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Mar 17 2020 11:30 AM

Dear Autism SA community

The World Health Organization has announced that COVID-19(Coronavirus) is a pandemic. At the forefront of our minds is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our clients, our staff and the wider community. We would like to reassure you that we are closely monitoring protocols and updates from the Federal and State Government regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and responding to them accordingly. 

From the start of this week we are accelerating our strategies to keep you informed about the COVID-19 virus and Autism SA’s response to the unfolding situation. This is to:

provide you with a clear source of information

reassure you that we are remaining vigilant and are continuing to act on the most recent formal information, advice and alerts being released by official channels, and

provide you with visibility of our actions in response to this constantly changing environment.


What is Autism SA doing about the COVID-19 situation?

Currently, all aspects of Autism SA are operating to enable support to our community. We will continue to review our position based on Department of Health advice and will communicate with you as changes occur. You might see and hear about new measures and procedures being implemented to implement infection control, social distancing protocols and other ways of protecting our collective well-being and service continuity. 


In support of this decision, the following summarises the steps we are currently taking for the safety of all:

maintaining a high level of communication with our staff to ensure they are well informed and safe

consistent with Government advice, we are asking staff, clients and other visitors who have been overseas during the past 14 days and people who have been in contact with a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 to self-isolate and remain in quarantine for 2 weeks or until they have received medical clearance

formed a specific, internal Autism SA COVID-19 Task Force who are keeping informed and working on scenario planning to enable service continuity, while ensuring your well-being

suspending all domestic business travel using public forms of transport

our staff and those entering Autism SA sites must practise good hand hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading (please refer below for further information)

applied additional practices during any workshops, including:

- increasing the spacing between people attending training 

- increasing ventilation 

- reducing the number of attendees to a maximum of 20  

- providing a range of hygiene materials and encouraging their use, e.g. hand sanitisers, tissues

- avoiding activities where people move around spaces and come into close contact with others

- ensuring all materials and surfaces have been sterilised prior to use.


We also have available a number of innovative alternative methods to face to face for delivery of effective services and supports. Please contact your key contact point at Autism SA or phone 1300 288 476 for more information if interested. 


We will use the following communication channels to provide this information to you:

Autism SA website

Autism SA’s social media channels

Autism SA’s newsletter (“Infomail”)

Personal correspondence to you.


Lower down on this advice is information on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 and what you can do to assist others if you or they are concerned about infection.


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

Autism SA is following trusted, official Australian sources of information as they become updated, i.e.

Federal Government Department of Health 

State Government SA Health 

Workplace Health and Safety Safework SA 


Do you have questions or feedback?

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for many and would like to assure you that we are taking precautions to minimise risks to our community. 

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

Thank you for doing your part to help keep our families, workplaces and communities safe, and for supporting one another as we navigate this unusual situation together. 

And remember, prevention is the best way to avoid becoming unwell so keep washing those hands!


Jenny Karavolos

CEO – Autism SA



COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with symptoms ranging from a mild cough to pneumonia. Some people recover easily, others may get very sick very quickly. There is evidence that it spreads from person to person. At the time of writing, the World Health Organisation (WHO) assure us that good hygiene and non-contact with infected people can prevent infection. More information is available here.

The following fact sheet has also been issued to help people to identify their symptoms and decide whether to seek medical advice, or not.


What you can do to protect yourself and others?


Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

-   wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet. You may have heard that the recommended amount of time to wash your hands can be measured by singing the “happy birthday” song twice

-   cover your coughs and sneezes, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser (available in your workplace or from our Receptions)

-   wipe down your workspace before and starting work, particularly the surfaces you touch

-   and if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people) and seek medical advice from your GP.


Self-identify if you are at risk and follow the Department of Health’s advice

This advice is from the national Department of Health’s COVID-19 Health Alert. Please read and follow the directive to isolate yourself if you identify as being at risk.

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have recently been in in a high risk country/region and people who have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus.

If you have returned from a country or region that is at higher risk for COVID-19, you cannot attend work if you work in a setting with vulnerable people.



Ask your GP or 1800 020 080

While coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness—not coronavirus.

If you have concerns about your health, contact your GP or call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services for your family, call 131 450.


What you can do to assist your family and local community

Autism SA is not able to provide health advice on COVID-19.

Please recommend that anyone who asks you for advice contacts:

  • Their GP
  • The National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
  • National Coronavirus translation service 131 450.


If you are seeking a visual story to help understand or explain the COVID-19 situation, please download this excellent Guide prepared by The Growing Space.

Autism SA will develop further appropriate responses to enquiries from our community in the immediate future.

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