Department of Human Services

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Monday 2 May 2022

This is an archived Newsletter. The information may be outdated.

For the latest COVID-19 information, please refer to the SA Government COVID-19 website.

Dear sector colleagues,

Recently there have been significant changes made to COVID-19 close contact rules for South Australian organisations, these have important implications for all of us which I have detailed below.

In particular, there are important changes to managing the risks associated with close contact staff returning to work in disability organisations — Chief Executives of disability organisations are now able to determine based on a risk assessment whether asymptomatic close contacts can return.

These changes are a positive step in allowing you to manage your own workforce in accordance with the management protocols, but please know that we are always here to support you, and encourage you to reach out if there is anything you want to discuss moving forward.

I also take this opportunity to thank you for your unprecedented efforts over the last two years. I am truly grateful and whilst we have been faced with some challenging times, it has been a pleasure working in partnership to ensure we achieve the best outcomes for our staff, clients and community.

New rules for close contacts from Saturday 30 April 2022

As of 12:01 am on Saturday, 30 April, the following rules have come into effect from a close contact’s exposure in three separate tiers. Disability services are provided across all tiers.

General community

This would include disability services such as in-home support where workers visit a person in their own home. The requirements for employees to return to work include:

  • Undertake five Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) during the seven-day window.
  • Wear masks when leaving the house and entering public spaces for seven days after the exposure.
  • Prohibited from visiting high-risk settings such as hospitals, aged care and correctional facilities.
  • Avoid non-essential gatherings.
  • Avoid contact with people immunocompromised and at risk of severe illness.

Tier 1 (including residential aged care facilities, disability care facilities, prison, correctional facility, training centre or other place of custody and a public or private hospital)

A disability care facility is a Supported Independent Living Service or a Supported Residential Facility. The requirements are that staff do not attend one of these settings for 14 days unless there is compliance with the new protocol for the Management of Close Contact Disability Care Facility Frontline Workers (PDF 117 KB). This allows for an asymptomatic close contact to return to work and is now a decision for each disability support service CEO (or equivalent). Certain conditions must still be met in order for this decision to be made as outlined in detail in the document.  This decision needs to be made in response to workforce strain.

Close contacts must:

  • Not have ongoing exposure to a COVID-19 case.
  • Return a negative PCR test prior to returning to work (if circumstances deemed exceptional, can return whilst awaiting PCR result as long as that day’s RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) is negative and may continue if PCR negative).

Any implementation of the new protocol must be reported to SafeWork SA within five working days of introduction.

The requirements of a Tier 1 also include:

  • Undertake five Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) during the seven-day window.
  • Wear masks for seven days after your exposure.
  • Report your rapid antigen test results if you test positive.
  • Not attend other Tier 1 sensitive settings for 14 days after your exposure date, except for the purposes of obtaining medical care or medical supplies.
  • Notify your employer that you are a close contact.
  • Get a PCR test as soon as any symptoms develop and quarantine until you receive a result. If the result is negative, you must continue to follow the above guidelines.

Tier 2 (healthcare services other than those provided in Tier 1 sensitive settings)

…such as:

  • allied health services
  • community health services including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
  • day options
  • disability
  • GPs
  • mental health services
  • pathology and radiology services
  • pharmacies
  • rehabilitation settings
  • specialist services or practices.

For the disability sector this includes settings such as allied health clinics, therapy services and disability day options. The requirements are that staff do not attend one of these settings for 7 days unless there is compliance with the protocol for the management of close contact healthcare workers who work in Tier 2 sensitive settings (PDF 159KB). This allows for an asymptomatic close contact to return to work and is now a decision for each disability support service CEO (or equivalent). Certain conditions must still be met in order for this decision to be made as outlined in detail in the document.  This decision needs to be made in response to workforce strain.

The requirements of a Tier 2 also include:

  • Undertake five Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) during the seven-day window.
  • Wear masks for seven days after your exposure.
  • Report your rapid antigen test results if you test positive.
  • Not attend other Tier 2 sensitive settings for 7 days after exposure date, except for the purposes of obtaining medical care or medical supplies.
  • Notify your employer that you are a close contact.
  • Get a PCR test as soon as any symptoms develop and quarantine until you receive a result. If the result is negative, you must continue to follow the above guidelines.

Further advice and guidance in relation to the requirements for close contacts working within a hospital, residential aged care facility, disability, corrections and other health care to safely return to work is available on the SA Health website.

Management of close contact clients within multiple resident settings

With regards to management of close contact clients within multiple resident settings, please refer to SA Health's requirements for close contacts and COVID-19 cases on their website.

Mask use

Though masks are no longer required in public settings, the mandate to wear them remains in place in high-risk environments such as:

  • hospitals
  • aged care
  • disability
  • correctional facilities.

The Premier also announced that South Australian students have to wear masks for another month.

Please ensure all visitors to your facilities, including family members are wearing masks while onsite.

Thank you for your work

Thank you again for your exceptional work and efforts over these challenging two years. A global pandemic was unlike anything we had experienced before and without your help and expertise, we would not have been able to implement initiatives and deliver services that met the needs of the people we support. What has been achieved during this period is truly amazing and deserves the highest recognition and commendation.

I reiterate that our department is always here to support you should you require any help and assistance. We highly value your relationship and are excited by the prospect of working together in a time where some semblance of normality has returned to our state. Take care and enjoy the rest of your week.

Ngaityalya (Kaurna, thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 2 May 2022

Page last updated : 05 May 2022

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