Department of Human Services

COVID-19 NGO Newsletter

Friday 16 October 2020

Friday 16 October 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

This week South Australia reached a significant milestone in its strategy to manage the public health risk posed by COVID-19, with more than 500,000 tests now having been taken across the state.

With the recent outbreaks in regional Victoria we are reminded that, despite South Australia's excellent record so far in maintaining a long streak of no locally acquired cases, the virus is still active in communities across the nation and it has the potential to spread quickly without appropriate measures being taken. Testing is one of those measures, and I encourage you and your staff to continue to get tested for COVID-19 if you feel unwell or experience any symptoms.

On 29 October, DHS is hosting an online COVID-19 response forum to provide an update on a number of topics, including the newly-released Supported Independent Living Operational Response Plan, work being undertaken by the Congregate Living Working Group, collaboration with the Commonwealth on COVID-19 response in the disability sector, and PPE and infection control. Further information about the forum can be found below. Our panel will be happy to answer questions you may have and I invite all sector colleagues and partners to participate.

The reduced impact of COVID-19 on the South Australian community has presented us with the opportunity to realign the focus of this newsletter to include a broader cross-section of news from across the department and our portfolio areas. This is just one way in which DHS is committed to strengthening our engagement with you, and I look forward to sharing further developments in the future.

If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact DHS’s COVID-19 Response team at  DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 16 October 2020

Thursday 15 October 2020

Thursday 15 October 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Online forum

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is hosting an online forum for our disability sector colleagues:

During the forum, our expert panel will provide an update on the following key topics:

  • The newly-released COVID-19 Operational Response Plan for supported independent living providers (SIL) and outcomes from the SIL Providers Expert Readiness group;
  • The Congregate Living Working Group’s work with supported residential facilities;
  • Collaboration between DHS, the NDIA and NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission on COVID-19 response; and
  • PPE and infection control.

Our panel will be happy to answer any other questions you may have about how we manage the risk of COVID-19 in the future, together with how we can best protect and support clients and staff. We invite you to submit any questions via this online form by Tuesday 27 October at 3.00 pm.

If time permits, you will also have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have during the session.

Our panel

  • Joe Young, Executive Director - Disability Services, DHS
  • Cassie Mason, Director - Office for Ageing Well, Department for Health and Wellbeing
  • Dr Chris Lease, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, SA Health
  • Tim Baker, South Australian State Director, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
  • Clarissa Bourne, Director for Behaviour Support, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
  • Vince Raschella, Director, Provider Engagement SA, NDIA


A recording will be available on the DHS NGO COVID-19 Support pages for those who are unable to attend live.

Questions

We invite you to submit any questions via this online form by Tuesday 27 October at 3.00 pm.

If you have any general questions about the forum, please email DHS.Events@sa.gov.au.

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 15 October 2020

Wednesday 30 September 2020

Wednesday 30 September 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

I feel honoured to share with you the news that I have been appointed Chief Executive of the Department of Human Services.

As many of you know, I have been acting in this role for some time now. I feel both proud and humbled to have led the department through a tumultuous time for all of us as we worked through the onset of COVID-19 in South Australia, while continuing to band together to support individuals, families and the wider community.

I am thankful that I can continue to work with such dedicated, innovative and resilient people, both within DHS and the sector more broadly, who share a vision of putting people first, while delivering services and support to the people we exist to serve.

Last week our sector Intelligence and Peaks groups met to continue our monitoring and information sharing of the latest developments regarding COVID-19 in South Australia, and to hear directly from organisations about issues that are impacting them. One of the matters discussed was the update to the COVID-19 Supported Independent Living (SIL) Operational Response Plan, and further information about the plan can be found below.

Although the impact of COVID-19 in South Australia has thankfully lessened, we must continue to work closely with SA Health and across our sector to ensure that plans, guidelines and supports are in place in the event of a potential second wave. 

If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact DHS’s COVID-19 Response team at  DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 30 September 2020

Friday 18 September 2020

Friday 18 September 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

The drive-through testing clinic at Angaston Hospital, temporarily established due to a positive COVID-19 result in routine wastewater testing, will close from 3pm this Friday 18 September.

People can continue to access COVID-19 testing at the drive through clinic at Tanunda Hospital (7 days, 9am-5pm). No GP referral or appointment is necessary. Alternatively, testing is also available at the Angaston Respiratory Clinic by appointment only.

The Tailem Bend testing facility is now open from 12.00am to 4.00pm, 7 days a week. The site, located at Tasco Caltex Tailem Bend Roadhouse, Princes Highway, provides free COVID-19 testing for interstate truck drivers and interstate travellers requiring swabs. No booking is required.

A new walk-in COVID-19 testing clinic has opened at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital to provide easier access to testing for those in the local community. The clinic is open from 9.00am to 6.00pm, 7 days a week. No booking or GP referral required. To access the clinic, enter via Gate 5 on Woodville Road.

Further information about COVID-19 testing options can be found here.

This week we farewell Anna Bartsch from DHS. As many of you would be aware, Anna has led the DHS COVID-19 Response Team since it was established in March.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anna for her outstanding contributions to the department and the NGO sector in responding to this crisis, as well as for her significant work in the Community and Family Services Division and Early Intervention and Research Directorate over the past several years. We wish Anna all the very best in her future endeavours.

DHS's COVID-19 Response Team continues its operations, and staff are available should you have any questions or concerns. Please contact the Team via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

For more information on COVID-19 in South Australia please go to: www.covid-19.sa.gov.au

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 18 September 2020

Friday 11 September 2020

Friday 11 September 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

South Australia continues to track well with no new or active cases of COVID-19.

With the easing of restrictions and the announcement last week by the Premier, Hon Steven Marshall MP, that it is safe to return to work if social distancing and cleaning can be maintained, particularly in common areas, it is easy to feel like life is returning to a pre-pandemic normal.

Now, however, is not the time to be complacent. Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, should get tested. Pleasingly, more than 400,000 COVID-19 tests have now been undertaken in South Australia. Click here for further information about testing.

Yesterday we recognised World Suicide Prevention Day. This global day of action is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention, and share a message of hope in the community.

Suicide is not only one of the most prominent international health issues, but in our State, it’s the leading cause of death for South Australians aged 15 to 44. Beyond the statistics, suicide leaves profound emotional, social and economic impacts for families, friends and communities.

Across DHS and through your own organisations, in the many interactions and interfaces we have with members of the community, we can help to diminish the fear, judgement and discrimination that others may experience. We can each play a role and share responsibility to support community members and their families to seek and receive help.

In what has been an especially challenging year for many, now more than ever, it is important to take the time to reach out and start a conversation if you notice that someone might be struggling. The simple act of providing a listening ear with compassion, empathy and lack of judgement can truly help restore hope.

SA Health has established a network of telephone and online services that can provide you with mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic. For information see the COVID-19 Mental Health Support page. For further information about available mental health services in South Australia, please visit the SA Health website.

Thank you for working to keep our communities safe whilst continuing to deliver vital and essential services. If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 11 September 2020

Friday 4 September 2020

Friday 4 September 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

I'm pleased to advise that the application form for the South Australian Paid Pandemic Leave Scheme is now available.

Further information on the scheme and a link to the application form.

The Premier, Hon Steven Marshall MP, has just spoken to the media following today's National Cabinet meeting and this week's meetings of the South Australian Transition Committee. As a result, a number of restrictions have been eased which are detailed below.

Today we received news of the outcomes of a federal investigation into the death of Adelaide woman Annie Smith. The report by former Federal Court judge, Hon Alan Robertson SC, makes 10 recommendations for changes to the oversight of vulnerable NDIS recipients, including that participants have more than one care worker. Whilst the investigation did not find any significant failings by the NDIS in response to the death, it urged the commission to act earlier to identify people with disability who are vulnerable to harm or neglect.

Once again I take this opportunity to reassure you that DHS and the State Government support the role of all quality carers in our community and acknowledge the strong commitment to your clients and care you take in your work, particular during a global pandemic. A reminder that it is of critical importance that you have policies and procedures in place that ensure the wellbeing of your clients as the absolute utmost priority.

A copy of Hon Alan Robertson SC's report is available on the NDIS Commission website.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Playgroup SA, the Starlight Children's Foundation and Multicultural Communities of Australia for being announced as finalists in their respective categories of the SA Health COVIDSafe Awards. It's inspiring to see these not-for-profit organisations being acknowledged for their fantastic work in providing safe environments for their communities and staff.

As always, I acknowledge the very significant work that is being undertaken right across the sector to keep our communities safe whilst continuing to deliver vital and essential services. If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 4 September 2020

Friday 28 August 2020

Friday 28 August 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

This week we convened meetings with the Community Services Sector Intelligence Group and the Community Services Peak Organisations to provide updates on the latest developments regarding COVID-19 in South Australia and to hear directly from organisations about issues that are impacting the sector.

These meetings are vital for both DHS and SA Health to hear first hand from the sector about emerging and common issues, allowing us to problem solve in real time and provide guidance and advice where it is required.

Feedback indicated some common areas of concern, including around aged care, disability and in-home workforces, and the need for PPE and infection control refresher training. DHS is following up on a number of questions raised at the meeting.

As a sign of the good work that is being undertaken in South Australia to manage the pandemic, a number of restrictions will ease from today. This includes the reinstatement of the 40km travel buffer zone for cross border communities in Victoria and South Australia. Please refer below for further information.

The ongoing work of the community services sector to manage the impacts of COVID-19 across some of our most vulnerable communities is to be commended - we truly are all in this together. If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

For more information on COVID-19 in South Australia please go to: www.covid-19.sa.gov.au

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 28 August 2020

Monday 24 August 2020

Monday 24 August 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Please note this important update from SA Health.

SA Health is asking all travellers returning from Queensland to watch for symptoms on their return to South Australia and to get tested for COVID19 if any symptoms develop.  

Anyone in South Australia who has visited any of the venues listed by Queensland Health since 22 July is requested to self-isolate for 14 days from the date they attended the venue.

Travellers returning from the Greater Brisbane and Ipswich areas should not attend nursing homes or visit vulnerable people for 14 days from their return. This includes aged care, disability and health care workers.

SA Health is encouraging travellers to re-think their travel plans to Queensland where possible, and be aware that quarantine requirements into South Australia may change rapidly based on close monitoring of the situation in Queensland.

All travellers returning from the Brisbane and Ipswich areas are now being handed a letter from Professor Spurrier at the airport advising them not to visit or attend work in any aged care or disability care service until 14 days have passed since travel back into SA and a COVID-19 test is negative.

If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

For more information on COVID-19 in South Australia please go to: www.covid-19.sa.gov.au

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Friday 21 August 2020

Friday 21 August 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

A new COVID-19 guideline has been developed for the NGO sector on self-quarantining at home when living with others. This protocol applies for anyone needing to quarantine or isolate due to essential travel, potential contact or awaiting test results.

When determining whether to self-quarantine at home or elsewhere, please take into consideration whether others in the household are vulnerable or at-risk.

Extra caution is also advised for households with people working in high-risk settings.

Thank you for your continued work to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 in our community. If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au 

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 21 August 2020

Friday 14 August 2020

Friday 14 August 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

From today, new restrictions specifically for residential aged care facilities have come into effect in South Australia. Listed in the Residential Aged Care Facilities Direction released yesterday, changes include the compulsory use of PPE when within 1.5 metres of a resident and ensuring staff only work at a single location.

These restrictions are for residential aged care facilities only, and do not apply to other provisions of care, such as for people with disability in Supported Independent Living. It should also be noted that these restrictions do not preclude personal care workers from having additional employment in settings outside of a residential aged care facility. 

If you tuned in to our online forum last week, Chief Public Heath Officer Nicola Spurrier touched on similar topics, such as the importance of considering the use of PPE when working in close proximity to a client. 

I appreciate that this new direction raises some questions around service delivery in different settings, so if you have any specific questions you'd like to see answered, please send them to DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

We will continue to keep you updated with any further announcements and how they might impact service provision. An example of this is Wednesday's announcement of a change to border restrictions, which could effect some of your staff. Further detail about these changes can be found below. 

It was pleasing this week to learn that all close contacts of the Thebarton cluster have returned negative COVID-19 tests. My thanks go to those services supporting the young people in the medi-hotel, their families on the outside and the broader community.

Again, thank you for your continued work to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 in our community and we’ll continue to work with you as the situation progresses. If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 14 August 2020

Friday 7 August 2020

Friday 7 August 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

DHS yesterday held an online forum for the NGO sector to provide more information and respond to questions. Thank you for your participation and I hope you found it useful and informative.

recording of the forum has been uploaded to the DHS website and written answers to your submitted questions will be available next week on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Today, I’m sure many of you have had concerns about the situation in Thebarton. SA Health and South Australia Police are taking extra precautions to manage this cluster and we are holding meetings with community leaders tonight.

Information specific to the Thebarton cluster is available on the SA Health website and is being prepared in a variety of languages by our Interpreting and Translating Centre.

If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team Head Anna Bartsch on 0407 320 903 or at anna.bartsch@sa.gov.au.

For more information on COVID-19 in South Australia please go to:  www.covid-19.sa.gov.au.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 7 August 2020

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Invitation to DHS COVID-19 NGO online forum

Dear sector colleagues,

We are working hard as a state to manage and contain any risks from the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria. The State Government has imposed some restrictions from midnight tonight, including capping people allowed at home gatherings at 10, down from 50.

I know that many of you have questions about how we manage the risk in our state, and how you can best protect and support your clients and staff.

DHS will hold an online forum on Thursday August 6, 2020 for the NGO sector to provide more information and respond to questions.

The panel will include:

  • SA Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier
  • SA Pathology Clinical Service Director Dr Tom Dodd
  • South Australia Police Assistant Commissioner Noel Bamford

The online forum will be held via the Zoom platform on Thursday August 6 from 2.30pm. The forum can be accessed by clicking on this link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85787278728?pwd=M2ZJcVU2anhWLzJzUGs0dlNzSWFuUT09

Please send your questions to: DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

There will also be an opportunity to ask questions during the session.

If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID-19 Response Team at 0407 320 903 or at DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 4 August 2020

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Wednesday 29 July 2020

DHS COVID-19 sector forum placeholder

Dear sector colleagues,

The COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria continue to be deeply concerning for our community. Cases of infection are rising on a daily basis, and sadly the death rate from this virus is also growing.

The aged care sector, and elderly residents, have been particularly vulnerable to outbreaks in Victoria, with more than 60 aged care facilities impacted, and more than 760 staff and clients infected.

While in South Australia we have had no or few new cases of COVID-19 since April, we are mindful and deeply concerned about our eastern neighbours and their struggle to contain COVID-19.

We must take lessons from the Victorian experience and prepare our community for potential outbreaks. Last week I asked that you review your workforce, in particular looking at mobility of your staff in working across sites. In Victoria it has become clear that the virus is transmitted across aged care facilities by staff working across multiple sites.

I am aware that you have raised a number of issues with DHS in terms of managing outbreaks and protecting and supporting clients.

The state’s Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier will join a DHS webinar next week to respond to your questions. SAPOL and SA Pathology representatives will be there too for questions about border controls and testing.

The webinar will be held on Thursday August 6, from 2.30pm. Details of how to join the webinar will be emailed to you next week.

Please send your questions to: DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID-19 Response Team at 0407 320 903 or at DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 29 July 2020

Thursday 23 July 2020

Thursday 23 July 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

We continue to closely monitor the situation in Victoria and NSW as more cases of COVID-19 emerge, and those states grapple with containing the virus in their communities.

In a worrying development, the Victorian Government has indicated that up to 80% of new cases in that state have been driven by transmission in workplaces, including in aged care facilities. In a number of cases it is being transmitted by aged care workers working across multiple facilities. There are now more than 200 cases of COVID-19 from more than 40 aged care homes in Victoria.

We need to learn from this and plan now to change practices and working arrangements. We obviously need to be extra vigilant and follow social distancing and hygiene practices to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread. We also need to look at our workforce, and our practices and procedures to prevent any risk of transmission across services.

Please take this opportunity to think about your workforce arrangements and ways to minimise workers moving between high risk groups and sites during this pandemic. In doing so we all need to think about working arrangements from the perspective of staff and the incentives or disincentives at play.

I am aware that many of you are feeling understandably anxious about the interstate rise in cases and the risk of the virus spreading into SA. As a community and a state we need to maintain high rates of testing and strict border controls at this time.

Some concerns in regard to management of potential COVID-19 cases were raised with DHS at the Supported Independent Living Preparedness Expert Reference Group last week. DHS is working with SA Health now on getting clear responses to those issues.

Please also note there have been small updates to the DHS COVID-19 NGO guidelines. This includes some updates to information on testing for COVID-19, and advice on transitioning back to the office and supporting vulnerable employees.

If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team at 0422 004 434 or at DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 23 July 2020

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

This afternoon we have seen our Premier announce a hard border closure with Victoria, and the Victorian Premier announce that metro Melbourne will enter a period of lockdown.

What's happening in Melbourne, and Victoria more broadly, no doubt makes the possibility of a serious COVID-19 outbreak in Australia seem more real to many of us.

We have seen that hesitation to act rapidly and decisively by leadership in other countries has been catastrophic, and Australian leaders have learned from this.

I want to reassure you that SA Health advice says it has been 105 days since South Australia has had a confirmed case without a traceable, known cause (such as overseas travel).

That said, it is a good time to remind ourselves to remain vigilant about our social distancing and hygiene practices.

I recommend you visit SA.GOV.AU for the latest information as the situation continues to be monitored and updated. It is essential that anyone planning to enter SA from interstate register their plans ahead of time.

If you would like to discuss any concerns, please contact DHS's COVID Response Team Head Anna Bartsch on 0407 320 903 or at anna.bartsch@sa.gov.au. Please note, the Response Team is aware of some specific family situations of concern that will be affected by these changes, and will work with SAPOL and SA Health to find safe solutions as rapidly as possible.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 7 July 2020

Thursday 2 July 2020

Thursday 2 July 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Step 3 of South Australia’s Roadmap to Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic began on Monday, with more aspects of our lives returning to our “new normal”.

While we re-emerge into our wider world, the clear threat of COVID-19 remains. Globally infections are still growing in several countries, and in our own backyard, authorities in Melbourne are grappling with a sharp rise in cases due to community transmission.

The threat of Coronavirus remains as we return to restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, gyms, and competitive sports.

We will still need to be vigilant and thoughtful of others. Social distancing should continue to be second nature, the 1.5 metres between us and others still observed, along with our strict hygiene measures. If you are sick, please stay home and protect others.

As we remain vigilant, South Australia also moves into a recovery phase, where we will work with the community to support people most impacted by the pandemic in restoring their lives. More details of the social recovery work are in the newsletter below.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 2 July 2020

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

As you will be aware, the State’s Transition Committee met yesterday and agreed upon a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

From midnight last night, travellers from WA, NT and Tasmania were allowed into the state without a mandatory 14-day quarantine. This will be extended to all states and territories from July 20.

Under the Roadmap to Recovery from Friday June 19 a range of restrictions will be eased, allowing private gatherings of up to 75 people including funerals, weddings and other ceremonies. Indoor classes such as dance groups will be able to have to 20 people, if they can provide 7sq m per person. 

Competitive outdoor contact sport, and training for indoor contact sport can restart from June 25.

All these steps work towards restoring our way of life and supporting our economic recovery, as a state and as a community.

Clearly COVID-19 transmission remains a major risk as we move into our recovery phase and reopen our borders. We must continue to be alert and vigilant, particularly for our most vulnerable clients.

I would urge all staff to:

  • Remain vigilant and take precautions about illness and any suspicious symptoms.
  • Isolate if sick.
  • Continue to maintain thorough hygiene, including hand washing.
  • Maintain social distancing, including the 1.5m rule.

Again, thank you for your continued efforts in supporting South Australians.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 17 June 2020

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Our success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the reopening of many aspects of our lives this week, just ahead of the June long weekend.

Returning to gyms, restaurants, cafes, and shops this week puts us a step closer to restoring our pre-COVID lives. But clearly our post-COVID world will be different.

We still need to take great care and continue with social distancing and hygiene measures to halt COVID-19, particularly on this long weekend when so many of us will be out and about.

The ongoing campaigns across the globe to contain the spread of the Coronavirus are a reminder to us that we need to be ever vigilant.

This long weekend offers a chance to emerge from our world of restrictions, but for some in our community the impacts of the pandemic have been significant. Livelihoods have been lost and lifestyles changed forever.

For those in search of help, two services provide key support: the COVID-19 Mental Health Support web portal, and the COVID-19 Relief Call Centre. Details of both services are in the newsletter below, and I would urge you to promote these services to those who may be in need.

Let’s all enjoy getting out this long weekend and celebrate our combined efforts in containing the pandemic.

The DHS COVID-19 Response Team remains available to provide assistance and support to you during this time.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 3 June 2020

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

It has been a difficult week for our sector. As you will be aware, the tragic case of Ann Marie Smith has raised significant issues for the NDIS and DHS, and put a spotlight on the role of paid carers providing services to vulnerable South Australians.

This deeply concerning case is the subject of a police investigation, so there are limitations on details that can be discussed at this time.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner has announced the appointment of a former Federal Court judge, Hon Alan Robertson SC, to lead an independent inquiry into the adequacy of the regulation of supports and services provided to Ms Smith. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission registers and regulates NDIS providers and oversees the new NDIS Code of Conduct and NDIS Practice Standards.

The Premier has announced a Disability Taskforce to examine gaps in oversight and safeguarding of people living with profound disability in South Australia. More details of the taskforce are included below.

I want to reassure you that DHS and the State Government support the role of all quality carers in our community and acknowledge the strong commitment to your clients and care you take in your work. We trust that your services will continue to be provided during these difficult times with the greatest of care and diligence. I cannot stress enough the critical importance of having policies and procedures in place that ensure the wellbeing of your clients as the absolute utmost priority.

I also want to ensure that our critical frontline staff do not feel demoralised or stigmatised by these horrendous events, and I encourage you to get involved with the #SAythanks campaign for our direct care workers via DHS’s social media channels.

Meanwhile, our relative containment of COVID-19 has allowed the easing of some restrictions from Monday. You can read more details in the newsletter.

The DHS COVID-19 Response Team remains available to provide assistance and support to you during this time.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 27 May 2020

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

We continue to flatten the COVID-19 curve in South Australia, with no new cases today, and no active cases, and more than 83,000 tests undertaken.

Today the Premier has announced we will move to Step 2 of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on 5 June 2020. That is three days earlier than originally planned, enabling us access to more activities across the June long weekend.

Last week as some of the COVID-19 restrictions were eased, our public and private hospitals began to increase the number of elective surgery procedures in a bid to return to full activity.

We can be reassured there is no sense of complacency in our state’s approach.

Our COVID-19 testing regime continues, with SA Pathology introducing rapid testing for clinically urgent patients that produces results within 60 minutes. Targeted testing has begun in specific groups in a bid to determine any hidden cases and stop any spread of the virus. Testing also continues for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

As ever, the DHS COVID-19 Response Team is available to provide assistance and support to you during this time. The contact details are in the latest newsletter.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 20 May 2020

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

This week we moved with optimism to the next stage in our management of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the easing of some restrictions.

Step 1 in South Australia’s Roadmap to Recovery from COVID-19 began on Monday, with some shops, public services such as libraries, sporting facilities, community and youth centres reopening, regional travel permitted, and restrictions on funerals and weddings eased.

We enter this stage carefully and cautiously, with the protection of our community still our priority.

Please continue contacting the DHS COVID-19 Response Team with any questions or concerns. Contact details are listed in the newsletter below. There is also a range of information and support on the dedicated NGO COVID-19 Support page on the DHS website.

Please know that we remain committed to working with you and supporting you as we enter this new stage.


Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 13 May 2020

Friday 8 May 2020

Friday 8 May 2020

Message from the Acting CE - Lois Boswell

Dear sector colleagues,

As you may have heard, the Prime Minister has just given a press conference about beginning to lift restrictions related to COVID-19.

We expect our Premier to respond to this shortly – it’s important to remember that each state and territory will make its own decisions based on its own circumstances.

South Australians have done an excellent job in flattening the outbreak curve, and I urge everyone to remember that we must remain vigilant. Changes will be rolled out gradually with a continual focus on keeping people safe.

This will allow South Australians to take a breath after seven weeks of vigilance and caution.

For the DHS NGO sector which has continued to deliver key services to South Australians throughout this period, I hope today’s news will take some pressure off you and your clients.

For some of you, your services will have been altered to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Our focus is on working with the sector to assist services to restart where they are safe to do so.

We know that some charity shops have reopened and outdoor homelessness services are operating as normal and country service provision is returning to normal levels outside of restricted areas.

Our priority is to make sure people feel safe and confident in receiving the services they need, and organisations and staff feel safe and confident in their service provision. For example, we are working to share our experiences through the disability sector so day options can be delivered to clients.

In addition, we are very keen to focus on what regulatory or practice changes are required as restrictions ease where a sector or an organisation wants to continue their COVID-19-style of service delivery. We know there have been significant benefits with telehealth and are keen to start moving now on how we embed these improvements into our post-COVID-19 practices.

While our state has performed well in containing COVID-19, we still need to be vigilant and take care to protect the most vulnerable in our community as we move into this next phase.

I would urge all staff to:

  • Remain vigilant and take precautions about illness and any suspicious symptoms.
  • Isolate if sick.
  • Continue to maintain thorough hygiene, including hand washing.
  • Maintain social distancing, including the 1.5m rule.

Please remember that the best source of information about restrictions for South Australia is sa.gov.au. We will also update the new NGO section of our DHS website as things change.

Again, I thank each of you for your work during this time. You may feel unsettled and anxious during these times, but please know we are supporting you.

Above all we can be positive about our success in containing a global pandemic and protecting our community.

Please take some time for yourself, your families and friends this weekend as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 8 May 2020

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

While we are in the middle of this global pandemic, in South Australia there are positive signs with our continued success in flattening the curve and stopping the spread of Coronavirus.

Yesterday South Australia recorded 13 days with no new cases of COVID-19.

That incredible result is a testament to our collective efforts in stopping the spread - and protecting our most vulnerable. As a community we keep going despite the challenges we are facing.

Last week some elective surgery restarted, many of our children returned to learning in the classroom, and on Sunday council playgrounds reopened. As a state we are looking forward to other aspects of our lives resuming, while maintaining key restrictions to stop the virus spreading.

But we know that despite the good news, some of us are struggling.

The State Government has provided a funding boost for domestic violence prevention programs, including a new referral line for men to seek help to break the cycle.

Meanwhile, South Australians are saying thank you to our frontline care and support workers through social media with the dedicated hashtags #ThanksForCaring and #SAyThanks.

I would like to encourage you to complete an online survey by the Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise at the University of South Australia which is working with community service organisations to identify current demands and pressure points from COVID-19.

You can find details in our latest newsletter.

I will add my thanks to our frontline workers, and to all of you who are ensuring that South Australians continue to receive your essential help and support during these challenging times.

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 6 May 2020

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Again, we’ve had another successful week flattening the curve with only three positive cases of COVID-19 reported in South Australia since Monday, 20 April 2020.

While it is important to practise social distancing where possible, I recognise that for a lot of workers in our sector, it is difficult to maintain without compromising the quality of care they provide.

In this instance, I ask that workers familiarise themselves with the home visiting guidelines, which can be found on our website, so they can uphold their vital work without placing themselves, or those they care for, at unnecessary risk.

On a personal note, and on behalf of the Department, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of Detective Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan who tragically died in a road accident over the weekend. Jo worked closely with the Department to improve women’s safety in South Australia and you can read more about her achievements in the newsletter. Our thoughts are with her family and SAPOL during this difficult time.

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 28 April 2020

Friday 24 April 2020

Friday 24 April 2020

AGD

It is important that all South Australians can take measures to protect themselves and others from exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

As you can no doubt appreciate, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a number of challenges to those organisations that provide supported accommodation for individuals who are living with a cognitive impairment or mental incapacity.

Some people may have difficulty understanding the social distancing and other guidelines of the Chief Public Health Officer or the directives of the State Coordinator, leading to potential risks to both themselves and others.

We appreciate family members of people in supported accommodation may wish to see their loved ones isolated to minimise any risks of exposure to COVID-19. These are genuine safety concerns, and matters we have been working to address.

Since risk minimisation measures came into effect, a number of service providers and concerned family members have sought information and guidance on the way in which these measures can be applied to people who may not fully understand the Chief Public Health Officer’s guidelines or State Coordinator’s directives.

There is no one size fits all approach to this as every person will have different needs and capabilities, and any measures to keep them safe in these circumstances will need to be tailored specifically to that.

If there is a need to restrict a person’s movements due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19, it must be lawful and it must reflect their circumstances.

Recognising the legislative challenge this may pose, the South Australian Government has passed measures to help both accommodation providers and individual guardians enact measures that keep both individuals and the broader community protected from any potential spread of COVID-19.

These measures allow both supported accommodation providers and individual guardians to seek temporary approval to restrict the movements of an individual if they are at risk of exposure to COVID-19. An authorisation must be by an appointed Authorising Officer or by the guardian of the person if one is appointed. After 28 days, an extension may be sought from the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

The Attorney-General has appointed Richard Bruggemann as Authorising Officer.  Mr Bruggemann has extensive experience in the disability sector, having previously undertaken the roles of Chief Executive Officer of the Intellectual Disability Services Council and Senior Practitioner (Disability Services) in the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion.

If a supported accommodation provider has serious concerns for a resident’s safety related to COVID-19 they can detain a person for no longer than 48 hours, within which an application must be made to the guardian or Authorising Officer to obtain approval to detain the protected person for up to 28 days.

These applications should not be made lightly, and must involve the least restrictive measures possible.  Consideration will be given to the protected person’s circumstances, as well as any alternative measures aimed at ensuring their health and wellbeing.

Applications considered by either a guardian or the Authorising Officer will endeavour to reach the least restrictive approach through means that do not unduly restrict an individual’s movements, while also preventing those activities that may pose a risk to both the individual and the broader community of COVID-19.

There is a right of review. A person aggrieved by a decision to detain a protected person can apply to the Authorising Officer.  A person aggrieved by a decision of the Authorising Officer can apply to SACAT for review.

The Principal Community Visitor will also be able to conduct a visit using videoconferencing and other means to people who have the special orders, to ensure measures imposed in any orders are being applied appropriately.

Should you have any queries about the application process, or face a complaint about how those orders are being applied please contact AuthorisingOfficer@sa.gov.au.

More information: Restrictions on at-risk care facility residents

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Earlier this week, South Australia achieved three consecutive days of zero positive cases: the first time since 12 March 2020 when our numbers began to steadily rise. Since then, two positive cases have been reported that suggests while successful in flattening the curve, we are still managing a pandemic.

South Australia has also become the temporary home for hundreds of Australians repatriated this week. Their arrival required the teamwork of many agencies including SA Health and SA Police along with federal agencies and non-government organisations. This is a good example of South Australia responding to the needs of our fellow Australians.

With school holidays drawing to a close, I know there are concerns about children returning to school for term two. Advice from the Department of Education is that school will return next week as recommended by the Chief Public Health Officer. I recognise that for many children, school provides a safe environment and a sense of routine and normality.

Our next online forum is this Friday, 24 April 2020, and you’ll find information on how to access it below.

Finally, some elective surgery is resuming next week, a sign that what we are experiencing now is temporary and we will come out the other side of COVID-19.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 22 April 2020


Accessing Friday’s forum

The next NGO webinar is this Friday, 24 April 2020 at 3:30pm.

The forum will be hosted by Lois Boswell, Acting Chief Executive Department of Human Services and will feature guests Philip Newitt, Assistant Commissioner of SA Police and Amelia Traino, Executive Director of Mental Health and Wellbeing at Wellbeing SA.

Please send any questions in advance to DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au and join the forum on Zoom.

Monday 20 April 2020

Monday 20 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

South Australia is continuing to manage the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, with only six new cases reported since last Monday.

The welfare of Indigenous Australians, particularly those in remote communities, has been of heightened concern throughout the pandemic. Last week the Federal Government announced that they are developing a Remote Point of Care Testing Program for rural and remote Indigenous communities.

Under the program, testing will take around 45 minutes and there will be 83 testing sites throughout Australia. We are hopeful South Australia will be home to one or more of these sites to assist our remote Indigenous communities. Roll out of the program is anticipated by mid-May.

This Friday, I will be hosting our next webinar with several guests who will have some valuable insight into the current situation. Read on for more details on Friday’s webinar.

Finally, we have been endeavouring to answer your questions either through our webinars or via the NGO Coronavirus Support page on our website. I encourage you to regularly check our FAQs for NGOs as the information is constantly evolving.

Thanks for all the work you’ve all been doing to keep our community safe.

Best regards,

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 20 April 2020

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

While it was undoubtedly a different Easter this year, South Australia recorded just 10 new cases of COVID-19 over the four-day holiday, which is a remarkable effort. The low number is undoubtedly a result of high volumes of testing, effective contact tracing and people respecting isolation and social distancing measures.  However, this is still the first wave of the pandemic and we are being asked to continue these disciplines.

Last week’s forum provided some helpful information from SA Health and the South Australian Housing Authority. If you missed the forum, you can watch the recording on our NGO Coronavirus Support web page. Our next forum will be held on Friday, 24 April and we’ll let you know how to join that next week.

There has been some confusion around recommendations announced by the Prime Minister in relation to social distancing and if they apply to South Australia. Each state interprets the national recommendations based on the specific local situation and they only become enforceable when the State Coordinator enacts a Direction. This accounts for different rules in different states and you can find more information on the South Australian Police website.

Enjoy the short week and we will bring you further news next week.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 15 April 2020

Thursday 9 April 2020

Thursday 9 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Today's forum

Today's forum will be held via a different online platform, which will allow us to practice social distancing while remaining accessible to as many of you as possible. Please find following the details of today's forum.

Time

3.00 pm - 4.00 pm (Adelaide time)

Access

Go to the online forum (uses Zoom)

The panel:

  • Lois Boswell (Acting Chief Executive, Department of Human Services)
  • Dr Chris Lease (Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, SA Health)
  • Paul Reardon (Executive Director Customers and Services, South Australian Housing Authority)
  • Andrea Andrews (Chief Procurement Officer, SA Health).

Questions

Please email any questions you have to DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au and we will endeavour to get to them.

For more answers to questions from the sector, please also check our 'FAQs for NGOs' page.

Recorded sessions

If you experience technical difficulties, you will be able to watch a recording of the forum that will be posted to the DHS NGO support web page after the session.

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

We continue to see the COVID-19 situation rapidly change and I thank you for your work maintaining vital services under increasingly challenging circumstances.

Tomorrow we are hosting our next DHS online sector forum and I encourage you to join us (virtually) as we respond to more of your questions. Details of how to join the forum will be provided soon.

As we head into the Easter long weekend, I recognise that what is often a time of family celebration will be a little different this year. While official advice is to stay at home this Easter, I encourage you to connect virtually with family where you can and take the opportunity to enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

I look forward to connecting with you at tomorrow’s forum.

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 8 April 2020

Monday 6 April 2020

Monday 6 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

During these challenging times, we are committed to working with you, supporting you, and keeping you updated with important information. We will send you regular newsletters to link you with information and resources to help you deliver your key services to South Australians.

We are also holding online forums to hear your issues and concerns and respond to them. Our next forum is planned for this Thursday, 9 April 2020. We will send you a link later this week to join this forum.

This edition of our newsletter includes information about the new DHS NGO COVID-19 Readiness Planning Toolkit, information regarding free childcare and women’s safety information.

We will continue to connect with you and I urge you to talk to us about any concerns or issues. Above all, it’s important that we look after ourselves, our colleagues, our clients and our families during these unsettling times.

Best regards,

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 6 April 2020

Thursday 2 April 2020

Thursday 2 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Together we are facing difficult and uncertain times as we manage the impact of COVID-19 on our community.

We are committed to working with you to continue to deliver important services to many vulnerable South Australians.

We will continue to keep you updated with regular emails and newsletters to share important information and online forums to answer questions and hear feedback.

We will also regularly update our NGO sector page on our website with key information to keep you informed.

We are also establishing a number of smaller working groups to connect with you and gather vital information about what you are seeing happen out in the community and the challenges you and your clients are facing.

I spoke with some of you on Monday to discuss your current challenges and it was clear to me that we are all feeling similar challenges.

DHS has an important role to play in supporting you with tailored protocols and guidelines for your specific client groups and facilitating across government collaboration on shared issues like client transport. This is something we are currently working on and more information about new protocols and guidelines will be available very soon.

Our COVID-19 Response Team has updated its contact details to provide you with a single contact point for all your questions. Contact the COVID-19 response team at DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au or phone Matt Clemow directly on 0417 887 824.

Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families, colleagues and clients as we navigate this unprecedented crisis together.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO newsletter online - 2 April 2020

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

There is no doubt that the difficulties we are facing together are unprecedented as we prepare for the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our community.

The State Government is committed to working with our non-government sector partners to ensure the safety and wellbeing of South Australians.

DHS is working collaboratively with the sector and we want to share advice that will help NGOs take practical steps to reduce risks and support delivery of services.

We have established a dedicated COVID-19 response team which is working to ensure you have access to key information. We will continue to host online forums for the sector to address questions during this period and provide follow up information and answers. FAQs from our last forum will be published very soon.

The next webinar is on Thursday 26 March 2020, which Premier Steven Marshall and Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink, will attend.

As part of this support for the sector, we are offering this information package for NGOs to help you think through your organisation's preparation and continuity planning.

This package is part of a more detailed toolkit for your use which we will release shortly.

We have also set up this dedicated information page for the sector on the DHS website.

In addition you can contact the COVID-19 response team via email at DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au and phone Anna Bartsch on 0407 320 903.

If you have any suspected or confirmed cases, please alert us via DHSNGOemergency@sa.gov.au

Please take care and continue to refer to the SA Health website for timely and accurate information on COVID-19.

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 25 March 2020

Subscribe to email alerts

Subscribe

* indicates required
Page last updated : 14 Sep 2020

State Government of South Australia © Copyright DHS .[sm v5.4.7.1]