What does a ‘single social bubble’ mean?

The single social bubble concept is a way to support people
who may be feeling isolated while balancing the coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risk.

From 11:59pm 13 September, if you live alone or are a single
parent you can create a ‘single social bubble’ by nominating one other person to be a part of your bubble.

You can have the person you form a bubble with visit your
home. Your nominated person can be from a household or share house, and you are also able to visit them in their home, but only when they are alone.  

This needs to be the same person throughout the First and
Second Steps.  A face covering must be worn for all interactions
within the ‘single social bubble’.

Who can be in my ‘single social bubble’?

A single person living alone, or a single parent (with dependent children under 18 years), can nominate whomever they choose to be in their ‘single social bubble’. You cannot nominate an entire household – it must be one person.

If the nominated person has children that cannot be left
unattended, and there is no one else to care for them, the children can attend a visit.

If the nominated person lives with other adults, the single
person can only visit the nominated person when they are the only adult in their home.

This would mean if a single person nominates one of their
parents, they can only visit the parental home if it’s just the nominated parent at home.  

Otherwise, the nominated person will need to visit the single
person at home.

How can I keep myself and my bubble safe?

If you have a ‘single social bubble’, it’s even more important you take extra steps to keep each other safe.

Only include people in your ‘single social bubble’ where you are both safe and healthy. If anyone within your bubble feels unwell, they should immediately isolate at home. You should not visit that person or have that person over to visit if either of you are unwell. 

A face covering must be worn during visits.

To protect the health of the nominated person in your bubble you need to both agree who you will see then you catch up with friends or family outside.

Both of you need to agree to how many people you will spend time with outside the home.

The more people you interact with, the higher the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. You must not have any other visitors to your home. 

My nominated support person has young children – can they come to my house?

Yes, if the person you nominated to form a ‘single social
bubble’ with has young children or dependents who can’t be left alone then then can visit your home.  

If you have young children or dependents who can’t be left
alone then they go with you when you visit the person you form a bubble with.

I am a single parent, caring for someone with a profound disability or illness over the age of 18. Can I still have a bubble?

Yes, you can still form a ‘single social bubble’, but you should consider if this will put the person you are caring for at risk.
Professional respite care for people with complex needs is allowed.

I live alone but have a partner – can I form a ‘single social bubble’ with
a family member or friend and still see my partner?

No, people must choose whether they wish to see their
intimate partner or form a ‘single social bubble’ with another nominated person.

I’m single but live with family or in a share house. Will I still be able
to have a bubble outside my household?

You can only nominate a person to be a part of your ‘single
social bubble’ if you live alone or are a single parent.  You may however be someone else’s nominated person – even if you live with other people.

For example, Kim lives with Jacob and Viet. As Kim does not
live alone, she cannot have her own ‘single social bubble’. But her friend Michael, who does live alone, can nominate Kim to be a part of his bubble.

If you live with other adults, your nominated person can only
visit you in your home if you are the only adult present. 

Will the 5km limit apply? Can my ‘single social bubble’ be someone who
lives in regional Victoria?

The 5km limit will not apply to forming a ‘single social bubble’ with a nominated person. If you live in metro Melbourne, you cannot
form a bubble with someone who lives in regional Victoria. This is to help keep our loved ones in regional Victoria safe.

Will the curfew apply to visits between the ‘single social bubble’?

If a curfew is in place, then it will affect visiting your ‘single social bubble’.  You can only travel for a visit between the hours of 5am and 9pm. If you are planning to stay overnight, then you must travel before the curfew.

How many times a day can I leave home to see the nominated person in my
‘single social bubble’? Can they stay overnight?

There are no restrictions on the number of times you can see
the person in your ‘single social bubble’.  However, it is recommended that you minimise the number of times you leave your home for this reason, in keeping with advice to Stay at Home where possible. Seeing a friend in your bubble does not have a time restriction, but if you are meeting the person in your bubble for exercise or socialising outdoors a 2-hour time restriction

You can stay overnight with the friend in your ‘single social
bubble’, however you must travel before the curfew. And it is recommended that you minimise the number of times you leave your home for this reason.

Does the bubble have to be the same person, or could you choose one other
person per week/fortnight?

The person you choose to form a ‘single social bubble’ with
needs to be the same person throughout the First and Second Step towards COVID Normal.

Will I need a permit to visit my bubble?

You do not need a permit or proof of your ‘single social bubble’. We are asking Victorians to do the right thing, even though it is hard
to not see friends or family, so that together we can get to a new coronavirus (COVID-19) normal as soon as possible.

My friend, relative or parent is elderly – can I have them as my ‘single
social bubble’ person?

Yes, but only one adult can be nominated. You also might want to consider the vulnerability of the person in your bubble and limit your interactions with others outside of your bubble when your person is an elderly friend, relative or parent.

If they live within 5km of your home you can arrange to see them outside. You can leave home for up to two hours, twice a day for exercise or to see a friend or family member. You must wear a face covering, unless you have an exemption that applies.

If you are more vulnerable to serious complications because
of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should carefully consider whether there are other ways you can stay connected – including video calls, phone calls or with social media.

I’m worried about a friend or family members mental health – can I visit
them if they aren’t in my bubble?

You cannot visit them. However, you can meet up with a friend or family member outside of your ‘single social bubble’ for exercise or socialising outside. You can only travel within 5km of your home to catch up with friends or family outdoors.

You should use common sense and limit seeing friends and
family. You can only catch up with one person outdoors at a time.

There is a lower risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19)
between people if you are outdoors which is why restrictions are changing to allow greater flexibility to allow people to see a friend or family member outdoors. 

What is a “public outdoor place”? Does this mean I can have people over for
a barbeque?

A public outdoor place is a park or garden, outside of the
home.  You can only have someone over for a barbeque if they are in your ‘single social bubble’. A picnic in the park with physical distancing would also be allowed social interaction.

Do I have to wear a face covering when visiting my bubble?

If you are meeting up outside of the home, you will have to
wear a face covering.  When visiting someone in your ‘single social bubble’ inside the home you must also wear a face covering, unless you have an exemption that applies.

To determine eligibility VALS will:

  • enquire as to the Aboriginality of the client;
  • enquire as to perceived or actual conflict of interest;
  • enquire as to compliance with the Means Test;
  • consider the merit of the client’s matter.

The first time someone uses VALS they must provide proof of their Aboriginality using the Confirmation of Aboriginality Form. This form must be signed and sealed by the Officer Bearers of a recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation.

VALS must not decline to provide assistance to an eligible person, group or body on the grounds that the other party to the matter is an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. In circumstances where the relationship between the parties to a case would result in a conflict of interest, that conflict must be managed in accordance with the Victorian Legal Practice requirements and Policy Direction 9 – “Managing Conflicts of Interest” – of the Attorney-General’s Department Policy Directions for the Delivery of Legal Aid Services to Indigenous Australians (2008).

VALS will not act if a conflict of interest exists. A conflict of interest may be an ‘actual’ conflict of interest or a ‘perceived’ conflict of interest. A conflict of interest can involve:

  • Clients who have different interests, such as VALS may have advised or acted for person “A” (old client) who has an interest that conflicts with person “B” (intended new client).
  • Clients and VALS, such as a VALS staff member or Board Member has an interest that conflicts with an intended new client. Conflicts involving client-provider relationships are:
    •  An owner, director, manager, employee, contractor or agent of VALS and/or;
    • An employee of the Department; and/or
    • A close relative (spouse, de facto, parent, sibling or child) of any of the above.

VALS provides assistance on a first in best dressed basis (i.e. provide direct assistance to the party who approaches VALS first). VALS will refer the other party to another legal service provider or “brief out” the client to a private lawyer (subject to the client meeting the requirements for brief outs). Where appropriate, VALS may act for one client and provide assistance by brief out to the other.

Means Test
Where a person seeks casework assistance, VALS must ensure that applicants satisfy the Means Testing provisions of the Policy Directions.

VALS must ensure that all applicants for legal casework assistance satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

  • Under 18 years of age;
  • Main source of income comes from Community Development Employment Projects; (CDEP) participant wages or Centrelink (or equivalent) benefits; or
  • Gross household income is under $52,000 per annum.

Note: Household income includes the income of your partner, spouse, relative including an adult child who you live with.

The Means Test will be administered in two parts:

Part A: Requires the completion of a small number of questions relating to the applicant’s personal circumstances and income level.

Part B: Is required where applicants do not satisfy the criteria in Part A. It requires more detail about the applicant’s income, assets, employment status and number of dependents.

Merit Test
Discretion will be used to determine if a particular case has merit.