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Social distancing and self-isolation are the two main ways to keep children and young people in your care safe and well during this time.
COVID-19 is more likely to spread from person to person when we come into contact with one another. Social distancing is making sure there is as much physical space between you and someone else. It is one way to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Children and young people living in residential care and ITC should be encouraged and supported to practice social distancing. They:
Self-isolation means staying at home for 14 days. A person must self-isolate if they have COVID-19, or if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
If a child or young person in your care has COVID-19 and has been advised to self-isolate, they must do so with your support. During this time they must stay in the home and not go out in public.
Staying at home can seem like a big demand for a child or young person. But it is important to remind them that they are part of a larger community and that these steps help protect all of us. It is also important to let them know that staying at home is a temporary measure that will not last forever.
It is important that young people stay connected with their families. However, consider phone or video calls instead of in-person visits.
Make sure you follow the advice about around preventing COVID-19. This includes washing hands with soap and/or using hand sanitiser for all residents, staff and visitors.
Screen family members before they visit:
You should limit the number of visitors in line with current government advice.
For advice on whether children and young people should attend school visit the NSW Department of Education website. NSW schools are open however parents are encouraged to keep their children at home. No child will be turned away from school.
Anyone who has arrived in Australia from overseas should self-isolate for 14 days after they return.
Anyone who has been identified as a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 must also self-isolate for 14 days.
If a young person is sick, they should not attend school.
You can find useful information about COVID-19 and pregnancy on the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website.
You can contact one of the services below for support or encourage them to talk to their general practitioner.
Legal Aid NSW is also offering free legal advice to services provides who support vulnerable young people including residential care and ITC providers and Youth Homelessness Accommodation Services with the new COVID-19 rules. Legal Aid NSW is also available to help young people directly if they have been fined or need more information about how the COVID-19 rules may affect them. Young people can contact 1300 888 529 for free legal help.
If a child or young person in your care develops any of the COVID-19 symptoms, you need to:
In the first instance, call the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080opens in new window. Explain the situation including if the young person has been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or travelled overseas recently.
If the young person is directed to go a medical centre, call ahead before going in. Make sure you know what advice must be followed in your area and have it ready for your clients if needed.
You can find out where testing is available in your local area, should a young person be symptomatic.
Yes. If the home is shared with others, the young person should stay in a different room or be separated as much as possible.
The young person should wear a surgical mask when they are in the same room as another person, and when seeking medical care.
A separate bathroom should be used, if available. They should avoid shared or communal areas and wear a surgical mask when moving through these areas.
Refer to the Australian Government Health website on the use of a surgical mask.
Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while a young person is self-isolating.
: 'More information about self-isolating is available on the NSW Health website.
If NSW Health confirms that a person has COVID-19, the local Public Health Unit will be in contact with any close contacts of the person to advise them on what action to take. If a staff member was infectious while at work, you must also notify SafeWork NSW. You can also make contact with the Public Health Unit directly to make sure that contact details are available in all units or facilities.
If the measures recommended by NSW Health will disrupt service provision, please urgently contact your Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) contract manager to discuss an appropriate response. An example of this may be if they recommend moving client/s or reconfiguring services.
If a young person who is well and has not been directed to self-isolate leaves the house without a reasonable excuse, and/or breaches the public health orders, you do you not need to contact the Police. You should engage and educate the young person and support them to return to the house.
If Police engage the person while they are out of their placement and without a reasonable excuse, they will take appropriate action under the Joint Protocol (see below).
If a young person has been directed to self-isolate, for example because they have been in contact with a confirmed case, they must remain at home, or another suitable residence as directed by a health practitioner, or in hospital for treatment.
If a young person refuses to comply with self-isolation, contact the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080 and follow instructions on reporting requirements. You should also contact your DCJ contract manager to discuss how the situation could be managed.
NSW Police have advised DCJ that reasonable attempts should be made to educate the child or young person in care on the importance of isolating, and to get them to return home, before law enforcement action is considered. However, if Police support is required, Police can be contacted through Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or an appropriate police officer, or police liaison officer.
If there is repeated non-compliance, a specific Public Health Order can be obtained that will enable Police to arrest a person in order to return them to their place of isolation.
The Joint Protocol ensures that Police are not used for discipline or behavioural management of young people living in out-of-home care. It aims to reduce contact and use early intervention strategies to positively influence behaviour. It can reduce reoffending and unnecessary contact with the criminal justice system.
Ensure that all staff are familiar with the Joint Protocol and with the procedures as described in Annexure A for care staff and Annexure B for local Police.
22 Aug 2022
We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future.
Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.
You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.