A NSW free from poverty and inequality

COVID-19 Community Sector Resource

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is a developing situation that has the potential to impact your staff, services and clients. The people that you support can be vulnerable for different reasons which may make them particularly susceptible to the virus. The nature of the work we do can also present unique challenges.

We have compiled this resource to provide you with the latest information and help you plan for service continuity. This resource is a living document and will be updated regularly as more information specific to community services in NSW becomes available. In this regard, we are working with the Department of Communities and Justice and NSW Health to ensure that advice specific to different programs and service types, addressing the particular issues and challenges each face, is developed and widely distributed. NCOSS CEO, Joanna Quilty, recently sat down with Simone Walker, Deputy Secretary, Strategy, Policy and Commissioning at DCJ, to produce the first in a series of videos discussing some of these issues, which you can watch here.

We have assurances that your funding should not be impacted, if there is a need to temporarily suspend some elements of your service. If you think your service will be significantly impacted by COVID-19 and you may have difficulty meeting your contract requirements, speak to your contract manager about the developing situation and any contingency plans that may need to be put in place.

Please note that NCOSS is a peak body and cannot directly provide people with assistance for COVID-19. Please visit the NSW Health website or call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for information and advice on where to seek medical assistance.

Important information for the sector

Latest health advice
Planning for isolation
Work health and safety
Service continuity during a pandemic
Impact on people with disability and disability services
Important considerations for your organisation
Legal advice

Latest health advice

Planning for isolation

Work health and safety

  • SafeWork NSW has developed a new pandemic guide for NSW workplaces, which includes information on prevention and preparedness, response and recovery.

  • Advice from SafeWork NSW states that businesses with direct contact with the public should:

    • review their infection control policies and procedures
    • develop and implement safe systems of work (in consultation with workers and/or their health safety representatives) that include directions and advice provided by health authorities
    • keep monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it develops.
  • NSW Health has issued guidance around 'social distancing' including what this means for organisations, workplaces and employers.

  • Workers have obligations to protect themselves and others. If a worker believes they are at risk of infection of coronavirus, they should raise their concerns with their manager or WHS representative as soon as possible. If they are not satisfied with the response they can contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 or via their Speak up platform.

Service continuity during a pandemic

Impact on people with disability and disability services

  • The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Disability Reform Council met on 18 March and agreed on a range of priorities to support people with disability, NDIS participants and disability services. Read the communiqué here.

Important considerations for your organisation

Below are some preliminary questions and issues to consider in commencing your service continuity planning for COVID-19 impacts. This checklist is not definitive and will not cover all the issues that your organisation will need to consider as it prepares for the challenges ahead. It is a guide only, intended as a practical tool to help get you started.

  1. How will we cope if there is a surge in staff absenteeism?

  2. ​Are there critical roles or functions performed by specific staff that we need to protect?

  3. Are there measures we can take to reinforce work health and safety requirements, promote staff well-being and prevent fatigue and illness?
  4. What precautions might we need to take for any staff who may be more vulnerable to respiratory disease? (e.g. people with underlying illnesses that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease, including those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney failure, people with suppressed immune systems and older people are at a higher risk of serious disease)

  5. Are there alternative work arrangements or special leave conditions we should put in place?

  6. What is the best way to ensure that clients understand the precautionary measures required?

  7. Will clients experience increased anxiety and/or discrimination due to fear of the virus? How can this be allayed?

  8. Does our service need to promote multilingual resources about COVID-19 to our clients?

  9. Are there different modes of service delivery that we could use to reduce the risk of transmission and exposure? (e.g. tele or digital support)

  10. Can we make physical changes to our service to limit over-crowding and close physical contact?

  11. Do we need a plan for supporting clients during periods of self-isolation?

  12. Should we cancel any services that present high risk? What will be the impacts for clients and how can these be managed?

  13. Would protective clothing/equipment for some situations help?

  14. Do we need to increase routine cleaning, waste management practices etc. to improve infection control procedures?

  15. Have we kept our contract manager in the loop on any changes being made and sought their input and advice?

  16. Are there any sub-contractors we need to speak with about their preparedness?

  17. Is the Board up to date and providing oversight of our continuity planning?

Legal advice



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