THE federal government has released a new voluntary smartphone app, designed to better protect community against the spread of coronavirus.
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said the initiative would get Australians one step closer to being back to a normal life.
The new COVIDSafe application will provide accurate information that will speed up the current manual process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus.
This means people can be contacted more quickly if they are at risk.
This also reduces the chance of passing on the virus to family, friends and other people in the community.
Mr Walsh said he had chosen to sign up to the app.
"I have chosen to sign up because better contact tracing will make it possible to quickly identify people who have come into contact with someone who's tested positive for coronavirus," he said.
"Boosted contact tracing will mean outbreaks can be quickly identified and contained and give confidence that we can keep our community safe with relaxed restrictions."
Information collected in the app cannot be accessed unless, and until, a person is diagnosed with COVID-19.
Once the person who has tested positive agrees and uploads the data, it will only be accessed by the relevant state or territory public health officials.
Mr Walsh said better contact tracing would help to maintain the low rate of positive cases in regional Victoria.
"I commend each and every country Victorian for their efforts to comply with restrictions on gatherings and social distancing rules because it has saved lives," Mr Walsh said.
"We've made big changes because we know it's best for our community.
"The COVIDSafe health initiative will be a valuable tool to respond quickly to outbreaks."
The app works by securely making a 'digital handshake' with other users' devices, noting the date, time and duration of the contact.
The only information state and territory officials can access is that of close contacts — when a person has come within approximately 1.5 metres of another app user for 15 minutes or more.
Once the coronavirus pandemic is over and Australia no longer needs the app, the app and the information on it will be deleted permanently.
The app can be downloaded for free from app stores.
For more information, visit www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app.