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25 March 2020 CEO COVID-19 Update

Mar 25 2020 2:46 PM


Dear Autism SA community

I am writing again to provide an update to you about the steps that Autism SA has taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our clients, staff and the wider community in the light of the unfolding COVID-19 situation.

Currently, our services at Autism SA are operating and we are continuing to provide safe support to our community while meeting social distancing requirements. We are also continuing to transition many of our services and supports to be delivered effectively and remotely. I trust you’ll be delighted when you see what these include!

In this update, I am covering the following topics:

  • Who we are relying upon for official information, advice and alerts
  • Announcements of positive changes to the way we’re operating
    • Remote/online services
    • Managing groups
    • Increased cleaning across our sites
    • Hand sanitising
    • Hygiene of equipment and toys
    • Health screening/checks
    • Social distancing
    • Our staff might be working from anywhere, including their homes
  • What you should do if you’re feeling unwell
  • Invitation to provide suggestions as to how Autism SA can assist individuals and families who are self-isolating or working from home etc.
  • Thanks for your continuing support.

Who we are relying upon for official information, advice and alerts

Autism SA continues to closely monitor COVID-19 updates, consulting three main sources of health a safety information. These are:

Announcements of some positive changes to the way we’re operating

To adapt to the COVID-19 situation, we are making positive changes to the way we operate. These are to make sure that we are providing the safest and most compliant services available. The following provides a short summary of the most recent changes and what they may mean for you:

Remote/Online Services

Our services and supports are evolving on a continual basis. We are now offering a wider range of remote services. Please contact your Pathways Team on 1300 288 476 or speak to your key contact person at Autism SA to enquire how we may have transitioned the service and/or supports we offer. You’re welcome to make any suggestions too!

Managing groups

Since my last update, there has been one new alert published by the Department of Health that directly affects our operations. In response, we will be reducing the sizes of groups, meetings, training etc. to enact the 2m² social distancing guideline, or increasing the size of the spaces they’ll be held in. This is only in play for a short period of time as we transition our group programs to be delivered remotely. For those who are currently participating in groups you will be contacted directly or talk to your Pathways Team on 1300 288 476.

Increased cleaning across our sites

As part of our efforts to prevent infection, we are taking extra measures to ensure that premises and equipment are being cleaned appropriately.  

Our cleaners are now placing an extra focus on cleaning & sanitising the lift, doors, entry & exit buttons, as well as high-touchpoint areas to minimise risks. We will also be conducting daily cleans at Elizabeth.

Hand sanitising

All visitors to Autism SA sites are requested to sanitise their hands upon entering our buildings. There are gel sanitisers placed around our premises and we encourage you to use these frequently.

Hygiene of equipment and toys

Our highest priority is the hygiene of our equipment and toys. To ensure this, we have removed some of these, being the ones that we consider to be difficult to clean or to maintain sanitisation, e.g. kinetic sand, bubble mixture, toys in public spaces, pillows etc.

For you it means that you/your child may miss out on using some of the toys and equipment that they expect to find at Autism SA or have previously been employed during therapy. Our team are working to identify appropriate substitutes and we welcome any suggestions to alleviate the possible stress this may create.

Health screening/checks

If you or your child is receiving any face-to-face service from Autism SA (at one of our sites, at home or somewhere else), we ask you to undertake a Health Screening Check in accordance with government regulations (refer “What you should do if you are feeling unwell” later in this advice) prior to attending the service. We will ask you to complete a Health Check form, if we have not verified with you beforehand. This is to ensure that you’re aware of the government’s regulations for community health and safety and it’s for your own safety and those of our team and we’re safeguarding that you are declaring that you meet the government regulation.

Autism SA will continue to ensure that all isolation protocols are observed, i.e. that staff, clients, visitors etc. must self-isolate if any of the following applies to them:

  • you have COVID-19
  • you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020
  • you arrived from interstate since 22 March 2020.

For further information about what you should do if you’re unwell or you have been travelling outside SA, pleas refer to the graphic from SA Health, included below.

Social distancing

We have implemented social distancing protocols throughout our sites and wherever we provide our services and supports. This means that you will be reminded to maintain a distance of at least 1.5m from others in waiting areas and during 1:1 therapy, maintain good hand hygiene and cover coughs and sneezes and avoid touching your face.

We have also transitioned for many of our office staff to work remotely. This has enabled more space to be available to ensure social distancing for any service delivery at the clinics.

Our staff might be working anywhere, including their homes

Autism SA is transitioning many of our staff away from being based at our sites and enabling them to work remotely from their homes. We ask for your understanding and patience while we settle into this new way of delivering our services and support, because there may be some “teething problems” as we develop our processes and activities.

What you should do if you’re feeling unwell

On Monday, SA Health released an updated chart demonstrating what you should do if you’re feeling unwell. This graphic has been inserted below and is available for download via this link.

How can we help?

Many individuals and families are working from home or stuck at home for one reason or another and we know that this can bring several challenges at the best of times, let alone when we’re living in these uncertain times.

The Autism SA team will continue to develop new services and supports, including transitioning groups to online to alleviate some of these challenges, but we’d really like to hear from you if you have a good idea that would benefit our autism community across SA.  

If you have a suggestion (and remember that NO idea is a bad idea in these times!), please send it to us via or call our InfoLine (1300 288 476) to describe it to us and we’ll do our best to work out how to make it happen!

Thank you

I know that our clients, families and our extended family of supporters and suppliers and staff are having a difficult time just now and I just wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for your ongoing patience and respect for our team.

I am proud to say that Autism SA has not experienced any of the poor behaviours that we’ve heard of in other sectors because everyone knows that we’re working together to provide a continuity of support across our community. I thank you for your kindness and consideration towards our staff and I commend you for this, during these uncertain times.

If you have any questions or feedback around how Autism SA is managing the COVID-19 situation, please send them to us via

We are in this together and we will continue to do our upmost to ensure that we continue to be available and provide the services and supports that are needed by our community.

Until my next update, please continue to be alert but not alarmed.

Jenny Karavolos

CEO – Autism SA

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