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DCJ Update: January 2022

On 14 January 2022, DCJ issued a communique to funded organisations about the changed health requirements and rules. Selected sections are shown below. You should also monitor the DCJ website for updates and program-specific information.

Isolation exemption

Public administration and safetyThe operation of correctional centres and community corrections
Health care and social assistanceA person employed or engaged by the Department of Communities and Justice to provide housing or homelessness services, or child protection services

A community housing provider

A person employed or engaged to provide family violence and sexual assault services

A person employed or engaged to provide drug and alcohol services.

  • Critical workers can only leave self-isolation if they have no symptoms of COVID-19, they’re unable to work from home, and their absence from the workplace poses a high risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services.

Exemptions are subject to the following conditions:

  • the worker can only attend work if approved by, or on behalf of, their employer for the purpose of the exemption. You’ll need to consider what level of approval your organisation will consider adequate for critical workers to leave self-isolation.
  • the worker must travel directly to and from their place of residence and their workplace(s). They can’t leave home for other purposes.
  • the worker must wear a mask at all times in the workplace.
  • the worker must undergo daily rapid antigen tests (RATs) for a period of 7 days from when they last had contact with the diagnosed person, and must notify their employer of each result.
  • the worker must comply with risk management strategies put in place as part of the service provider COVID-19 management and vaccination policy.

Any worker who tests positive or who develops symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate, following the self-isolation rules.

What does this mean for service providers?

  • If you have critical workers, you need to revisit your risk assessments, and consider if your organisation will adopt the isolation exemptions for your workers. You are not required to adopt the exemptions
  • Having critical workers who have no COVID-19 symptoms return to the workplace from self-isolation may help prevent disruptions to critical service delivery. But it may also increase risks, and you’ll need to consider what risk mitigation strategies you’ll implement.
  • There are a number of effective risk control measures that you might consider, including the use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing.
  • If you choose to use the isolation exemptions, you’ll also need to consider what level of approval your organisation will require to approve critical workers to leave self-isolation.

Isolation requirements for positive COVID-19 cases

  • Positive COVID-19 cases must complete 7 days isolation commencing on the day of testing.
  • Unless otherwise advised, a person may leave isolation after 7 days without formal notification or a further test, as long as they’re not displaying symptoms. However, they must take precautions, including wearing a mask and avoiding high risk settings such as hospitals and aged care, for a further 3 days.
  • If people have symptoms at any time, they must conduct a rapid antigen test or obtain a PCR test.

Rapid Antigen tests

  • The communique set out when to use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and the requirement from 12 January to register a positive RAT result with Service NSW. This helps people quickly understand their relative risk of more severe disease and access medical and other support.
  • Funded services may use their COVID-19 grant funding to buy RATs
  • DCJ and NSW Health are collaborating to make RATs available for some vulnerable clients and 24/7 services.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • With the advent of the Omicron wave, the use of PPE correctly is a critical safety measure to prevent infection. While RATs are one element of control, PPE and social distancing remain core risk management controls.
  • DCJ funds, including COVID-19 grant funding, can be used to purchase PPE.
  • PPE can be purchased through various suppliers in the market, and the NSW Government has a list of suppliers of PPE for industry and the community during the pandemic.
  • If you’re having issues purchasing PPE, please contact your contract manager and a reminder that using COVID19 funding to purchase of PPE is strongly encouraged

How people with COVID are managed

Prior to Christmas 2021, NSW made significant changes to the way confirmed COVID-19 cases are managed.

People who test positive are now required to complete a short questionnaire which will influence how they will be managed.

People assessed as at low risk of severe disease receive information about self-managing their COVID at home, with support of their GP. There is a NSW Health factsheet to assist people self-managing COVID at home (available in 43 languages) and a factsheet for caring for your child with COVID, updated on 1 February.

People who are at increased risk of deterioration or severe disease are further assessed and may be managed by their Local Health District, with support from a person's specialists as required.

Risk factors include: older age, a range of chronic health conditions, immune suppression, obesity, pregnancy, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, Pacific background, significant mental health issues, significant drug and alcohol dependence, etc and a range of social factors. See here for Clinical Guidance information.

Treatments which can reduce a person's risk of becoming very sick or dying are available for people at high risk of severe disease.

Update: 1 October 2021

NSW Health emailed the below advice to members of the COVID-19 NGO Community of Practice about an update to the Public Health (COVID-19 Vaccination of Health Care Workers) Order 2021 that requires the vaccination of health care staff of non-government organisations (NGO) funded by specified NSW Health grants to provide services. For other information related to the sector, view the NCOSS COVID-19 Community Sector Resource.

An exemption to Clause 4(1)(a) of the Public Health Order has been granted for NGO health care staff until 20 October 2021. This means that health care staff in NGOs providing services that are funded by specified NSW Health grants, must have their first vaccination on or before 20 October 2021 and their second vaccination by 30 November 2021. Staff will need to provide evidence to their employer that they have an appointment to receive their first does on or before 20 October 2021.

Read the full communique about this exemption.

Read frequently asked questions about how the Order applies to NGOs.

Free webinar: NSW Health NGOs and Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Directions

Following recent changes to the public health order relating to NSW Health-funded NGOs, Justice Connect is hosting a free special webinar on Thursday 7 October. The webinar will cover:

  • the circumstances when an organisation can introduce a mandatory vaccine policy;
  • what the recent public health order changes mean for NSW Health-funded NGOs;
  • when a direction to be vaccinated would be lawful and reasonable; and
  • responses to FAQs.

If you would like the webinar recording and slides please get in touch at or call 03 9002 4488 / 03 8636 4448.

Update: 6 September 2021

The Department of Communities and Justice emailed the below advice to NGO service providers about the latest COVID-19 restrictions and how they apply to the sector. For other information related to the sector, view the NCOSS COVID-19 Community Sector Resource.

Vaccination deadline extended to 19 September for authorised workers from LGAs of concern

Following changes to the Public Health Order on Sunday 5 September NSW Health advised the timeframe for authorised workers living in LGAs of concern to get vaccinated to leave their LGA has been extended. Authorised workers now have until the end of 19 September 2021 to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, provided they have booked their vaccination by the end of Wednesday 8 September 2021.

A reminder that authorised workers include staff who work for non-government organisations contracted by DCJ to deliver services in: child protection, including out-of-home care and child and family services; homelessness and housing services, including community housing providers; and disability services.

The extended deadline means from 20 September, authorised workers from the LGAs of concern must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to continue to work outside the LGA they live.

Authorised workers who are not yet vaccinated will have until the end of Wednesday 8 September 2021 to book their vaccination. From 9 September, authorised workers will be required to carry evidence of their booking if they leave their LGA for work.

The requirement also applies to care workers, aged 16 and over, who work or live in an LGA of concern. This includes childcare workers and disability support workers.

Workers from the LGAs of concern are offered priority bookings for vaccination.

Please use the following links for priority bookings:

More information

We’re actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and we’ll continue to provide regular updates. The NSW Government COVID-19 website is the best place to keep informed on what you need to know about the current situation.

We’re regularly updating information on the DCJ COVID-19 latest updates and DCJ program specific advice webpages. This includes COVID-19 CALD resources in community languages and practice guidance for virtual home visits.

We’re here to support you. If you need help, please contact your contract manager or email us at

Managing Mandatory Vaccine Policy for NSW-based Community Organisations

The circumstances when a community organisation can require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are fast-changing and can be difficult to understand.

In response to recent NSW Government announcements relating to mandatory vaccines for workers in areas of concern, Justice Connect hosted a free special webinar on Friday 3 September which is now available to watch on demand. Click here to view the webinar:

Please note: NSW Government has pushed back the mandatory vaccine deadline - find out more

This free 30-minute webinar covers:

  • the circumstances when an organisation can introduce a mandatory vaccine policy;
  • what the recent public health orders mean for community organisations with workers in NSW’s areas of concern;
  • when a direction to be vaccinated would be lawful and reasonable; and
  • situations when an organisation should seek further legal advice.

Additional resources:

Update: 4 September 2021

The Department of Communities and Justice emailed the below advice and information sheet to NGO service providers about requiring employees to have COVID-19 vaccinations. For other information related to the sector, view the NCOSS COVID-19 Community Sector Resource.

Information sheet - Vaccinations for employees includes an outline of the approach DCJ is taking to assessing the risk of COVID-19 in all of our DCJ workplaces to determine if groups of employees will be required to be vaccinated to reduce risk.


< Back to the NCOSS COVID-19 Community Sector Resource