Department of Human Services

COVID-19 NGO Newsletter

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Lois BoswellActing Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 3 June 2020

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 27 May 2020

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 20 May 2020

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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


Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 13 May 2020

Friday 8 May 2020

Friday 8 May 2020

Message from the Acting CE - Lois Boswell

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would urge all staff to:

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 8 May 2020

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find details in our latest newsletter.

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

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 6 May 2020

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 28 April 2020

Friday 24 April 2020

Friday 24 April 2020

AGD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information: Restrictions on at-risk care facility residents

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 22 April 2020


Accessing Friday’s forum

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

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

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

Monday 20 April 2020

Monday 20 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 20 April 2020

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 15 April 2020

Thursday 9 April 2020

Thursday 9 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

Today's forum

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

Time

3.00 pm - 4.00 pm (Adelaide time)

Access

Go to the online forum (uses Zoom)

The panel:

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

Questions

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

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

Recorded sessions

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

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 8 April 2020

Monday 6 April 2020

Monday 6 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 6 April 2020

Thursday 2 April 2020

Thursday 2 April 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO newsletter online - 2 April 2020

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Dear sector colleagues,

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

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

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

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

The next webinar is on Thursday 26 March 2020, which Premier Steven Marshall and Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink, will attend. More information on the forum is available here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards

Lois Boswell
Acting Chief Executive

Read the NGO Newsletter online - 25 March 2020

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Page last updated : 11 May 2020

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