HomeNewsNews & EventsNSW COVID-19 Update: Additional Information about mandatory vaccines and changes to day program group activities confirmed

NSW COVID-19 Update: Additional Information about mandatory vaccines and changes to day program group activities confirmed

What you need to know

  • The PHO includes services specific for people with disabilities, but would not necessarily apply if the setting or service was not specifically for people with disabilities
  • In disability specific settings the PHO also covers workers (including volunteers) who deliver administrative, corporate, or other similar functions on site where the worker provides any service in person to people with disabilities
  • At this stage, the PHO does not apply to supported employees working in an Australian Disability Enterprise, unless they are also providing services to people with disabilities in the workplace. However, some employees of ADEs may be required to be vaccinated under other PHOs that relate to other occupations or setting
  • Day program group activities resume in line with general public health orders


NSW Health has amended the Public Health Order (PHO) that mandated vaccinations for aged care workers to include workers providing disability supports.

The PHO directs that a worker or provider delivering disability services in person must not provide the services unless they have:
  • received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 9.00am on 25 October
  • received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by 9.00am 29 November
  • evidence of a medical contraindication to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from a medical practitioner.

Who does this affect?

The definition of disability services is broad and includes services provided in person to a person with disability.

It is not based on funding source or a particular cohort and includes:
  • residential disability care
  • in-home disability services
  • disability day programs
  • community-based disability support services
  • any person providing services funded or provided by:
    • the National Disability Insurance Scheme (where these are provided in person)
    • the Assisted School Travel Program.
In response to questions from the sector, NDS has confirmed with NSW Health that the PHO includes anyone providing services to people with disability (where these are provided in person) and applies to paid and unpaid staff such as volunteers.

NSW Health has  also confirmed that the PHO would not include staff employed by disability providers who are not likely to provide direct assistance to people with disabilities (for example, staff administering payroll). However, the public health order is not role dependent.  In settings that provide disability specific services, it may apply to administrative and ancillary roles if those workers provide direct assistance to people with disabilities attending the offices of a disability provider (e.g. reception and management staff).

Providers should note that the PHO does not apply to people under the age of 16. However, individual providers and workplaces may have their own requirements based on their assessment of the risks for their workplace.

The direction also requires that a person responsible for a worker, or person providing disability services, takes all reasonable steps to ensure that workers comply with the PHO.

Australian Disability Enterprises

NSW Health has also indicated that the PHO does not automatically cover people with disabilities who are working as supported employees in an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE). However, some of these workers may fall under the vaccination requirements of other occupations or settings (for example, hospitality venues).

The PHO would apply to anyone assisting a person with disabilities (in person) in the ADE, for example, as a disability support worker or coach.

Additional information is available on the NSW Health website.

Day program group activities

NSW Health has updated the advice relating to day program group activities, which are able to commence in line with the current PHO. This includes maintaining density levels of 1 person per 4 square metres in indoor areas and 1 person per 2 square metres in outdoor areas. Persons on the premises for work are not counted in the density limits.

NSW Health notes that providers should have COVID-19 Safety Plans in place and maintain COVID-19 safe practices such as:
  • encouraging all residents and all participants to be vaccinated
  • ensuring everyone wears a mask when indoors, unless they are exempted
  • encouraging regular use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters from other people
Staff and participants should not attend day programs if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. Where participants are not fully vaccinated, providers are encouraged to continue to provide flexible options. These include online service delivery, individual activities, and to avoid group interactions unless participants are from the same household.


Obtaining a vaccination

There are a large range of vaccination options available in NSW including accessible vaccination clinics.

Useful links

Article sourced from National Disability Services