Autism Queensland COVID-19 Response
The Federal Government is managing COVID-19 as a health emergency and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
Based on what is known about coronaviruses, those most at risk of serious infection those who:
- have compromised immune systems (such as people who have cancer or are taking immune suppressing medication)
- are elderly
- have chronic medical conditions
- are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (as they have higher rates of chronic illness)
- live in group residential settings
- live in detention facilities.
Highlighted in the above list are the groups who have particular relevance for Autism Queensland and for whom we must remain extra vigilant.
Autism Queensland COVID-Safe Management Plan
Autism Queensland (AQ) developed a COVID-Safe Management Plan in line with Public Health Directions to maintain a safe environment for all staff, clients, families and visitors. This Plan outlines how AQ’s Emergency Management Team:
- Ensures best practice in infection control and management of COVID-19; and
- Plans for, and responds to, the prevention, containment and management of an incidence of COVID-19.
Autism Queensland follows all Government health directives with two clear priorities:
- Taking care of our people – employees and clients; and
- Continuing to provide services for clients to the best of our ability.
Our guiding general principles are to:
- Protect staff and clients
- Maintain continuity of care wherever possible
- Protect the business as best we can under health and government directives
- Focus on what we can control
- Offer alternative service delivery models wherever possible
- Follow government directions
- Communicate well and regularly
- Lobby and investigate on behalf of our clients.
Autism Queensland continues to monitor advice from Queensland Health to ensure appropriate precautionary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus are in place. This includes regular review and updates to the Autism Queensland COVID-19 Management Plan in accordance with government health directives and our client needs.
Conditions of Entry
Vaccination is a condition of entry to all Autism Queensland sites for staff and visitors over the age of 16 years and we are required by the Queensland Government to ask for evidence of vaccination. Some exceptions may be made for an unvaccinated parent or carer accompanying a child under 16 years, however, additional protective measures will be in place to minimise transmissibility and contact with others. If this is applicable please enquire before visiting any AQ site.
A government-imposed vaccination mandate was put in place for all AQ staff, effective 15 December 2021.
Check In QLD App
All visitors to AQ sites are required to use the Check In Qld app, or if they cannot do so, to manually sign in on the sheet provided.
Masks are important and at times necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks are to be worn in accordance with current Queensland Health and AQ management directives.
There are exemptions to this requirement for certain individuals and situations where it is not possible to wear a mask. This includes people who have a physical or mental health illness or condition, including as a result of trauma, or a disability, which makes wearing a face mask unsuitable.
Public health directives do not require a person to have a medical certificate to prove they are exempted from wearing a mask. For the protection of other clients and staff additional measures may be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission. For more information, see World Health Organisation information on masks.
Based on current health advice, clients/carers/visitors to AQ sites may also be asked if they have any symptoms that may be indicative of COVID-19.
Clients/carers/visitors who are unwell are asked to stay at home and follow Health Directives.
Any staff member or client who tests positive for COVID-19, either through a PCR or a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) must act in accordance with current Queensland Health directions to isolate and inform close contacts.
A household or household-like member is considered to be a close contact if they have spent more than 4 hours with a confirmed case in a house, accommodation or care facility setting during their infectious period. There are specific quarantine and testing requirements for close contacts.
Critically essential workers
The only exception to the isolation requirement detailed above, is a close contact who is a critically essential worker, as determined by AQ in accordance with current Queensland Health advice.
Autism Queensland follows the National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles and the AQ Hygiene and Infection Control Policy & Procedure is regularly reviewed and updated.
Autism Queensland continues to provides regular updates including links to relevant Government/Health Alerts in all AQ community forums including the ‘News’ section of the AQ website and on the COVID Updates and Useful Links page.
Shared posts may also be published on the official AQ Facebook page.
Depending on the seriousness of a situation, emails may be sent to all registered clients as a community service.
Site managers ensure signage is displayed in all client areas reminding of safety and hygiene measures.
In addition to checking AQ updates, we recommend seeking current information including Health Alerts through the Queensland and Australian governments.
Please follow the link below to access links to further COVID-19 resources.