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The situation regarding the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to progress in NSW. We recognise this is impacting the homelessness sector both personally and professionally and we thank you for your continued efforts in supporting people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is actively monitoring the situation and we’ll continue to provide regular updates.

This page includes information on:

  • Where to get the latest information about COVID-19
  • Practical resources on the control and management of infectious diseases
  • Service continuity and essential homelessness services
  • What DCJ is doing to support service providers

Guidelines for Homelessness Accommodation during COVID-19

We have developed Guidelines for Homelessness Accommodation during COVID-19 in consultation with the industry peaks.

These guidelines provide tools and techniques to help you manage homelessness accommodation sites for adults and young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: these guidelines may be updated as health information changes.

What to do if a staff member or a client is suspected or confirmed to be infectious?

If you receive a report of a client or staff member being infected, please check first with the local Public Health Unit by calling the state-wide number: 1300 066 055.

If the infection is confirmed, please immediately contact your DCJ Contract Manager to discuss an appropriate response.

If you have staff members that test positive for COVID-19, or are undergoing testing because they are considered at-risk, and this disrupts your staffing levels and service delivery, please contact your DCJ Contract Manager to discuss an appropriate response.

Where can I get the latest information?

We strongly encourage you to follow the advice from NSW Health in relation to COVID-19.

For more information on COVID-19 please refer to the coronavirus information (COVID-19) for service providers webpage.

The Australian Government Department of Health issues a daily alert on the latest medical advice and official reports.

The Disease Toolkit for Continuums of Care: Preventing & Managing the Spread of Infectious Disease With Shelters provides useful information on managing infectious diseases in refuge settings.

NCOSS have also recently issued a COVID-19 Community Sector Resource which contains useful information to help plan for business continuity.

What is DCJ doing?

To help us better understand where additional supports may be required across the sector, your DCJ Contract Manager will contact you over the next few days to better understand your organisation’s capacity to respond. This will include discussions about your Business Continuity Plan and the preparations you are making for your clients and staff.

The information you provide will be critical in informing local plans for responding to COVID-19.

If you are experiencing difficulties in accessing hand sanitisers or other critical supplies, please advise us. Your District Contract Manager will be an important contact during this period of uncertainty.

DCJ is committed to working with you to ensure continuity of service delivery. If your organisation experiences staff shortages due to COVID-19 and can access casual workers to fill in or pay overtime, we encourage you to do this.

If you are concerned about the budget implications of this please contact your District Contract Manager, as subject to their approval, these costs will be covered by DCJ.

DCJ is currently seeking to maximise opportunities with temporary accommodation providers to support self-isolation for some clients, and we will provide you with further updates as more information becomes available.

If you need to access temporary accommodation for affected clients to ensure they can self-isolate, please discuss with your District Contract Manager and DCJ will cover the costs for this.

Service continuity for essential homelessness services

Essential service delivery includes all forms of crisis refuge accommodation (e.g. young people, people experiencing domestic and family violence, single adults etc.) and services working directly with people sleeping rough. If you are unable to maintain essential service delivery due to issues such as staff shortages, contact your DCJ Contract Manager to discuss an appropriate response.

We understand it may be necessary to scale down non-essential services (e.g. group work, non-intensive case management support) to ensure essential services can continue to be delivered during this time. This should be discussed with your DCJ Contract Manager and approval sought before changes are made to service delivery.

In situations where a service needs to close due to the impact of the COVID-19 please ensure you provide early notification to your District Contract Manager so that the Housing Contact Centre can arrange alternative accommodation.

Many of our clients are already experiencing a range of hardships and vulnerabilities and it is important that we maintain a strong level of support, whilst reinforcing our care of staff and volunteers. We ask that you consider alternative methods of contact for those who are vulnerable but may not be accessing an essential service. Support for these clients may shift from face to face, to regular phone contact.

To support the delivery of services, please ensure you continue to update the Vacancy Management System (VMS) in CIMS daily.

We will continue to communicate with you regularly and provide you with key resources to enable you to continue to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Thanks for your ongoing efforts.

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Last updated: 03 Apr 2020