Settlement Guide

COVID-19 in Australia: vaccine and must-know information in your language

Close up of covid vaccine vials Source: AAP Image

SBS is dedicated to providing trusted reporting that keeps you informed about the COVID-19 outbreak in your language. This fact sheet compiles must-know information for everyone in the community. (For the latest information follow the link below)

This factsheet was last updated on 12/01/2021. For the latest COVID-19 updates in English visit SBS News Covid-19 page 


COVID-19 Vaccine in Australia

The Australian Government has committed to providing all Australians with access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are available.

Australia has a COVID-19 Vaccine National Rollout Strategy that identifies:

  • Priority populations for vaccination, and the phases in which vaccines will be provided in Australia
  • Details for how vaccines will reach frontline healthcare workers, quarantine and border workers, and aged and disability care residents and workers
  • Initial locations, across Australia, at which vaccines will be administered.

Find Australia’s vaccine roadmap here

COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy
COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy
Australian Government - Department of Health

As doses will initially be limited, the highest priority groups will access the vaccines first during the initial period of the roll-out:

  • Phase 1 - Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: Quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, aged care and disability care staff and residents.
  • Phase 2 -  Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: Elderly adults aged over 70, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55, younger adults with underlying medical conditions, including a disability, high-risk workers including police, fire, defence, emergency services and meat processing.
  • Phase 3 - AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines: Adults aged over 50, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 18, other critical and high-risk workers.
  • Phase 4 - AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines: Balance of adult population, catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.
  • Phase 5 - AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines: Children aged under 18, if recommended.

Covid-19 related mental health support

The Australian government has put in place Covid-19 related mental health support through the mental health portal "Head to Health" to provide information and guidance on how to maintain good mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and in self-isolation.

The government has added 10 Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions each calendar year to all eligible patients under a mental health care plan of Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative.

Financial difficulties (Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment)

If you are facing financial difficulties go to Covid19 Money Smart or call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. 

The Federal Government has a "disaster payment" for paid pandemic leave in place.

The payment applies to workers who can't earn an income because they must self-isolate or quarantine, or are caring for someone with COVID-19.

Click the below links to find the Pandemic Leave Disaster information in each state and territory:

How does COVID-19 spread and how do you prevent it?

COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through:

  • Close contact with a person while they are infectious, even before their symptoms appeared.
  • Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes.
  • Touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

You prevent it by practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others when you are sick is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

  • Maintain social distance of at least 1.5 metres and observe the 1 person per 4 square metre rule.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • If you're unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people)

The Australian government suggests to all residents to download the COVIDSafe app. 

If you develop symptoms, get tested 

Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia, and are similar to other cases of colds and flu and include:

  • Fever
  • Respiratory symptoms:
  • *Coughing
  • *Sore throat
  • *Shortness of breath

Other symptoms can include runny nose, headache, muscle or joint pains, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of sense of smell, altered sense of taste, loss of appetite and fatigue.

The authorities have developed a COVID19 Symptom Checker that you can use from home.

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus, but most of the symptoms can be treated with supportive medical care. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses.

If you develop symptoms, you should get tested. Don’t visit a health clinic or hospital without informing them you have symptoms. You must remain isolated either in your home, hotel or in health care until public health authorities confirm that it is safe for you to return to your usual activities. 

If you want to talk to someone about your symptoms, call the National Coronavirus Helpline for advice. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1800 020 080 


Where can you get tested?

Click the below links to find testing clinics in each state and territory:

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must self-isolate:

  • Do not go to public places such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university
  • Ask someone to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door
  • Do not let visitors in — only people who usually live with you should be in your home

Who is most at risk of a serious illness?

Some people who are infected may not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily, and others may become very ill, very quickly. From previous experience with other coronaviruses, the people at most risk of serious infection are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • People 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions. Conditions included in the definition of ‘chronic medical conditions’ will be refined as more evidence emerges.
  • People 70 years and older
  • People with compromised immune systems

Should I wear a mask?

Some Australian states and territories recommend or require the use of masks. If circumstances change in your state or territory then the advice on masks may have to change. It’s important to stay up to date with advice in your local area.

To stay up to date on the latest mask advice, follow your local government’s updates:

When you wear a mask, it is important to wear it properly:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before putting it on or taking it off
  • Make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
  • Do not touch the front of your mask while wearing or removing it
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose
  • Do not reuse single use masks; wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean dry place.

Travelling from, to or within Australia

States and territories can apply their own restrictions, including closing their state borders.  

Mandatory data collection

From 1st October 2020, there is mandatory data collection on domestic flights to assist states and territories when it comes to contact tracing: name, email address, a mobile contact number, and a state of residence.

Public Transport National principles 

Public transport services are the responsibility of the states and territories, and the National Cabinet endorses a series of principles to help manage the health and safety of workers and passengers on public transport networks, including: not travelling when feeling unwell, maintaining physical distance from drivers and other passengers, and avoiding handling cash. 

Travel restrictions

There are temporary measures for international flights that are regularly reviewed by the government.

This could affect your flight into Australia. The information is changing frequently.

For more information check Smart Traveller's latest update.

Quarantine and testing requirements are managed and enforced by state and territory governments:

If you want to travel overseas, you may be able to apply online for an exemption to travel if you fall under one of the following categories: 

  • Your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid  
  • Your travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries) 
  • You are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia 
  • You are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business 
  • Compassionate or humanitarian grounds  
  • Your travel is in the national interest. 

Click here for more information about the conditions to leave Australia 

Government information



  • People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. 
  • If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
  • News and information is available in 63 languages at
  •  Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.