COVID-19 advice to BTFA members (updated)

All Bowen therapists must be aware of the potential health implications of the extremely serious coronavirus (COVID-19) currently spreading worldwide, including Australia.

Think about how the virus could affect your clinic and take necessary precautions as advised by the Australian Government Department of Health. Focus on the best way to protect your own health and how to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. The Australian Government Department of Health has provided specific information for those working in the health care sector.

The BTFA recommends therapists ensure they are familiar with, and up to date on, best practice standards around hygiene and infection control. We recommend you review the recommendations from the Australian Government on a regular basis. You can also refer to the BTFA’s Information Sheet for BTFA Members issued on 16th March 2020 which contains information on hygiene protocols.

It is very important that you ensure full clinical record keeping, including informed consent and contraindications for insurance purposes.

Can I reopen my Bowen therapy practice?

As of Monday 25th May 2020, Bowen therapists working in all states and territories, except some restricted areas in Victoria can reopen their clinics if they wish to do so.

All reopening businesses should create a COVID Safe Plan as recommended by government authorities to keep your workplace healthy, safe and virus-free. Please see links below for the state-specific COVID Safe Plans:

South Australia COVID Safe Plan
Queensland COVID Safe Plan
Western Australia COVID Safe Plan
New South Wales COVID Safe Plan
Northern Territory COVID Safe Plan
Tasmania COVID Safe Plan
Victoria COVID Safe Plan
Australian Capital Territory COVID Safe Plan

IMPORTANT
1. Only Bowen therapists who work out of clinics which do not operate within a restricted business location (e.g. a wellness centre or beauty parlour – check the current restrictions in your state) can return to practice.
2. Check that your first aid certificate is current. If it is due for renewal and you are not able to attend face-to-face training, please check with your insurer to make sure that you are covered. The BTFA can provide a statement if required giving exemption until a first aid training can be completed.

Business restrictions by state 

For restrictions on businesses permitted to operate during COVID19, please visit your relevant state or territory’s Department of Health website:

New South Wales
Victoria
South Australia
Western Australia
Tasmania
Queensland
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory

Insurance and COVID-19
Read the statement dated 9th April from BTFA’s insurance partner Aon Australia regarding run-off cover and members ceasing their professional services. This applies to Bowen therapists who are insured through the Aon Health Combined Professional Indemnity, Public & Products Liability Scheme.

Aon has also released two COVID-19 statements relating to policy response and remote working, as well as a free webinar‘An enterprise approach for protecting people and operations’ (2 CPE points).

CPE training opportunities during COVID19

BTFA-APPROVED WEBINARS: Check out the BTFA’s list of recommended webinars HERE.
(2 CPE points per hour apply for webinars during the COVID19 period, unless otherwise stated).

IMPORTANT: Please ensure you obtain a certificate of attendance for webinars where possible, in order to obtain CPE points. All members must keep these on file in case of audit.

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UPDATES 

This information page will be updated regularly as per the advice received from government authorities.

Update Wednesday 8th July 2020

From 11.59pm on 8th July 2020, new restrictions have been announced for the Melbourne metropolitan area and Mitchell Shire. For more information on this announcement, including a list of which suburbs have been affected, visit the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services website here. These restrictions are in place until 19th July 2020 11.59pm.

Victoria has provided a Summary List of Restrictions online here.

All Bowen therapists practicing in the state of Victoria must adhere to the restricted activity directions provided by your state government. The full Restricted Activity Directions document can be found online here.

If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you can practice at this time, please contact your relevant state health authority in the first instance.

Read more: ABC news report 7th July 2020

Update Wednesday 10th June 2020

The government has recommended that all reopening businesses create a COVID Safe Plan to keep your workplace healthy, safe and virus-free.

All members are advised to complete a COVID-Safe Plan specific to your state, in addition to the Federal Government’s 30 minute online COVID19 infection control training.

Update Monday 1st June 2020

(relevant to SA members only)

The BTFA was today made aware of the SA government’s COVID-Safe Plan.

Business that were required to close as part of COVID-19 restrictions must create a COVID-Safe Plan by 1st June before they can reopen. The process is quick and simple – you must fill in a specific government form to create your COVID-Safe Plan.

How to create a COVID-Safe Plan
Fill out the required form available at https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/recovery/create-a-covid-safe-plan
(scroll down until you reach the blue tab marked ‘Complete the COVID-Safe Plan form’ and click on that).

Follow the instructions as directed via the information provided by the SA government.

Update Monday 25th May 2020

The BTFA has received confirmation that Bowen therapists in Victoria can reopen their clinics if they wish. The information was provided via an email from the Public Health Emergency Operations and Coordination, Department of Health and Human Services.

Update Thursday 14th May 2020

The BTFA has received confirmation via email from the South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet that Bowen therapy is ‘no longer directed to cease under the Non-essential business and other activities (No 5) Direction’.

If you are working in SA and are considering reopening your practice, we urge you to carefully consider the following:

Are any of your clients, or anyone in your immediate family / community immuno-compromised or recovering from a medical procedure?

If so, we would urge caution and would remind you to practice the strictest hygiene protocols as outlined in the infection control information provided by the SA Department of Health. Remember that the virus is highly contagious and can remain on certain surfaces (steel and plastic) for up to 3 days. We also recommend you undertake the online COVID19 infection control training and have your certificate to hand as proof.

As a professional therapist, you have a responsibility to yourself and your immediate community to make an informed decision and abide by the recommendations of the health experts. Before you confirm an appointment with your client, we recommend you have a list of questions ready to ask them over the phone. These can include:

  • If they’ve undertaken any recent travel (particularly international travel via plane or cruise ship)
  • Any symptoms of ill health, including fever, sore throat, cough, loss of smell or taste
  • If they’ve been in contact with anyone with the above symptoms while in their local area, at a hospital, at work or at home.

If the answer to any of the above is yes, we urge you to advise your clients that they will need to reschedule their appointment to a later date. If you or your clients realise you’ve been in contact with a potentially infected person, you should close your clinic immediately and seek advice from a medical professional by phone. Remember that certain people can be asymptomatic and not realise they are carrying the virus.

Update Tuesday 12th May 2020

Tasmania
We can confirm that restrictions have this week been lifted for Bowen therapists practicing in Tasmania, confirmed via email from the Tasmanian State Control Centre in Hobart.

As with other states where restrictions on practicing Bowen therapy have lifted (QLD, NSW, WA), please refer to the advice outlined on the Tasmanian Government’s website on infection control, and follow strict hygiene protocol as advised by authorities.

Bowen Therapy is not restricted as a service and can be provided under the Gatherings direction. What is restricted under the direction are the premises from which this service can be provided.  Services can be delivered from non-restricted premises, such as health or medical facilities.

Restricted premises, such as such as gymnasiums, health clubs, fitness centres, wellness centres and other similar premises or venues are not permitted to open or operate under the Gatherings direction, except in limited circumstances for physical rehabilitation services under the direction of a registered health practitioner or an accredited exercise physiologist.

Victoria
The Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer has released updated Restricted Activity Directions effective midnight 12th May 2020. We are currently seeking clarification on when Bowen therapy will be allowed to resume in VIC.

Update Friday 8th May 2020

Following the release of South Australia’s Roadmap for Easing COVID-19 Restrictions, the South Australian directions in relation to restrictions will be updated with changes to take effect from Monday 11 May.

Update Saturday 2nd May 2020

Bowen therapists working in Queensland are now permitted to reopen if they wish.

We have been have informed us of this positive news received today (Saturday 2nd May) in an email sent from the Queensland Department of Health.

Bowen therapists can now return to work in NSW, WA and QLD only. Bowen therapists in the remaining states and territories are advised to remain closed until further notice. Remember that fines apply if restrictions are not adhered to.

While we welcome this news on the lifting of restrictions in QLD, if you are working in QLD and are considering reopening your practice we urge you to carefully consider the following:

Are any of your clients, or anyone in your immediate family / community immuno-compromised or recovering from a medical procedure?

If so, we would urge caution and would remind you to practice the strictest hygiene protocols as outlined in the infection control information provided by the QLD Department of Health. Remember that the virus is highly contagious and can remain on certain surfaces (steel and plastic) for up to 3 days. We also recommend you undertake the online COVID19 infection control training and have your certificate to hand as proof.

As a professional therapist, you have a responsibility to yourself and your immediate community to make an informed decision and abide by the recommendations of the health experts. Before you confirm an appointment with your client, we recommend you have a list of questions ready to ask them over the phone. These can include:

  • If they’ve undertaken any recent travel (particularly international travel via plane or cruise ship)
  • Any symptoms of ill health, including fever, sore throat, cough, loss of smell or taste
  • If they’ve been in contact with anyone with the above symptoms while in their local area, at a hospital, at work or at home

If the answer to any of the above is yes, we urge you to advise your clients that they will need to reschedule their appointment to a later date. If you or your clients realise you’ve been in contact with a potentially infected person, you should close your clinic immediately and seek advice from a medical professional by phone. Remember that certain people can be asymptomatic and not realise they are carrying the virus.

 

The BTFA has sent an updated letter (version tailored to VIC here) to each of the remaining state governments, requesting Bowen therapy practitioners be allowed to resume work. This letter has been adapted for each state and territory.

Update Friday 24th April 2020

The QLD government have announced updates to the list of essential services permitted to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, available on their website here.

It has been announced on 21st April 2020 that remedial massage therapists are now permitted to reopen in QLD. However, this does not yet include Bowen therapists. We have been advised that the QLD government are currently in the process of considering other modalities.

The relevant section of the QLD government’s website can be found under ‘beauty and personal care services’ and states:

Health services provided by health practitioners registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, with social distancing observed to the extent possible. Example – physiotherapists and chiropractors.

Massage therapy for the management or prevention of a disease, injury or condition, provided by a qualified massage therapist, with social distancing observed to the extent possible.

Qualified massage therapist means a massage therapist who:

  • holds a relevant qualification (minimum AQF level 5 (Diploma)) under the Australian Qualifications Framework;
  • Example – Diploma of Remedial Massage or Bachelor of Health Science (Myotherapy)
  • is a member of a professional organisation within the meaning of section 10 of the Private Health Insurance (Accreditation) Rules 2011 (Cwlth); and
  • holds approved provider status with one or more private health funds.

We are currently seeking clarification from QLD, VIC, SA, ACT, NT and TAS as to when Bowen therapists can resume practicing, but for now only Bowen therapists in NSW and WA are permitted to reopen as per government advice.

Update Wednesday 22nd April 2020

It has been announced today on the WA government’s COVID-19 coronavirus: community advice website under ‘Prohibited activities and venues’ that some restrictions have been relaxed with regards to alternative medicine and therapy practitioners.

Under the table headed ‘Beauty and personal care services’ there is a category for Chinese and alternative medicine / therapies which states: “There are no restrictions on the practice of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, as long as such practices do not operate from an affected place e.g. a wellness centre or beauty parlour.”

The table is pasted below for reference.

Beauty and personal care services

Business, premises or place Exceptions
Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours None
Spas and massage parlours None
Chinese and alternative medicine/therapies There are no restrictions on the practice of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, as long as such practices do not operate from an affected place e.g. a wellness centre or beauty parlour.
Float centres None
Remedial massage The provision of remedial massage therapy by an allied health professional is permitted if deemed essential for a patient’s care. This service must not occur from a prohibited place e.g. a wellness centre or beauty parlour.

We have today received confirmation via the WA government’s COVID information line, that as long as Bowen therapists have undertaken the COVID-19 infection control training online and had proof that they had done so, that Bowen therapists can resume practicing in WA if they wish to do so, provided they were not working from a wellness centre (eg. a day spa) or a beauty parlour.

While we welcome this news on the lifting of restrictions in WA, if you are considering reopening your practice, we urge you to carefully consider the following:

Are any of your clients, or anyone in your immediate family / community immuno-compromised or recovering from a medical procedure?

If so, we would urge caution and would remind you to practice the strictest hygiene protocols as outlined in the infection control information provided by the WA Department of Health. Remember that the virus is highly contagious and can remain on certain surfaces (steel and plastic) for up to 3 days.

As a professional therapist, you have a responsibility to yourself and your immediate community to make an informed decision and abide by the recommendations of the health experts. Before you confirm an appointment with your client, we recommend you have a list of questions ready to ask them over the phone. These can include:

  •     If they’ve undertaken any recent travel (particularly international travel via plane or cruise ship)
  •     Any symptoms of ill health, including fever, sore throat, cough, loss of smell or taste
  •     If they’ve been in contact with anyone with the above symptoms while in their local area, at a hospital, at work or at home

If the answer to any of the above is yes, we urge you to advise your clients that they will need to reschedule their appointment to a later date. If you or your clients realise you’ve been in contact with a potentially infected person, you should close your clinic immediately and seek advice from a medical professional by phone. Remember that certain people can be asymptomatic and not realise they are carrying the virus.

We recommend you refer to the information from WA Department of Health’s website in case your reason for practicing is questioned, and keep a copy of your COVID19 infection control training certificate to hand.

The BTFA and the BAA are presenting a united front and are actively lobbying the State and Federal Governments to allow Bowen therapists to resume practice in each state if they wish, in line with remedial and therapeutic massage. We will update members on this as information becomes available.

Update Saturday 18th April 2020

It has been announced that from Saturday 18th April 2020, Bowen therapists practicing in NSW are now included in the list of businesses who may re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BTFA and the BAA are actively lobbying the State and Federal Governments to allow Bowen therapists to resume practice in each state if they wish, in line with remedial and therapeutic massage practitioners (you can read our joint letter here). We are currently waiting on a response from the remaining states and territories (they have all acknowledged receipt of our letter) and will keep you updated as soon as more information becomes available.

While we welcome the news from NSW, if you are practicing in NSW and are considering reopening, we urge you to carefully consider both your and your clients’ circumstances first. Are any of your clients, or anyone in your immediate family or community immuno-compromised or are they recovering from a medical procedure? If so, we would urge caution and would remind you to practice the strictest hygiene protocols as outlined in the hygiene information for workplaces provided by the NSW Department of Health. Remember that the virus is highly contagious and can remain on certain surfaces (steel and plastic) for up to 3 days.

If you are in NSW and decide to reopen your clinic, we recommend printing out the information from NSW Health and refer to clause (k) ‘services provided in other alternative health care fields’ and have it on hand in case you are asked by authorities about why you are practicing Bowen therapy.

The BTFA advises that at this stage, apart from in NSW, Bowen therapists in other states and territories are advised to remain closed until further notice as per our previous advice.

We will continue to present a united front and lobby relevant MPs on our members’ behalf. We will advise members in the remaining states and territories as soon as possible on when they may resume practicing Bowen therapy, based on updated advice from relevant authorities.

Update Friday 17th April 2020

It has been announced that in NSW, remedial and therapeutic massage therapists have been allowed to resume practicing. See the current list from ANTA outlining the permitted / not permitted status for Remedial Massage and Myotherapy in Australia.

Please note that currently, based on government advice, the BTFA advises that Bowen therapists should continue to remain closed until further notice as we do not fall under ‘allied health’ and are not AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) members. We will provide an update as soon as possible if anything changes.

What is the BTFA doing?

The BTFA is actively lobbying the Federal and State Governments to allow Bowen therapists to resume practicing also. Read the joint letter from the BTFA and BAA. We are continuing to monitor the information from authorities and responding accordingly. To date, we have only received an acknowledgement that the letter has been received.

What you can do

If you wish, you may want to contact your local representative to pressure them to raise this issue with relevant ministers on a State and Federal level. If you don’t know your local MP, you can look them up on the Australian Electoral Commission website via postcode, electorate or suburb. Then click on your electorate — you’ll be given the name of your local MP and a link with more information on how to contact them.

Update Wednesday 15th April 2020

Remedial massage therapists and myotherapists are resuming practice in VIC and WA, based on information released by authorities in each state. The Australian Natural Therapists Association website has further information.

The BTFA is currently looking into what this means for Bowen therapists practicing in those states. Our current advice remains for Bowen therapy clinics to remain closed until further notice, based on up to date information from the government authorities.

The BTFA is actively lobbying government ministers to allow Bowen therapists to resume practicing, in line with remedial massage and myotherapists. Read the joint letter from the BTFA and the BAA to Health Minister Greg Hunt. The letter has also been personalised and sent to state MPs including:

Western Australia
Mark McGowan, WA Premier
Roger Hugh Cook, WA Minister for Health

Victoria
Daniel Andrews, VIC Premier
Jenny Mikakos, VIC Minister for Health

New South Wales
Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Premier
Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Health

South Australia
Steven Marshall, SA Premier
Stephen Wade, SA Minister for Health

Queensland
Annastacia Palaszczuk, QLD Premier
Dr Steven Miles, QLD Minister for Health

Northern Territory
Michael Gunner, NT Chief Minister
Natasha Fyles, NT Minister for Health

Australian Capital Territory
Andrew Barr, ACT Chief Minister
Rachel Stephen-Smith, ACT Minister for Health

Tasmania
Peter Gutwein, TAS Premier
Sarah Courtney, TAS Minister for Health

We urge our members to also contact their local MPs to put pressure on the Federal Government.

Update Thursday 9th April 2020

Media Statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Hardship provisions announced for energy, water and rates

The National Cabinet has agreed to a nationally-consistent approach to hardship support across the essential services for households and small businesses. Businesses eligible for the JobKeeper payment will automatically be considered to be under ‘financial stress’ for the purposes of accessing hardship arrangements.

These principles include:

  • Offering flexible payment options to all households and small businesses in financial stress – including small businesses eligible for the JobKeeper Payment;
  • Not disconnecting restricting supply/services to those in financial stress;
  • Deferring debt recovery proceedings and credit default listing;
  • Waiving late fees and interest charges on debt; and
  • Minimising planned outages for critical works, and provide as much notice as possible to assist households and businesses during any outage.
  • Those who can continue to pay their bills need to keep doing so – this is critical to ensuring the ongoing viability of essential services providers. But we need to ensure an appropriate safety net is in place for those experiencing financial stress.

Update Monday 6th April 2020

The BTFA and the BAA send a joint letter to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt regarding the exclusion of Bowen therapists from practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Update Friday 3rd April 2020

BTFA’s insurance partner Aon Australia has released two COVID-19 statements relating to policy response and remote working, as well as a free webinar:

Aon Document 1Policy response to COVID-19
Aon Document 2Remote working

Aon Australia FREE webinar (claim 2 CPE points) – ‘An enterprise approach for protecting people and operations’

Update Wednesday 1st April 2020

JobKeeper Payment announced for sole traders

The Morrison Government has announced a JobKeeper Payment for sole traders affected by COVID-19. It’s a $130bn support package to keep Australians in work.

Sole traders may be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment if their turnover has reduced. Following registration by the eligible business, the Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee for a maximum of 6 months.
To register, go to https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/jobseeker-payment

From The Guardian online, 1st April 2020: Am I eligible for the Jobkeeper payment? Here’s everything you need to know to register

Update Monday 30th March 2020

Online CPE training opportunities
The BTFA is currently looking into more online webinar opportunities for BTFA members, given that most face-to-face trainings have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19. The CPE Subcommittee has recently approved 3 new online trainings that people can do from home. BTFA members can claim up to 5 CPE points for each of these online trainings  (proof of attendance is required). These are available online at:

You can find a list of recommended webinars for Bowen therapists here (many are free). After watching a webinar, please ensure you fill in the required webinar application form in order to claim CPE points.

Update Sunday 29th March 2020

Media statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison
The National Cabinet has agreed to limit both indoor and outdoor gatherings to two persons only. Exceptions to this limit include:

  • People of the same household going out together;
  • Funerals – a maximum of 10 people;
  • Weddings – a maximum of 5 people;
  • Family units.

Update Friday 27th March 2020

The BAA and BTFA have issued a joint letter from both associations addressed to the Health and Finance Ministers. The letter outlines a request for support packages for industry and individuals in therapeutic roles to assist them through the COVID-19 emergency. Read the letter here.

Update Wednesday 25th March 2020
COVID-19 COMMUNICATION TO BTFA MEMBERS 25 MARCH 2020

With the health and safety of our members and their clients top of mind, and the deadly, life-threatening nature of COVID-19, we are advising BTFA members to consider closing their Bowen clinics as of midnight tonight, Wednesday 25th March 2020 until further notice based on advice issued by the Australian Government.

If you continue to practice Bowen therapy, please be advised that this is at your and your clients’ own risk. We also recommend you contact your insurance company for updated insurance advice with regards to COVID-19.

You will also need to consider the healthcare concerns of yourself and those around you when deciding whether to close your Bowen clinic. You, or those people closest to you may have healthcare concerns that make it necessary for you to limit your physical interaction with others. Coronavirus is highly infectious and it has recently been reported that it can remain on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours.

Update Tuesday 24th March 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a Media Statement which includes clarification on current and new social distancing measures. This contains information relevant to Bowen practitioners. Please download the PDF and carefully read the updated advice.

Update Monday 23rd March 2020

COVID-19 and insurance

If you have specific queries regarding insurance and litigation around COVID-19, we will be providing our members with an update from Aon Australia as soon as possible. If not with Aon, we recommend you get in touch with your insurance company directly with any queries, as advice may differ depending on your insurer.

Can I still treat clients?

At this stage (dated Monday 23rd March 2020) we understand you can, depending on the regulations issued in your state. However, this may change as per the daily advice issued from the Australian Government – therefore we urge you to keep up to date with their advice.

You must of course practice very strict hygiene and infection control when treating clients and follow the protocols as advised by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Australian Government releases COVID-19 infection control training module

The Department of Health has recently released an online COVID-19 infection control training module for health care workers in all settings. It covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19. You need to register online here – registration is open to anyone. BTFA members can claim 5 CPE points for undertaking this training (proof of online participation is required).

Dr Norman Swan’s advice to massage therapists re COVID-19

WATCH: Dr Norman Swan, presenter of the ABC radio program The Health Report provides advice to massage therapists with regards to COVID-19. (4.41 minutes). The same advice can be applied to Bowen therapists.
Video courtesy of Massage & Myotherapy Australia

Update Monday 16th March 2020
INFORMATION SHEET FOR BTFA MEMBERS REGARDING COVID-19

Important resources

Please keep up to date on COVID-19 via the website links below.

Australian Government Department of Health
Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the health and aged care sector
COVID-19 General information (updated daily)
COVID-19 More specific information (including hygiene) – key information for practitioners
COVID-19 Health Information hotline – 1800 020 080
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Media Statements
Australian Medical Association
World Health Organisation

News sites

The Guardian Australia
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
ABC Radio – The Health Report podcasts
Or check your local state news outlet for information relevant to your state.