Department of Human Services

COVID-19 NGO Newsletter

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

Subscribe to email alerts

Subscribe

* indicates required
Page last updated : 26 Oct 2020

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