Department of Human Services

Start of main content.

COVID-19 NGO Newsletter

Monday 17 January 2022 - second edition

Monday 17 January 2022 - second edition

Dear sector colleagues,

I hope you are all safe and well, and managing staff and issues despite these incredibly challenging times.

The following information provides clarity on obligations under the Emergency Management (Exposure Sites, Contact and Diagnosis Requirements No 4) Direction to report positive COVID-19 cases following the use of rapid antigen tests (RATs). I do hope this assists.

Reporting of positive COVID-19 cases

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test (RAT) must immediately register the positive test result with SA Health via an online form on the SA Health website.

This is particularly crucial for supported independent living (SIL) providers who are undertaking rapid antigen testing on clients in their care, because this is how the Communicable Disease and Control Branch (CDCB) and the COVID Response Care Team are notified of cases. Notification of cases through this pathway ensures that the CDCB and CRCT can undertake risk assessments and provide care as needed – well before a patient may need to potentially present at the emergency department.

After registering the positive result online, SIL providers can then email the disability outbreak team in SA Health at Health.DisabilitySectorCOVID19@sa.gov.au to assist with outbreak advice and case management in the facility. Please note this service is only for providers of supported independent living (residential), not the broader disability sector.

NDIS providers with positive COVID-19 cases

NDIS providers with positive COVID-19 cases, whether that be staff that work within your service or people you support, must also follow these steps:

  1. Report each individual case to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission by completing and submitting the COVID-19 Notification of event form.
  2. Expect contact from the NDIA, as they will be informed by the National Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Find out more information about managing positive cases through the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission COVID-19: Outbreak preparedness, prevention and management factsheet (PDF 767 KB).

SA Health information on testing and reporting

Further information about testing and reporting can be found on the SA Health website.

While protocols and advice continues to change at a rapid pace, DHS remains committed to updating you with the latest information as it comes to hand.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 17 January 2022 - second edition

Monday 17 January 2022

Monday 17 January 2022

Dear sector colleagues,

Thank you again for your continued dedication as we face ongoing changes in the response to COVID-19.

I would like to share with you some information that may be useful for your organisation and workforce in the coming weeks.

Applications to DHS Screening Unit

The DHS Screening Unit continues to operate as usual during this challenging time. Applications are finalised in approximately one week, with complex applications taking longer.

A reminder for NDIS Providers, the following are acceptable checks (until they expire or are revoked) under NDIS Transitional arrangements:

  • Department of Human Services Disability Services Employment Screening Clearance.
  • Department of Human Services Child-related Employment Screening Clearance.
  • Department of Human Services Working with Children Check Not Prohibited issued before 1 February 2021.

For more information, visit NDIS Commission - Worker Screening Requirements or phone the NDIS Commission on 1800 035 544 or  email nwsd@ndiscommission.gov.au or NDIS Worker Screening Helpdesk.

DHS Checks can be verified through the DHS Screening Unit website or via your DHS Screening organisational portal.

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

South Australians who have lost work due to being a close contact or COVID-19 positive may be eligible for financial support.

To be eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, applicants will need to have:

  • received a COVID-19 positive test via a testing clinic or health professional, or
  • evidence that they have registered a positive RAT result with SA Health.

Individuals who can access paid leave or other income support are not eligible.

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment from Services Australia provides financial relief of up to $750/week to people who:

  • have lost at least one day of work because they are isolating due to being COVID-19 positive, or
  • are caring for someone who is COVID-19 positive, or
  • is deemed to be a close contact.

Return to school for SA students

Last week the Premier announced schools would reopen on Monday 31 January 2022 for children of essential workers and vulnerable children.

From Wednesday 2 February 2022, face-to-face classes will begin for Reception students and those in Years 1, 7, 8 and 12. All other students will begin online learning on that day.

All students are expected to return to school for face-to-face learning on Monday 14 February 2002.

We know how challenging it can be to work when you have kids at home so here are seven tips from Gallagher Bassett for working from home with kids.

Mental health support during COVID-19

It is important we are all looking after our mental health and caring for those around us as we navigate through this pandemic. There are many mental health and wellbeing services available, and I would like to remind you all to reach out if you need help, or are concerned about someone around you.

In particular, the SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line  can be accessed by calling 1800 632 753 or through online chat and is available 8.00 am to 8.00 pm every day, including public holidays.

Volunteering and COVID-19

Navigating a volunteer program during a national pandemic can be a challenging time. On Tuesday 25 January 2022, Southern Volunteering SA and Northern Volunteering SA will be holding an online Zoom session to connect with others in the volunteer space to share experiences, exchange ideas and discuss ways to stay connected with your volunteers during this time.

Volunteer Manager Check In Session information and Zoom link (PDF 330 KB)

Volunteering SA&NT resources.

We will continue to update you as new COVID-19 information comes to hand and I encourage you to visit our DHS website to stay up-to-date with the latest sector information.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 17 January 2022

Monday 10 January 2022

Monday 10 January 2022

Dear sector colleagues,

Thank you for your continued dedication throughout this challenging period as we face more changes in the response to COVID-19 cases rising within our community. My thoughts are with those of you who have been unwell with the virus or isolating due to being a close contact.

I would particularly like to acknowledge frontline workers who continue to care for our state’s most vulnerable people, as well as the wonderful work being done by many administrative staff to support businesses and colleagues alike.

Mandatory Booster Vaccination

People who work in health care settings, disability support workers and people who engage in work or perform duties at residential and in-home and community aged care need to, within four weeks of becoming eligible, have a COVID-19 booster shot, or have evidence of a booking to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

This requirement will come into effect from 12.01am on 29 January 2022.

Booster vaccinations are an effective way to protect yourself and those around you, and help to stop the spread of COVID-19, particularly the omicron variant.

Please encourage your staff to book a booster appointment as soon as possible.

The DHS Highgate Park vaccination clinic is open for appointments for those 12 years and over, and a new mass clinic will open at Netball SA’s Stadium at Mile End from 12 January 2022, further increasing appointment availability.

Book an appointment or find out information about the open hours of vaccination clinics from the SA Health website.

More information can be found here on:

Free SA Health Rapid Antigen Tests for close contacts to be implemented this Thursday, 13 January 2022

You may have heard the Premier announce that close contacts will soon no longer need to confirm a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) with a PCR test.

This will mean that close contacts identified by SA Health – or who identify themselves to SA Health – will be sent a QR code allowing them to collect two free SA Health RATs for use on day one and day six from a nominated collection point. RATs are about 95% accurate so if you get a positive result on day one, you will be deemed to be COVID-19 positive, and will no longer need to get a corresponding PCR test.

It is important to note that close contacts should not buy and use RATs from retail shelves for their day one and six tests. Using RATs provided by SA Health will allow positive cases to be accurately reflected in the state's case numbers, and will help ensure confidence in the quality of the tests. Further, these should be left for those for people who want to do surveillance testing.

This new close contact RAT process is NOT yet in place. Therefore, you will need to continue the current process where close contacts isolate for seven days and get PCR tests on days one and six.

As a reminder, close contacts include household contacts, intimate partners, people who have been in areas of high transmission, and people who have spent more than 15 minutes with a positive case in close proximity indoors without masks.

RAT and PPE supplies

Whilst DHS has been happy to provide assistance over the Christmas and New Year period, NGOs are encouraged to establish alternate sources for Rapid Antigen Test kits and PPE to support their operational requirements.

Useful training video resources

Fitting N95 Masks

An N95 mask provides a greater seal around the mouth and nose and increases protection from small airborne particles, compared to a surgical mask. Wearing these masks correctly involves doing a fit check when the mask is put on.

See an example of correctly fitting and checking your N95 mask (YouTube 3.30 mins).

Personal Protective Equipment

Appropriate PPE is one of the most important defences we have against the transmission of COVID-19. However, PPE can only be effective when worn, removed and disposed of correctly. Please ensure you are familiar with how to don and doff PPE correctly (Ausmed - requires a subscription to view).

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs)

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are an excellent surveillance tool to quickly and easily determine your COVID-19 status. You should always follow the instructions provided in the kit as different tests may vary. An example of how to administer the test is available in this Rapid Antigen Test Kit tutorial (Vimeo 2.40 mins).

Stay safe, we will continue to update you as new information comes to hand.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 10 January 2022

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Claiming COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests - NDIS SIL providers

Dear sector colleague, The NDIS has advised that, from 23 December 2021, eligible supported independent living (SIL) participants and providers can claim up to $12.50 per rapid antigen test (RAT) when a support worker is required to undergo COVID-19 testing to safely deliver supports to a participant.

This temporary support has been introduced to ensure the ongoing safety and continuation of services to participants and in recognition of RATs as a useful tool in preventative screening whilst managing COVID-19 outbreaks.

This temporary measure is available nationally until 31 January 2022, while longer term support arrangements are being considered, consistent with health orders and advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

In order for this rebate to be able to be claimed by South Australian SIL providers, a recommendation must be made on behalf of the Government of South Australia for providers to use RATs.

Following consultation with the Chief Executive of the Department for Health and Wellbeing, I therefore recommend that SIL providers in South Australia, where RATs are able to be procured, should carry out regular surveillance testing of their workforce through the use of RATs (3 days per week).

Each provider within each industry, including the disability sector, is responsible for procuring their own RATs. Whilst there are currently supply issues generally for these tests in South Australia, it is expected this will be resolved in the near future.

Important information about the use of RATs can be found on the SA Health website.

For further information about eligibiliy and claiming for RATs through the NDIS, please visit the NDIS website.

Ngaityalya (Kaurna, thank you) Lois BoswellChief Executive

Friday 24 December 2021

Friday 24 December 2021

COVID booster interval brought forward.

Dear sector colleagues,

The Premier and SA Health have today announced that the community will be eligible to receive their COVID-19 booster shot 4 months after their second vaccine, with the change coming into effect from 4 January 2022. It is important to note that the Premier has further advised that from 26 December:

  • Individuals who have had two AstraZeneca primary doses at least 4 months ago can access the booster.
  • Individuals who work in residential aged care and disability settings and health care workers can access the booster if they had their primary doses at least four months ago.

For information about vaccination clinics open next week, and to make a booking, please visit the SA Health website.

New evidence about the protection of the vaccines against Omicron is behind this latest change, and the latest information indicating protection against catching COVID-19 could be improved with boosters. We also continue to stress the importance of public health measures like wearing a mask and social distancing to help slow the spread of the disease.

Ngaityalya (Kaurna, thank you) Lois BoswellChief Executive

Thursday 23 December 2021 - second edition

Thursday 23 December 2021 - second edition

Dear sector colleagues,

As I reflect on what has been a challenging and significant year for our sector, I want to take this time to sincerely thank and commend everyone for their ongoing commitment to deliver vulnerable South Australians the support and advocacy they deserve. Despite the stress and anxiety brought upon by COVID-19 in a changing global landscape, we have continued to stand up to the challenge and collectively achieve some outstanding results for our communities.

DHS could not deliver the services and support the needs of our community without our partners and colleagues within the sector, and I value the ongoing contributions you all provide. Together we have achieved some great outcomes in 2021 and I look forward to strengthening our relationships and expanding upon our services together in 2022.

I hope you are taking a very well-earned break to surround yourself with your loved ones and embrace the festive spirit over the holiday season. I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holidays and look forward to connecting with you all in the new year.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 23 December 2021

Thursday 23 December 2021

Thursday 23 December 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

With community transmission of COVID-19 in South Australia we are learning more about the different strains of the virus circulating from local, national and international experience. Resources available to the sectors that we work in are expanding as a result.

Today I am pleased to be able to provide you with a range of information and resources that will assist the disability services sector to maintain continuity of service to ensure we can continue to support South Australians with disability.

Access to COVID-19 vaccinations boosters

As outlined in our previous COVID-19 Update (17 December 2021), all people over the age of 18 are now eligible for the COVID-19 booster, 5 months after their second vaccination dose.

If eligible, you can book a booster vaccination with SA Health.

Available funding for eligible providers to support NDIS participants gain their first two doses of COVID-19 vaccination

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has a temporary pricing arrangement in place, for eligible providers to support participants to get their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination and a booster.

A $75 payment is now available for eligible providers to support participants to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

Eligible providers can already claim up to $150 for each participant they help to attend an offsite location to receive their first two COVID-19 vaccinations.

Support for the first two doses has been extended to the end of March 2022 and booster support will be available until 30 June 2022.

Providers can learn more about this funding support through the NDIS COVID-19 payments and billing information.

Recording – COVID-19 vaccination consent and hesitancy – webinar for disability service providers

Recorded on 7 December 2021: Covid -19 vaccination, consent, hesitancy and refusal: a webinar for providers supporting clients with intellectual disability - Commonwealth Department of Health (1 hour)

NDIS providers process to report positive COVID-19 cases

If an NDIS provider has any positive COVID-19 cases, whether that be staff that work within your service or people you support, you must follow these steps:

  1. Follow SA Health advice, informing people who have been in casual or close contact with the positive case, who must immediately begin self-quarantine.
  2. Report each individual case to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission by completing and submitting the COVID-19 Notification of event form.
  3. Expect contact from the NDIA, as they will be informed by the National Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Find out more information about managing positive cases through the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission COVID-19: Outbreak preparedness, prevention and management factsheet (PDF 767 KB).

NDIA’s Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA), workforce concierge service for NDIS providers

The NDIA has contracted the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) to provide a workforce concierge service to link NDIS service providers to temporary staffing agencies (RCSA members).

The concierge service is available to NDIS service providers who have exhausted their normal workforce supply options.

To use this service, NDIS service providers can contact the RCSA Workforce Response team by phone or email:

This service is available nationally until 16 January 2022.

SA Health Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine (TTIQ) tools

SA Health introduced a new TTIQ model in South Australia, on 23 November 2021.

The new model enables people to quarantine for shorter periods of time. For example, a vaccinated person who is a close contact is now required to quarantine for the reduced seven days and casual contacts only need to isolate until they receive their first negative test.

Visit SA Health’s Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine web page for more information about changes to TTIQ and tools available.

For quick reference, use the SA Health primary and community health care settings matrix (PDF 184 KB) for disability support worker contacts who care for clients living in their private homes, share houses or group homes in the community.

Updated details for the disability services sector to contact SA Health CDCB

If you need advice from the Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB) at SA Health relating to a positive case in your service, they have now updated their contact details.

Email Health.DisabilitySectorCOVID19@sa.gov.au
SA Heath COVID-19 advice for people with disability

Please provide as much information as possible as relevant to the case and your situation. The CDCB will respond as soon as practicable.

Further change to the Arrivals Associated Direction removes restriction on entry to high risk settings

A change to the Arrivals Associated Direction came into force on 22 December 2021 and has reclassified interstate arrivals from NSW, Victoria and ACT from Level 3 to Level 2.

This removes the restriction for these arrivals on entry to high risk settings such as disability care facilities, Aboriginal Community controlled health organisations and correctional facilities.

SA Health has advised that it is not proposed to change the Arrivals Direction requirements for Level 2 to prevent entry to high risk settings. On that basis, it has been agreed to identify as part of the EntryCheck letter received by interstate arrivals that a person will be subject to any conditions of entry to a high risk setting imposed on them by the operator of that high risk setting. As such, the policy of a particular site/setting will determine whether entry can occur and under what circumstances (for example, testing requirements).

The following is the text that has been developed for the letter:

If you need to visit any location or site that is deemed a high risk setting (for example,  private or public hospital, residential aged care or disability care facility, Aboriginal community controlled health organisations or correctional facility), you must check with the site for any additional entry conditions that may apply, and abide by these at all times.

Please remember to check the SA Health contact tracing and exposure locations every day, and phone the SA COVID-19 Information line on 1800 253 787 for any other information.

Government payments

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment – administered by Commonwealth

About: Support if you can’t earn an income because you have been directed by SA Health to self-isolate or quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 test (yourself, a close contact, or someone you care for tests positive to COVID-19).

How much: $750 each seven-day period (if you do not have other paid leave or support).

SA COVID-19 Cluster Isolation Payment – administered by Concessions

About: For eligible people who are casual contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and need to quarantine while awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

You (or someone you care for) must meet all the following criteria. You must:

  • have been identified by SA Health as a casual contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in South Australia from 23 November 2021 onwards
  • have undertaken a COVID-19 test
  • have been required to self-isolate pending the test result.

How much: Single payment of $300.

Payment criteria in detail

The criteria for each payment, including medi-hotel quarantine, listed in detail.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 23 December 2021

Friday 17 December 2021

Friday 17 December 2021

Sector staff get COVID-19 booster now

Dear sector colleagues,

As the holidays loom I know we are all working hard to keep the people we support safe and ensure continuity of services. This means having fully vaccinated staff AND, if eligible, a COVID-19 booster.

Why a booster?

DHS has been working with SA Health to change the Arrivals - Associated Direction which restricts people who have returned to SA from Victoria, NSW or the ACT from entering a high-risk setting for seven days. This current Associated Direction would have severely hampered the sector's ability to schedule sufficient staff.

We anticipate there will shortly be a provision to enable staff to return to a high-risk workplace if:

  • they are double vaccinated against COVID-19, AND
  • have received a COVID-19 booster shot (if eligible).

I would encourage all of you to inform your staff to book here to receive their booster NOW. Current guidelines for a COVID-19 booster are five months since your last vaccination.

Following on from my COVID-19 Update on Wednesday 15 December, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight important issues regarding COVID-19 and our sector.

We have already had reports of COVID-19 in some of our care homes, while some staff have become close contacts and have had to isolate. It is important we all continue to review and update our business continuity and risk management plans so we can provide continuity of service in these tough times.

Resources are available for the disability sector to assist with this planning, such as the COVID-19 Toolkit website that has been developed by National Disability Services (NDS). The Toolkit provides essential information for disability service providers, including a comprehensive guide to business continuity planning.

Who do I contact regarding a positive COVID-19 case or close contact?

DHS's COVID Response Team is currently receiving a number of calls and enquiries from providers regarding a range of issues, from close contacts to positive cases.

Disability providers are encouraged to contact the Team when dealing with a positive case of COVID in a client or employee if they have not been contacted by SA Health within 4 to 5 hours of receiving notification of the positive test result.

Resources and contacts for other COVID-19 information

Best regards,

Lois Boswell

Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 17 December 2021

Wednesday 15 December 2021 - second edition

Wednesday 15 December 2021 - second edition

Close contacts working in high-risk settings

Dear sector colleagues,

DHS has been working closely with SA Health’s Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB) to clarify restrictions as they apply to vaccinated disability support workers who are identified as close contacts and must quarantine for 7 days.

After receiving a negative COVID result for their day 6 test, a vaccinated close contact can leave quarantine after 7 days. One of the conditions imposed on a vaccinated close contact is that from days 8 to 14, they must not enter a high-risk setting.

We have clarified with the CDCB that vaccinated close contacts who are carers or disability support workers can return to work in a high risk setting on days 8 to 14 (provided they have shown evidence of a negative test result on day 6) with additional precautions.

Please note – the only high risk setting that a vaccinated close contact may enter on days 8 to 14 is their workplace. Close contacts must still not enter any other high risk setting and should avoid contact with vulnerable populations if it is unrelated to their work.

As such, the disability support workers or carers who are close contacts can still provide care to their clients with disability as it is part of their work.

These workers should only work with their regular clients during this time, and not take on new shifts with new clients.

This will enable providers to have greater certainty in their workforce planning and rostering.

Whilst these measures are in place, it is imperative that organisations ensure that they have business continuity plans and risk mitigation measures in place, particularly for vulnerable client groups.

Where support workers are working with especially vulnerable clients, a risk assessment may need to be undertaken by the organisation in conjunction with doctors from the Communicable Disease Control Branch as to whether it is appropriate for the close contact to return to work on days 8 to 14. Client or support worker tests positive

The Communicable Disease Control Branch is in the process of developing outbreak plans for a number of industries and sectors. An outbreak plan for disability congregate living will be prepared.

Whilst we await this plan, there are a number of steps we encourage you to take to ensure the escalation of response in the event that one of your support workers or clients tests positive to COVID.

  • Disability support workers who are being tested for COVID should advise the clinician taking their swab that they are a disability support worker and provide the name and location / or general contact details for the organisation they work for. They should also indicate if they care for particularly vulnerable clients and request an expedited test due to the nature of their work.
  • When taking clients to be tested, please advise the clinician that they are a client under your care who receives disability support services and advise if they live in a congregate living setting. Ensure that the contact details for SMS notification go to an appropriate point of contact such as a carer or guardian. Please request expedited testing.
  • If you haven't received a test result within 12 hours, you can contact the RAH Virology on 7074 1213 (SA Pathology tests).
  • Passing this information on to the clinicians at the time the PCR test is taken will flag that, should they test positive, a client / disability worker will need assessment and response from Communicable Disease Control Branch as to the next steps, and you should receive a call from the CDCB soon after the SMS alert of a positive result.
  • Providers should note that they may expect a call between 12 midnight and 5.00 am from the Communicable Disease Control Branch if that is when results come through from the laboratory. Alternatively, the automated positive case survey may be sent out by the Communicable Disease Control Branch in the interim before they follow up with a phone call (in the even of high case loads).
  • If you have not heard from the Communicable Disease Control Branch within 4 to 5 hours after the SMS notification of a positive result, please text (do not call) details of the client / support worker (full name, date of birth, and organisation name) and your name to the Lead – DHS COVID-19 Response on 0412 956 129 and we will facilitate a quick call back. Note that whilst this is not a 24-hour service, all follow ups for positive cases will be carried out as a priority.

Advice for use of matrices in managing contacts

The primary and community health care settings matrix is used for disability support worker contacts who care for clients living in their private homes/share houses/group homes in the community (that is, those not living in a residential care facility). Communicable Disease Control Branch would still be involved in managing the event given the vulnerability of the client population.

If the exposure occurs in a supported residential care facility (RACF) then it would be managed as an outbreak with Communicable Disease Control Branch involvement. The outbreak management would be similar to that for RACFs. Further information about the COVID-19 outbreak policy for RACFs can be found on the SA Health website.

Please continue to check the SA Health contact tracing and exposure locations every day. The SA Health website is updated frequently, and you can easily sort locations by suburb, date added and health advice.

Further information about quarantine and testing requirements for casual and close contacts can be found on SA Health’s contact tracing website.

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 15 December 2021 (second edition)

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

I am delighted to unveil our new brand at the Department of Human Services. As you’ll see in the video below, our new brand has been developed to better reflect the “human” in Human Services. It is also a reflection of the people we support and the incredible people we employ. As we progressively roll out the new look and feel at DHS, I hope you feel the warmth of the rejuvenated brand as much as I do.

In addition to the brand overhaul, I am also delighted to announce the launch of our new strategic plan that will lead our department into the next three years. Our purpose at DHS is to make a difference so South Australia thrives. This will be at the heart of everything we do and why our new plan places humans — our clients, customers, communities, partners, volunteers and staff — at the centre of our purpose and priorities. The 2022–24 Strategic Plan can be viewed on the DHS website.

An exciting future awaits our department, and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with you to continue to support and deliver our vision of fairness, opportunity and choice for all South Australians.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 15 December 2021

Friday 10 December 2021

Friday 10 December 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

Today the Chief Executive of the Department of Treasury and Finance informed me there had been a significant cyber-attack on Frontier Software Services, an external business partner responsible for SA Government payroll.

The Department of Treasury and Finance is urgently working with Frontier to determine the extent of the security breach. We do know that the private information of between 38,000 and 80,000 public service employees was released.

As a sector colleague, I wanted to assure you there is no evidence that your data or information has been compromised.

It is important to note:

  • This security beach did not occur in SA Government systems, including those within DHS.
  • Any payments/grants will continue as per normal dates and times.

I will update you if any relevant information becomes available.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 10 December 2021

Thursday 2 December 2021

Thursday 2 December 2021

First cases of community transmission

Dear sector colleagues,

SA Health yesterday announced that South Australia has recorded its first cases of COVID-19 acquired in the community since the re-opening of our borders to all states and territories on 23 November 2021.

In the past when we have had community transmission of COVID the State has responded with state-wide lockdowns and tightening of restrictions.

Now that South Australia has reached the milestone of 80% of our eligible population aged 12+ years double vaccinated, and the South Australian COVID-Ready Plan has come into operation, the state will no longer enter lockdown in response to positive cases.

This is part of the strategy adopted by the South Australian Government, based on highly expert advice from independent academics from the University of Adelaide who are part of the Doherty Institute Network, which allows for the controlled entry of COVID-19 into our communities.

For almost two years we have all focused on containing the spread of COVID.

For many it may be a challenging shift in mindset to be responding to outbreaks of COVID-19 in the way we now are, when our natural instinct is to ‘lock down’ and restrict our movements. However, there are still many things we can do that will help to slow the spread of the virus to reduce the impact on individuals, communities and our health system.

What action should I take?

  1. First and foremost- if you are not already vaccinated, make an appointment today. COVID-19 is now circulating in our community, and vaccination is the most effective tool in our public health toolkit to minimise the spread of COVID and to reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do get sick.
  2. Check the SA Health contact tracing and exposure locations every day. The SA Health website is updated frequently, and you can easily sort locations by suburb, date added and health advice. It’s up to each and every one of us to keep informed and be responsible for knowing if we have been to an exposure location. With a new case confirmed last night, it is expected that new locations will be added throughout the day.
  3. Follow the health advice even if you don’t receive a call, SMS or email from SA Health. As positive cases increase, SA Health will not always be in touch directly with contacts. Anyone who was at an exposure location must still follow the health advice regarding testing and isolating (based on what kind of contact you are and your vaccination status). Further information about quarantine and testing requirements for casual and close contacts can be found on SA Health’s contact tracing website.
  4. Keep wearing masks, maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres, practice good hygiene practices, use the QR check-in, and follow density limits.
  5. Get tested and self-isolate if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, and self-isolate until you have received a negative result. Staff who are unwell should not attend worksites.

Together we can work to keep the South Australian community, our clients and colleagues safe at this time.

More information on COVID-19 in South Australia

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 2 December 2021

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Tuesday 9 November 2021

COVID-19 vaccination direction - disability and aged care

Dear sector colleagues,

A new Direction under the Emergency Management Act 2004 has been published that mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for disability support workers along with  in-home and community aged care.

An update to the Residential Aged Care Facilities Direction regarding COVID-19 vaccinations has also come into place. Further information about this update, along with news about mandatory vaccinations required for anyone visiting the APY Lands, can be found below.

What is the purpose of this Direction and who does it apply to?

The Emergency Management (In-home and Community Aged Care and Disability Support Workers Vaccination) (COVID-19) Direction 2021 mandates that disability support workers must receive their first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by 30 November 2021 and have a booking for their second dose within the recommended interval time.

Up until now, vaccine mandate directions relating to aged care and disability have been setting based, providing protections for those in residential aged care and a range of healthcare settings including hospitals, GP clinics and allied health practices.

This new Direction aims to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to vulnerable members of the community by people who provide them with in-home or community-based care.

The Direction applies to:

  • employees
  • contractors, and
  • volunteers.

The Direction also applies to any setting (including in-home) where a disability support worker delivers their services to a person with disability.

The Direction defines a disability support worker as:

  • a person who provides intensive disability support services to a person with a disability for or on behalf of a reasonable provider (which includes any person or organisation (including State or Local Government agencies and statutory authorities), whether registered as a NDIS provider or not) and
  • who provides those intensive disability support services to a person with disability
    in person.

This means that the Direction applies only to disability support workers who provide in-person support to a person with disability and does not extend to other behind-the-scenes staff in an organisation that provides intensive disability support services.

The types of intensive disability support services defined in the Direction are taken from classes of support in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Provider Registration and Practice Standards) Rules 2018 as follows:

  • assistance with daily life tasks in a group or shared living arrangement
  • group and centre based activities
  • specialised supported employment
  • assistance with daily personal activities
  • community nursing care, and
  • therapeutic supports.

This Direction applies to both registered and non-registered NDIS providers.

In line with the Healthcare setting Direction, a person can continue to perform duties as a disability support worker if they have a medical exemption which is approved by the Chief Public Health Officer and is provided to their employer. An immunisation exemption form can be found on the Covid-19.sa.gov.au website.

What action do I need to take?

A disability support worker who provides the above services must:

  • Receive their first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by 30 November 2021, and have their second dose booked within the recommended interval time; and
  • Provide their employer with evidence of their vaccination status on request.

If a worker has not received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 30 November, and does not have a medical exemption that has been approved by the Chief Public Health Officer (Section 4, sub-section 3), they are unable to engage in work or perform duties as a disability support worker.

A reasonable provider (organisation / employer) must:

  • Not let a disability support worker (an employee, contractor or volunteer) perform duties (intensive support services to a person with disability in person) unless they have been vaccinated in accordance with the Direction;
  • Keep a record of the vaccination status of any person engaged to perform duties of a disability support worker; and
  • Verify the vaccination status of a person engaged to perform duties of a disability support worker by sighting evidence of their vaccination status (for example, a vaccination certificate).

Failure to comply with this Direction is an offence.

Further information about the Emergency Management (In-home and Community Aged Care and Disability Support Workers Vaccination) (COVID-19) Direction 2021, including FAQs, can be found on the covid-19.sa.gov.au website.

As mentioned, the Direction also applies to in-home and community aged care workers and services, which includes a number of services and programs delivered by the Australian Government Department of Health including Home Care Packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Program. Providers of in-home and community aged care services should refer to the Direction and FAQs for further information about how this applies to the aged care sector.

Thank you all for your continued commitment to ensuring that we do everything we can to protect each other, and the people and communities we support.

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 - 9 November 2021

Thursday 28 October 2021

Thursday 28 October 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

Last week I wrote to you about a Direction under the Emergency Management Act that recently came into place that will impact many staff in our sector who are required to carry out their duties in a health setting.

The Healthcare setting workers vaccination Direction brings South Australia in line with the National Cabinet endorsement of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommendation that all people working in a health care setting are vaccinated as a condition of work.

To assist organisations to determine whether this Direction applies to their staff and to the services they deliver, DHS has been working with SA Health and SAPOL to prepare an additional set of FAQs relevant to organisations who are contracted to deliver health services, who deliver health services in their premises, and who have staff in their organisation who deliver a wide-range of services and programs that may or may not be captured by this Direction.

These additional FAQs are being incorporated into the FAQs document published on the sa.gov.au website, however I am also pleased to be able to provide this information to you on this page.

Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare settings FAQs

Does this Direction apply to organisations that attend a healthcare setting?

Yes, this Direction applies to all persons who attend a healthcare setting in the course of their work or duties, including if their attendance is incidental such as delivery drivers or suppliers.

This Direction applies to any persons as described above, regardless of the industry they work for (eg, the organisation does not need to be a healthcare provider for its staff to be subject to this Direction).

As an employer, how do I determine if my employees are subject to this Direction?

To work out if your staff have to comply with this Direction, you will need to look at where your staff carry out their duties. This is because the Direction is setting-based, rather than based on the type of work a person undertakes. For example, it is not only healthcare workers who must comply.

This Direction applies to any employees who carry out their duties, at any time, in a healthcare setting, or where an organisation delivers a healthcare service at their premises.

Employees who are required to undertake any of their duties in those settings at any time (even if it’s only occasionally, such as having to accompany a client to the GP or hospital) must be vaccinated by the dates detailed in the Direction.

As an organisation that delivers healthcare services, does this mean that all of my staff must comply and be vaccinated?

Many organisations, especially non-government organisations, deliver a range of services across the community in South Australia.

This Direction applies only to the staff who carry out their duties in a healthcare setting.

For example, if an organisation employs people who are required to attend a healthcare setting as part of their work (like a community support worker who needs to go to a GP clinic with a client), they are subject to this Direction.

However, staff from the same organisation who do not need to attend a healthcare setting for their work (like a community support worker who delivers youth programs at the local library) are not required to comply with the Direction.

My organisation is funded by SA Health, Wellbeing SA or a Local Health Network to deliver a program or service – does this mean my organisation must comply with the Direction?

The source of funding for the service does not determine whether employees of an organisation must comply with the Direction.

If your organisation delivers a program or service that is either delivered in a setting, or is a service listed in the Direction under ‘Specialist Outpatient Facilities’, then your staff who attend the setting where these programs or services are delivered (either inside or outside of your organisation) must comply with the Direction and be vaccinated.

My organisation delivers healthcare services at our premises. Do we need to comply with the Direction?

Yes. If you provide a healthcare service, you must comply with the Directions.

As an organisation that delivers healthcare services at our premises, do I need to check the vaccination status of persons who attend the premises for work purposes?

Yes. All persons who undertake duties at the healthcare setting you manage, no matter how limited or incidental, whether or not they have contact with clients, or whether they are your employees or not, must be vaccinated.

As the operator of the facility, you may request that a person attending the setting provide you with proof of their vaccination status.

If a person who attends a facility run by my organisation for work purposes does not, or cannot, show proof of their vaccination status what do I do?

Any persons attending a facility that is defined as a healthcare setting under the Direction must provide proof of vaccination to the operator of the facility upon request.

If a person who has been requested to show proof cannot or will not provide this information to you, they should be advised that they cannot carry out their duties until such time that they can provide evidence of their vaccination status.

My organisation delivers healthcare services at our premises, but only in part of our building. Does every worker who attends the building need to be vaccinated, or just those who attend the healthcare service?

If the healthcare setting comprises the entirety of your organisation’s premises, then the Direction applies to any persons who attends the premises for work purposes.

If the healthcare setting, or the place where the health services is carried out, is in a discreet part of your premises, with separate entry, amenities, and no regular thoroughfare from the other parts of your organisation, then the Direction only applies to that defined part of your premises.

Your staff and any other persons who attends that part of the premises for work purposes, no matter for how long or how incidental, must comply with the Direction. Other staff in your organisation who do not frequent this part of your premises are not subject to comply with the Direction.

My organisation delivers healthcare services at our premises. Do clients need to be vaccinated in order to attend this service?

No. The Direction only applies to persons carrying out duties at these settings, not to clients and their families.

More information

Visit the Emergency Management (COVID-19) (Healthcare Setting

If you have any questions, please email the DHS COVID-19 Response team.

Email DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell

Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 28 October 2021

Friday 22 October 2021

Friday 22 October 2021

COVID-19 vaccination direction – health settings

Dear sector colleagues,

I am writing to you today about an important matter regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

You may be aware that a new Direction under the Emergency Management Act recently came into place that will impact many staff in our sector who are required to carry out their duties in a health setting.

This Direction brings South Australia in line with the National Cabinet endorsement of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommendation that all people working in a health care setting are vaccinated as a condition of work.

Phase 1 of the Emergency Management (COVID-19) (Healthcare Setting Workers Vaccination No 2) Direction 2021 requires that staff who carry out any of their duties in a health care setting (a public hospital, private hospital, ambulance service or patient transport service, including all services provided by a Local Health Network, not just those physically located in a hospital) must be vaccinated against COVID-19 with a TGA approved vaccine, with the first dose being complete by 1 November 2021. The second dose must be complete within one month of the first dose.

Phase 2 of the Direction requires that staff who carry out their duties in an expanded range of health settings including (amongst others) GP clinics, the Department of Health and Wellbeing, Wellbeing SA, dental clinics, pharmacies, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and specialist outpatient facilities or any setting where allied health services are delivered must be vaccinated against COVID-19 with a TGA approved vaccine, with the first dose being complete by 8 November 2021. The second dose must be complete within one month of the first dose.

This means that any staff in your organisation who carries out their duties at any time in a setting as defined in the Direction, regardless of whether they work in a patient or a non-patient area, how often they attend that setting, or how incidental their duties are, must comply with this Direction.

Staff who are affected by this Direction are required to provide proof of their vaccination status to their line manager/employer. They must also provide proof of their vaccination status to the operator of the health setting on request.

If employees cannot be vaccinated because of a medical reason, they are required to complete an exemption application form that must be endorsed by the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO). If approved, the CPHO will provide a signed exemption letter that can be provided to the employee's manager. Please note that pregnancy is not a reason for a medical exemption under this Direction.

If staff do not provide evidence of having had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the required date and do not have a medical exemption certificate they will be unable to carry out duties in any of the health settings detailed in the Direction.

I appreciate that some organisations may be seeking additional clarity of the application of this Direction to their staff and to the services they deliver. To that end, DHS is working with
SA Health and SAPOL to prepare a set of FAQs relevant to organisations who are contracted to deliver health services, who deliver health services in their premises, and who have staff in their organisation who deliver a wide-range of services and programs that may or may not be captured by this Direction. We will have this information available for you early next week.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to read the FAQs that have been prepared by SA Health that may answer some of your questions (PDF 202KB).

To get a COVID-19 vaccination, you can either make an appointment or take advantage of this weekend’s ‘Walk-in Weekend’ vaccination blitz (and grab a free sausage sizzle!) happening across the state, including at DHS’s own Highgate Vaccination Clinic at Fullarton.

Together we can ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect each other, and the clients and communities we support, from the impacts of COVID-19.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 22 October 2021

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

Last week I attended a meeting of the Safety and Wellbeing Taskforce, and I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the important work being undertaken by this group.

The cross-agency Taskforce aims to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable visitors to Adelaide from remote communities and reduce antisocial behaviour. The objective is to keep both visitors and residents safe and facilitate the Return to Country for those who wish to go home. 

In approaching this work, the Taskforce is proud to be working closely with elders from a range of communities. Last week, a vital meeting between Taskforce members, APY Executive and Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation was held to work together and develop a pathway forward.

With these groups coming together we see Aboriginal people providing Aboriginal solutions, and by working together it will provide the best support and have the greatest opportunity of success.

It has been a privilege to have the backing of these groups and learn from them as they work together to provide guidance on how to tackle these complex and long running issues. We will continue to walk alongside and listen to elders as they develop answers, and it is absolutely vital that culturally appropriate responses are embedded in the Taskforce’s work.

I was also honoured last week to attend the swearing in of South Australia’s new Governor, Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC. Her Excellency is our state’s third female Governor. Having recently served as the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), she brings with her a wealth of experience in international relations as she looks to assist our state and the people of South Australia in further developing links with the world through working relationships, trade and investment.

On the COVID-19 front, recent cases of COVID-19 in our community have provided a sharp reminder to remain vigilant and safe. Please continue to ensure you are using the COVID SAfe Check-In and monitoring the SA Health contact tracing page for exposure sites in South Australia.

Today is also a great day to book in to be vaccinated! For further information please refer to the article below.

And finally, I am delighted to advise that DHS’ staff in the Interpreting and Translating Centre have been acknowledged and celebrated by SA Health for their assistance and support of the recent refugee arrivals from Afghanistan, who had fled the crisis in Kabul for their freedom and safety.

DHS is proud to be part of a collective effort from across government and the multicultural and community services sector in welcoming the new arrivals to South Australia with open arms, and assisting in the process to starting a new life in our wonderful state.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 13 October 2021

Friday 1 October 2021

Friday 1 October 2021

Dear sector colleagues,

I am writing to you having just spent an amazing four days on the Eyre Peninsula visiting DHS staff and a number of partners to see first-hand some of the important work that is being done to support our regional communities.

Following a recent meeting with SA Health, the SA Housing Authority and leaders of NGO service providers to consider our preparedness for an outbreak of COVID-19 in regional South Australia, I also felt it was very timely to visit our providers and communities in the Eyre Peninsula, and discuss their services and response plans in place.

My first stop this week was to Port Lincoln where I spent time with the teams from West Coast Youth and Community Support, Aboriginal Family Support Services (AFSS), and DHS's Safer Families staff.

West Coast Youth and Community Support provides excellent youth and family support and early intervention services on behalf of DHS to the local community, and I was pleased to be able to advise Bernie Joyce that the Families and Youth Counselling Service funding will be extended for another year.

At AFSS, I met with the workers providing services to Aboriginal families and their children as well as our gambling help services in the region. We discussed how the new Intensive Family Support service is rolling out in the region and how we can improve communication.

After two days in Port Lincoln, I travelled to Ceduna where we have established and manage the Ceduna Services Collaboration (CSC) with a number of organisations in the region. I visited the Red Cross Community Hub, Far West Community Partnerships (FWCP), Save the Children Australia and our Safer Families team at the Ngura Yadurirn Child and Family Centre. I also attended a meeting concerning the coordination of the Vulnerable Persons Framework at the Ceduna Hospital.

The Red Cross Community Hub provides a safe, welcoming, and supported environment for local and transient community members seeking support or assistance, or simply a place to connect. I met with Brenton Niemz and he walked me through the model of service providers from a range of different agencies and working at the same table to meet needs.

I was also honoured to be joined at Red Cross by Wayne Miller, CEO of the Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation and hear more from him about his vision for empowering community. A Vision which drives the FWCP where Jessie Sleep leads an approach dedicated to giving the community a platform to have a greater say in what resources are invested in Ceduna and influence decision making.

I visited Save the Children’s supported accommodation service for young mothers who are at risk of homelessness, domestic violence, or other concerns. Following my time with the Save the Children organisation, I was pleased to catch up with the Executive Director of Nursing at Ceduna Hospital, Andrew Lane, to discuss the coordination of the Vulnerable Persons Framework which our Department first developed and implemented in 2014. The framework involves key organisations working together to assist people at risk of death or injury due to illness, alcohol and substances, or other factors.

I also enjoyed a stay in Whyalla where I visited the Haven Safety Hub, Centacare Catholic Country SA (CCCSA) and spent time with our staff at DHS's Safer Families and Youth Justice unit locations.

The Haven is our new early intervention service that is set to open in October and will provide targeted information and referrals to women and their children experiencing or at risk of domestic, family or sexual violence. In that meeting I was humbled to speak with a number of hub volunteers, many of whom have lived experience and hear how excited they are about their opportunity to help others.

Centacare, which is hosting The Haven, is a leading community service provider in the region, offering emergency financial assistance, financial counselling, family support and early intervention, and access to education and support programs. I discussed with Jen Cleary and her leadership team the critical role they are playing in supporting their regional community and local remote Aboriginal communities during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The trip was a wonderful opportunity to connect with DHS staff and service providers, and see the outcomes that continue to make a difference for those we support in regional communities.

Have a safe and relaxing long weekend, and if you haven't already, book in for your COVID-19 vaccination through the SA Health website.

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 1 October 2021

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

Subscribe to email alerts

Subscribe

* indicates required
Page last updated : 02 Dec 2021

This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2021 DHS .[sm v5.5.6.6]