Department of Human Services

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

Page last updated : 08 Dec 2020

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