Latest update from Child Safety Director-General for foster and kinship carers – Thursday, 21st May

Your attention is drawn to the latest Director-General’s COVID-19 UPDATE sent to foster and kinship carers. This edition of the UPDATE includes information about:

Return to school

Information is provided about:

  • the return of all children to regular classroom learning from Monday, 25th May in line with advice from Queensland Health and announcements made by Education Queensland
  • online resources that can continue to be accessed from Education Queensland’s learning @home website for students with health support needs who will be supported by their teachers while they learn from home
  • other strategies that will used in maintaining the priority being given to the health and wellbeing of students and school staff

Support for young people up to 19 years of age

Advice is provided about:

  • the entitlement for an approved carer, or long-term or permanent guardian, who is continuing to care for a young person who has turned 18, to receive a fortnightly carer allowance until they turn 19, regardless of their education status
  • in response to COVID-19, the decision that these payments will be backdated to 29th March to align with the Queensland Health directive
  • how further information about changes to carer allowances can be obtained from the Queensland Government foster and kinship care web page

Family contact

Information is provided about:

  • decisions about face-to-face contact between children and their families continuing to be made on a case-by-case basis
  • support that is generally given to continuing face-to-face contact between children, their siblings and parents unless there are health concerns for those who facilitate or participate in these arrangements
  • a re-looking at how family contact can be supported and facilitated in line with the easing of restrictions

Please ensure that, in addition to familiarising yourself with this information, you check that all Foster and Kinship Carers with whom you are working have received and considered this UPDATE.

Latest update from Child Safety Director-General on roadmap to easing COVID-19 restrictions – Thursday, 21st May

Your attention is drawn to the latest Director-General’s COVID-19 UPDATE released to the community services sector. This edition of the UPDATE includes information about:

Roadmap to easing Queensland’s restrictions

This advice concerns:

  • recently relaxed restrictions with reminders to continue to follow the advice of health professionals in maintaining social distancing and practising good hygiene
  • a reminder that the revised direction that allows for a household to have up to five visitors does NOT prevent workers or volunteers from entering a residence given that they are not counted as visitors
  • more information on delivering in-home services safely that can be obtained from the Queensland Government website
  • information that should be considered by organisations prior to transitioning staff back into the workplace including having a WHS plan to manage COVID-19 prominently displayed

Escaping domestic and family violence

Information is presented about:

Business continuity planning

Information is presented about the Director-General’s thoughts about re-looking at business continuity plans informed by lessons learned from our recent and current experiences in managing the impact of COVID-19.

Reminder about accessing the daily COVID-19 stakeholder bulletins

A reminder is provided about how you can access daily (Monday to Friday) COVID-19 stakeholder bulletins from the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 website. These bulletins overview key developments over the past 24 hours, current Public Health advice and updated information on government services and financial and community assistance.

 

Latest update from Child Safety Director-General on revised Coronavirus restrictions

Latest update from Child Safety Director-General on revised Coronavirus restrictions – Friday, 1st May

 

Your attention is drawn to the latest Director-General’s COVID-19 UPDATE released on 30 April 2020. This edition of the UPDATE includes information about:

Queensland Health advice

This advice concerns:

Human rights and COVID-19

Information is presented about:

Please note that there are, unfortunately, no more places available for people to attend the HUMAN RIGHTS in the child protection context – Are YOU up-to-date? videoconference session being hosted by PeakCare in association with the Queensland Human Rights Commission on Wednesdsay, 6th May. PeakCare will look for opportunities to host additional sessions as soon as possible.

Daily COVID-19 stakeholder bulletins

Advice is provided about how you can access daily (Monday to Friday) COVID-19 stakeholder bulletins from the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 website. These bulletins overview key developments over the past 24 hours, current Public Health advice and updated information on government services and financial and community assistance.

COVIDSafe app

Advice is provided about how you can find out more about the COVIDSafe app recently introduced by the Australian Government to assist in reducing the spread of coronavirus through early notification of possible exposure, by clicking here. The app can be downloaded via the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Moving into recovery

This section of the UPDATE contains some of the Director-General’s thoughts about what the gradual movement into recovery might mean to re-setting our priorities and the ways in which we communicate and deliver our services in the future.

 

 

Latest COVID-19 update from Child Safety Director General

Latest COVID-19 update from Child Safety Director-General – Friday, 17th April

Your attention is drawn to the latest Director-General’s COVID-19 UPDATE sent to all Foster and Kinship Carers yesterday.

This UPDATE provides information about the following:

Changes to Term 2 learning

Advice is provided about:

  • The recent announcement by Education Queensland that schools and community kindergartens will move to home-based learning for the first five weeks of Term 2
  • The provisions made for children who are receiving Child Safety services or who are in care and living away from their families to attend school, early childhood education and care, and outside school hours care services
  • The process for decisions to be made about each child’s attendance to be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with each child’s case plan
  • Contact that should be made with each child’s Child Safety Officer to talk through the most suitable options available to them
  • Contact that can also be made with each child’s school, early childhood education and care service, and/ or outside school hours care service to further discuss these options
  • A range of additional curriculum resources that can be accessed from the learning@home website including advice for carers around preparing for learning at home.

Support for children with disability

Advice is provided about:

  • A partnership between NDIS and supermarkets including Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Foodworks that allows carers of children with disability to purchase food and other items on-line and have these items delivered to their homes
  • The process to be followed in obtaining a code from Child Safety Officers that allows carers to enter this scheme
  • Further information that can be accessed from the NDIS website and Facebook page.

Support for carers

Advice is provided about:

  • Encouragement to carers to download the Carer Connect app to receive further notifications on the latest COVID-19 developments
  • Expansion of the 24-hour, seven days a week, Foster and Kinship Care Support Line (Phone 1300 729 309) to provide information about matters related to COVID-19, crisis response and support, additional support for carer households, and support for new provisionally approved carers.
Please ensure that if you work for an organisation delivering foster or kinship care support services, you are familiar with this information and all foster and kinship carers with whom you are working have received this information.

 

Child Safety Director-General’s update to non-government service providers on COVID-19 impacts – Thursday, 9th April

 

Your attention is drawn to the latest Director-General’s COVID-19 UPDATE sent to all Foster and Kinship Carers yesterday.

This UPDATE provides information about the following:

Changes to Term 2 learning

Advice is provided about:

  • The recent announcement by Education Queensland that schools and community kindergartens will move to home-based learning for the first five weeks of Term 2
  • The provisions made for children who are receiving Child Safety services or who are in care and living away from their families to attend school, early childhood education and care, and outside school hours care services
  • The process for decisions to be made about each child’s attendance to be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with each child’s case plan
  • Contact that should be made with each child’s Child Safety Officer to talk through the most suitable options available to them
  • Contact that can also be made with each child’s school, early childhood education and care service, and/ or outside school hours care service to further discuss these options
  • A range of additional curriculum resources that can be accessed from the learning@home website including advice for carers around preparing for learning at home.

Support for children with disability

Advice is provided about:

  • A partnership between NDIS and supermarkets including Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Foodworks that allows carers of children with disability to purchase food and other items on-line and have these items delivered to their homes
  • The process to be followed in obtaining a code from Child Safety Officers that allows carers to enter this scheme
  • Further information that can be accessed from the NDIS website and Facebook page.

Support for carers

Advice is provided about:

  • Encouragement to carers to download the Carer Connect app to receive further notifications on the latest COVID-19 developments
  • Expansion of the 24-hour, seven days a week, Foster and Kinship Care Support Line (Phone 1300 729 309) to provide information about matters related to COVID-19, crisis response and support, additional support for carer households, and support for new provisionally approved carers.
Please ensure that if you work for an organisation delivering foster or kinship care support services, you are familiar with this information and all foster and kinship carers with whom you are working have received this information.

 

Child Safety Director-General’s update to non-government service providers on COVID-19 impacts – Thursday, 9th April

 

Your attention is drawn to this Director-General’s COVID-19 Update  from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (DCSYW) sent to non-government service providers on 9th April 2020.

To assist in streamlining the dissemination of information to non-government service providers, the practice of DCSYW Regional Offices sending communiques of this type to service providers has been replaced by a centralised process of all service providers receiving information from the DCSYW at the same time.

Matters addressed in this COVID-19 UPDATE include:

Residential care services

  • An account of a workshop hosted by the DCSYW on 6th April 2020 and attended by over 70 representatives of Queensland residential care providers, peak bodies and representative groups.
Managing and renewing contracts
  • An account of the largely ‘business as usual’ approach to the renewal of service contracts, with advice provided about the processes to be followed in the event of emergency advance funding being sought in order to continue essential service delivery or an organisation experiencing difficulties in meeting service deliverables in accordance with their contract.
Children with disability in care
  • An account of Information that can be accessed from the DCSYW website and the NDIS website about now NDIS plans and supports are being adjusted to ensure that children and young people continue to receive help and remain safe.
Infection control training
  • Offers of free online training on infection control by the Australian Department of Health and fact sheets and posters available for downloading from their website.
Regularly check the DCSYW website for updated advice as it is posted including responses to Frequently Asked Questions.

 

Department of Child Safety framework for decision making during COVID-19 – Tuesday, 7th April

 

Regional Offices of the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women have sent to non-government service providers within their respective regions the Department’s Framework for making decisions in the context of COVID-19.

The Framework describes:

  • Six steps that will be taken by Officers of the Department to guide their decision-making
  • Principles of the Strengthening Families Protecting Children Framework for Practice that are to be considered when decisions are made
  • Decisions made by the Department about the categorisation of services as “critical and essential”, noting that these decisions are current as at 2nd April 2020 and may change.
Non-government organisations are advised to familiarise themselves with the framework to inform their liaison with the Department and their own decision-making and practices in relation to their delivery of services where there is an intersection with those assessed by the Department as critical and essential.

 

Essential information for residential care providers plus Q&A for NGOs now live – Wednesday, 1st April 

 

PLEASE NOTE

Your attention is drawn to the following:

Essential guidelines for providers of residential care services

This Advice for residential care services to inform service level Business Continuity Planning in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has been produced and released by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. This tool to support the service planning of residential care providers covers matters such as:

  • Communication with children and young people
  • Service access
  • Accessing essential supplies
  • Plans for school closure
  • Staffing impacts, and
  • Managing the physical environment

The tool also recommends scenarios that must be considered in your planning. These include steps to be taken in the event of a child or young person, or a staff member testing positive to COVID-19, which may trigger actions such as hospitalisation, quarantine or self-isolation, and in extreme circumstances the full or partial closure of a service. These guidelines are best regarded as a ‘living document’ that will require regular updating and refinement. If the guidelines raise concerns or questions for you or your organisation, please email your questions or concerns to lwegener@peakcare.org.au and we will promptly bring them to the attention of the Department. You are also urged to make use of the regional and local planning forums to both share any difficulties you anticipate as well as any solutions you can recommend or collaboratively work on with others. You are also invited to join others who will be talking with us and each other at regular intervals via Zoom. If you wish to be invited to participate in these discussions, please email your name, position title, name of your organisation and contact details (email address, phone number/s) to Anushri Bellary (abellary@peakcare.org.au).

Q&A for Non-Government Organisations now live

The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women has now posted a Q&A page for non-government organisations on its website. This is similar to the Q&A page for Foster and Kinship Carers. As the weeks proceed, there is no doubt that more questions and answers will be added. If any questions you may have are not yet listed, feel free to email lwegener@peakcare.org.au and we will work with the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to ensure that your questions are listed and the best possible answers are found.

 

Message for all foster and kinship carers from Child Safety Director-General – Tuesday, 31st March

 

Your attention is drawn to this Message to Foster and Kinship Carers from Deidre Mulkerin, Director-General, Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women sent to Carers on Monday, 30th March 2020.

Please check with foster or kinship carers being supported by your organisation that they have received this message and ensure that you also take note of its content.

The message contains important advice about:

  • Recent Australian Government announcements about limits on the number of people who  can come together and self-isolation recommendations regarding older people including those over 70 or over 60 with pre-existing health conditions, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 years of age
  • Guidance about ways in which children and young people can maintain contact with their family and the processes to be used in making decisions about these arrangements
  • Making the right decisions about whether or not children in your care attend a child care centre, or go to school or alternatively stay at home and participate in on-line learning that most schools are now providing.
It is also recommended that you review the responses to frequently asked questions from carers now published on the Department’s website. Many of the questions and answers may also be of interest and relevance to you.
A similar facility is now being worked on for non-government providers of other services (in addition to foster and kinship care) and we look forward to informing you as soon as possible that it has now become accessible to you.

Reminders –

How to receive up-to-date and accurate information

If you have not yet made sure that all of your staff and others associated with the delivery of your organisation’s services have become eNews subscribers, do so now. It is an easy way of making sure that they promptly receive up-to-date information (such as the information contained with the Department’s sector update). To subscribe, go to the home page of PeakCare’s website, scroll down and follow the instructions – it takes a few seconds only.

Frank exchange of advice about concerns and solutions

Respond to the invitation to send PeakCare’s Executive Director (lwegener@peakcare.org.au)  succinctly stated questions, issues of concern, and/ or recommendations about actions that could be taken to improve our sector’s capacity to deal with the impact of the virus. What you send to us will inform our close liaison with the Child Safety Minister Di Farmer and the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. This is an invitation extended to all – no matter what job you have or where or for whom you work.

As information is received, we very quickly communicate with Officers of the Department about the matters raised with us to ensure that they are already included or added to a pooled ‘issues register’. This is to make sure that answers to the questions asked are given a consistent response.

Talk to us

Respond to the invitation to talk with us and each other at regular intervals via Zoom. If you wish to be invited to participate in these discussions, please email your name, position title, name of your organisation and contact details (email address, phone number/s) to Anushri Bellary (abellary@peakcare.org.au) by no later than 1st April. The arrangements we make for these discussions will depend on the number of people who wish to join in on them.

 

Mutual obligation arrangements for job seekers updated due to Coronavirus – Thursday, 26th March

 

Please click here to view a statement by Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business about increased flexibility being applied to job seeking arrangements that have been introduced by the Federal Government in response to the impact of the Coronavirus.

The information contained within this statement may be of relevance to clients of your organisation’s services. It may be useful to bring this information to their attention.

The statement describes:

  • The suspension of all ‘mutual obligation requirements’ that apply to jobseekers until 31 March to help ease congestion on the MyGov website
  • More flexible arrangements to eliminate the need for face-to-face interactions between jobseekers and their service providers
  • Capacity for jobseekers with caring responsibilities or who need to self-isolate to seek an exemption from their mutual obligations without the need for medical evidence
  • Reduction in the number of job searches that are to be undertaken and how these can be undertaken
  • Suspension of all Work for the Dole and other activities in group settings that cannot be delivered on-line
  • Ability for sole traders who become eligible for Jobseeker Payments to be assessed as automatically meeting their mutual obligation requirements by continuing to develop and sustain their business.

 

Messages from the Department of Child Safety to the sector and to all foster and kinship carers – Thursday, 26th March

 

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Sector Update 

Your attention is drawn to this Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Sector Update released by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to non-government organisations involved in the delivery of child protection, family support and related services today.

Please ensure that your organisation carefully reviews the information contained within the statement, all relevant staff receive and consider the update, and it is used to inform your contingency and continuity of service planning – both within your organisation and in collaboration with others.

Message to foster and kinship carers 

Your attention is also drawn to the second Message to Foster and Kinship Carers from Deidre Mulkerin, Director-General, Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. Please check with foster or kinship carers being supported by your organisation that they have received this message.

It is recommended that you review the responses to frequently asked questions from carers now published on the Department’s website. Many of the questions and answers may also be of interest and relevance to you.

Reminders – You are also reminded about certain matters addressed within this week’s edition of our eNews.

How to receive up-to-date and accurate information

If you have not yet made sure that all of your staff and others associated with the delivery of your organisation’s services have become eNews subscribers, do so now. It is an easy way of making sure that they promptly receive up-to-date information (such as the information contained with the Department’s sector update). To subscribe, go to the home page of PeakCare’s website, scroll down and follow the instructions – it takes a few seconds only.

Frank exchange of advice about concerns and solutions

Respond to the invitation to send PeakCare’s Executive Director (lwegener@peakcare.org.au)  succinctly stated questions, issues of concern, and/ or recommendations about actions that could be taken to improve our sector’s capacity to deal with the impact of the virus. What you send to us will inform our close liaison with the Child Safety Minister Di Farmer and the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. This is an invitation extended to all – no matter what job you have or where or for whom you work.

Talk to us

Respond to the invitation to talk with us and each other at regular intervals via Zoom. If you wish to be invited to participate in these discussions, please email your name, position title, name of your organisation and contact details (email address, phone number/s) to Anushri Bellary (abellary@peakcare.org.au) by no later than 1st April. The arrangements we make for these discussions will depend on the number of people who wish to join in on them.

 

More on talking with children about coronavirus: supporting children’s emotional wellbeing during the pandemic – Tuesday, 24th March

 

Add the following to the resource materials you have already received about talking with children, young people and families about the Coronavirus. (See our Special Edition on 17th March 2020). While much of the material already sent to you has focussed on the needs of children and young people generally, this article specifically addresses the needs of children and young people who have already experienced trauma and may be living in settings away from their own families.

Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Click here to access extremely useful guidelines, recommendations and resources provided by child trauma experts at Child Trends and the Child Trauma Training Centre at the University of Massachusetts. The advice provided is of direct relevance to the approaches you take in caring for the children and young people who are receiving your organisation’s services.

Read and observe the recommendations made about practical ways in which you can support and protect the emotional well-being of children and young people during the pandemic. This includes advice about:

  • Understanding that the reactions of children and young people to the pandemic may vary
  • Ensuring the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver
  • Social distancing should not mean social isolation
  • Providing age-appropriate information
  • Creating a safe physical and emotional environment by practising the 3R’s: Reassurance, Routines and Regulation
  • Keeping children and young people busy
  • Increasing the self-efficacy of children and young people
  • Creating opportunities for caregivers (which may mean YOU) to take care of themselves
  • Seeking professional help if children or young people show signs of trauma that do not resolve relatively quickly
  • Emphasizing strengths, hopes and positivity.

Check out the links to other resource materials, many of which have already been posted on PeakCare’s website.

Make sure that your organisation’s ‘contingency and continuity plans’ address how you are talking with, and caring for, children and young people during this difficult time. This includes identifying the persons who will initiate the conversations you should be having with children and young people, remembering that children and young people will often initiate these discussions themselves whenever and with whomever they choose. It’s essential therefore that all of your staff and carers are well-equipped with the knowledge to respond to them and are comfortable in doing so.

Share your resources and tips

Thank you to all who have been forwarding to us resource materials you are happy to share with others. Please feel free to forward these resources or tips about approaches you are finding useful to Anushri Bellary so that they can also be posted on PeakCare’s website.

 

Websites to reference for up-to-date information to manage workplace concerns and contingency and continuity planning – Friday, 20th March

 

PeakCare appreciates that many of you are being inundated with emails and notices about the Coronavirus and it can become overwhelming working out the ones to which close attention should be paid and those that are of lesser relevance to you and your organisation. Much of the information you are receiving can also become out-of-date very quickly.

The following lists the details of websites that you should closely monitor, noting that the information posted on each of these sites is frequently updated. These sites are especially relevant to ‘employers’, but ‘employees’ will also have a strong interest n their content.

It is advisable for you to allocate responsibilities to some designated people within your organisation to regularly monitor these sites and ensure that relevant information is used to update your organisation’s ‘contingency and continuity plans’. These are best regarded as ‘living documents’ that clearly state decisions made by your organisation as they are made and the actions that are to be undertaken in line with these decisions including by when and by whom they are to be performed.

Your attention is also drawn to the generous offers currently being made by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland – scroll down further to read more.

Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws

The Australian Government Fairwork Ombudsman site provides regularly updated answers to questions including:

  • Where can I get information on health and safety in the workplace?
  • When can employers direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under workplace health and safety laws?
  • What happens if an employee or their family member is sick with coronavirus?
  • What if an employee is stuck overseas or is required to be quarantined or to self-isolate?
  • What if an employee wants to stay home as a precaution?
  • When can employees work from home?
  • What about casual employees and independent contractors?
  • What if I cannot attend work because my child’s school is closed due to concerns about coronavirus?
  • What if I need to let employees go or reduce their working hours?
  • Can employees be directed not to travel?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Employers virus and Australian Workplace Laws

The Safework Australia site regularly updates advice about the ‘model Work Health and Safety laws’ including answers to questions such as:
  • What should an employer do to protect workers and others at a workplace?
  • Do I have to consult my workers about measures I put in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19?
  • What are my privacy obligations to workers?
  • What should an employer do if they cannot get supplies of real or perceived necessities (e.g. hand sanitiser, masks)?
  • Do workers need to wear surgical masks?
  • My workers may come into close contact with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. Should the workers use personal protective equipment (PPE)?
  • When can an employer direct a worker to stay away from their usual place of work under the model WHS laws?
  • What else should an employer take into account when deciding whether a worker or other people need to stay away from their usual place of work?
  • What are the WHS risks an employer should consider if workers are working from home?
  • Do workers or other people need to comply with a direction from an employer to stay away from their usual place of work?
  • Can a worker refuse to come to work?
  • People at my workplace are feeling stressed and anxious because of COVID-19. How do I meet my work, health and safety duties when it comes to risks to psychological health?
  • Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) workplace risk management

The WorkCover Queensland site provides additional information addressing matters such as:

  • Self-quarantining
  • Preventing the spread of infection at work
  • Personal protective equipment, and
  • Workers’ compensation.
Reference is made to related information that can be obtained from the:

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) – free membership and helpline advice

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) is now offering free membership to any Queensland based employer until 31st March 2020.  Additionally, CCIQ is opening up its ‘advice helpline’ to all employers, not only those who are members. This temporary scaling up of CCIQ’s advisory services has been assisted through financial support provided by the Department of Small Business, Education and Training. Given the likelihood of many organisations having to deal with some complex human resource management issues during the oncoming weeks and months, this is an offer that is recommended to all. To become a CCIQ member, go to the website and follow the instructions. To immediately access the helpline, all you need to do is register on the same site.

Previous editions of PeakCare’s ‘Coronavirus Updates’

If you have only recently subscribed to PeakCare’s eNews and wish to view previous editions of our ‘Coronavirus Updates’, they can be accessed here.

Thank You

Thank you to all who have emailed positive feedback to us about the ‘Coronavirus Updates’ – especially the 17th March edition about “Talking with Children, Young People and their Families about the Coronavirus“. Thank you also to those who have submitted other resource materials that may be of use to others. They will soon be added to the other information already posted on our website.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Messages from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women – Wednesday, 18th March

 

Please read the following advice being sent to all non-government providers of child protection and related services by Regional Executive Directors from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women today. Please ensure that this advice is disseminated to all your staff and colleagues. Better still, make sure that all of your staff and others associated with the delivery of your services are PeakCare eNews subscribers so they can be assured of receiving these messages without delay.

Emailed correspondence from Regional Executive Directors, Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (18th March 2020)

Dear service providers

I wish to update you on the evolving situation in Queensland regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The critical role your organisation plays in keeping our vulnerable children and young people, women, men and families safe in our communities is recognised, as is the impact of any potential outbreak of COVID-19 for your staff and clients.

The planning we are undertaking is about supporting a national effort to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19. Each one of us has a vital role to play in this effort, and we ask for your continued support to work together during this challenging time.

Thank you to those who have been in contact to date and provided advice of your planning and concerns.  We are working through the matters which have been raised and in addition to these updates, will develop Frequently Asked Questions to assist with planning and response management.

Business Continuity Plans
We’re working closely with other Queensland Government agencies to ensure our Business Continuity Plans are ready and we are prepared for any potential impacts to service delivery. It is important you maintain continuity of your service delivery to your clients as outlined in your contracts. Many of our children and young people, women, men and families are already experiencing a range of hardships and vulnerabilities and it’s essential that we continue to provide a strong level of support while reinforcing our care of staff.

If the contracted obligations of your organisation are impacted by COVID-19, please contact your contract manager in writing promptly and advise how service delivery has been affected and what strategies you are implementing to minimise the impact.  We will work with you to manage an agreed way forward. Any changes to contracts and deliverables will need to be discussed with your contract manager and will need to take into account any health directions where someone connected to your service is confirmed to have contracted COVID19 or is self-isolating on medical advice.

For organisations who deliver services to children in care, directly or indirectly, should you become aware a child or an associated household member is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, please seek medical advice as appropriate and contact your Child Safety Office or Child Safety After Hours as soon as possible.

We’re partnering with our peak bodies to ensure we are alerted to early concerns and you receive the latest information. Our Regional Directors are also in the process of convening local place-based approaches with you in preparation for any emerging incidents.

As previously advised, to assist your organisation to review and update your Business Continuity Plan please see resources developed by Queensland Council of Social Services (QCOSS) click here and the Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) click here.

You’ll find FAQs, information resources on good hygiene practices and translated resources on the Queensland Health website.

Non-essential travel
The DCSYW has now ceased all non-essential travel, with the exception of essential client-related travel, until further notice. However, the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) is now limiting all travel to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, until further notice. I encourage you to comply with local protocols for travelling to remote communities. Please also consider deferring or cancelling any non-essential meetings with vulnerable groups such as Elders groups, and moving to teleconference where possible.

Mass gatherings
As you would be aware, the Australian Government announced that all organised, non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people must be cancelled from 16 March 2020.   While there are no requirements to limit organised events of less than 500 people, our duty of care is about containment and slowing the spread of COVID-19. We are reviewing arrangements for all department and grant-funded events and will keep you updated with information on this.

Available support
Important sources of information:

  • Queensland Health for all the latest information on COVID-19 in Queensland.
  • Department of Education (PDF) resource for supporting children and young people.
  • Australian Government Department of Health for the latest information and fact sheets for the public, health professionals, industry, parents, schools and universities.
  • Australian Government novel coronavirus resources including fact sheets, and guidelines for the general public, health professionals and industry about novel coronavirus.
  • Smartraveller for the latest information and advice for safe travel overseas.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring this event and is in active communication with counterparts in China. In line with standard protocols for any public health event, an incident management system has been activated across the 3 levels of WHO (country office, regional office and headquarters) and the organisation is prepared to mount a broader response, if needed.

In the meantime, please look after yourself, your family and your colleagues.

Director-General’s Message to Foster and Kinship Carers 

On 16th March 2020, this message was sent to all Foster and Kinship Carers by Ms Deidre Mulkerin, Director-General, DCSYW.

Staying informed

To remain in touch with the latest information and advice about the Coronavirus and the management of its impact, make sure your staff and all associated with the delivery of your services have subscribed to PeakCare’s eNews. To subscribe, go to the home page of PeakCare’s website, scoll down and follow the instructions. It takes a few seconds only.

All ‘Special Edition’ announcements released by PeakCare about the Coronvirus (including this one) are posted on this page of our website.

Talking to children about Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Tuesday, 17th March

 

Organisations exercising responsibilities for caring for children and young people must ensure that a sound approach is used in talking with them about the coronavirus. This includes both initiating conversations and responding to matters that children and young people may raise themselves.

There is already an abundance of resource materials about talking with children and young people that can be discovered by simply undertaking a ‘google search’. Most feature some common themes that will become evident as you review these materials. Some are tailored for particular age groups.

Click on the following links to review the materials and select the approaches that will be of most benefit to the children and young people in your care:

Don’t like reading? Then go the Child Mind Institute website, watch the Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus video and share the link with others.

To obtain some inspiration about creative ways in which you can communicate with children and young people about the Coronavirus, click on Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus. Or look at this very clever Hello! I am coronavirus booklet designed by MindHeart.Co to facilitate discussion with children.

Some special considerations that apply to children and young people in care

In addition to making use of these resource materials, there are some other factors that must be taken into account when you consider the ways in which you will communicate with children and young people in care. Beyond the anxieties that most children and young people will be experiencing to a greater or lesser extent, children and young people in care may also have fears for the wellbeing of their parents, their brothers and sisters, grandparents and others – especially if they feel disempowered in being able to help protect them. Some may act out these fears by withdrawing or displaying a range of difficult behaviours. Some may attempt to run away to be with them.

Parents and other family members may similarly be experiencing these fears in relation to their children. It will be important to incorporate recognition of these possible anxieties in the talks you have with children and young people, as well as their parents and others , and work out ways in which they all can be given re-assurance about each other’s well-being.

These are the conversations you should be having now. Your plans for managing the impact of the Coronavirus must include strategies for carrying out these discussions and an identification of the persons who are best placed to initiate them. It is also important to remember however that children and young people will often initiate these discussions themselves whenever and with whomever they choose. It’s essential therefore that all of your staff and carers are well-equipped with the knowledge to respond to them and are comfortable in doing so.

Share your resources and tips

If you have other resource materials you wish to recommend or tips about approaches you are finding useful, please feel free to forward them to Anushri Bellary so that they can also be posted on PeakCare’s website.

 

Effective communication around Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Monday, 16th March

 

Late last week, the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women met with PeakCare and colleagues from the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP), Queensland Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC), CREATE Foundation and the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) to coordinate responses for managing the impact of the coronavirus across our sector. This was the first in a series of meetings that will be regularly held over oncoming weeks and months.

As an outcome of this meeting, actions will be initiated to ensure that advice is frequently and consistently disseminated by each of our organisations as soon as this advice becomes available. This will include announcements made by the properly authorised government spokespersons.

Beyond this, there will be regular dissemination of targeted resource materials, information and requests that are of specific relevance to the delivery of child protection and related services. This will include advice about steps to be undertaken within and across both the Government and non-Government sectors at State-wide, regional and local levels to manage the impact of the virus. These steps will be informed by processes that will be put in place to collect, collate and quickly respond to issues of concern raised by organisations and services throughout the State to assist their planning.

What is required of you now

The speed and accuracy with which information can be collected, conveyed and exchanged, and ill-informed rumours can be quickly quashed, will become critical factors. PeakCare will be making use of our eNews subscription list to disseminate information to as many people as possible, as rapidly as possible.

Chief executive officers and managers are asked to please ensure that ALL your organisation’s staff members including casually employed staff and volunteers have subscribed to eNews.

To subscribe, visit the home page of PeakCare’s website, scroll down and follow the instructions – it takes a few seconds only!

Do not rely on the information being sent to only a few people within your organisation who are then expected to pass it on to others.  This will cause delays to the information being received, or in the event that these people becoming indisposed, prevent its distribution.

It may be anticipated that further advice will be sent out within the next few days. In the meantime, please ensure that all of your staff and colleagues are familiar with the information already posted on this page of PeakCare’s website.

This includes resources that have been posted on the page to assist your organisation in developing or reviewing and updating your Contingency and Continuity Planning. It may be anticipated that as time progresses, these plans will need to be further developed and updated. It is unlikely that any organisation or service will be able to deal with the impact of this virus by operating unilaterally. Collaboration will become a necessity.

 

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Are you prepared? – Monday, 9th March

 

By now, it’s likely that most of the organisations for whom you work will have received a notice from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women advising that on 30 January 2020, the Australian Government declared the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Accordingly, the federal and state governments are adopting a precautionary approach in preparedness and planning for potential impacts to services.

The Department’s notice further advises that it is taking a proactive approach in informing and supporting organisations in their Contingency and Continuity Planning to ensure minimal impacts to service delivery continuity and wherever possible, a positive contribution is made to the rapid and confident recovery of individuals, communities and services.

Important advice

PeakCare concurs with the Department’s view that you and your organisations play a critical role in helping to keep yourselves, your staff and colleagues, and the many children, young people and families who are the recipients of your services, safe.

If there are any lessons to be learned from the fiasco surrounding the hording of toilet paper and other items, a collective effort is what will be needed both to manage the containment of this virus and avoid unnecessary and ill-informed fearful reactions to its potential impact. Operating solely out of self-interest, as we have unfortunately seen demonstrated by some, will harm not only others but also those who indulge in this selfish behaviour. As leaders within the community services sector, you have a role to play in modelling what a collective effort should look like and in facilitating a measured response that looks out for the best interests of all.

What PeakCare will be doing

PeakCare is not a health authority with the capability of providing advice about the virus, its transmission, treatment or containment. We will be however regularly disseminating information and resource materials via special editions of our eNews and have allocated a page on our website for the publication of this information.

What you and your organisation can do

1) Make sure your staff and colleagues are eNews subscribers and therefore able to quickly receive information as it becomes available

To subscribe, visit the home page of PeakCare’s website, scroll down and follow the instructions – it takes a few seconds only!

2) Regularly visit PeakCare’s website and view materials posted there

3) Make sure you, your staff and colleagues access the following links and familiarise yourself with the comprehensive and up to date Federal and Queensland Health resources regarding COVID-19 and the process governments are taking to contain the virus, including practical things we all can do to help minimise transmission.

4) Make sure your organisation is familiar with, and where relevant, is acting on the advice contained within People with vulnerabilities in disasters: A framework for an effective local response, developed by the Queensland Government in collaboration with key partners, to contribute to building resilient communities.

This Framework and associated resources including a Tool Kit are available via the following link: https://www.qld.gov.au/community/disasters-emergencies/supporting-people-with-vulnerabilities

5) Make sure your organisation has developed or reviewed and updated your Business Continuity Plan.

Resources to assist your organisation to develop or review and update your Business Continuity Plan can be accessed from the following websites:

Immediate advice to be observed by all 

In keeping with Queensland Government advice for protecting yourself and others from the coronavirus (COVID-19), make sure you, your staff and colleagues observe the following precautions:

  • Frequently clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who has symptoms such as a cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and shortness of breath
  • Stay home if you are unwell
  • If you have been overseas in the last 14 days and are feeling unwell, see a doctor immediately