City Council are the same as those in Metropolitan Melbourne excluding the curfew.

As Victoria passed its first threshold on the Roadmap with 80% of Victorians receiving their first dose of vaccine, a modest easing of restrictions was announced from 11.59pm Tuesday 28 September.

In Metropolitan Melbourne (and locations in regional Victoria currently in lockdown), the reasons to leave home per clause 5 of the Stay at Home Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 28) include:

  • Shopping for necessary goods and services;
  • Caregiving or compassionate reasons;
  • Authorised work or permitted education if you cannot do it from home;
  • Exercise or social interactions (for up to four hours);
    • You may exercise or socialise with one other person from another household plus their dependents if unable to be left unattended.
    • Up to five persons from two households may socialise or exercise if everyone over 18 years old has had two vaccination doses.
  • Other specified reasons; or
  • To get vaccinated at the nearest possible location.

A travel limit of 15km from your primary place of residence applies unless an exception applies. Refer to clause 5(3)-5(9) of the Stay at Home Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 28).

Face masks must be worn at all times when leaving the home, unless an exemption applies, pursuant to clause 5(19)-(20) of the Stay at Home Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 28).

A curfew has been imposed from 9.00pm – 5.00am every night for residents living in Metropolitan Melbourne, and there are limited exceptions to leave the home during that time. Refer to clause 5(10) of the Stay at Home Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 28).

An authorised worker must carry a permit when working and when travelling to and from work. Refer to clause 5 of the Workplace directions (No 51).

Q11. Can a client attend the office, or can I attend the client’s home?

The Victorian Government has provided further guidance as to whether a legal practitioner can work from the office, and whether clients can attend the office, or a legal practitioner can attend the client’s home in Metropolitan Melbourne. A legal practitioner must consider the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions if attending the office or a client’s home as noted above. The Victorian Government Office Workplace FAQs for Metropolitan Melbourne note the following:

I am a legal practitioner. Can I work from my office under the current restrictions? Can clients visit me, and can I visit clients?  

If matters cannot reasonably be conducted online or over the phone, authorised workers - including legal practitioners - are permitted to work from their business premises.   

Legal practitioners accessing their work premises must have a valid Authorised provider and authorised worker permit.  

Clients can visit a legal practitioner’s workplace for urgent legal matters such as executing a will. This applies even if the legal practitioner’s workplace is more than 10 km from the client’s home.  

In urgent circumstances that require in-person services, legal practitioners can visit the client at their home if their worker permit lists their client’s address in addition to their own workplace. The permit must show the expected date and time of the visit.   

Where possible, legal practitioners should adopt contactless ways of exchanging paperwork with their client (for example, using electronic paperwork or arranging for the delivery of paperwork over the phone).  

Legal practitioners must wear a face mask whenever they leave home, including when visiting a residence, unless they have a lawful reason not to. Physical distancing of 1.5 metres should be maintained, where possible.  

The LIV notes that ultimately, determining whether or not a client may attend the office, or whether you may attend the client’s home is a matter of interpretation, and you must form your own conclusion on a case-by-case basis. In the event that you do determine that the client can attend the office, or you may attend the client’s home, it is recommended that you keep a detailed file note of this decision.

Q12. Do I require an authorised worker permit if attending onsite work?

An employer must not permit a worker to perform work at the work premises unless the worker is an authorised worker and carries photographic identification and a current Authorised Worker Permit issued by their employer. Refer to clause 5 of the Workplace Directions (No 51)An authorised worker must therefore carry the permit whilst working and travelling to and from work, unless an exception applies per clause 5(8) of the Workplace Directions (No 51).

The requirements for an Authorised Worker Permit are outlined at clause 5(7) of the Workplace Directions (No 51)The approved form for an Authorised Worker Permit is available here.

Q13. Can I access childcare or early childhood services?

Pursuant to clause 8(3) of the Stay at Home Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 28)a person may only leave the premises to obtain a childcare or early childhood services in a restricted area as follows:

8             Leaving premises or entering the Restricted Area to attend work or education

(3) A person may leave the premises under subclause (1)(b) only if obtaining childcare or early childhood services in the Restricted Area: 

(a) if it is not reasonably practicable for the person to obtain a childcare or early childhood service from the premises where they ordinarily reside; and

(b) for childcare or early childhood services, if the child, children or young person:

(i) has:

(A) two parents or guardians and one of them is; or

(B) a single parent or guardian and that parent or guardian is,

 an authorised worker or work for an authorised provider and holds an Authorised Worker Permit; and

 (C) is not working from the premises and is unable to make alternative supervision arrangements for that child, children or young person leaving the premises to attend childcare or early childhood services; or

(D) is working from the premises and is unable to make alternative supervision arrangements for that child, children or young person leaving the premises to attend childcare or early childhood services; or

 Note 1: an authorised worker (or person who works for an Authorised Provider) working from home can access childcare if they have an Authorised Worker Permit

 Note 2: An Authorised Worker that is required to work shift work (e.g. overnight shift at a hospital) is permitted to send their child(ren) to childcare or an early childhood service outside their working hours so they can rest.

(ii) has a single parent or guardian and that parent or guardian is working and unable to make alternative supervision arrangements for that child, children or young person leaving the premises to attend childcare or early childhood services; or

(iii) is a vulnerable child or young person.

The Authorised Worker and Authorised Provider Worker Permit Forms now deal with access to childcare.

Q14. What are the restrictions relating to in-home child-minding services?

Pursuant to clause 7(1)(l) of the Stay at Home Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 28), a person may leave the premises for care or compassionate reasons ‘to provide child-minding assistance (whether on a paid or voluntary basis) in accordance with clause 7A’.

Clause 7A reads as follows (emphasis added) - 

(1) The reasons relating to care or compassion in relation to child minding are to:

(a) take a child, children or young person to another person’s premises; or

(b) allow a person to enter the parent or guardian’s premises

where a child, children or young person is not able to be cared for at the premises by a suitable adult, for the purpose of that other person providing child-minding assistance (whether on a paid or voluntary basis):

(c) because the child is a vulnerable child or young person and requires at home childcare; or

(d) so that:

(i) the parent or guardian can undertake work as an authorised worker, or for an authorised provider, where the child, children or young person is younger than primary school age; or

(ii) where:

(A) there are two parents or guardians and both of them are; or

(B) there is a single parent or guardian and that parent or guardian is,

an authorised worker, or work for an authorised provider:

(C) the parent(s) or guardian(s) can undertake work as an authorised worker, or for an authorised provider, where the child, children or young person is primary school aged; or

(iii) where there is a single parent or guardian and that parent or guardian is unable to make alternative supervision arrangements for that child, children or young person who is younger than primary school age, the parent or guardian can undertake work; or

(iv) the parent or guardian in circumstances where the parent or guardian cannot take the child with them, can:

(A) obtain goods and services for health or medical purposes (including vaccinations) in accordance with clauses 6(1)(b) or 10A; or

(B) obtain other necessary goods or services, in accordance with clauses 6(1)(c)(ii), or 10(1)(d); or

(C) can attend an essential public support service permitted under the Restricted Activity Directions (Restricted Areas); or

(D) undertake care and compassionate activities in accordance with clauses 7(1)(a), 7(1)(b)(i), 7(1)(b)(ii), 7(1)(c), 7(1)(d) – (f), 7(1)(h), 7(1)(i), 7(1)(n); or

(E) meet any obligations in relation to care and support of another child, in order to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of that child; or

(F) undertake activities in accordance with clauses 10(1)(a) – (c) or (k); or

(G) exercise or social interaction in accordance with clause 9 (exercise or social interaction), where the parent or guardian is single; or

(e) where the parent or guardian is an authorised worker who undertakes shift work, to:

(i) facilitate the care of a child outside of school or childcare hours; or

(ii) rest in between shifts

Restrictions applicable for Regional Victoria

The Premier announced that restrictions in regional Victoria eased from 11.59pm Thursday 9 September. As Victoria passed its first threshold on the Roadmap with 80% of Victorians receiving their first dose of vaccine, a further modest easing of restrictions was announced from 11.59pm Tuesday 28 September.

Per the current  Table of Restrictions  there is no longer a stay at home requirement or travel limit imposed. However, there are intrastate travel limits to limit movement between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. Refer to clause 5(2) of the Stay Safe Directions (Regional Victoria) (No 13).

Face masks must be worn at all times when leaving the home, unless an exemption applies, pursuant to clause 5(8)-(9) Stay Safe Directions (Regional Victoria) (No 13).

Note: The restriction levels in Mitchell Shire and Mildura Rural City Council are the same as those in Metropolitan Melbourne excluding the curfew.

Q15. Can I attend the office in regional Victoria?

A legal practitioner must consider the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions if attending the office as noted above.

Employees may attend the office if it is not reasonably practicable to work from home, and your employer has advised that it is permissible to do so in accordance with the current Directions in force. Refer to clause 6 of the Stay Safe Directions (Regional Victoria) (No 13).

Offices are permitted to have up to 25% of total number of workers attend the work premises, or up to 10 workers if the total workplace is 40 persons or less. Clause 5 of the Workplace Directions (No 51) considers the operation of the work premises when employees are in attendance. Clause 5(2) provides further information regarding employers in regional Victoria, and extract of which is provided below:

(2) An employer in respect of a Work Premises in Regional Victoria:

(b) in relation to office-based Work Premises, an employer:

(i) subject to subclauses (b)(ii) and (b)(iii), may permit workers who reside in Regional Victoria and who do not fall within subclause (2)(a) to work from the employer’s Work Premises; and

(ii) must use their best endeavours to ensure that the number of workers permitted to attend the Work Premises at any one time is limited to the greater of: (A) 25 per cent of the total number of workers for that Work Premises; and (B) 10; and

(iii) the cap in subclause (ii) does not apply, and may be exceeded, where it is not reasonably practicable for more than 25 per cent of the total number of workers for that Work Premises or 10 workers (whichever is greater), to work at the worker’s place of residence or another suitable premises which is not the Work Premises; and…

The density quotient of 1 person per 4sqm applies to all shared and publicly accessible areas at the Work Premises per clause 6(17)-(20) of the Workplace Directions (No 51).

General Queries

Q16. Does our office require a COVIDsafe Plan?

Employers must ensure that offices have a COVIDSafe Plan if there are employees attending the office - Refer to clause 6(2) of the  Workplace Directions (No 51). See also information relating to COVIDSafe Planning available on the LIV COVID-19 Hub here.

An employer is required to comply with directions provided by Authorised Officers or WorkSafe inspectors to modify a COVIDSafe plan, refer to clause 6(5) of Workplace Directions (No 51).

Q17. Is our office required to use electronic record keeping?

Yes, an employer must keep a record of all persons who attend the Work Premises utilising the QR code system provided by the Victorian Government as per clause 6(6)-(7) of the Workplace Directions (No 51).

Where it is not reasonably practicable to record attendance using the Victorian Government QR code system or there is an access issue preventing the QR code system from operating, an employer must use an alternative record-keeping method to comply with the record keeping requirements. Refer to clause 6(8) of the  Workplace Directions (No 51).

Q18. Are there remote supervision arrangements for new lawyers undertaking the period of supervised legal practice?

Yes, the Victorian Legal Services Board & Commissioner has provided information regarding remote supervision during COVID-19. Further information and a template plan for remote supervision is available on the VLSBC website here.

Q19. COVID and Solicitor’s Certificates, can they be done?

Face to face VOI is required by rule 11.2 of the Legal Profession Legal Practice (Solicitors) Rules 2015It cannot be done remotely.

When it is not possible to see the client face to face, you may be able to negotiate an alternative with the lender. The client can still receive the practitioner’s advice remotely, by video conference, and the lender may accept a client acknowledgement that the advice has been received. 

It is also prudent to bear in mind the risks of providing Solicitor’s Certificates, as they shift the risk from the lender to the solicitor. They are even riskier in uncertain times. It is recommended that you read the LPLC’s Solicitors’ certificates – risky business in COVID – 19, as well as the LPLC’s webinar and power point slides Solicitors’ certificates in unusual times.

The LPLC’s Managing Mortgage Risk guide is found here.

Electronic Signing and Witnessing

Q20. What is the current situation regarding remote witnessing and electronic signing of documents?

On 23 March 2021 the Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Act 2021 (Vic) (the Act) received royal assent. For the most part, the Act came into force in Victoria on 26 April 2021, being the date that the previous temporary regulations were due to end.

The LIV has recently published a Practice Note which provides further guidance on the introduction and application of the Act.  

Prior to the commencement of the Act, the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Electronic Signing and Witnessing) Regulations 2020 (Vic) temporarily allowed the remote witnessing and signing of certain documents in Victoria by audio visual link. The Act permanently amends various justice Acts to allow for the continued operation of processes and procedures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the remote witnessing and signing of certain documents in Victoria by way of audio visual link. The Act includes amendments to the following:

  • Electronic Transactions (Victoria) Act 2000;
  • Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018;
  • Wills Act 1997; and
  • Powers of Attorney Act 2014.

Q21. Can we certify copies of documents remotely?

No. The Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Measures) Act 2021 does not provide for the online certification of original/true copies of documents. If the client holds the original, you will need to ask the client to send the original documents to you, and you will need to certify them in the conventional way. 

Q22. Are we still able to file unsworn affidavits with the court?

It would be prudent to check whether the relevant court has provided any information on its requirements. The Victorian Bar Incorporated has produced a Consolidated Guide to Victorian and Commonwealth Court and Tribunal Responses to COVID-19 (PDF), which on page 43 refers to a court’s inherent power to admit unsworn affidavits.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Support

Q23. Where can I access mental health support?

We recognise that the current situation continues to challenge our resilience.  If you are feeling overwhelmed or just struggling to cope please ask for help. LIV members can contact the LIV’s Member Counselling Service 24/7 on 1800 818 728 (services delivered through our partner, AccessEAP).  You should also check relevant government websites to see what mental health services may be available to you.

Additional LIV Support Services

Q24. What other services does the LIV have available to support me?

The LIV welcomes Megan Fulford in the new role of Wellbeing Manager in the Ethics, Wellbeing & Practitioner Support Department. Megan will develop the mental health and wellbeing strategy for LIV members, and facilitate the promotion of new wellbeing initiatives in response to member needs for the benefit of the profession. Megan has worked as a consultant psychologist in the public sector as well as large corporate organisations and brings a wealth of experience to the LIV.

The Law Institute of Victoria is investing in expanding and diversifying our support for members in these unprecedented times. We are now able to offer members a number of new or extended services that have been designed to assist practitioners understand the impact of COVID-19 on their Firms and facilitate a phased return to onsite work as Victoria moves towards COVID normal.

The free and confidential services are provided by a panel of experienced and highly qualified subject matter experts, and have been designed to complement existing services, tools and resources.

Employment Law Advisory Service (New Service)

Providing confidential advice to members with respect to employment law issues arising from the impact of COVID-19.

The service is available to:

  • Individuals with personal employment law queries related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Practitioners, Managing Partners or Legal Practitioner Directors of an Incorporated Legal Practice with enquiries related to the conduct of their practice, where their practice has no more than 5 PC holders (unless otherwise agreed on a case by case basis).

Contact us for a referral:

Infection Control and COVIDSafe Planning (New Service)

Providing advice on infection control principles and the development of a COVID Safe Plan for your legal practice.

Contact the Practice Support Line for a referral:

You can also visit the LIV COVID-19 Hub for information and resources for the legal profession.

Ethical Guidance (Existing Service)

Access confidential ethics guidance, support and resources to assist lawyers in making informed decisions, including accessing confidential support via the Ethics help line, submitting a ruling request to the LIV Ethics Committee, staying on top of ethics guidelines and ruling updates, and participating in ethics professional development workshops.

Practice Support Line (Existing Service)

Access support via the Practice Support helpline regarding starting, managing and closing a legal practice, human resources, day to day practice issues and requirements and obligations under the Legal Profession Uniform Law.

Practice Management Consultancy Service (Now includes Cashflow Management advice)

The Practice Management Consultancy Service (PMConsult) is a bespoke confidential service designed to assist practitioners who may need a helping hand to develop their practice and risk management skills and comply with the Uniform Law and Legal Profession Uniform Rules.

The service compliments the existing Practice Support Line and provides an additional layer of support via a confidential and complimentary one-on-one consultancy service which is designed to work with practitioners to strengthen areas of practice management and develop remedial action plans.

The service has been expanded to provide access to experts who can assist with cashflow management, guidance on government assistance programs and practice strategy.

Trust Accounting (Existing Service)

The Trust Consultancy Service (TrustConsult) is a confidential service designed to support legal practitioners implement sound management practices, or validate existing practices, in the way trust money and trust records are handled, ensuring the Uniform Law and Legal Profession Uniform General Rules requirements are met.

The services range from a telephone help line to a one-on-one consultancy service with an experienced practitioner with significant expertise in trust management.

The coronavirus response is constantly evolving, and the LIV is working hard to provide timely updates to its members. We recommend that you check the DHHS website for more information and advice about current restriction levels in Victoria.

The LIV COVID-19 Hub is also regularly updated with FAQs, practice notes, templates and checklists. You can also call the LIV Practice Support Line: (03) 9607 9378.

Victoria’s Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan

On 19 September 2021, the Premier announced Victoria’s Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan. The Roadmap demonstrates that restrictions in Victoria will continue to ease as vaccination targets are met. The Roadmap is provided here.