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Department of Human Services

FAQs for NGOs

We are doing our best to provide accurate and timely information but please note all answers are subject to change given the extraordinary circumstances.

Further questions can be emailed to: DHSDCEAdmin@sa.gov.au.

NGOs

Q: How will the Department support organisations which may be significantly disadvantaged due to loss of / impact on service delivery?

A: There are essential services that will need to continue and the state government will support these.

There are also services that will be considered non-essential at the peak of the risk and both state and federal governments are regularly reviewing economic support packages for affected businesses.

DHS is developing a Pandemic Readiness Planning “toolkit” for service providers and to help with decision making and business continuity planning.

If organisations have contract or grant funding for activities that are affected by COVID-19, please speak with your DHS contact about flexible arrangements.

Q: Will contract KPIs be adjusted?

A: Service delivery to our clients is our absolute priority. If you have concerns about your ability to deliver on your contract, please contact your contract manager to discuss.

Q: Will there be an extension of grant funded projects/programs which have not been able to meet end of financial year funding deadlines because of COVID-19?

A: DHS acknowledges the changing environment and will be flexible. Please speak with your grants contact about options.

Q: What exactly is the message about working from home – is this always desirable if possible, at this time?

A: Service providers know their own business best but, in the current environment, DHS is encouraging people to work from home wherever possible.

In saying that, it is important to acknowledge that working from home will not always be possible due to the front line and essential nature of our work. We will continue to take advice from the state and national health authorities about how to remain safe while providing critical personal care.

We do encourage you to plan for a potential decrease in staff availability due to illness, carer duties, isolation requirements or vulnerabilities that prevent staff from fulfilling their normal duties.

Q: Home visiting – when and if will this cease?

A: We are developing criteria to guide the delivery of services during this period, which will enable us to respond to developments as we need to over time.

These criteria will be shared with the sector shortly.

Q: NDIS services are now businesses and ceasing service provision has a profound impact on organisational income. When should we consider ceasing provision of non-urgent service provision e.g. therapy provision?

A: The NDIA has released key information for NDIS clients and providers: NDIS and disaster response

DHS will continue to work with the NDIA, providers and the NDS to ensure providers receive the best possible advice.

Clients

Q: Much of the work carried out in regional centres is in people’s homes and many clients do not have phones – will contingencies be put in place so that vulnerable people can still access services?

A: DHS encourages service providers to reach out to clients in such a position and provide them with hard copy resources if required.

Q: What happens if a child or young person receiving services contracts coronavirus?

A: If a child receiving services contracts coronavirus, they will be treated according to SA Health guidelines. Service providers are asked to inform DHS of any staff or clients that contract coronavirus through the dedicated email contact: DHSNGOemergency@sa.gov.au

Q: What is the process for the dissemination of information about families that may be undergoing self-isolation/testing for our programs between NGOS and DHS?

A: Service providers are asked to inform DHS of any staff or clients that contract coronavirus through the dedicated email contact: DHSNGOemergency@sa.gov.au

DHS will keep the sector updated in the event of any confirmed cases in the sector.

Q: Will we require a risk assessment to be conducted prior to any current and ongoing respite or planned placements?

A: DHS will follow SA Health’s guidelines – we will update this question as information becomes available.

Q: I am interested in community volunteer gatherings such as meetings and running community functions and running drama classes for young people.

A: There are now strict restrictions on non-essential gatherings. See the Commonwealth Department of Health website for more information:

Q: Can you provide advice about managing the social inclusion of clients who have carers with them?

A: Please refer to the latest and Commonwealth Government SA Health advice about social distancing. Lifeline and Beyond Blue have produced fact sheets providing advice on how to stay connected during this period.

Service Delivery

Q: Are domestic and family violence services considered essential if other services get shut down?

A: Yes, these are essential services that will continue to be delivered by DHS and NGO service providers.

In the current circumstances, that the way in which services are delivered will be reconsidered. Greater use of telephone and video conferencing will be utilised to ensure safety and protection of all parties.

Q: If several residential care workers are quarantined, can workers from other programs step in to assist even if they do not have mandatory qualifications?

A: DHS acknowledges that some workforce flexibility will be required during this period, however service providers still need to ensure minimum safety standards are being met.

We will come back with more detail on this question.

Q: How and who do we notify if a care worker contracts coronavirus and has been in contact with children and/or young people, other workers or any site or property (including motor vehicles)?

A: In line with advice from SA Health, anyone being tested for coronavirus should be directed away from the workplace until the results of their test is confirmed.

If coronavirus is confirmed, the employee will need to work with SA Health regarding contact tracing and further isolation requirements.

The service provider is asked to immediately advise DHS of a confirmed case through the dedicated emergency, email: DHSNGOemergency@sa.gov.au

Employees:

Q: Mandatory training for some programs is due over the next couple of months, can we delay this for a period of time?

A: If mandatory training programs cannot be delivered within the recommended social distancing guidelines, DHS will work with you to develop alternative plans.

Q: If a worker or family member contracts the virus and a whole office is quarantined for two weeks, how do we deliver contracted services?

A: This will depend on the nature of the work. It is possible, in some cases, that contingency measures can be put in place, such as telephone or video-conferencing services. This will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Workforce flexibility and co-ordination will remain an ongoing point of consideration, including with the NDIA.

Q: Will we require our carers to have safety plans within their own homes?

A: This will not be a formal requirement but should be considered for the best interests of carers and their clients.

Q: I am interested in further information on considerations/precautious around bringing groups of people together in order to deliver a service/program.

See the Commonwealth Department of Health website for more information

PPES/Hygiene products

Q: Do we have a responsibility to our carers to provide them with some support to access hygiene products?

SA Health has commenced co-ordinating PPE requirements for all government agencies as well as councils and NGOs.

The SA Health customer service team will prioritise and process all requests for PPE in accordance with a documented decision framework.

If an NGO (or government agency) thinks that they are being disadvantaged by the decision framework, there will be a mechanism to provide feedback and justify why their requirement should be prioritised.

Further information on this is coming from SA Health shortly.

Page last updated : 31 Mar 2020

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