– Friday, 6th August 2021 –
Message from the Director-General
Your attention is drawn to this Message from the Director-General: COVID 19 Update sent to non-government service providers on Wednesday 7th August. Please ensure that Ms Mulkerin’s message has been widely disseminated to your staff, colleagues, carers and the volunteers associated with the delivery of your organisations’ services.As highlighted within Ms Mulkerin’s message, please ensure that if the contracted obligations of your organisation are being impacted by COVID-19 and the current lockdown arrangements in south-east Queensland, your organisation has provided written advice to your contract manager within the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs (DCYJMA) about how your service delivery has been affected and the strategies that are being used to minimise the impact. As indicated by Ms Mulkerin, the DCYJMA will work with your organisation to manage an agreed way forward.In keeping with Ms Mulkerin’s advice, residential care service providers are reminded to make use of the COVID-19 residential care guidelines to support further development or refinement of your organisation’s service continuity plans. You are also reminded to make sure that your organisation:
- is fully aware of provisions included in Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs) in the event that it may become necessary to activate an IFA
- has engaged staff in discussions about their willingness and suitability to enter into an IFA, and
- has taken up offers made by The Services Union to provide advice and assistance with the IFA process.
More information about the IFAs can be obtained from the Community Services Industry Alliance website. Organisations providing foster and kinship care services are asked to remind your carers to check for updates to information on the Carer Connect app.
Read the Message from the Director-General: COVID 19 Update for further advice about:
- the maintenance of existing arrangements in relation to children who are absent or missing during the lockdown period, noting the importance of checking and reporting on whether they have been in exposure sites during their absence
- possible re-activation of Department of Education Regional Taskforces within areas impacted by the lockdown to facilitate the delivery of educational supports to targeted groups of children, and
- arrangements for children to stay connected to their families during the lockdown period, with advice about available options stated on the DCYJMA’s website.
The same but different
Much of the information contained in Ms Mulkerin’s message relates to similar strategies implemented during previous lockdowns. However, by now I am sure it has been made clear to you in the announcements made by Dr Young, the Chief Health Officer and others that the Delta variant has posed some significantly increased challenges. In particular, these relate to this variant being much more contagious and the increased potential for children to become infected and exhibit symptoms. Hence there is an increased rigour attached to many of the measures that have been successfully implemented in the past. In each of the local government areas that have been made subject to the lockdown, please ensure that you observe the following advice and remain alert to any changes to these requirements that may be ordered over oncoming days.Wearing of masksStaff delivering essential face-to-face services for children and young people living in residential care must wear a mask. There are some exceptions to this e.g. when a mask may be removed in order to ensure clear enunciation. Staff are required to exercise judgement and, as a rule, to err on the side of caution and to continue wearing a mask wherever possible. If your organisation is experiencing any difficulties in sourcing masks, you are asked to contact your DCYJMA contract manager.TestingRegardless of your organisation’s location, please remind all staff, colleagues, carers and volunteers that, if at any time they have any COVID-19 symptoms, they should get tested immediately and follow the Queensland Government health advice regarding self-isolation, the wearing of masks and social distancing.Remaining in principal place of residenceYou are, no doubt, well aware of the emphasis being placed on people remaining in their principal place of residence from the announcements regularly made by Dr Young and others. In accordance with the Queensland Health Directive for the current lockdown, children with shared parenting or other care arrangements must remain in their principal place of residence. Parts 1-6 state the (limited) exemptions that apply. They include:For children under 18 years who do not live in the same household as their biological parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings, to continue an existing court-ordered or court-directed arrangement for access to, and contact between, parents and children and siblings, but not allowing access or contact with vulnerable groups or persons.Note: where a contact or access arrangement is not court-ordered or court-directed, the exception to leave the principal place of residence does not apply and children under 18 years are to remain at the premises they are residing at when this Direction commences for the duration of the lockdown period.The DCYJMA advises that Child Safety Services Centres and the After Hours Service are applying this directive when responding to enquiries received from non-government service providers and carers about family contact arrangements. While face to face arrangements are limited to court ordered/ directed arrangements only, DCYJMA staff are encouraging the use of alternative contact methods (i.e. face time, videolinks, mobile) during the lock down period.
Staying up to date
While the current lockdown will eventually cease in some or all of the LGAs currently impacted, it is likely that a suite of other restrictions will continue to be applied (such as those relating to the wearing of masks) following the end of the lockdown period. It is important therefore to stay up to date with the latest health advice, monitor news reports including the regular announcements by Dr Young, and follow Queensland Health on Facebook or Twitter.