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Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and Pandemic Interruption Payments

Current as at 24 January 2022

There are almost daily updates to the rules around testing for Covid and we know it is hard to keep up to date. We’ve done a short summary of some of the most relevant questions to help you stay safe.  

Where can I buy a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)?

It may be difficult to find a RAT at the moment but the Federal Government has suggested that stocks will be replenished by mid to late January.

You may be able to buy a RAT kit either online or from pharmacies and retailers, including major supermarkets. You can also go to websites like https://findarat.com.au/ to see if there is availability near you.

Only use tests that have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). See the TGA’s list of approved tests here, including links to videos on how to use each test. This list is updated regularly.

In Victoria, people with disability can contact their local disability liaison officer to request access to free RATs as announced by the State Government on 17 January. More info here https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccination-information-people-disability 

When should I do a RAT?

If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 or if you have even the mildest cold or flu symptoms, you should get tested straight away.

The list of possible symptoms can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/health-alerts/covid-19/symptoms-and-variants.

What is the definition of a close contact?

According to the Federal Government’s definition here, you are a close contact if you:

  • live in the same house as someone who tests positive
  • spent 4 hours or longer with someone in a home, or health or aged care environment
  • are determined as one by your state or territory health department.

Must I have a RAT test prior to supporting a client?

​​No, a Rapid Antigen Test is not a requirement of any State or Territory Public Health Orders at this time. However we understand that some clients are asking their support providers to do a test in order for them to feel safer. As with other support requests, this is a conversation that should be had between the client and the worker to see what can be accommodated.

For more information on requirements and screening questions to ask before a shift go here https://mable.com.au/covid-19/

If my client asks me for a RAT test, who is responsible for paying for this?

This should be discussed with your client to determine what arrangement the two of you are comfortable with.

In specific circumstances, clients and providers may be able to access free RAT tests or claim part of the cost back. For more details, see “Can I claim the cost of the RAT kit?

Can I claim the cost of the RAT kit?

NDIS participants can purchase rapid antigen tests (RATs) with funding from their NDIS plan.

Participants can use their core funding to purchase RATs where it is required to access their reasonable and necessary supports.

The Government has also said that Home Care Package recipients may be able to use their Package funds to cover the costs of purchasing Rapid Antigen Tests. We recommend discussing this with your Home Care Package provider.

On 5 January, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced free RAT will be available to these concession cardholders:

  • Pension Concession Card
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
  • Health Care Card
  • Low Income Health Card

If you have one of the above concession cards, you will have access to a maximum of 10 tests over three months. 

For more information visit https://www.health.gov.au/health-alerts/covid-19/testing

Is the cost of a RAT test a tax deduction?

In very limited circumstances, there may be a reason why you can claim a RAT test for work purposes. We would advise you to speak to your accountant regarding your personal circumstances and whether you can claim RAT tests as a tax deduction.

Do I have to report my RAT results?

The NSW Government has introduced compulsory reporting of a positive RAT result via the Service NSW app. Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have already introduced mandatory reporting for positive rapid tests.  

How long do you need to isolate for?

State and territory health authorities have information, resources and links for more support for people with COVID-19, including when you can leave isolation:

Call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 for information about looking after yourself when you are sick with COVID-19.

Is there financial support available if I test positive?

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is available to people who stand to lose work because they are in isolation due to being infected or being a close contact. You are also eligible if you are caring for a child under the age of 16 who is a close contact or has the virus, or you are caring for someone with a disability or severe medical condition who is isolating as a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

Couples who are isolating can both apply for the payment.

There are a number of eligibility criteria that apply to the payment, however.

You can find Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment conditions specific to your state or territory here.

How much is being offered?

Anyone who loses over 20 hours of work may be eligible for a $750 payment per 7 day period of isolation, and those who lose between 8 and 20 hours, may be eligible for a $450 payment per 7 day period of isolation.

A financial hardship test will also be introduced, which will mean anyone with $10,000 available and accessible to them will not get the payment.

How do I apply?

You can apply now through an online form on the Services Australia website. If you’ve checked the Services Australia website and are sure you qualify, you can find the form here.

If you cannot use online services, call 180 22 66 for help claiming the payment.

What proof do I need?

A positive RAT registered with a state or territory health authority or proof of a positive PCR test will suffice for future compliance checks. Proof of communication from health officials directing you to isolate can be provided as proof of being a close contact.

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