COVID-19 coronavirus: Western Australian Government response

Find out what the WA Government is doing to support the Western Australian community and economic recovery through COVID-19.

Last updated: 5 August 2020 at 7.30am

The WA Government has declared a Public Health Emergency and a State of Emergency for Western Australia as part of the response to COVID-19.

The WA Government's approach is based on evidence and expert advice.

A National Cabinet made up of all leaders across the nation was established on 13 March 2020, to address COVID-19 from federal and state government levels. Detailed information about COVID-19 is available on the Department of Health’s website.


Business and industry

Jobs created and local businesses supported as crowds return to major events

Significant crowds will return to watch 2 games of the Australian Football League at Optus Stadium on Thursday, 16 July, and Sunday, 19 July.

More than 1,400 casual staff, security and cleaners will be employed over the 2 games.

Local businesses are also set to benefit with 85 per cent of suppliers at the stadium being from WA.

The following will be implemented to ensure patrons and staff remain COVID safe:

  • hand sanitising facilities placed throughout the venue
  • payments at the stadium will now be contactless
  • buses and trains will be cleaned before and during matches, focusing on high touchpoint areas such as buttons, hand holds and guard rails.

For more information see the Western Australia leads nation as crowds return to major events media statement

Planning reforms cut red tape and support economic recovery

The Planning and Development Amendment Act 2020, recently passed by Parliament, amends the existing legislation to cut red tape and support job-creating projects.

Under the new laws, applicants seeking approval for development proposals valued over $20 million in metropolitan Perth or over $5 million in regional areas can opt to have the Western Australian Planning Commission determine their proposal.

This pathway is a temporary measure for job-creating projects that will cut red tape and improve the approval process, while supporting the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amended Act also includes a number of additional reform measures to provide more flexibility for small businesses, cut red tape and simplify the planning system across State and local government.

For more information see the Historic planning reforms cut red tape and open WA for business media statement.

Incentives for employers who take on displaced apprentices

To support displaced apprentices and trainees during the State’s COVID-19 recovery, employers are being offered financial incentives to hire them.

The new Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive provides employers with a one-off payment of $6000 for hiring an apprentice and $3000 for hiring a trainee.

For an employer to be eligible for the payment, the apprentice or trainee must have had their training contract terminated on or after 1 March 2020.

The incentive is available until 30 June 2021 through the Department of Training and Workforce Development.

Find out about financial relief measures for business and industry.

Housing stimulus package

The WA Government has announced a $444 million housing stimulus package to deliver a major boost to WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery, and support the building and construction sectors.

The comprehensive housing package will provide incentives for Western Australians to build new homes and deliver more social and affordable housing options for Western Australians.

The housing package is outlined below.

Building Bonus package and new home construction grant

A $125 million Building Bonus package to ramp up activity in the residential building sector, stimulate the economy and support around 2,600 local jobs has been announced the by WA Government.

The package includes $117 million for $20,000 Building Bonus grants.

The Building Bonus grants are open from 4 June 2020 until 31 December 2020.

A grant of $20,000 is available for eligible applicants who:

  • enter into a contract to build a new home; or
  • purchase a new property in a single tier development (such as a townhouse) prior to construction finishing.

For more information visit the Department of Finance.

Off-the-plan duty rebate

$8.2 million has been allocated by the WA Government to expand the existing 75 per cent off-the-plan transfer duty rebate, up to $25,000, to purchases in multi-tiered developments under construction, in addition to pre-construction contracts.

The Off-the-Plan Duty Rebate Scheme promotes investment in the WA residential multi-tiered apartment market and stimulates jobs in the construction industry by providing a rebate of duty paid on eligible unit or apartment purchases.

The rebate is available to owner-occupiers and investors who:

  • purchase of an off-the-plan dwelling in a multi-tiered development that is under construction; and
  • sign a contract between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020.

The existing rebate applies to the purchase of an off-the-plan dwelling in a multi-tiered development that has not started being built (pre-construction contracts).

For more information visit the Department of Finance.

Social housing economic recovery package

The Social Housing Economic Recovery package is expected to support and create about 1,700 jobs, with 780 in regional WA.

The $319 million social housing package will refurbish 1,500 homes, build and purchase approximately 250 new dwellings and deliver a regional maintenance program to 3,800 homes.

For more information visit the Department of Finance.

Affordable land package to drive growth in regional WA

A $116 million Regional Land Booster package will drive investment in regional Western Australia, boost the economy, create regional jobs and assist regional businesses to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through Development WA, the WA Government will make land more affordable for 1,095 development-ready industrial, commercial and residential lots across WA, saving land buyers a combined $116 million.

It is anticipated this will stimulate the regional building and construction sector, drive business investment and create regional jobs.

The package applies to land in the following WA regions:

The package comes in addition to the WA Government’s $20,000 Building Bonus Grant and the Commonwealth Government’s HomeBuilder grant.

For more information see the $116m affordable land package to drive growth in regional WA media statement or visit Development WA.

Household support

The WA Government has introduced measures to provide relief to Western Australian families to respond to COVID-19:

  • a freeze on increases to all household tariffs, fees and charges effective 1 July 2020
  • doubling of the Energy Assistance Payment in 2020-21 to $610, to provide additional support to vulnerable Western Australians
  • no utility disconnections
  • alternative tax payment arrangements
  • help for Keystart customers experiencing hardship
  • payments in response to COVID-19 won’t be included in eligibility assessments or rent calculations for social housing.

For more information see the support for households in response to COVID-19 fact sheet.

Tenants and landlords

$30 million committed for grants of up to $2000 for residential tenants who have lost their job and are facing financial hardship. Under the scheme, grants are paid directly to the tenant’s landlord towards the tenant’s rental payments.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety administers this scheme.

Applications opened 1 May, 2020. Find out about eligibility and how to apply.

Laws to provide support for tenants and landlords

A 6-month moratorium on residential tenancy evictions became law in April 2020 to prevent tenants having to move out or becoming homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium period began 30 March, 2020.

During the moratorium period:

  • rent cannot be increased
  • expiring fixed-term tenancies automatically convert to periodical tenancies
  • tenants who end a fixed-term tenancy before its end date due to COVID-19 related financial hardship will not incur break lease fees, but will still be liable for damage and rent arrears
  • landlords do not have to carry out non-urgent repairs if they experience financial hardship or cannot access the property due to movement restrictions.

For more information see the Moratorium on residential tenancy evictions becomes law in WA media statement or Consumer Protection advice for residential tenancies.

Community support

New suicide prevention projects to help reduce risk

Nearly $10 million will be invested to develop and implement a region-by-region approach to Aboriginal suicide in Western Australia.

The regional plans will prioritise Aboriginal-led and locally endorsed initiatives that accommodate a culturally informed social and emotional wellbeing approach to suicide prevention.

An additional $4.79 million has also been allocated for additional suicide prevention for all Western Australians, including:

  • aftercare support following a suicide attempt through a peer-based approach
  • providing support and meeting the needs of those affected by a suicide death
  • increasing capacity of services that provide long-term support to children who have been bereaved by a suicide death
  • improving community-level data collection for suicide prevention. 

The initiatives form part of the WA Recovery Plan and will help address suicide risk from elevated rates of stress or anxiety, loneliness from isolation, depression, harmful alcohol or drug use, unemployment, self-harm and suicidal behaviour.

For more information see the New suicide prevention projects to help reduce risk media statement.

Comprehensive package to support WA family violence response

A $28.1 million support package has been announced for victims of family and domestic violence as part of the WA Recovery Plan. 

$8.6 million will fund an extra 23 outreach workers in refuges across Perth and regional areas to provide support to women and children experiencing or at further risk of family and domestic violence. 

Almost $6.7 million will strengthen the State’s family and domestic violence response teams through a partnership between the Department of Communities, the WA Police Force and the community services sector. An additional 17 community sector team members will work across Perth and regional areas to support victims of family and domestic violence after a police call-out. 

A further $4 million will enable the construction of an additional six accommodation units at each of the two women’s refuges currently being built in Peel and Kwinana. 

Other initiatives in the package include:

  • $123,000 for a program to support women residing at family and domestic violence refuges to gain employment skills, access career training or retraining, and attend workshops and short courses to support their pathways to employment
  • $2.6 million to extend the Kimberley Family Violence Service trial by two years
  • $1.1 million over two years for counselling, advocacy and support services. 

For more information see the Comprehensive package to support WA family violence response media statement

Support for people who are vulnerable or homeless

A new supported housing facility will be built and additional funding for homelessness services will be provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People with complex needs and low-income earners will be housed and supported in a purpose-built Common Ground complex, which will include at least 70 self-contained apartments.

An additional $6.8 million for homelessness services has also been committed, as part of the WA Recovery Plan.

For more information see the WA’s first Common Ground finds a home in central Perth media statement.

$4.65 million funding for sports brought forward for COVID-19 recovery

The WA Government is bringing forward $4.65 million in infrastructure funding to help State Sporting Associations (SSAs) maintain their assets, such as grounds and buildings.

The funding is being provided to SSAs that operate venues capable of hosting state and national-level sporting competition.

The following organisations will receive funding:

  • Eight Ball Federation — $100,000 for infrastructure maintenance and improvement at their facility in Queens Park
  • Hockey WA — $1.6 million for turf replacement and other works at Perth Hockey Stadium
  • Whiteman Park International Shooting Complex — $650,000 for various maintenance projects to support clubs based at the venue
  • Baseball WA - $450,000 for projects at Baseball Park.

For more information see the WA Government to bring forward $4.65 million funding for sports to maintain and upgrade assets as part of COVID-19 recovery media statement.

$56 million investment for mental health, alcohol and other drug support to at-risk and vulnerable groups

The WA Government is investing $56 million to community mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) services, as part of its plan to increase community support and treatment for Western Australians.

The significant investment is in line with the recommendations of the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan and the Minister's mental health and AOD priorities released in March 2020. 

This funding package for mental health and alcohol and other drug services will create new community models of care, supporting at-risk and vulnerable groups.

In a first for Western Australia, the WA Government will invest $25 million in a new 20 bed adult community care unit, which will provide high-level support and rehabilitation services in a home-like environment in the community to adults with mental health issues.

East-coast FIFO workers encouraged to move to WA

The WA Government and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) have partnered up to encourage eastern states-based FIFO workers to relocate permanently to WA.

These workers will be offered incentives to make the move, including access to the WA Government’s $20,000 Building Bonus grant, as part of the new initiative.

The Building Bonus grant is available until December 31, 2020 to any homebuyer building a new house in WA.

Several CME members will also offer their eastern states-based workers a range of incentives to assist with relocation costs and mortgage payments.

Workers should speak with their employer directly for more information about the incentives available to them.

For more information see Message to east-coast FIFO workers: move to WA.

Community services

The WA Government has introduced measures to provide relief to community services to respond to COVID-19:

  • $159 million COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund to provide support to organisations that are helping people experiencing hardship
  • reduced electricity bills for around 2,800 charities, with a one-off $2500 credit for groups on community service and charitable accommodation electricity tariffs with Synergy and Horizon Power
  • funding certainty for community service providers, with WA Government agencies to continue to pay contracts with the sector until at least 30 June 2020
  • waiver on rent for not-for-profit organisations in WA Government-owned buildings until 30 September 2020.

For more information see the support for community services in response to COVID-19 fact sheet (PDF 116 KB)

$1.75 million in funding approved for sport and recreation infrastructure projects as part of COVID-19 response

​The latest small grants round of the Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund has been approved with 27 community sport and recreation infrastructure projects to receive funding of more than $1.75 million.

The grants are expected to generate approximately $5 million in direct economic activity and will create around 40 jobs in the construction sector over the next 12 months.

Beneficiaries of the WA Government's funding boost include:

  • $150,000 to reconstruct a basketball court at Kalumburu
  • $142,500 to build a unisex change room at Exmouth
  • $98,960 to refurbish change rooms at Willetton Reserve
  • $83,189 to build unisex change rooms at Manjimup
  • $60,967 to convert a grass green to synthetic surface at Mount Lawley Bowling Club
  • $23,433 for a synthetic wicket and practice nets at Sir Ross McLarty Reserve in Pinjarra
  • $12,926 for a pool hoist at Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre.

For more information read the $1.75 million funding for sport and recreation as part of COVID-19 media statement.

Access to PPE

The WA Government is aware of requests from a number of community service providers for items such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

These items have been in short supply across WA and globally. The WA Government is working to increase stocks and secure supply chains.

For more information please see Department of Health advice on how to access PPE.

Water Corporation grants for Kimberley non-for-profit organisations

The Water Corporation has launched a one-off round of grants to support not-for-profit organisations and community groups across the Kimberley region that have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $10,000 were available. Applications closed at 4pm on Friday, 5 June 2020. View eligibility criteria on the Water Corporation website.

First Lotterywest COVID-19 Relief Fund grants approved

The WA Government has announced the first allocation of grants from the Lotterywest $159 million COVID-19 Relief Fund, which goes towards helping Western Australians experiencing hardship.

Approved Lotterywest grants from March and April 2020 will see $1,098,568 support 23 community groups to deliver crisis and emergency relief support for Western Australians in need.

The COVID-19 Relief Fund also includes an initial $59 million for crisis and emergency relief support ($20 million), support for not-for-profit organisations that have cancelled events due to COVID-19 ($14 million) and grants for not-for-profit arts, sport and community organisations to maintain viability and build resilience for future recovery ($25 million).

For more information on grant programs, eligibility, closing dates and recently approved grants, visit the Lotterywest website or call 133 777.

Health initiatives

$10 million to support WA-made PPE

A $10 million package will boost Western Australian businesses impacted by COVID-19 and increase the supply of locally made PPE.

Under the Local Capability Fund, three new rounds have been released.

The $6.5 million COVID-19 Business Recovery and Growth round will co-fund up to $100,000 for WA small or medium enterprises impacted by COVID-19 to build their capacity and competitiveness. Funding can be used for things such as upgrading plant and equipment, upskilling staff, improving business infrastructure and engaging specialists to help with a range of needs like online sales solutions and cyber security.

The $3 million PPE Manufacturing round co-funds grants of up to $500,000 per business to assist small and medium enterprises wishing to manufacture PPE such as masks, face visors, coveralls and ventilators.

The final round, PPE Market Feasibility, will allocate up to $20,000 per business to undertake an independent feasibility study into the viability of their PPE-manufacturing proposal.

For more information see the $10 million to support manufacture of WA-made PPE media statement

Sir Charles Gairdner emergency department to undergo upgrade

$19 million will be invested to expand, upgrade and enhance patient experience at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) emergency department (ED) as part of the WA Recovery Plan.

Upgrades include:

  • a new 8 bed Behavioural Assessment Urgent Care Centre to ensure patients behaviourally affected by alcohol and/or drugs are assessed safely without entering the main department

  • redesigning the current ED waiting room and triage areas to minimise overcrowding and noise

  • relocating the hospital’s main entrance from G Block to E Block, adjacent to the new SCGH Piazza.

Planning for the upgrade has commenced and construction is expected to start in mid-2021.

$36 million invested in elective surgery

The WA Government has invested $36 million towards an elective surgery blitz.

This will enable approximately 5,800 more elective procedures to be conducted by the end of this year than was projected prior to COVID-19.

To help clear the elective surgery waitlist, hours of operation in theatres will be extended, hours of work available for staff will be increased and additional staff will be used if required.

Care will be prioritised to those who have waited longer than clinically desirable for their care.

Specialties with the highest volume of over boundary cases are gastroenterology, ear nose and throat, urology, ophthalmology, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, and plastic surgery.

For more information see the WA Government invests $36 million for elective surgery blitz media statement.

WA to provide assistance to Victoria’s COVID-19 response

One of Western Australia’s most experienced public health physicians, Professor Tarun Weeramanthri is being deployed to support Victoria as they tackle an increase in COVID-19 cases.

From 30 June, Professor Weeramanthri has been seconded to Victoria’s Health and Human Services unit, where it is anticipated he will assist with the operational and strategic management of their public health response.

Professor Weeramanthri is the former Chief Health Officer of the Western Australian Department of Health and has been assisting the Western Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet in a health liaison role during the pandemic.

Western Australian Department of Health contact tracing teams are also remotely assisting Victoria in establishing key information about cases and identifying close contacts of confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Response Bill to support healthcare workers 

The WA Government will introduce a Bill to support healthcare workers who contract COVID-19 and require workers’ compensation. 

The Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 will be amended to establish a presumption of work-related injury for specific diseases suffered in specific classes of employment.

This means healthcare workers suffering COVID-19 will not be required to go through lengthy and costly claim investigations to prove they contracted COVID-19 at work.

For more information see the COVID-19 Response Bill to support health care workers media statement.

$5 million committed to WA COVID-19 research

The WA Government has committed $5 million for 34 university-led projects that could see WA researchers play a leading role in the global fight against COVID-19. 

The funding has been provided to the State's five universities to undertake or boost their COVID-19 research that contributes to protecting Western Australians.

The diverse range of projects to be funded will contribute to the global understanding, treatment and management of COVID-19.

Examples of the projects include the development of new drugs, research into the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, projects to upskill the health workforce and projects to support the resilience of businesses through the economic recovery. 

For more information read the $5m for Western Australia to lead ground-breaking COVID-19 research media statement.

$2.9m to boost local researchers’ quest for COVID-19 answers

The WA Government has provided $1.9 million in research grants to support 12 COVID-related research projects. Another $1 million has been provided for infrastructure support, covering the cost of consumables, staffing and site set-up for local COVID-19 research.

The funding for the 12 research projects will go towards:

  • treatments
  • studies of at-risk groups
  • study of mental health impacts
  • developing less invasive tests
  • tests that will more accurately inform us about COVID-19 immunity.

For more information on the projects and recipients funded, visit the Department of Health website.

Mandatory testing for COVID-19 to protect police

The WA Government is expanding mandatory testing for anyone who exposes a police officer to the risk of COVID-19.

Current laws allow for the mandatory testing for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Presently, there is no legal authority for mandatory testing of COVID-19.

Legislative amendments will:

  • introduce a new process to allow mucous, saliva and respiratory secretions to be taken from an offender to test for coronavirus
  • add COVID-19 to the list of diseases that can be compulsorily tested for.

For more information visit the Expanding mandatory testing to better protect police during Coronavirus pandemic media statement.

Boosting health system capacity

The WA Government has ordered more than $15 million worth of clinical equipment to boost the public health system's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

301 ventilators and 200 ICU beds were ordered, and hundreds of new beds and extra beds created through reconfiguration of services. The equipment complements a wide-ranging program to increase capacity across the public and private hospital systems.

For more information visit WA boosting health system capacity for COVID-19 critical care.

Trialling new and emerging treatments

New laws have been introduced to allow all Western Australians the opportunity to participate in world-leading research and experimental treatments targeted at combating COVID-19.

For more information visit New laws to allow doctors to trial new and emerging treatments for COVID-19.

Other government initiatives

Cheaper airfares to boost Kimberley tourism

The WA Government and Virgin Australia have partnered to deliver cheaper fares and more flights to Broome and Kununurra as part of WA’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discounted tickets are now on sale for Western Australians to fly to Broome for $199 one-way and Kununurra for $229 one-way between 3 August 2020 and 31 October 2020.

The deal also applies for flights from Broome and Kununurra to Perth.

The Perth-Broome route will return to a daily service, and Perth-Kununurra flights will run three times per week.

$11.6 million investment in Geraldton port infrastructure

As part of the WA Recovery Plan, $11.6 million will be invested into critical infrastructure upgrades at Geraldton Port, creating more than 90 local jobs and securing future export opportunities in the Mid-West.

The project will upgrade a key piece of Geraldton Port infrastructure, paving the way for long-term growth in mineral sands export from Geraldton.

For more information see the $11.6m investment in job-creating Geraldton port infrastructure media statement.

$57 million recovery package for WA TAFE and training sector

The WA Government has announced a comprehensive $57 million package for the training sector that will deliver 15 free short courses and slash TAFE fees for thousands of Western Australians as part of the WA Recovery Plan.

In an expansion of the Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative that rolled out before COVID-19, TAFE fees for a further 39 high priority courses will be slashed by as much as 72 per cent.

The expanded program now includes 73 courses in total and will ensure Western Australians, can access affordable training to help them get back into jobs, after TAFE fees increased by as much as 510 per cent under the previous WA Government.

Heavily reduced fees have been targeted to align with the State’s immediate economic needs following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enrolments opened on Monday, 6 July 2020. For more information about free short courses visit Jobs and Skills WA or contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64.

The TAFE fees announcement is in addition to the new Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive that provides employers with a one-off payment of $6000 for hiring an apprentice and $3000 for hiring a trainee whose training contract was terminated on, or after, 1 March 2020.

For further information see the $57 million recovery package for WA TAFE and training sector media statement.

Expanding police capability

New laws allow the Commissioner of Police to order the use of electronic monitoring devices to track a quarantine direction. This enables police to expand their tracking and tracing capabilities, including Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology and GPS tracking for electronic monitoring devices to monitor and enforce movement restrictions across the State.

For more information visit $91.2 million police package to support COVID-19 response.

Tougher penalties

There are now higher penalties for assaulting and threatening public officers and certain other officers delivering frontline services — including police officers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, bus drivers, and prison officers — in circumstances of actual or threatened exposure to COVID-19.

For more information visit Tough penalties to protect essential frontline workers during pandemic.

Police squad to monitor compliance with restrictions

A WA Police enforcement squad of more than 200 police officers has been formed to ensure compliance with quarantine and gathering requirements and maintain community safety.

$1000 on the spot fines for individuals and $5000 on the spot fines for businesses can be enforced for non-compliance with requirements.

Penalties of up to $50,000 for individuals still apply under the Emergency Management Act, however, the on-the-spot fines will allow WA Police to issue fines immediately, without having to go through the courts.

Updated pandemic response plan

The WA Government Pandemic Plan has been updated and is in action. It sets out the arrangements for protecting the community and considers potential impacts, ranging from demands on the health care system to pressures on workplaces, businesses and law and order, disruption to community events and gatherings and demands on goods, services and supplies.

Read the Premier's media release: Pandemic Plan in response to COVID-19.

Other plans:

Page reviewed 5 August 2020