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COVID-19 Resources

AbSec would like to acknowledge what a particularly difficult time this is, for those working in the family and community services sector as we combat the COVID-19 health pandemic.

 

COVID-19 update

NSW Health RSS feed

 

For more information, visit the Office of the Children Guardian or the Department of Communities and Justice websites.

COVID-19 Impact Log

If you are currently experiencing any issues due to COVID-19, or have noticed others in your community experiencing issues, you can report them on AbSec’s community impact log. Find out more.

COVID-19 and Aboriginal communities – essential information

Aboriginal Affairs NSW has compiled a list of official information and trusted sources about COVID-19 for Aboriginal people, covering a broad range of topics, from housing, health, and travel restrictions, to funerals, education and support for businesses.

Visit the Aboriginal Affairs NSW website.

Client visit risk assessment

OzChild has developed a useful risk assessment tool to help case and social workers make decisions about the necessity and safety, or otherwise, of face-to-face contact with families and clients.

Download the COVID-19 Protocols for Service Delivery

Please click on each heading to reveal more information on each topic

 

Using technology to minimise face to face visits, training and and staff travel

Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) may already have access to technology that will assist conducting online video calls or video conferencing eg office 365. These tools may be used as an alternative to face to face meetings. Technology should be used if both Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations staff and Aboriginal children and families are comfortable with its use.

Tool Free but requires data Smart
phone
Web-
based
Requires
account
Share
screen
Facebook Messenger  
Smart phones eg iPhone Facetime, Samsung Video Call        
Instagram  
Microsoft Teams
Snap Chat    
Viber    
Zoom

Generally video calls or video conferencing will need the ‘tool’ installed at both ends except web-based tools which generally provide a link to join meetings.

Share screen allows a person to present a document or presentation which can be viewed by all participants in the video conference. This can be useful when filling in forms or sharing ideas.

A phone call to families ahead of the scheduled meeting time could help is seeing what tools, if any, the family are comfortable using.

Benefits of using technology

By utilising the use of video calls and video conference ACCOs will be able to:

  • Protect yourself from the virus
  • Protect Aboriginal children and families from the virus
  • Support safe work practices
  • Reduce travel time
  • Minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

For organisations with external Information Technology (IT) support, AbSec is happy to assist ACCOs and IT to identify possible solutions.

Healthy Practices during the Coronavirus pandemic

It is important that services continue to support vulnerable Aboriginal children and families in the current environment. Organisations need to make it a priority to protect both the families they are working with and the staff in their services.

Avoiding transmitting the Coronavirus

Practice good hygiene

Everyone must practice good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading.

When you practice good hygiene you:

  • cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • put used tissues straight into the bin
  • wash your hands for 20 seconds often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • use alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces such as benchtops, desks and doorknobs
  • clean and disinfect frequently used objects such as mobile phones, keys, wallets and work passes
  • increase the amount of fresh air available by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.

Practice social distancing

Understand how self-isolation works and why it is so important. The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

If you can, work from home. If you cannot work from home and you are sick, you must not attend your workplace. You must stay at home and away from others.

Social distancing in public or at work:

  • stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary
  • keep 1.5 metres away from others
  • avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • when purchasing goods, use tap and pay instead of cash
  • travel at quiet times and avoid crowds
  • avoid public gatherings and at risk groups
  • practice good hygiene
  • hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
  • put off large meetings to a later date
  • hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
  • provide alcohol based hand rub for all staff and workers
  • eat lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
  • open windows or adjust air conditioning for more ventilation
  • limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
  • avoid non-essential travel
  • promote strict hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
  • consider if you can reschedule, stagger or cancel non-essential meetings.

Social distancing within households for families:

  • stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary
  • keep visitors to a minimum
  • reduce visits to the shops — instead, buy more goods and services online if you can for pick-up, pre-order or delivery
  • carefully consider what travel and outings are necessary, both individual and family
  • regularly disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
  • increase ventilation in the home by opening windows or adjust air conditioning.

If someone in a household is sick, you could provide the following advice:

  • care for the sick person in a single room, if possible
  • keep the number of carers to a minimum
  • keep the door to the sick person’s room closed. If possible, keep a window open
  • wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as the sick person. The sick person should also wear a mask
  • protect other vulnerable family members by keeping them away from the sick person. At-risk people include those over 65 years or people with a chronic illness. If possible, find them somewhere else to live while the family member is sick.

If you come into contact with a family or other contact with has been diagnosed with Coronavirus or needs to be isolated/quarantined:

  • Advise your organisation immediately
  • Seek medical advice as appropriate
  • Using the medical advice received to determine if there is a need for you to isolate for an appropriate period
  • Ensure that you do not put either work colleagues or families you are working alongside at risk.

National Coronavirus Health Information Line – 1800 020 080


Tips for families to stay in touch where safe to do so:

  • use video chats or online groups eg Facebook messenger, snapchat, Instagram
  • schedule phone calls to chat with others you would normally see
  • chat with neighbours while keeping 1.5 metres apart.

Further information is available at:

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

www.health.nsw.gov.au

www.dcj.nsw.gov.au

NCOSS website

NSW Health

‘Keeping our partners informed’ – DCJ and NCOSS

You can also direct service provision questions directly to Department of Communities and Justice at COVID19.Support@facs.nsw.gov.au


Please note AbSec is a peak body and cannot provide assistance for COVID-19. For information and advice on where to seek medical assistance please visit NSW Health website https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx or call the National Coronavirus Health information Line on 1800 020 080

New Police powers during COVID-19 pandemic

NSW Police can now issue on-the-spot fines for people who breach new public health orders about gatherings, social distancing, self-isolation, and travel from overseas and to remote communities.

Individuals can face on-the-spot fines of $1,000. Business can face on-the-spot fines of $5,000. The maximum penalty is six months imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine for an individual, and $55,000 for a corporation.

Police Officers no longer require a warrant to arrest an individual breaching a public health order.

Spread the word

The orders are subject to change, so it important to keep informed. For a full list of current public health orders in NSW, visit https://preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/public-health-orders.

Some common tips for complying with public health orders are:

  • Maintain a distance of 1.5m from other people
  • If possible, work from home
  • If your Elders and/or grandparents are in aged care, check the rules of the nursing home before visiting them
  • If you are returning to Australia from overseas, go straight home and self-isolate for a 14-day period
  • Do not travel to remote and regional areas of Australia.

The Public health orders and tips will hopefully prevent the spread of the virus. Aboriginal people are more likely to live with chronic health conditions. This makes us prone to getting a serious case of the virus. We must do all we can to protect our Elders.

If you get in trouble

Here are some organisations you can contact if you do get into trouble with the police and need legal advice and/or representation.

Symptoms of Coronavirus – COVID-19

When visiting families during the current Coronavirus outbreak it is important that service staff are aware of the common symptoms of Coronavirus.

Symptoms may include:

Fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Further information on symptoms of Coronavirus can be found at:
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert#symptoms-

For people who are currently sick and think they may have COVID-19 they can use an online tool such as healthdirect’s Coronavirus symptom checker:
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/healthdirect-coronavirus-covid-19-symptom-checker

More general information in relation to Coronavirus can be found at:
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
www.health.nsw.gov.au
www.dcj.nsw.gov.au

Resources for use during the Coronavirus pandemic

Being aware of the current situation about significant public health is extremely important to organisations providing services to vulnerable communities. In situations such as the current Coronavirus pandemic new information is constantly being distributed by government agencies.

Information is available at:

You can also direct service provision questions directly to Department of Communities and Justice at COVID19.Support@facs.nsw.gov.au

Working with families during the Coronavirus pandemic

The work completed with vulnerable families during the Coronavirus pandemic remains extremely important. For some families it will be vital to them maintaining their children in their care.

Extra precautions and flexible approaches are necessary to maintain the health and safety of both staff and the families they are working alongside.

Visiting families

Determine if direct contact is essential.

  • What are you hoping to achieve during this contact?

Explore special vulnerabilities in the family.

  • Is anyone in the home over 65yrs? Is anyone suffering a chronic health condition?

Ensure you make contact with families prior to any visits.

  • Families may advise they have self-isolated and do not want others in their homes.

Ask standard questions such as:

  • Is anyone in the home currently sick or has a temperature?
  • Is anyone suffering flu like symptoms?
  • Has anyone in the home been in contact with someone who has now been isolated or who has the Coronavirus?

Determine suitability of home visit based on responses.

  • Is direct contact viable considering known information?
  • Can an alternative safety plan with the family be put in place?

Where home visiting is deemed as essential, it is vital workers practice good hygiene and follow social distancing directions.

  • This will involve some changes in practice especially in the areas of modelling and practical assistance.

Where considered necessary use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks, gloves etc.

  • When these items are used ensure they are used correctly and they are disposed of in a safe manner
  • If using PPE during a home visit ensure that the family are also provided with PPE
  • Does your organisation have required resources? If not how could these be sourced? Is an approach to DCJ or NSW Health an option?

Exploring alternate means of supporting families

The following are things to consider and explore as an alternate means of supporting families:

Do the family have access to communications and sufficient credit on accounts

  • Are phones in serviceable condition, does the families carrier have good coverage etc

Would purchasing a suitable means of communication benefit this family at this time

  • Is the families current communication means compatible with new technology

Would it be sufficient and practical to have contact with the family via alternate means

  • Examples might include basic phone call, FaceTime, Zoom, video calling etc

Could a visit to the family be completed without entry to the home

  • Examples might include meeting on the verandah/porch, in their yard
  • Consider if alternate resources are required e.g. umbrella, chairs etc.

If you have concerns about the level of service your organisation is able to continue to provide please speak directly to your contract managers. Department of Communities and Justice have acknowledged the current situation is unprecedented and have given a level of commitment to work flexibly alongside organisations providing services during this crisis.

Further information is available at:

www.health.nsw.gov.au

www.dcj.nsw.gov.au

NCOSS site

‘Keeping our partners informed’ – DCJ and NCOSS

National Coronavirus Health Information Line – 1800 020 080

Temporary changes to WWCC application process for authorised carers and adult household members

From 22 April 2020, authorised carers and their adult household members can apply for a WWCC clearance without having to attend a Service NSW Centre. This includes new adult household members and new carers applying for a WWCC as part of their carer authorisation process.

This temporary change is intended to assist authorised carers and adult household members who are self-isolating, minimising travel or minimising contact with others outside the home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Authorised carers and their adult household members can provide certified copies of their proof of identity documents to their designated agency for their WWCC application, if they prefer not to attend a Service NSW Centre in person. The Principal Officer of the designated agency then checks that the certified proof of identity documents are correct, and emails scanned copies to the WWCC team at the Office of the Children’s Guardian.

Please note that the new proof of identification process is only available to foster/relative/kinship carers authorised or provisionally authorised under clause 30 or 31 of the Children and Young Persons(Care and Protection) Regulation 2012.

Staff and contracted carers such as emergency, respite or special out-of-home care direct care workers are still required to attend a NSW Service Centre in person to provide proof of their identity when applying for a WWCC clearance.

For more information, visit the Office of the Children’s Guardian’s website.

Home safety check list for the provisional authorisation of foster carers

The Office of the Children’s Guardian has prepared a tool to assist agencies to complete home safety checks for provisionally authorised carers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tool is not mandatory and where agencies have their own home safety assessment tools, use of these can be continued. Visit the tool.

For questions about the proof of identity changes, email the WWCC team at CHECK@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au or call (02) 8219 3777.

Other questions about statutory out-of-home care can be emailed to the Accreditation & Monitoring team at accreditation@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM OCG AND CHILDREN’S COURT

The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) has issued a factsheet which outlines the steps designated agencies may take to allow staff to provide temporary foster care to children and young people in the event of a staff or carer shortage as a result of COVID-19. Read the factsheet here.

The Children’s Court of NSW have also announced some changes to their services and process in response to the pandemic. Read more about the changes.

COMMUNITY AND FAMILY SECTOR SUPPORT & INFORMATION

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the human services sector with some challenging scenarios and for those who may still have questions about how to navigate this rapidly changing situation they have set up the following information lines:

DCJ and the NCOSS will be communicating via regular video updates in the hope of addressing your concerns and uncertainly. You can find these on the NCOSS website.

COVID-19 HEALTH INFORMATION

OTHER IMPORTANT PHONE LINES

1800RESPECT is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service and will continue to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the COVID-19 health emergency.

OTHER USEFUL LINKS

If you would like AbSec to facilitate regular discussions with agencies, please email us at ais@absec.org.au.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM OCG AND CHILDREN’S COURT

The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) has issued a factsheet which outlines the steps designated agencies may take to allow staff to provide temporary foster care to children and young people in the event of a staff or carer shortage as a result of COVID-19. Read the factsheet here.

The Children’s Court of NSW have also announced some changes to their services and process in response to the pandemic. Read more about the changes.

COMMUNITY AND FAMILY SECTOR SUPPORT & INFORMATION

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the human services sector with some challenging scenarios and for those who may still have questions about how to navigate this rapidly changing situation they have set up the following information lines:

DCJ and the NCOSS will be communicating via regular video updates in the hope of addressing your concerns and uncertainly. You can find these on the NCOSS website.

COVID-19 HEALTH INFORMATION

OTHER IMPORTANT PHONE LINES

1800RESPECT is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service and will continue to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the COVID-19 health emergency.

OTHER USEFUL LINKS

If you would like AbSec to facilitate regular discussions with agencies, please email us at ais@absec.org.au.

We sincerely hope you are all keeping safe whilst supporting our Aboriginal children, families and communities during this challenging time.