Department of Human Services

Looking after clients

Q: Will the health system admit people with disability with COVID?

A: SA Health is committed to providing health services that are fair to all South Australians, promoting access to safe and quality health care.

Health professionals must provide care of the same quality to people with disabilities as to all South Australians.

South Australia’s State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019–2023 brings State Government agencies and local councils together to reduce the barriers faced by people living with disability.

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

A: DHS has developed a guideline to provide advice on home visiting during the pandemic. The guideline is based on advice from SA Health. Guidelines have been developed by DHS to support the NGO sector during this period. 

DHS COVID-19 Information Guidelines for the NGO sector

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

Q: Are disability day options still allowed?

A: Unfortunately, due to social distancing precautions, most day option and external activities have been cancelled. As an alternative, many organisations are working hard to provide a range of in-home or virtual activities.

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, the way in which services are delivered will be reconsidered. Telephone and video conferencing will be used more often to ensure the safety and protection of all parties.

Q: Can the South Australian Housing Authority guarantee no evictions from their accommodation during the pandemic?

A: The State and Federal Governments have made commitments that no person will be evicted where they have been financially disadvantaged due to COVID-19.

Q: What support is available for crisis accommodation services should a client or staff member test positive?

A: If a client or staff member tests positive to COVID-19 they must notify SA Health.

If they are unable to self-isolate at home, or if they are homeless, the South Australian Housing Authority would work to source the person suitable accommodation.

Q: What options are available for people who are homeless during the pandemic?

A: The South Australian Housing Authority is providing commercial accommodation for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  While in this accommodation, they will receive outreach services from Street to Home, while Hutt Street Centre and Baptist Care will support them with access to takeaway meals.

Service providers should follow their usual referral processes for emergency accommodation or by contacting the Homelessness Gateway Service.

Phone 1800 003 308.

Q: What broader housing support is available during this time?

A: The South Australian Housing Authority continues to provide services to support people to gain or sustain private rental. This includes supporting bonds and rent in advance as well as services to support people who may be at risk of losing their private rental tenancy, for example rent in arrears support.

The State and Commonwealth governments are providing a range of supports for people in the private rental market during this time.

The SA Housing Authority’s website contains information about services and support during the pandemic.

The SA Consumer and Business Services website also contains information for private renters.

We encourage people who may be facing issues with their rental tenancies to speak to their landlord in the first instance.

We also encourage people to access specific information and advice relating to their individual’s circumstances by phoning the Housing SA Contact Centre.

Phone 131 299

You can also contact Consumer and Business Services.

Phone 131 885

Q: What is the current food relief situation?

A: The Department of Human Services Emergency Financial Assistance Program is a free confidential service for people experiencing financial difficulties anywhere across the state.

Eligible clients can receive:

  • food parcels
  • supermarket vouchers
  • referral to Foodbank SA, or
  • assistance with other cost of living concerns.

DHS is funding NGOs to deliver these emergency relief services across the state.

DHS support for people in need

Grants of up to $10,000 through Grants SA are available to eligible not-for-profit community organisations so they can continue to deliver programs during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

There are a range of other emergency relief providers that can be found on the Affordable SA website.

Q: If the Jobkeeper payment will be classed as an ‘assessable income’ when rent is calculated for public and community housing tenants?”

A: It will be assessable as it is paid by the Commonwealth to the employer and then they pay it to the employee as wages, to allow them retain their employment arrangements.

Q: What emergency support is SAHA offering during this time?

A: The South Australian Housing Authority has launched a new hotline to support people requiring personal hardship assistance, food relief and short-term accommodation during COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Relief Call Centre will provide general advice and connect people to further resources.

The call centre can provide information and assistance with such things as:

  • personal hardship support
  • advice on short-term accommodation options for people unable to achieve self-quarantining or self-isolation
  • accommodation for emergency services personnel who are required to quarantine but unable to do so at home.

Phone 1300 705 336
Email housingrelief@sa.gov.au

Q: Can residents isolate in their disability group home if they share a bathroom?

A: SA Health has advised that a resident would be required to have their own dedicated bathroom if they need to self-isolate.​

Q: Apart from standard flu vaccinations, are there any measures in place to try and prevent people getting flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

A: While the flu vaccination does not protect against COVID-19, a flu vaccination is critical to protecting Australians from influenza.

Health officials are recommending influenza vaccinations this year, and every year, to protect the community. The actions that we take to slow the spread of COVID-19 can also stop the spread of influenza and other viruses.

Those actions are:

  • practising good hygiene
  • practising social distancing
  • following the Government’s directions on public gatherings and workplaces, and
  • understanding how and when to self-isolate.

Flu (influenza) immunisation service - Australian Government Department of Health

Q: Will prioritised COVID-19 testing occur for particular client groups?

A: Australia has one of the most rigorous coronavirus testing systems in the world.

Testing in South Australia was originally focused on specific groups including vulnerable people and health workers, but now testing has been expanded across the community to people with relevant symptoms. SA Health provides information on how to access a test.

SA Health information on how to get tested for COVID-19

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 must be directed away from the workplace until the results of their test is confirmed.

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

The service provider is asked to immediately advise DHS of a confirmed case.

Email to DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au.

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

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

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.

Email DHSCOVIDResponse@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.

Email DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au.

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

Q: How will case management work for clients who have co-morbid COVID-19 and other complexities?

A: Each case of COVID-19 and each patient will be clinically assessed and managed on an individual basis.

Q: What long term follow-up will occur of recovered COVID-19 cases?

A: The steps to be taken once a patient completes their period of self-isolation is detailed in the CDMA National Guidelines for Public Health Units, which is endorsed by the AHPPC.

Q: What resources are available for mental health support?

A: This is an unsettling time for our community, and it is normal to feel concern and worry.

If you are seeking support go to the SA Health COVID-19 Mental Health Support page.

For mental health support by phone and video in relation to COVID-19, you can contact the SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line. This service can also provide follow-up calls.

Phone 1800 632 753

Q: What measures are being put in place to safeguard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from COVID-19?

A: Some Aboriginal communities across the state have opted to close access to their townships and lands to outside visitors, except for those providing essential services. This is consistent with a decision made by National Cabinet.

All non-essential visitors to these communities must self-quarantine for 14 days before they will receive permission to enter these communities.

Restrictions on movement into Aboriginal communities

Q: Mandatory training for some programs is due over the next couple of months. Can we delay this?

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

Q: How are we prepared to service the areas designated under the biosecurity event to maintain mental health and wellbeing services?

A: DHS currently has key workers located within the designated areas who will remain there delivering services for the short-to-medium term.

How to manage this in an ongoing sense has been prioritised as a key strategic discussion point with SA Health and State Emergency Centre more broadly.

Page last updated : 25 Jun 2020

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