SPLC Tech Skills for Seniors

South Perth Learning Centre
South Perth Community Centre (lower level)
96 South Terrace, South Perth WA 6151
0459 571 736

Service WA: Four Myths Debunked

03 Feb 2022

By Didi Mudigdo - SPLC Digital Literacy Coordinator
It has been three weeks now since the WA State Government introduced the Service WA app. Many have struggled with setting it up (including Mark McGowan himself), as is evident from the proliferation of hilarious memes such as this one:

At South Perth Learning Centre, we had been running free classes to help members put their vax certs on their smartphones since September 2021. When Service WA landed 5 months later, our Tech Skills team were already well-versed in many different scenarios of setting up MyGov and the Medicare Express app. This body of knowledge & experience has been invaluable in helping our members set up the new Services WA app.

To help you setup Service WA, I’d like to share 4 common misconceptions that we have observed in the wild, misconceptions that can complicate the process, and be a source of ample grief.

If you’re short on time and wish to skip the details, here’s the list of myths:

Myth #1: It is mandatory to use the Service WA app to show my vax cert

Myth #2: To setup Service WA, I’ll need my birth certificate and/or passport

Myth #3: To setup Service WA, I need to scan my face into MyGovID so that it can identify me from my face

Myth #4: To setup Service WA, I only need to setup MyGovID first

And now here’s the down and dirty:

Myth #1: It is mandatory to use the Service WA app to show my vax cert

People are scrambling to install Service WA on the assumption that it is the one and only way to show your vax cert. In fact however, the WA State Government website lists ten (that’s right, ten, count it folks) different accepted methods to verify your vaccination. Service WA is only one of them:

10 Ways to Verify Your Vaccination (click here)

Having said that, Service WA is the most convenient of the above 10 options. How much more convenient? That depends on which of the other 9 options you are comparing it with.

The closest competitor for convenience is option 2, showing the vax cert on the Medicare Express app while checking in on the Safe WA app (two apps, while with the Service WA option, both can be done in the one app). Note that with option 2, like option 1, the upside is that you don’t need to show your driver’s licence. (Does every ‘vax verifier’ out there realise this? Good question.)

The furthest competitor for convenience would be option 9, not having a smartphone at all. For this option you would have to:

  1. Show your printed hardcopy vax cert
  2. Show your driver’s licence
  3. Check in manually by handwriting your name, the time and date on the manual covid register.

Much less convenient! By the time you have gone through all that, some other person (with Service WA instead) would have already approached the guy/girl you had your eye on in the queue to the dance club. However, it must be emphasised: this least convenient method is just as accepted as the other 9 methods. So if you’re struggling with Service WA, don’t fret! There are 9 other ways as per above.

Myth #2: To setup Service WA, I’ll need my birth certificate and/or passport

Before I delve into why this is a myth, let me first ask you: which government made Service WA, state or federal? How about MyGovID, state or federal? In my opinion, this myth stems from the fact that Service WA is a specific state app, while MyGovID (the prerequisite to setting up Service WA) is a general-purpose federal app.

To understand Myth #2 we need to first understand exactly what MyGovID is. (MyGovID is not MyGov, but let’s open that can of worms in another article). MyGovID is a nationwide digital authentication method to access both federal and state services. Now there’s a jargon-laden mouthful. Think of MyGovID as a key to get into your house. Except this ‘key’ has 3 levels of security: ‘Basic’ (think the house key that you or a thief can cut at Bunnings), ‘Standard’ (think thumbprint sensor) or ‘Strong’ (think retinal scan matched with walking gait analysis & recognition).

Service WA uses MyGovID as the ‘key’ to ‘get in’. However it must be noted that the WA state government has wisely set the MyGovID strength requirement to be ‘Standard’. ‘Standard’, not ‘Strong’! For ‘Standard’ you only need your driver’s licence plus Medicare card. It’s the ‘Strong’ setting that requires your birth certificate, passport, face scan and so on.

“To get started and use the ServiceWA app, you’ll you need to first set up your Digital Identity (such as myGovID) with a minimum Standard identity strength.

(Quoted from “How to get your Digital Identity” on wa.gov.au)

And here is where it can get misleading: MyGovID (federal) is continually prompting you to get to ‘Strong’ whereas Service WA (state) only needs you to be at ‘Standard’. The feds even entice you with a trophy icon for ‘High’ - it’s the Holy Grail! You must achieve this level! (No you don’t, at least not for Service WA.)

And thus Myth #2. No, you do not need your birth certificate/passport to setup Service WA, just your driver’s licence and Medicare card. If you’ve reached ‘Standard’, please stop there, and go out and enjoy life.

Myth #3: To setup Service WA, I need to scan my face into MyGovID so that it can identify me from my face

Ditto Myth #2, face scanning is only required for ‘Strong’ which Service WA does not require.

Myth #4: To setup Service WA, I only need to setup MyGovID first

Service WA has two sections of interest when it comes to covid: a check-in section (like the Safe WA app) and a vax cert section. Having setup MyGovID alone will get you to the check-in section of Service WA, but not the vax cert section. Not to worry, with MyGovID set up, you are halfway there!

For the vax cert section of Service WA to work, on top of having MyGovID, you need to get your digital covid vaccination certificate in there (here are the wa.gov.au full instructions for this step). For that to happen you need to have your Medicare Express app set up. But then a prerequisite to setting up your Medicare Express app is to have your MyGov already set up, and connected to your Medicare account. [UPDATE 14.02.2022 see below]

Option 9 anyone? (Sounds of shuffling feet towards the photocopier with hardcopy vax cert in hand.)

I hope debunking these 4 common Service WA myths will help put you on the right path towards successfully setting it up. Good luck! And if you have any questions or comments please write below, we look forward to hearing from you!

[UPDATE 14.02.2022: Since writing this article I have found that there is a way to bypass the Medicare Express App completely. Logging on to MyGov and then Medicare on a mobile browser (without installing the Medicare Express app) is sufficient to get your vax cert into Service WA]