Department of Human Services

COVID-19 NGO Newsletter

Friday 9 April 2021

Friday 9 April 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Dear sector colleagues,

As you may be aware, there was some news overnight that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended changes to the Australian COVID-19 vaccine program. A complete list of the recommendations that have been accepted by the Australian Government can be found on the Department of Health website.

Most significantly, ATAGI has recommended the use of the Pfizer (Cominarty) vaccine in adults aged under 50 years.

ATAGI has carefully considered the latest vaccination findings out of Europe and the UK, which follow extremely rare instances of people developing a very specific syndrome involving blood clots with low platelet counts after having taken the AstraZeneca vaccine. This rare syndrome is called ‘thrombosis with thrombocytopenia’.

In Europe, approximately one in every 250,000 people vaccinated with AstraZeneca is diagnosed with the rare blood clots. One person in Australia has developed the syndrome after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. The South Australian Government and SA Health advises that it is important to note that the AstraZeneca vaccine remains highly effective in preventing death and severe illness among people who have contracted COVID-19, and that the incidence of the blood-clotting syndrome is very rare.

Importantly, ATAGI has advised that people who have had the first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine - without any serious adverse effects - can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years of age.

ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will continue to review the evidence on a regular basis and will issue further changes and advice as any new evidence emerges, or the epidemiological situation changes.

The Australian Government is now working with states and territories to determine how those under the age of 50 in phase 1 of the vaccine rollout can access the Pfizer vaccine in a timely fashion.

National Cabinet and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which is comprised of all state and territory chief health officers and chaired by the Australian Chief Medical Officer, met today to discuss the ATAGI recommendations. The Commonwealth is now in the process of developing guidelines and related resources around informed consent for those people under 50 for whom the risk of contracting COVID-19 far exceeds the potential risk of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Information for immunisation providers will also be updated.

It is expected that this information will begin to be made available from today and over the course of the weekend. The department will continue to provide updates and links to resources as they become available.

I appreciate the significant levels of anxiety and confusion you may be feeling as a result of these recent announcements. As the State Government works with the Commonwealth to recalibrate its rollout strategy, we will keep you informed at every stage.

As always, SA Health remains our trusted source for information on COVID-19. For more information visit the SA Health website or access updates via Facebook or Twitter. SA.GOV.AU is a dedicated COVID-19 gateway, linking to relevant information on state and federal government websites.

Disability Accommodation providers should continue to follow the advice of the Commonwealth via the NDIS and Department of Health Disability Provider alerts.

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

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 9 April 2021

Thursday 8 April 2021

Thursday 8 April 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

Last year, the State Government established an independent task force to examine the gaps in oversight and safeguarding for people living with profound disability in South Australia. The task force was co-chaired by Dr David Caudrey and Kelly Vincent.

All seven recommendations of the task force were accepted and have been actioned.

Two of the key recommendations that were implemented are the establishment of South Australia’s individual advocacy service to assist people with disability to navigate the NDIS to receive the supports they need, and expansion of the Adult Safeguarding Unit’s remit to respond to reports or concerns of abuse toward people with disability.

South Australians who are seeking support to navigate the NDIS, including help to understand their rights and resolve issues, can call the Disability Advocacy Service on 1300 886 220.

Delivered by Uniting Communities, the Disability Advocacy Service, provides free legal representation for people to challenge NDIS decisions, as well as educating and empowering people with disability to advocate for themselves. Further details about this service can be found on the Disability Advocacy Service website.

Anyone with concerns that an adult with disability, including themselves, is at risk of or is being neglected or abused can call the South Australian Abuse Prevention phone line on 1800 372 310. Further information about the role of the Adult Safeguarding Unit can be found on the SA Health website.

To view the Safeguarding Task Force recommendations progress report, please refer to the DHS website.

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 8 April 2021

Thursday 1 April 2021

Thursday 1 April 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

It’s been two years in the making and now I’m pleased to share that we’ve reached an important milestone in our reform of the Child and Family Support System.

South Australia’s most vulnerable families on the cusp of entering the child protection system will receive more support than ever before thanks to new Intensive Family Services, which commenced this week.

This landmark reform would not have been possible if it weren’t for the invaluable input and collaboration from the sector to design a new system together. This co-design process saw us engage with close to 1000 people from across government and non-government organisations, Aboriginal organisations, research partners, service practitioners and people who have their own experience of the child protection system.

As you may be aware, DHS is responsible for leading the design and delivery of a new Child and Family Support System as part of the South Australian Government’s Safe and Well: Supporting families, protecting children strategy. Following extensive consultation and research, led by DHS’ Early Intervention Research Directorate, we have refocused our efforts on intervening earlier, and more intensively, with the aim of turning the tide and outcomes for South Australia’s most vulnerable families. We know that if we can identify and help families earlier in their struggles, we can make a more profound difference. And that’s what we’re going to do.

Intensive Family Services will be delivered by seven not-for-profit organisations, including two run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal families. It sees a record investment of $52 million over the next four years, including close to $5 million in new funding specifically for our regional areas. Services will be delivered across the state, including North, South, East and Western Adelaide, as well as regions including the Murray and Mallee, Yorke Peninsula and Mid North, Limestone Coast, Barossa, Light and Lower North, Eyre and Western, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, Far North and the Adelaide Hills.

The innovative new approach will focus on reducing child abuse and neglect by providing more tailored support services to families at risk of entering the child protection system. Trained and dedicated support staff will work specifically with these families to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and address issues that will enable children to stay at home safely, in community and culture.

We all know that change, even when we know the outcome will be better, can be difficult for parties involved. But in this instance, I have never seen such broad endorsement, agreement and acceptance of a change as significant as this one. This is testament to the participation of our sector partners and my sincere thanks go to all of you for your contributions throughout this process. Together, we’ve created a system based on evidence, best practice and the voices of those it will support, that will make a real difference in the lives of many.

I’m sure we can all agree that all children in South Australia deserve to grow up in a safe, loving home, amongst their community and culture. Intensive Family Services will bring South Australian children closer to this outcome.

On the eve of the long weekend, I acknowledge the many frontline support staff in our sector who will continue to work over Easter providing essential services across areas of domestic violence, disability, homelessness, child protection and youth justice, and recognise their dedication and commitment to our community.

Have a safe and happy Easter.

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 1 April 2021

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

As you may be aware, Greater Brisbane has gone into a three-day lockdown as a result of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

Following this announcement, the South Australian Government has put a hard border in place with the following restricted zones of Queensland:

  • City of Brisbane
  • City of Ipswich
  • Logan City
  • Moreton Bay Region
  • Redland City.

Arrival in South Australia

Coming into effect from 5.00 pm 29 March 2021, people are not permitted to enter South Australia from these restricted zones unless they are a returning resident, people relocating to South Australian or people fleeing domestic violence.

People returning from any restricted zone must:

  • Quarantine for 14 days
  • Get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible
  • Get tested on day 5 and day 13 of quarantine, and
  • Wear a face mask at any time you come into contact with the public for the 14-day quarantine period (for example, when seeking testing).

Arrival in South Australia between 20 March and 29 March 2021

People who arrived in South Australia from a restricted zone between 20 March and 5.00 pm 29 March 2021 must:

  • Get a test as soon as possible and quarantine until you receive a negative test.
  • Get tested on day 5 and day 13 after arrival. There is no requirement to quarantine after receiving a negative result in your first test, unless you have symptoms.
  • Not attend a COVID Management Plan event for 14 days after your arrival.
  • Not enter a high risk setting for 14 days after your arrival, unless you meet requirements to be permitted (that is, urgent medical care or end-of-life visit). Please note - high risk settings include disability and aged care or correctional facilities and an emergency department, intensive care unit, respiratory ward or oncology ward of a private or public hospital).

The latest Cross Border Travel directions, which detail the restrictions placed on entering disability, aged care and correctional facilities, can be found on the COVID-19.sa.gov.au website.

Disability and aged care organisations are urged to familiarise themselves with the new directions. If staff have recently returned from a restricted zone in Queensland, please follow the advice from SA Health.

Please continue to check the SA Health contact tracing page on a regular basis to see if you were at a COVID-19 exposure site, and take action immediately if you are impacted.

If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to email 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 March 2021

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

The federal Department of Health (DoH) issued an update to disability providers on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines on 11 March 2021. The update provides important information on the Commonwealth’s vaccine rollout to disability residential facilities.

In the coming weeks Healthdirect, on behalf of DoH, will be contacting providers to verify data about accommodation sites to support the continued planning for delivering vaccines to eligible disability facilities during Phase 1a of the rollout. Please note that the online data collection form is now open to allow for updating critical information for your sites.

A COVID-19 vaccination toolkit for disability services providers is now available on the DoH website. The toolkit is a collection of resources designed to assist providers to prepare for the rollout of the vaccines, and includes a range of fact sheets, checklists, and information about consent, along with a guideline on monitoring and reporting side effects and an excess dose policy. I strongly encourage you to familiarise yourself with these excellent resources.

DoH recently hosted a webinar on the Phase 1a disability vaccine rollout. If you missed this informative event, you can view a recording of the webinar (Health TV, 58 mins).

Disability residential accommodation providers can access the latest provider alerts from the Commonwealth on the NDIS provider alert website. It is also recommended that you bookmark the DoH disability provider webpage which will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

Vaccinations commence in DHS Disability Accommodation Services

Last week, Department of Human Services (DHS) frontline disability staff and the people we support in Disability Accommodation Services began receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations, with the first vaccine administered at our Northgate Aged Care Services disability facility.

Whilst the Commonwealth is leading the vaccination program to disability residential facility staff and clients, as a state-run service DHS is working in partnership with SA Health to deliver vaccinations to our workforce and clients.

More than 900 staff working in DHS Accommodation Services, as well as 500 people we support, will receive their vaccinations in coming weeks as part of Phase 1a of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. This is a significant milestone for us, and I look forward to also seeing the first vaccinations rolling out across the NGO disability residential sector soon.

With many disability support staff representing a wide range of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, the State Government is working closely with these communities to provide the information and confidence they need to roll up their sleeves and get the vaccine. Information in over 60 languages about the COVID-19 vaccines is available on the Department of Health website.

Over recent weeks, SA Health has published a number of excellent resources about the vaccines and vaccination program including this video featuring Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier (YouTube 2 mins), where she answers some of the top questions about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

Further information on the COVID-19 vaccine, including the South Australian rollout, is available on the Government of South Australia COVID-19 vaccination page. Disability workers also feature in the SA Health 'Roll up' campaign — you can see printable 'Roll Up' posters here for your use (PDF 5.0 MB).

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 - 17 March 2021

Thursday 4 March 2021

Thursday 4 March 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

On Monday 8 March 2021, South Australians will join with people across the world to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). The global event is an opportunity to recognise the achievements of women and to encourage all members of the community to continue to strive for equality.

The past 12 months have been like no other, with South Australian women demonstrating exceptional leadership while serving the community on the frontline of a global health crisis.

This year, the UN Women theme for IWD is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’. It celebrates the extraordinary efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the pandemic. The theme also calls for women’s rights to decision-making in all aspects of life – from equal pay and sharing of unpaid care or domestic work, through to an end of all forms of violence against women and girls.

In South Australia, the Office for Women continues to work towards gender equity and positive change for women, including through the Committed to Safety Framework to address domestic, family and sexual violence in the state.

You can learn more about these initiatives, and hear from inspiring South Australian women on what IWD means to them, by following the Office for Women (Women’s Information Service) on Facebook or Office for Women on Twitter

Last Thursday, the Department of Human Services and SA Health provided an update on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout across the residential aged care and disability sector (YouTube 1 hour)

We have compiled a number of useful resources that were highlighted during the update and they are available in this newsletter. If you have any questions about the vaccination rollout, please email us at DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au.

Webinar today

The Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) will be holding a webinar for disability providers and peak bodies today (4 March 2021), from 3.00pm – 4.00pm, to provide information on Phase 1a COVID-19 vaccine rollout to the disability sector.

This webinar will be chaired by Professor Michael Kidd AM, with other panellists: Ms Lisa Peterson (DoH, Assistant Secretary, Aged Care and Disability - Vaccine Taskforce), Dr Jeffrey Chan (Senior Practitioner, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission) and Mr Eric Thauvette (CEO, Hartley Life Care).

Tune in and ask questions! The webinar will be Auslan interpreted and will be published on the DoH website.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge and thank Home and Community Care (HACC) providers in South Australia that are currently transitioning clients to make way for the new Community Connections program beginning on 1 May 2021. DHS is here to support providers through this process. Our HACC transition team will be in contact with each affected organisation.

If you would like to contact our HACC transition team, please email CommunityConnections@sa.gov.au

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 4 March 2021

Thursday 18 February 2021

Thursday 18 February 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

Last year, we were shocked and saddened by the horrendous death of Annie Smith. Today, criminal proceedings against her former support worker returned to court.

While I will not risk prejudicing these proceedings by making any specific comments on the matter, I would like to acknowledge the real improvements that have been made to our systems of safeguarding for vulnerable people with disability.

While Annie was an NDIS participant and no longer one of our clients, South Australia has rightly taken the time to reflect and learn from the horrific failings in her care.

We at DHS are working hard to respond to the recommendations of the independent safeguarding task force, including:

You can read more about each of these actions on the DHS website.

While there is still more work to be done, these actions have made a meaningful difference to the lives of vulnerable people with disability in our state.

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 18 February 2021

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

Earlier this week, a small group of sector leaders joined me for a brief update from SA Health on progress with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in South Australia.
Pleasingly, Monday's meeting coincided with the arrival of the first batch of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines (142,000) doses in Australia.

The Commonwealth has advised that it expects the first vaccinations in Australia will be administered from 22 February 2021.

As you can imagine, the distribution of the vaccines remains a highly complex logistical exercise, dependent on many external factors.

SA Health has been working closely with the Commonwealth and Local Health Networks to plan for the arrival of the vaccines in South Australia, which has included setting up freezers to appropriately store and distribute the Pfizer vaccine.

It is expected that the initial delivery of vaccines will arrive in South Australia from Monday 22 February, with the first vaccinations to be given to cohort 1a priority populations (quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, and residential disability and aged care workers and residents) from mid-next week. The distribution of vaccines amongst these cohorts will be based on the number of doses the state receives.

With the first delivery of vaccines to Australia now confirmed, the implementation plans for distributing the vaccines will ramp up. As a result, there is likely to be a considerable amount of information released from the state and Commonwealth over the coming days and weeks. We will continue to share information as it comes to hand through this newsletter, meetings and forums.

At Monday's meeting, organisations sought advice and information from SA Health which we will make available across the sector. This includes FAQs on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, vaccination consent forms and information about when to time your flu shot with the COVID-19 vaccine. We have included useful links to some of this information in the articles below.

I’m very pleased to advise that, based on medical advice, the Australian Government has announced that everyone in Australia will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination free of charge should they wish to. Further information about this amendment to the COVID-19 vaccine policy.  

Later next week I will be hosting an online forum for leaders of the disability and aged care sectors where we will hear directly from SA Health and the Commonwealth on some of the finer details relating to the rollout of the vaccine to priority populations. A recording of this forum will be made available online following the event.

Disability residential facility providers will have received an update on the vaccine implementation plan from the NDIS on Thursday 11 February 2021. A copy of this communique is here, and you can access all NDIS provider alerts regarding the COVID-19 vaccine on the NDIS website.

In the meantime, I encourage you to keep up to date on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in South Australia through visiting the SA Health COVID-19 vaccine website. Here you will find links to a number of useful resources, some of which we have detailed below for your easy access.

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

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 17 February 2021

Thursday 4 February 2021

Thursday 4 February 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

Following a confirmed COVID-19 case in a hotel quarantine worker in Melbourne, the South Australian Government has updated testing and quarantine requirements for those entering South Australia from the Greater Melbourne area.

  • People coming into the state from Greater Melbourne will need to have a PCR test (nose and throat swab) on days 1, 5 and 12 in South Australia and isolate after the first test pending a negative result.
  • Anyone who has been in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne since 28 January should immediately email SA Health at health.coronavirusenquiries@sa.gov.au to advise that you were at this location. Those who have been at this location during the time specified will be required to go into hotel quarantine.

The border to Victoria currently remains open. The Government has advised that the response to the situation in Victoria is different to the hard border closure with Western Australia due to the two states having very different hotel quarantine facilities and testing regimes.

For more information on all state COVID-19 updates go to the SA Health contract tracing page.

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 4 February 2021

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Covid-19 restrictions - Western Australia

Dear sector colleagues,

Over the weekend the State Government revised its advice relating to people returning or travelling to South Australia from Western Australia, after a hotel quarantine security guard in Perth tested positive to COVID-19.

As of 31 January 2021, Western Australia is now a prohibited zone.

People who have been in Western Australia will not be permitted entry into South Australia. Exceptions to this include people escaping domestic violence, persons who normally reside in South Australia and those relocating to South Australia.

For persons arriving to South Australia on or after 12.01am 26 January 2021 and before 10.15pm 31 January 2021, the following directives apply:

Individuals who were at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel, 707 Wellington Street Perth, on or after 24 January 2021 must:

Individuals who travelled to South Australia on or after 12.01 am 26 January from Western Australia must:

  • Immediately self-quarantine for 14 days commencing 31 January 2021; and
  • Get a COVID-19 test immediately and again on day 5 and day 12 of quarantine.

For more details of all state COVID-19 updates go to the SA Health Contract Tracing page.

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

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 2 February 2021

Monday 25 January 2021

Monday 25 January 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

It's hard to believe that it was only a week ago that we met to talk about South Australia's rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Australia's national rollout strategy.

You can watch our recording of the COVID-19 vaccination forum (YouTube 1.45 hours). The COVID-19 vaccination briefing, presented by Don Frater (PDF 1MB), Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Health and Wellbeing, is available.

Since the forum, the department has been inundated with questions, operational thoughts and existing plans from sector organisations, all of which are imperative to factor into planning a successful rollout strategy for our state.

On behalf of DHS and SA Health, thank you for your participation in this important stage of planning. We will continue to collaborate and keep you informed as planning progresses.

Invitation to contribute to DHS's Reconciliation Action Plan

At DHS, we are deeply committed to reconciliation. From 2008, DHS has demonstrated its commitment to reconciliation through its implementation of several reconciliation action plans (RAPs).

Since then, the department has been dedicated to promoting an environment of cultural inclusion, equity and safety by developing and maintaining respectful relationships with Aboriginal people and communities.

We recognise the importance of continuously improving and building upon our reconciliation journey, and so I am pleased to announce the development of the department's new INNOVATE RAP.

The DHS Reconciliation Committee and its RAP Working Group has been working closely with Reconciliation SA in the development phase to consider how we can be active leaders in reconciliation.

As part of this development process, we invite our partners in the human services sector to share your understanding of DHS's RAP, your perspectives on how DHS is tracking, and how DHS can work with you on matters relating to reconciliation.

I would greatly appreciate your time and assistance by taking part in a short Reconciliation survey. The survey will be live until close of business, 5 February 2021.

Please note that this survey is coordinated by Reconciliation SA. All survey responses are anonymous, confidential and de-identified prior to sharing with DHS.

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



Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois BoswellChief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 25 January 2021

Monday 11 January 2021

Monday 11 January 2021

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Dear sector colleagues,

The New Year is well and truly upon us and, while we are not yet out of the woods with COVID-19, we are certainly in a much stronger, more informed and better equipped position to handle the pandemic as a sector, as a state and as a nation.

I know that many of you continued to work over the holiday season, providing vital services and support for the many South Australians. Some of us were also fortunate to take a much-needed break to recharge the batteries and spend time with family and friends after a challenging year.

Over the Christmas and New Year period there have been a number of outbreaks of COVID-19 across the country. Whilst the news emerging from Queensland this morning is encouraging, on Friday evening the South Australian Government revised its advice relating to people returning or travelling to South Australia from Queensland.

Travel from Queensland

Queensland Health has identified a number of COVID-19 public exposure sites. If anyone was at a location listed on the Queensland Health contact tracing website and they are currently in SA they should:

  • Immediately self-quarantine for 14 days commencing on the last day they were at the exposure site.
  • Get a COVID-19 test immediately and again on day 5 and again on day 12 of quarantine.
  • Contact SA Health at health.coronavirusenquiries@sa.gov.au and to advise you were at a listed location.

There is also specific advice for people who have been in the greater Brisbane area on certain dates. It is imperative that, if you have not done so already, you immediately follow the following advice.

If you have been in Greater Brisbane area between Saturday 2 January and Thursday 7 January 2021:

  • You must get a COVID-19 test immediately and self-isolate until you have received a negative result.
  • You must get a second COVID-19 test on 13 January. You do not need to self-isolate after your second test unless you have symptoms.
  • You must not attend any event with an approved COVID Management Plan or attendance of over 1,000 people (for example a major event or festival).

If you have been in Greater Brisbane area since Saturday 2 January and travelled to SA on Friday 8 January:

  • You must get a COVID-19 test immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result.
  • You must get COVID-19 tests again on day 5 and day 12. You do not need to self-isolate after your second or third tests unless you have symptoms.
  • You must not attend any event with an approved COVID Management Plan or attendance of over 1,000 people (for example a major event or festival).

If you have been in Greater Brisbane area since Saturday 2 January and travelled to SA from 12.01am Saturday 9 January:

  • You are required to self-quarantine for 14 days commencing on the date of your arrival in SA (day one is the day after your arrival in SA).
  • You must get a COVID-19 test immediately within 24 hours, again on day 5 and again on day 12.

Travel from New South Wales

The COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales prompted a hard border closure with South Australia.  Effective from 1 January 2021, any South Australian residents who have been in NSW in the preceding 14 days must, commencing on the date of their arrival in SA, quarantine for 14 days. Detailed information about the New South Wales COVID-19 Health Alert can be found on the SA Health website.

Travel from Victoria

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified a number of COVID-19 public exposure sites. View the list here. If you have been in Victoria in the past 14 days, check this page regularly for updates to see if you were at a COVID-19 exposure site. If you were at a location listed on the DHHS website, please follow the instructions as detailed on the SA Health website.

I appreciate that there’s a lot of information to understand here. I therefore encourage anyone who is interstate currently to visit covid-19.sa.gov.au for exemptions, process requirements and new updates to help plan your journey home. Contract tracing information for affected states can be found on the SA Health website.

Our individual and collective efforts to adhere to these regulations will ensure we all remain safe.

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



Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 11 January 2021

Monday 21 December 2020

Monday 21 December 2020

Season's greetings

Dear sector colleagues,

As 2020 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the important contribution you’ve made to our communities.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a hard year. However, in many ways, it has also been uplifting, moving and life-changing despite the obstacles faced.

As a department we worked hard to respond to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and support the sector, while continuing to progress a number of important reforms and deliver vulnerable South Australians the support and advocacy they deserve.

We farewelled our last resident at Highgate Park this year and progressed transitioning the Fullarton campus to new ways of supporting people living with disability in the community; we supported the development of disability access and inclusion plans across all government agencies, and launched the Inclusive SA website as a central resource for disability access and inclusion information in South Australia.

We commenced reform of the 30-year legacy Home and Community Care program in order to better support South Australians ineligible for the NDIS; delivered the Youth Action Plan; and rolled out a range of campaigns to prevent violence against women, including opening regional safety hubs for women at risk of domestic violence.

In the Youth Justice space the State Plan was launched, a cultural space at Kurlana Tapa was developed, and a raft of important changes were implemented including the prohibition of spit hoods, and the introduction of body scanners and body worn cameras.

As well as establishing an Aboriginal Reference Group and Aboriginal Leadership Group, DHS has increased its focus on meaningfully engaging with the Aboriginal community, and we saw a great increase in attendance at our Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week events this year.

DHS could not deliver the supports and services our communities need without our partners and colleagues in the NGO sector.

I know many of you and your organisations personally, and I know that the impact of COVID-19 on our sector has been massive. Whether you work in a large organisation delivering services across the state, or in one of our many small to medium enterprises, the work you do is critical and highly valued by the South Australians we exist to serve. I acknowledge that the restrictions, demands and constant change has had a personal impact on your workforce, and I encourage you to familiarise yourself with the many mental health and wellbeing supports that are in place.  When we care for others, we must not forget to look after ourselves.

This year has tested us, but I believe that it has also made us better. As a sector, we are more connected than ever, and I am proud of the relationships we have built, the trust that has been developed, and the camaraderie that we have nurtured over this past year.

I believe that it is the department’s duty to keep you informed and to engage with you meaningfully on the issues that affect us all. We are partners in delivering positive outcomes for South Australians and I truly look forward to strengthening our relationships further in 2021.

I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and all of the South Australians we exist to serve the peace and happiness they deserve in 2021.

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



Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 21 December 2020

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Tuesday 15 December 2020

An invitation to have your say on changes to restrictive practices legislation

Dear sector colleagues,

Today, we commenced consultation on the Disability Inclusion (Restrictive Practices) Amendment Bill 2020, representing an important next step in protecting the safety, welfare and dignity of South Australians with disability.

This follows this year’s State Budget commitment of $5.8 million over four years to establish a restrictive practices scheme, including the creation of a new restrictive practice authorisation unit within the department.

We are committed to working with our sector partners as we shape the policy direction ahead of the bill’s introduction to Parliament in the new year, and encourage all of our partners to review the proposed legislation and provide feedback via the YourSAy website.

The intent of the bill is to provide protection for NDIS participants of all ages while allowing NDIS providers to fulfil their duty of care to staff and ensure participants are not at risk of harm to themselves or others.

The proposed scheme will apply a risk-based authorisation process where:

  • low-level, less intrusive restrictive practices, such as environmental restraint and chemical restraint, may be authorised by an approved authorised officer within an NDIS provider; and
  • high-level, more intrusive restrictive practices, such as physical restraint and seclusion, can only be authorised by an authorised officer in the DHS.

Importantly, the proposed scheme will also deliver consistency across states and territories, making it easier for providers to streamline their processes.

A new restrictive practice authorisation unit within DHS will work with registered NDIS providers to provide education about processes and collect data on the use of restrictive practices in South Australia.

Understandably, any change of this kind can be quite challenging, however the department will ensure extensive education and training is delivered to providers, including regular onsite assistance to help providers meet their obligations under the new legislation.

While the new authorisation process will go a long way towards preventing confusion and supporting better outcomes for providers and clients, the South Australian Government remains committed to working collaboratively with our sector partners to reduce and eliminate the need for restrictive practices over time.

We invite you to share your thoughts about the proposed changes and encourage others, including clients with disability and their family members, to have their say.

Consultation has begun via yoursay.sa.gov.au and will conclude on 29 January 2021.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact DHSSADisabilityReformIGR@sa.gov.au.

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

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 15 December 2020

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Update on Restrictions

Dear sector colleagues,

Following yesterday’s South Australian COVID-19 Transition Committee meeting, I am pleased to share that a number of restrictions will ease from Monday 14 December.

The COVID Safe Check-in system for contact tracing will be expanded to include the retail sector, restrictions on visitors to aged care facilities will be removed, and density requirements will return to 1 person per 2 square metres in many settings, including our sector.

In addition, the recommendation to work from home where possible has changed, with workers encouraged to return to the workplace from Monday.

Whilst restrictions are easing across the board, restrictions that apply to the health, disability, allied health and residential care sectors under the current Public Activity Direction will remain in place until 23 December 2020. This date will mark 28 days since the last known case of COVID-19 in the community. This means that masks will remain mandatory in these settings, except where exemptions apply.

The new Direction will come into place from 12.01 am, Monday 14 December, and will be available at www.covid-19.sa.gov.au when published.

Mask exemptions

The department has received some enquiries about how exemptions for wearing masks can be obtained, and I’d like to take this opportunity to provide some clarification.

  • There is no need to seek an official exemption from wearing a mask from SA Health. The directions place that decision-making responsibility with the ‘provider or carer’ or the ‘service organisation’ providing the service.
  • If an exemption is made at the individual client level, it is recommended that you record this decision in case notes. Service organisations may also wish to consider developing policies or risk assessment procedures to document their position on mask exemptions in line with the directions. DHS has confirmed that the NDIA will extend its current PPE arrangements to 23 December 2020.

QR codes and SIL housing

There has also been some confusion regarding the use of the COVID Safe Check-in QR codes in a supported independent living (SIL) setting.

SIL services are listed as a public activity under Schedule 2 of the directions, however we recognise that these services are delivered in many different ways across the sector. The following information provides further clarity about the use of QR codes in homes.

QR codes are required when:

  • SIL services are provided in the traditional group home setting or centre-based respite (usually 1 - 5 people); AND
  • 24-hour care or services are provided; AND
  • There is movement in and out of the home by support staff on shift.

QR codes are not required when:

  • SIL services are provided in a home setting or traditional group home; AND
  • 24-hour care or services are NOT provided; AND
  • There is average or minimal movement in and out of the home by support staff.

SIL services that do not need to implement QR codes are still required to have a COVID Safe Plan for the service, but it does not need to be prepared for each individual home.

Thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding as we navigate the implications of these changing requirements for our sector.

As always, the DHS COVID-19 Response team is available to assist where needed.

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Thank you for your continued work in support of South Australians at this time.

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 9 December 2020

Friday 4 December 2020

Friday 4 December 2020

Public Activity Direction Update

Dear sector colleagues,

This week many of us have been impacted by the new direction that has classified the work we undertake in disability services, allied health services and residential care as a public activity.

Understandably, our sector has been busy preparing COVID-Safe plans, setting up the new COVID SAfe Check-In and ensuring that masks are worn when providing services. I acknowledge the extraordinary commitment by our sector to ensuring compliance with the directions to keep our vulnerable clients and communities safe.

As I advised yesterday, the grace period to comply with the direction has been extended to midnight tonight, allowing us time to clarify issues and to put arrangements in place.

An update to the direction, with some much-welcomed amendments, came into force today, Friday 4 December, from 5.40pm (a copy of the new direction will be available on the COVID-19 website soon).

Key changes include:

  • References to single use surgical masks have been changed to face masks (covering the nose and mouth). This recognises there are many situations where a cloth mask is suitable (e.g. a volunteer in a disability or aged care service delivering food to clients at home). Organisations can further stipulate the type of masks that must be worn by their staff and clients (where applicable).
  • A person receiving individual care in their home is not required to wear a mask – this includes in a supported independent living situation, which is considered a home.
  • Exemptions for providers or clients wearing masks – this exemption can now be made if it is also in the opinion of the service organisation providing the service that wearing a mask would hinder the provision of relevant care. In addition, the exemption now applies if wearing a mask would impact patient client safety.
  • Significantly, the direction now recognises that some people are unable to provide their contact details to a venue as they cannot communicate that information in writing or verbally. The direction allows for a person at the venue or a companion to provide the relevant details on that person’s behalf.
  • In regards to wearing masks, the new direction clarifies that wearing a mask ‘at all times when in the physical presence of others’ means if they are in the same room as that other person (exemptions may be applicable based on individual circumstances).

We have received a number of queries from organisations seeking clarity on the directions, so to assist you and to provide reassurance we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions in an article below for your information.

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

Significant steps forward in providing a voice for Aboriginal people

For the first time, the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, Dr Roger Thomas, addressed state parliament this week. Dr Thomas provides Aboriginal leadership in South Australia, advocating on behalf of all Aboriginal people and communities across the state.

Dr Thomas’ address to parliament is an historic event that will be widely celebrated and acknowledged.

In his maiden speech, the Commissioner talked about a way forward for Aboriginal engagement in government decision-making "through leadership by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people, and through a genuine and representative voice for Aboriginal people in the government”.

Dr Thomas proposed a new model of engagement via an Aboriginal representative body, which is a first for South Australia. I encourage you to read Dr Thomas' full report and gain an understanding of the Commissioner's deep commitment to voice, treaty and truth.

Also this week, the State Government has moved to allow South Australia’s inaugural Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, April Lawrie, to investigate pressing systemic issues facing indigenous youth.

Under the proposed legislation, Ms Lawrie would be able to conduct independent inquiries and formal investigations into issues brought to her office’s attention. She would also have the authority to advise and make recommendations to government ministers, state authorities and other non-government bodies on matters relating to Aboriginal children, as well as to ensure the state is held accountable to international obligations on the rights of First Nations children.

These are significant steps forward in providing a voice for Aboriginal people in this state and I’m personally proud to have borne witness to these events.

Thank you for your continued work to support of South Australians at this time.

Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 4 December 2020

Thursday 3 December 2020

Thursday 3 December 2020

Directions Update

Dear sector colleagues,

The new direction put in place this week, that expanded the definition of public activities to include many of our services, has been designed to provide additional protections to cohorts of vulnerable people that we support.

Yesterday, the Chief Public Health Officer flagged that some additional changes would be made to the directions, particularly around the types of masks required.

DHS has been working closely with SA Health and SA Police to ensure that issues raised by the sector about the current direction are addressed where possible.

We anticipate those changes will be in place soon and we will continue to keep you updated of any changes that impact on your services.

In the meantime, we have been advised by SA Police that the grace period to implement changes in the direction will be extended until 12.01am, Saturday 5 December 2020.

If you have any questions or concerns about the directions, I encourage you to contact DHS’s COVID-19 Response team. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to clarify matters with SA Health and SA Police.

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

International Day of People with Disability

Today is an important day for us and the South Australians we exist to serve.

Today is International Day of People with Disability – an opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate the achievements and contribution of people living with disability in our community.

On this important day, I acknowledge the invaluable work of South Australia’s disability support workers who go above and beyond to brighten and enrich the lives of people living with disability.

I also recognise and thank our clients and their families for trusting and affording us the opportunity to provide services and support. In their honour, we’re proud to share this video that celebrates some of the South Australians living with disability in our care.

As the lead government agency for disability, we are privileged to advocate and ensure that South Australia is inclusive and accessible for all. 

As part of the State Disability Inclusion Plan, a whole-of-government commitment to improving the lives of South Australians with disability, every state department, agency and council has this year developed and published a Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP) outlining concrete actions to address access and inclusion barriers.

I am delighted to release the new Inclusive SA website, where you can connect to all state authorities’ DAIPs, including our DHS DAIP, as well as lots of helpful information about access and inclusion in South Australia.  

Celebrations to mark this important day are taking place around South Australia and across the world. 

Tonight in Adelaide, the Adelaide Oval precinct and the River Torrens footbridge will light up in orange to celebrate and raise awareness of the day. The Adelaide Town Hall will also light up for this international day of celebration and awareness.

I invite you to join with us in acknowledging this important day within your own organisation.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 3 December 2020

Monday 30 November 2020

Monday 30 November 2020

Update to public activity restrictions

Dear sector colleagues,

A new Direction under the Emergency Management Act has been released, and will come into place from 1201 hours, Tuesday 1 December 2020. A copy of the Direction is available on the covid-19.sa.gov.au website.

The Direction now identities the provision of Health Care, Residential Care, Disability Support or Aged Care Services as a defined public activity. This is because the recipients of these types of services are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.  Further information on the types of activities covered in this definition is contained in Schedule 2 of the Direction (PDF 4.6MB).

This means that the people or organisations conducting the public activity are required to develop a COVID-Safe Plan, undertake contact tracing and must wear masks under certain circumstances.

In recognition of the significant changes this represents for the cohorts now defined by the Directions as a public activity, SA Police has advised that a period of 72 hours is being provided to allow SA Health the opportunity to communicate with the sector and allow organisations to go online and generate COVID safe plans with associated QR codes.

During this time, I am pleased to advise that enforcement action will not be taken, but all businesses must implement the requirements as soon as possible and within the 72-hour grace period.

Defined services

Under the Direction, your service will be defined as health care, residential care, disability support or aged care if it carries out the following services:

  • health care services, including public allied health services, community health services including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services*
  • residential care services, including the following—
    • residential disability services
    • supported residential facilities
    • residential care facilities established under the Family and Community Services Act 1972 or licensed under the Child and Young People (Safety) Act 2017
  • disability support services, including in-home disability support services
  • in-home aged care services
  • supported independent living services.

*see the new Direction for full definitions of health care services (PDF 4.6MB)

COVID-Safe plans

If your organisation is defined as a public activity under the Direction, a COVID-Safe plan and contact tracing via COVID-Safe Check-In (QR code / app) must be completed, unless the activity relates to in-home health services.

Please note that in-home health services are specifically excluded from this requirement (refer to Clause 10(8) of the Direction (PDF 4.6MB)).

Do I need to have a COVID-Safe plan in place by Tuesday 1 December?

The Direction requires that organisations identified as a public activity must have a COVID-Safe Plan in place by 1 December 2020.

As this will be a new requirement for many facilities, SA Police has advised that a period of 72 hours is being provided to allow organisations to go online and generate COVID safe plans with associated QR codes.

Enforcement action will not be taken at this time, however all businesses must implement the requirements as soon as possible and within the 72-hour grace period (1201 hours, Friday 4 December).

COVID-Safe plan templates are easy to complete online, and a simple guideline to step you through the process is available at covid-19.sa.gov.au, along with contact details for further assistance in completing your plan.

Density requirement

When completing your COVID-Safe Plan, you will need to provide information relating to venue capacity.

Please note that, whilst indoor density requirements are 1 person per 4 square metres, Clause 8(3) of the Direction states that people employed or engaged to work or undertake official duties for the purpose of the define public activity do not need to be counted in regards to the density requirement.

COVID SAfe Check-in

The mySA GOV app will have the COVID SAfe Check-In feature added to it before 1 December, which once opened, will allow you to scan a business’s QR code.

There is, however, a slight delay with the Apple version of the app, which will not be available until COB 1 December. The Android app is already available. If a person visiting your site has an iPhone, they will need to provide all of the contact details to the service who must record them.

The app securely collects limited personal information as you enter a business or venue. Details will only be kept for 28 days and will only be released to SA Health for official contact tracing purposes.

Any new COVID-Safe plans created online will generate a QR code to print off and display.

It will be mandatory for all public activities with a COVID-Safe plan to display their QR code from Tuesday 1 December, however the 72-hour grace period applies for organisations newly defined as a public activity. Please continue to collect visitor information for contact tracing purposes using current methods until your COVID-Safe Plan is in place.

When customers arrive at your venue, they can check in by scanning the QR code using their mobile phone.

COVID-Safe Check In will roll out from Tuesday 1 December 2020 and more information about how to use it is available at covid-19.sa.gov.au.

Masks

The new Directions require that masks must be worn when conducting the public activity unless:

  • the mask will hinder the provision of care in the professional opinion of the health care provider or carer
  • a person has a medical condition that prevents them wearing a mask such as breathing difficulties
  • the mask affects the ability to communicate with hearing impaired people
  • a person is under 12, or
  • the person is a resident or live-in staff members of a residential care facility.

In line with this new Direction, I am pleased to confirm that the NDIA has advised it will extend the current PPE arrangements to 14 December 2020.

The updated Direction represents a significant change for many providers of disability and residential services. 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 November 2020

Friday 27 November 2020

Friday 27 November 2020

Masks memorandum for NDIS workers

Dear sector colleagues,

Thank you to those organisations that have volunteered to receive masks to distribute to the community. There is still time to order masks and you can do so by registering your interest via DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au

In further news on masks, the Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, has signed a memorandum requiring all workers delivering National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports to NDIS participants to wear a mask while undertaking duties where physical distancing of 1.5 metres between the worker and participants cannot be maintained.

This is effective immediately and will be a matter for each organisation and business to implement, monitor and maintain.

This requirement is in addition to any emergency directives issued under the Emergency Services Act 2003, and is currently in place up to and including Monday 14 December, 2020.

A copy of the memorandum can be found on the DHS website.

This SA Health policy requirement supports the Federal Government’s announcement of temporary measures for NDIS participants in South Australia to ensure they can receive disability-related supports, in line with public health advice. This includes the ability to directly claim the costs of personal protective equipment, including face masks.

The National Disability Insurance Agency will contact vulnerable participants to ensure they have supports in place and offer phone or online planning meetings during lockdown.

For full details of these temporary measures, visit the NDIS website.

While responding to the Parafield cluster is certainly feeling a little less hectic this week, SA Health is asking us to form a daily habit of checking and reminding our staff and clients to visit the SA Health Contact Tracing Page.

The SA Health website also contains the Residential Aged Care Facilities Guidelines for a Precautionary Response to a Community Outbreak (PDF 123 KB).

The Transition Committee met today and decided to ease restrictions in South Australia on Tuesday 1 December 2020, with further changes anticipated in two weeks.

Working from home where possible remains encouraged during this two week period, as well as wearing masks in public places where it’s difficult to maintain a 1.5 metre distance. Visit the sa.gov.au Restrictions and Responsibilities page for more information.

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 - 27 November 2020

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Now that restrictions have eased and schools have re-opened, the department has shifted its focus to supporting you in the next phase of South Australia’s COVID-19 cluster response.

Yesterday afternoon, the Sector Intelligence Group met to discuss some of the immediate challenges NGOs are experiencing during this outbreak.  Dr Chris Lease, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, joined us to provide an SA Health update and answer questions.  You will find responses to questions raised below.

If you have any questions that are not covered by the information below, please send them to us via our DHS:Covid Response dedicated email for our COVID Response team to resolve for you.

A topic of much discussion is the requirement around wearing masks. I have advised DHS staff that wearing masks is mandatory for those performing home visits and caring for people with disability if social distancing cannot be maintained.  In addition, Youth Justice admission and reception personnel have been directed to wear masks. For all other department employees, wearing masks is strongly encouraged, particularly on public transport and in other places were social distancing is difficult.

Although restrictions have eased and, all going well, are expected to be further relaxed on December 1, we are reminding everyone to maintain COVID-Safe measures.

This includes a recommendation to continue working from home if possible and to the extent that it does not disrupt service delivery. People with underlying health conditions, or with family members at home who are vulnerable or at-risk, are also encouraged to continue to work from home if possible too.

It has been a challenging time for everyone in our sector and I acknowledge it hasn’t been an easy few days, weeks (or indeed months).  We’re grateful for your openness and willingness to share your experiences so the department can resolve challenges for everyone’s benefit.

Thank you.

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 - 24 November 2020

Friday 20 November 2020

Friday 20 November 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

As you will have no doubt heard, as of midnight Saturday November 21, South Australia will reduce the level of restrictions and the stay at home order will be repealed.

This sudden change in direction is based upon new information that has been received in relation to the Parafield Cluster. Understandably, this may cause some confusion, but we’ll continue to provide you with information as it becomes available.

Effective immediately, exercise outside of the home with members of the household is permitted, and schools will re-open on Monday.

I have directed staff in DHS who perform home visits and work in disability to wear masks while providing care to clients if they cannot maintain social distancing. Our Youth Justice admission and reception personnel have also been directed to wear masks.

Wearing masks on public transport and outside the home and workplace is highly recommended, but not mandatory. Further details about the new direction on masks will be available when the Direction is published.

As of 12.01am on Sunday 22 November, South Australia will revert back to similar restrictions that were in place on Monday 16 November, which includes:

  • 1 person per 4 square metres will apply
  • No dancing or vertical consumption
  • Onsite purchase and consumption of food and beverages – 100 people maximum and no more than 10 people at each table
  • Funerals – 50 people maximum
  • Weddings – 150 people maximum and registration of all guests with SA Health
  • Religious ceremonies (not including a wedding or funeral) – 100 people maximum
  • Private gatherings – 50 people maximum
  • Private residence – 10 people per house (unless more than 10 people permanently reside at the residence)
  • All food and beverages will need to be consumed while seated
  • Gyms are permitted to reopen.

I’m informed the new Direction will be available at covid-19.sa.gov.au/ soon.

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

I thank you for all of your dedicated work to support our state’s most vulnerable people through this challenging time.

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 20th November 2020

Thursday 19 November 2020 - 2nd edition

Thursday 19 November 2020 - 2nd edition

Dear sector colleagues,

I would like to thank you for pivoting so quickly as we work together as a state to put a double ring fence around the COVID-19 cluster that has emerged in Adelaide.
The steps we all take over the coming days will have a vital impact on how our state moves through this challenging time.

The department is working closely with the SA Housing Authority (SAHA) during this challenging time and have shared some important SAHA updates below on the Emergency Accommodation Program, COVID-19 Relief Call Centre and Homeless Connect SA.

DHS has received a number of sector enquiries about expediting test results. A guide for NGOs on COVID-19 testing (DOCX 181.7 KB) is available on the DHS website.

Processing test specimens are usually completed within 48 hours, however if you are worried about a client in your care, it is important that the transport of specimens is expedited.

The ordering clinician can organise expedited testing that can return a result within several hours. The clinician should record that the client or staff member are from a high-risk setting.

If you need expedited testing, phone Royal Adelaide Hospital Virology on 08 7074 1213 (7.30am – 11.00 pm). Outside of these hours phone 8222 3601 or 8222 3123.

Thank you again for everything that you do to support vulnerable South Australians.

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 - 19 November 2020 (2nd edition)

Thursday 19 November 2020

Thursday 19 November 2020

New COVID-19 Direction 2020 – Stay at Home

Dear sector colleagues,

A new Direction has been issued in relation to the Stay at Home requirements for South Australia as a Circuit Breaker to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

The Emergency Management (COVID-19) (Stay at Home) Direction 2020 has been issued. This Direction comes into effect as of 0001 Thursday 19 November 2020 and is applied alongside all other Directions that are currently in place under the Emergency Management Act 2004 (SA) but prevails where any inconsistencies may arise.

Key points for the sector

The full list of essential services and workers is detailed below, however please note that the following categories of workers have been deemed as essential workers under the Direction.

  • care services for people with particular needs because of homelessness, age, infirmity, disability, illness or chronic health
  • organisations that provide urgent services necessary for the health and safety of any person, animal or premises (for example, plumbing, Centrelink services and Foodbank)
  • public transport (including taxis and other public passenger services).

In addition, I have confirmed ‘Worker’ includes volunteers.

Amongst the reasons to leave home set out in the Direction is to:

  • provide care and support to a relative or other person due to their health or because of homelessness, age, infirmity, disability, illness or chronic health condition.

Below you will find full details of the Direction, as sourced from the SA Police website.

If you have immediate and specific concerns about the Directions, please email me.

For any other matters, please email DHS's COVID Response team.

If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to email DHS’s COVID-19 Response team.

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 19 November 2020

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Wednesday 18 November 2020

A message from the Minister for Human Services

To our partners in the community services and disability sectors,

I wish to thank all of you for your continued patience, flexibility and dedication as South Australia faces down a renewed threat from COVID-19. I acknowledge that the restrictions announced today may come as a shock or disappointment for some, but I cannot emphasise how important it is that we all comply with the latest directions to stop the spread.

A full list of the new restrictions that come in to force from midnight tonight will be published at www.covid-19.sa.gov.au. This information will continue to be updated as formal emergency directions are issued.

I know there will be many questions about what these restrictions mean for the sector. The Department of Human Services (DHS) will be communicating with you to provide further detailed information as soon as it becomes available, including clarification on the definition of an ‘essential worker’.

DHS, in conjunction with other Government of South Australia agencies, is here to help if you need support or advice. Some of the key initiatives include:

  • SA COVID-19 Cluster Isolation Payment – a single $300 payment to provide financial support to workers in South Australia who are required to self-isolate because of a public health direction from SA Health and mandatory COVID-19 testing, and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • COVID-19 Relief Call Centre – phone 1300 705 336 for information and assistance, including access to personal hardship support and advice on short-term accommodation options if you cannot safely self-quarantine or self-isolate.

Please visit the DHS NGO pages or follow @HumanServicesSA on Facebook, @HumanServices SA on Twitter or HumanServicesSA on Instagram to receive further updates.


Thank you again for all that you do for vulnerable South Australians. We’re in this together.

Michelle Lensink
Minister for Human Services


Message from the DHS Chief Executive

Dear sector colleagues,

I want to thank all NGO representatives that took part in today’s Zoom forum.

While necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, the lock down will have significant impacts on everyone, and especially in the aged care and disability sector.

The department is working with SA Health to manage the specific impacts this will have for us.  As we can all appreciate, this is a rapidly changing situation, and we will update you as soon as we know more.

In answer to some of the specific topics discussed today:

  • While we wait for clarification of an essential worker, the department has put forward a definition for our sector as being a worker who delivers services without which there’s a risk of harm to vulnerable persons.  We will provide further information on this when it comes to hand.
  • You can contact SA Health for PPE supplies by emailing HealthPSCMSCOCustomerService@sa.gov.au
  • Service providers need to do all they can to limit movement of client services staff across multiple sites.
  • SA Health has approved new protocols for home visiting. These are designed for DHS staff that make home visits but may be of use to your organisations as well.
  • The South Australian Housing Authority is working through a response for supporting rough sleepers and will provide more information on this soon.

Please take care of yourselves and those around you. This will be a hard six days, but if we all do the right thing and do it together, we have the best chance of containing this outbreak.

I wish to thank you all for helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keeping everyone safe.

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 - 18 November 2020

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

As we are coming to terms with the current outbreak of COVID-19 in South Australia, SA Health has been working around the clock on testing and contact tracing in an effort to try to contain the spread.

It is heartening to see that despite thousands of tests being carried out over the past few days, the cluster has not grown significantly at this stage.

This is the time that we must all do all we can to help ensure there is no further spread, and for that reason, the State Government has introduced a range of restrictions as of midnight last night.

I encourage you to familiarise yourselves with the restrictions (outlined below) and ensure the continued use of proper hygiene practices, physical distancing and use personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate.

The changes that will have the greatest impact on those of us in the care sector are:

  • The total number of people present at a place must not exceed 1 person per 4 square metres (a change from the previous 1 person per 2 square metres rule);
  • Carers in residential aged care facilities cannot provide care at a location within 14 days of providing care at another location; and
  • Carers are required to wear PPE if they’re within 1.5 meters of a client.

In addition, DHS has sought expert advice from SA Health about the proper guidelines for activities for people with disability in supported independent living arrangements, and we outline that advice in our latest newsletter.

I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate the Premier’s advice that if we can work from home, we should.  Like many of your organisations, DHS has many people providing front-line and client services, however we also have many office-based staff.  I have asked DHS’ office-based staff to work from home if possible and I would encourage you to do the same.  In particular, vulnerable people in our workforces should be encouraged to stay at home and avoid having visitors at the moment.

Thank you all for your continued efforts as we work to contain this outbreak whilst maintaining your supports for South Australia’s most vulnerable individuals and communities. If we all continue to do the right thing, we will get through this together.

I will be meeting with the NGO peaks tomorrow (Wednesday 18 November) and the DHS sector intelligence group on Monday 23 November, and will provide further updates on the COVID-19 situation in South Australia as they become available.

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

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 17 November 2020

Sunday 15 November 2020

Sunday 15 November 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Today the Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, advised that there have been three new cases of COVID-19 in South Australia as a result of community spread.

Approximately 90 people who may have been in contact with one of the positive cases at Lyell McEwen Hospital have been instructed by SA Health to self-isolate.

If you, staff or clients were in the Lyle McEwen Hospital from 5.30pm Friday 13 to 4.00am Saturday 14 November, you are encouraged to be tested immediately.

One of the individuals confirmed to have COVID-19 also visited Parafield Plaza Supermarket between 10.30am and 11.30am last Thursday while likely infectious.

The Chief Public Health Officer has urged anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, to get tested as soon as possible.

The Guide for NGOs on COVID-19 Testing, which was updated recently in consultation with SA Health, is available on the DHS website as a Word document download.

If you need to expedite testing results for staff or clients, please contact Royal Adelaide Hospital Virology on 08 7074 1213 (7.30am – 11pm). Outside of these hours please call 08 8222 3601 or 08 8222 3123. We encourage you to promote this as the standard process across your organisation.

I will be meeting with the NGO Peaks Group this Wednesday 18 November, and the DHS Sector Intelligence Group on Monday 23 November, and will provide further updates on the COVID-19 situation in South Australia as they become available.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to follow SA Health’s updates and advice relating to this outbreak. In addition, please take a moment to refer to the articles below for some timely reminders on infection control and PPE advice.

As the situation develops, the department will communicate or convene other meetings as necessary.

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 15th November 2020

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

The government has today released the 2020–21 State Budget, which features some significant new investments in the Human Services portfolio.

South Australians have faced a number of hardships this year as a result of last summer’s bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a watershed year for our economic, social and emotional wellbeing and resilience, and today’s budget reflects this.

For the Department of Human Services, I’m pleased to share some exiting new investments in many of the key areas where we provide services to South Australians.

An additional $4.1 million for 2020–21 has been allocated to NGOs to support a newly vulnerable group of South Australians needing assistance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes funding for consumer credit legal services, food relief and microfinance lending services, along with additional funding for emergency financial assistance and financial counselling service providers.

These measures are incredibly important and will go a long way to help South Australians during what has been a very difficult year for many. The department looks forward to working closely with providers to deliver these important services.

$18.7 million over three years has been allocated to consolidate the provision of youth custodial services onto a single site at Goldsborough Road, Cavan. This will include a new accommodation unit as well as a police custody unit being built at the existing Goldsborough Road facility, allowing us to close the ageing facility at Jonal Drive, Cavan.

The budget commits $5.8 million over four years for a new system that will provide greater protection and safeguards for people with disability who may be subject to the use of restrictive practices. The implementation of a restrictive practices framework will ensure South Australia meets its obligations under the national principles.

An additional $1 million per year has also been provided to the Office for Women for domestic violence programs.

All of these measures in today’s budget mark a commitment to the people we help, as well as an endorsement of the excellent work our sector undertakes in helping some of South Australia’s most vulnerable individuals and communities.

Further details on each of these programs.

View a copy of the 2020–21 State Budget.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Friday 30 October 2020

Friday 30 October 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

In recent weeks, we have seen the national COVID-19 figures, particularly in Victoria, greatly reduce, to the point where some normality is returning to our friends across the border.  This is fantastic news, and through hard work and vigilance, we have continued to keep numbers very low in South Australia, with our small number of cases principally being made of up returned travelers in quarantine.  This hopefully marks a turning point in the national fight against COVID-19, but we must remain mindful and cautious.

Yesterday, we hosted an online COVID-19 response forum to provide an update on a range of issues, including the newly-released updated Supported Independent Living Operational Response Plan.  We also discussed work being undertaken by the Congregate Living Working Group, our collaboration with the Commonwealth on COVID-19 response in the disability sector, and PPE and infection control. We had some great participation and questions from many of you, and I thank you for your involvement.  In case you missed it, a video of the forum is available on the DHS NGO COVID-19 Support website.

I’m also delighted to announce the release of our Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP), which sets out the actions we will take over the next four years to improve the accessibility and inclusiveness of our services and supports for people with disability (more detailed below).   I want to thank all of our staff, and all of you in the disability services sector who have put so much into putting this together.

It goes without saying that we must continue to abide by the principles of social distancing and hygiene, but as the restrictions in South Australia are being further eased we are also able to turn our minds to other matters affecting the sector.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter,  we are changing the focus of this newsletter to not only be an update on the state’s COVID-19 response, but to be a broader newsletter for all of you that we work with in the sector to help and support South Australians.  It will continue to contain important information about COVID-19 measures as required, but will also include information that you may find useful and interesting about events and news in the sector.

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 October 2020

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. 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

Back copies of the newsletter are available upon request. Email DHSdigital@sa.gov.au

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