To ensure that that all volunteer leaders/staff and participants engaged in expeditions are fully vaccinated/Up-to-date (including any recommended boosters) against COVID-19 and aware of associated health related operational procedures.
WHO ARE WE
Aussie Action Abroad builds on 40 years of adventure provision, under the banner of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Victoria, and 20 years of focussed adventure, strengthening the existing partnerships, projects and relationships in Nepal.
We provide opportunities for participants of all backgrounds and ages to undertake community development activity with communities that have identified needs, desires and issues of concern, that effect the future lifestyle of their people.
Aussie Action Abroad is a nonsectarian, humanitarian organisation that has a strong underlying ethos of understanding, care and love for people in our world, enabling them to strengthen values, build their skills and strive for a better future
If you have any questions in relation to this policy they should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Aussie Action Abroad actively collaborates with communities in need to provide practical and realistic support that leads to sustainable outcomes, enriching the lives of all involved.
Our Community Development work is focused on promoting the health, wellbeing and safety of the communities that we work with. The significant health impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having across the world has focused Aussie Action Abroad Ltd’s Board on the ethical responsibilities associated with Community Development work.
In order to minimise the introduction of harm to all the communities with whom we have contact, and engage with, during the delivery of projects, and our passage to and from them, we have adopted the following COVID-19 policy and practices.
This policy applies to all people involved at all levels with AAA expeditions, both in Australia and in Nepal.
RESPONSIBILITIES AND PROCEDURES
All participating under the umbrella of AAA should ensure they understand and comply with the following infection prevention practices.
On Registration for an expedition
- Read and agreed to the Terms and Conditions as stated for Volunteer Staff /Participants
- Provide a copy of a current COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate
- Provide a copy of Health Insurance that includes COVID-19 cover.
Note: This document and updated health procedures associated with this Policy will be provided to every expedition member prior to the commencement of the expedition.
Key areas of focus while on expedition
As we start planning our return to running expeditions, the health, safety and wellbeing of our participants, leaders, partners and communities will remain our priority and our return to operations will be done in a safe and responsible way.
We are reviewing all our health and safety policies and are implementing new minimum standards that emphasise increased hygiene and sanitation. These are in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and following the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safe Travel protocols for operators like us.
Before we resume trips to any destination, our projects with their associated itinerary will undergo a comprehensive risk assessment and audit, while leaders will complete COVID-19 health and safety training.
Before travelling, we recommend participants check their government’s travel advisory, and the World Health Organization website for the most up to date information about travel to and from Nepal. Participants are required to obtain suitable Travel Insurance based on this latest information.
How do we decide it is safe to return to Nepal
As we plan to resume expeditions, AAA continues to be guided by Nepal’s government and Australia’s Smart Traveller advisories and other reputable authorities, such as the World Health Organization and ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation)
As responsible group experience providers, we accept that anyone who chooses to travel with us owes a duty of care to themselves and the people around them. Aussie Action Abroad also owes that duty of care and we will endeavour to keep health and safety at the forefront of our time in Nepal.
We ask that all our participants and staff comply with local regulations and laws, as well as our own health and safety guidelines, to ensure that everyone can enjoy their expedition, while remaining well.
Do those participating require COVID 19 Vaccination before travel
We require all on our expeditions to have a negative COVID-19 test result and show proof of being Up-to-date with vaccination requirements (currently two jabs, plus booster for most people). Other tests will be required according to airlines and entry to country – and may include Antigen or other tests.
Group sizes and structure
Our trips are based on groups of 10 plus staff (Australian Group Leader and Nepali Staff) and as a result carry less inherent risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
A Medic will also be assigned to be available to group members and those on project sites.
On all trips we will follow local government guidance on permitted group sizes. This may mean reduced group sizes for the entire trip, for certain activities or in certain environments such as restaurants or transport.
- All will undertake a detailed briefing at the commencement of the Expedition with our Medical staff.
- Medical staff will meet each participant individually to check on status and individual health needs, whilst explaining COVID-19 procedures
- Medical Staff will have access to Rapid Antigen Testing kits as required
We have put in place additional measures, in line with government health advice and with global health authorities, to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of hygiene on all our expeditions. Throughout the expedition there will be regular opportunities for handwashing and wherever possible hand sanitiser will be provided at accommodation, restaurants and on transport.
Masks must be worn by all participants throughout the trip whenever required by local health authorities. You will need to bring your own supply of masks from home.
Make sure you have familiarised yourself with how to safely wear, handle, wash or dispose of masks when wearing them while travelling.
We require all suppliers that we work with to detail their cleaning and sanitation protocols to ensure that these meet our minimum standards. Rooms will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guests and all high touch public areas regularly sanitised.
All private transport used will be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Restaurants used for group meals will also be audited for sanitation practices.
Where possible, we comply with local regulations on physical distancing and permitted group sizes.
As a general rule, AAA will follow recommended guidelines of 1.5m/5ft apart from others.
When necessary, we will make changes to itineraries to avoid crowds by visiting historical sites or travelling outside of peak times. We understand that maintaining physical distancing at all times between group members when on a trip would be difficult and impractical. We have put pre-trip screening measures in place for participants and leaders as well as other COVID-19 protocols such as enhanced hygiene and sanitation to help reduce the risk of group travel.
Our expeditions are run on a twin-share basis, which means you will be roomed with another participant. For those participants who wish to have their own room, single room options are available on request (at an additional cost).
Health screening and tracking
Nepal has their own health screening requirements for entry. It’s important that you check these on the governments foreign travel advice website as these may include completing a form prior to travel or requiring evidence of recent COVID-19 test results.
As part of our Health Form documentation, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
All leaders and participants will be required to provide a current COVID-19 Certificate on application and undertake additional Rapid Antigen tests as required by Governments or Airlines.
If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns during your time on the expedition, we will assist you to seek medical advice and will follow all directions from local health authorities regarding COVID-19 testing or quarantine.
You may not be permitted to join the expedition if local advice is that you need to self-isolate. We ask that all participants continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms or concerns.
- Keep your hands clean
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm.
- Avoid touching surfaces people touch often.
- Instead of a handshake, give a friendly wave or elbow bump.
- Use any necessary personal protective equipment, as directed.
Keep your environment clean
- Use appropriate products to clean and disinfect items
- If they can withstand the use of liquids for disinfection, frequently touched electronics such as phones, computers and other devices may be disinfected with 70% alcohol (e.g. alcohol prep wipes).
- Bottles of sanitiser will be supplied for all groups and all are encouraged to use before meals, after toileting etc
Keep your distance
- Keep a distance of 1.5m if practical
- Masks are mandatory for participants, leaders, crew and suppliers in any situation or destination when it is required by local government advice, this includes (but is not limited to):
- Public and private transport;
- Crowds or places where physical distancing is difficult; and
- Indoors (particularly in places with poor ventilation).
What happens if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID on the trip?
- If someone on a trip has symptoms of COVID-19 while travelling with us we will assist them to access appropriate medical care as quickly as possible.
- We will follow the advice of local health authorities on whether a COVID-19 test is required, whether there is a need to self-isolate or quarantine or whether there is a risk to other participants in the group.
- It is critical that, if you have one symptom of COVID-19 (fever, cough or difficulty breathing), or even mild symptoms, you should isolate to avoid spreading illness to others. The Group Medic in consultation with the Expedition leader will advise/direct what form/duration, the isolation will take place – ie separate room/ tent etc
- We will help contact family and friends if needed as well as support with translation services at hospitals or medical centres and in contacting insurance companies, travel agents and airlines and assist in making arrangements to return home when required.
- Should COVID-19 be confirmed, our full health and safety protocols will be enacted, including informing local health authorities, informing the group of the potential exposure, and sanitation protocols such as deep cleaning and disinfecting of accommodation and transport.
- Please note that while we will assist to ensure that participants get all the help and support they need, any expenses for testing, treatment or self-isolation will need to be covered by each participant. Therefore each participant needs to obtain adequate Travel Insurance and have access to funds while travelling in case of this or other emergencies.
AAA will provide some cleaning and disinfecting products to maintain a clean and safe environment:
- Provide access to handwashing facilities and place hand sanitising dispensers in prominent locations
- Ensure that high traffic work areas or frequently touched surfaces are cleaned and disinfected more often.
- Ensure that cleaning and disinfecting supplies are available
- Provide personal protective equipment as recommended by occupational health and safety guidelines, and training to ensure it is used correctly.
Aussie Action Abroad’s (AAA) position statement on COVID-19 vaccination
Aussie Action Abroad believes that:
- Global vaccination is the path to ending the pandemic, and we strongly encourage vaccination for all individuals, including our voluntary staff and participants.
- Misinformation hinders the fight against COVID-19, and we are committed to accepting and using science-based information.
- AAA encourages equity in vaccine access to all people.
- AAA salutes health care workers everywhere as they continue to provide lifesaving services. We encourage our partners and communities to offer recognition and encouragement to these heroes.
- AAA will support our Nepali partners to continue to apply their efforts to support COVID-19 prevention and vaccination efforts.
- As one of the greatest advances of modern medicine, vaccines are safe, effective and save millions of lives each year. They have eliminated or controlled numerous diseases such as polio, smallpox, measles, and Ebola, and now, there is the opportunity to end the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccination.
Review and Consultation
This policy will be reviewed in 2 years or from time to time when there are changes in legislation or regulation that may affect this policy.