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12 Mar. 2020

Practical Advice for the NT AOD Sector - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT) is aware and monitoring the COVID-19 virus spreading throughout Australia and globally.

We recognise the threat this virus poses to the AOD sector, particularly residential rehabilitation centres. AADANT has created this page as a resource for the AOD sector. Please view a document outlining the specific issues for AOD clients in the NT during the COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations here.

AOD services should keep operating unless directed not to with appropriate adjustments to service delivery models to align with Covid-19 guidelines. No specific procedural work is required in regard to seeking exemptions or inclusions around a service being deemed “essential”.

The Department of Health continues to update their website with new information as they gather it. Please see below for the latest advice on the virus.

The most important thing for everyone to remember with COVID-19 is to maintain strict hygiene by:

  • Washing your hands
  • Avoid shaking hands with people who may be unwell
  • Stay at a distance of 1.5 m away from someone who is unwell
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, or handling food, until you have washed your hands
  • Wipe down frequently touched surfaces
  • Don’t go to crowded places if you’re unwell including staying home from school or work.

The Northern Territory Primary Health Network has a page dedicated to coronavirus updates and information regarding the business support opportunities offered by either the NT or Federal governments, you can find more information here https://www.ntphn.org.au/coronavirus

For contacts at the NTPHN, please see below:

Health Advice in Aboriginal Language

The Northern Terrtiory Government has released health information on COVID-19 in Aboriginal languages. These include:

Alyawarr
Anindiliyakwa
Anmatyerr
Arrente
Burarra
ES Kriol
Kunwinjku
Maung
Murrinh Patha
Ngarinyman
Pintupi
Pitjantatjara
Tiwi
Warlpiri
Warumungu
West side Kriol
Yolngu Matha

To access these recordings, please click here.

AADANT has created an easy to digest resource suitable for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, please view it here.

During this time, many Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples will be using telehealth services to connect. The Australian Government has targeted information for ATSI eSafety on a webpage here.

National Guidelines, NT Hotlines, Directions of the Chief Health Officer, Worksafe

National COVID-19 safe workplace principles

Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency, that all actions in respect of COVID-19 should be founded in expert health advice and that the following principles operate subject to the measures agreed and implemented by governments through the National Cabinet process. Please click here to access the National safe workplace principles.


The Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) have released National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia. Please access this important and informative guide here.

There is a remote travel hotline set up for the NT and those who need help deciding if their travel to remote communities is essential, please phone 1800 518 189. Remote framework – conditions for easing remote area travel restrictions is now available through this link.

Gatherings of any type with more than two people are no longer possible. Please read the Chief Health Officer's direction on gatherings here.

For more direction from the Chief Health Officer, please follow this link. It includes direction on the following:

  • Directions for Aged Care Facilities
  • Directions for Assistance of Police Officers
  • Directions for Infected Persons
  • Directions for Territory Border Restrictions
  • Directions to close public spaces, services and activities

 

Border Controls

The Chief Health Officer has granted further directions under the Public and Environmental Health Act 2011 which allow Police to exercise their ability to control the entry of persons into the Territory to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus and keep Territorians safe.

The NT has secured its borders by introducing a two-week quarantine period for anyone arriving in the Territory, with an exception for those providing goods and essential services during the coronavirus pandemic.

This will not affect lawful trade or commerce, essential activities will not be impacted, and we will continue the supply chain.

From 4:00 pm Tuesday 24 March, all non-essential travellers arriving at the Territory borders will be required to go through a police control checkpoint to verify their medical status and purpose of their travel into the Territory.

They will also be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, with penalties for those who do not comply.

All arrivals including Territory residents will be screened and, if deemed a non-essential visitor, would be told to quarantine themselves. Territory Police and the Public Health Unit will ensure compliance and help people access support where needed.

This includes directing people to self-isolate for 14-days once they arrive.

Please visit the Department of Health website here for continued information. 

Exemptions:

People involved in National and State Security and Governance.
Active Military personnel required to be on duty in the Territory while in the Territory.
A member of the Commonwealth Parliament who is ordinarily resident in the Territory.
Health service providers and personnel.
Some transport, freight and logistics.
Specialist skills critical to maintaining key industries or businesses or infrastructure.
Emergency services.
Other individuals or groups will be able to apply for an exemption to the Chief Health Officer, for instance visiting a terminally ill relative or medical grounds or interstate travel for essential medical treatment.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

The Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) remains open 24/7. To speak with a clinician please call 1800 131 350.

The COVID-19 outbreak may generate a range of impacts on community and individual mental health and wellbeing.

This may include preoccupation with specific details related to COVID-19 in addition to increased anxiety, stress or worry within individual families and communities.

The impact of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing may also extend to those who experience quarantine or self-isolation.

To support the community during this period the Life in Mind team at Everymind has worked with the suicide prevention and mental health sectors, and in collaboration with the National Mental Health Commission to provide a comprehensive list of resources to support those affected.

Please view the list of resources here.

TeamHEALTH has launched telephone service TeamTALK. Any Territorian can quickly access an experienced, locally based counsellor or mental health recovery worker for a judgement free, confidential chat.

Call: 1800 TEAM 00 (1800 832 600)

Why might you access TeamTALK?

• You don’t have many people or anyone you can talk to; you feel disconnected and isolated
• You simply want a neutral and confidential ‘sounding board’ to discuss some of your concerns, such as loss of job, business or other.
• You feel that you are increasingly stressed, and at risk of mental illness or relapsing
• You want some assistance with practical strategies to cope in these difficult times

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has released a webpage with information for families, isolation and relapse, drink driving and mixing AOD. https://adf.org.au/covid-19/

Business Operations

The Business Enterprise Centre NT assists businesses in developing sound business strategies to meet their business needs.

Practical business advice is provided for free and covers business planning, strategic market development, technology adoption and enhancement, financial management practices, human resource management and business health diagnostics.

Contact the Business Enterprise Centre on 1800 229 500

What to tell staff

Instruct your workers that they must let you know if they develop symptoms during the isolation period, particularly if they have been in the workplace.

Consider what exposure may have occurred within your team and whether additional precautions are required such as an increased cleaning regime and work from home arrangements. Any employee feeling sick should not attend work.

Encourage your employees to be vaccinated against preventable illnesses including influenza to reduce the strain on the health system caused by standard seasonal presentations to hospitals.

If a guest or visitor develops symptoms at your business

You should ask the guest or visitor to self-isolate and call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline: 1800 008 002.

You have the right to ask visitors, guests and consumers to provide information in advance about whether they have flu-like symptoms, have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) or have travelled internationally in the last 14 days.

Not-For-Profit Stimulus Packages and Technology Support

Stimulus Packages

Small businesses – including not-for-profit organisations - with a turnover of up to $50 million, will receive a cash payment of up to $100,000 as part of the Government’s second economic stimulus package. 

Not‑for‑profit entities (NFPs), including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will now also be eligible. This will support employment activities at a time where NFPs are facing increasing demand for services.

An additional payment is also being introduced in the July – October 2020 period. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they have received.

This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments. This additional payment continues cash flow support over a longer period, increasing confidence, helping employers to retain staff and helping entities to keep operating.

The cash flow boost provides a tax free payment to employers and is automatically calculated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). There are no new forms required.

Find out more here.

To assist people on payments, the eligibility to income support payments will be temporarily expanded and a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight will be available for the next 6 months. It will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced earlier this month, the Government will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders (but not to those who are eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement). This will be paid from mid-July (the first payment will be made from the end of March).

Also announced, is a partnership with the banks and other lenders to increase lending to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million. Unsecured loans of up to $250,000, for up to three years, will be available, with no repayments required for the first six months.

To view the media release from the Commonwealth Government of Australia, please click here.

The Australian Government is providing financial assistance to Australians. This assistance includes income support payments, payments to support households and temporary early releases of superannuation.

  • Income support for individuals
  • Payments to support households
  • Temporary early release of superannuation
  • Temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates
  • Reducing social security deeming rates

Please visit their website here for more information and factsheets on each of the financial assistance packages.

Immediate Work Grant - Northern Territory Government 

A new $5 million Immediate Work Grant program will help stimulate the economy and keep Territorians in jobs.

It’s part of the Territory Government’s Rescue and Recovery plan in response to COVID-19.

Grants of up to $100,000 will be given to Territory not-for-profit and community organisations to engage local businesses to do repairs, renovations and upgrades to their property and facilities (permanent physical improvements to land and / or buildings).

Solar power installation projects are not eligible.

For more information please click here.

Freezing Government Fees and Charges and Electricity Prices

All Government fees and charges – including electricity, water and car registration will be frozen (no increase due to indexation) until 1 July 2021. Electricity prices for small and medium businesses (those paying regulated tariffs) will be frozen from 1 July 2020 (no increase due to indexation) until 1 July 2021.

For all stimulus packages offered in the NT for not-for-profits, please click here.


Technology Support

Infoxchange has put together a list of technology resources for the not-for-profit sector during COVID-19. These options include google hangouts, free access to some services and other options for your organisation. To view this list please click here.

AADANT has also undertaken a survey of changes to service delivery for the NT AOD Sector. Some of you have indicated you would like to know the cost of telehealth options. Please see below pricing for teleconference and videoconference services in Australia.

Teleconferencing

Company Contact Price per line per minute (Landline) Price per line per minute (mobile) Notes
Hot Air Conferencing 1800 157 313 $0.07 N/A Crisis rates - they will continue six months after the COVID-19 crisis is officially over
The Teleconferencing Company 1800 230 009 $0.08 $0.10  
Express Virtual Meetings 1800 833 614
08 8967 0403
$0.08 $0.16  
Chorus Call 1800 988 898 $0.07 $0.15 $0.15 is for a toll free number

Video Conferencing

Company Contact Per Min Per User Notes
Express Virtual Meetings 1800 833 614
08 8967 0403
$0.16  
Zoom     Monthly Packages ranging in price from FREE - $27.99 p/mo
Chorus Call 1800 988 898   Min 10 licenses - 10 licenses per yearly subscription $3862 inc GST
Microsoft Teams   FREE Need to have Office 365 which starts at $6.90 per user per month

 

Changes to NT AOD Services

This section will provide accurate information on changes to services operating in the Northern Territory. AADANT is undertaking a survey to assess how the changes to services during the COVID-19 pandemic will affect referrals, clients, etc. 

We will keep this page updated to the best of our abilities as new information comes in. To take the survey please click here. 

Service Name Contact Phone Number CHANGES Date of Changes
Salvation Army - Street to Home 08 8945 1947

Not accepting new referrals
No access to telehealth services

As of 27/3/2020
Katherine West Health Board 08 8971 9300 No face-to-face Counselling As of 26/3/2020
Mission Australia Sobering Up Shelter Katherine 08 8965 1000 Limited Staff As of 26/3/2020
SMART Recovery 02 9373 5100 No day programs
No face-to-face counselling
ONLINE OPTIONS AVAILABLE HERE
As of 26/3/2020
BushMob Aboriginal Corporation 08 8953 3798 Limiting residential clients as necessary As of 26/3/2020
BRADAAG 08 8963 2500 No day programs As of 26/3/2020
DASA 08 8950 5000 No day programs
Limiting residential clients as necessary
As of 26/3/2020
Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Programs Services (CAAPS) 1800 894 800

From the 1st May 2020

Homelessness Outreach Service operating with precautions in the Darwin and Palmerston region (no transport of clients).

From the 18th May 2020

Admission into residential programs to recommence (excluding residents of biosecurity zones).
Face to Face counselling to recommence at our Strong Steps service, although phone and video counselling is still highly recommended.
Access to CAAPS premises at 60 Boulter Road will return to normal (access through front gate, no prior screening required).
HOS to recommence transport of clients.

From the 5th June

Face to Face Intake interviews will recommence (phone and video prior to this)

Biosecurity areas, subject to federal government decision, are proposed to re-open 18 June 2020.  CAAPS will open admissions into residential programs for people from these communities once restrictions are lifted.

As of 8/05/2020
Amity Community Services 08 8944 6565 No face-to-face counselling As of 30/03/2020
Holyoake Alice Springs 08 8952 5899 No face-to-face counselling, telehealth options used
Sandplay discontinued
Residential AOD Education workshops discontinued
As of 30/03/2020
Alcohol and Other Drugs Services Central Australia (ADSCA)  08 8951 7580 Limiting face-to-face counselling, assessments where appropriate As of 30/03/2020
Northern Territory Aids and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) Clinic 34 DARWIN 08 8999 2678 NSP operating as normal with restrictions on those feeling unwell As of 1/04/2020
Balunu Foundation 08 8985 4400 Operating 9AM-2PM Monday-Friday
Outreach and case management done by phone/videoconference
Accepting referrals for workshops, camps, and case management
All workshops on hold
As of 6/04/2020
CatholicCare NT 1800 899 855 Offices in Berrimah, Malak and Palmerston will cease shop front services. Services may be accessed through a dedicated support telephone line: 1800 899 855. As of 20/04/2020

 

Cleaning and Disinfecting, PPE

Interim Recommendations for Households with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019

This guidance provides recommendations on the cleaning and disinfection of households where persons under investigation (PUI) or those with confirmed COVID-19 reside or may be in self-isolation. It is aimed at limiting the survival of the virus in the environments. These recommendations will be updated if additional information becomes available.

These guidelines are focused on household settings and are meant for the general public.

Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Please access the entire cleaning and disinfecting guide here.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The NTG Department of Health has secured limited PPE for sobering up shelters and residential rehabilitation facilities. These will be sent out to the the organisations who need them and are to be used only when necessary as supplies are limited.

Please see videos below on how to properly and safely wear PPE from the Northern Territory Primary Health Network in general risk and high risk situations.