COVID-19:  Frequently Asked Questions for family and friends

As a family member or friend of a prisoner, we understand you may have questions regarding DCS and COVID-19. This web page will be regularly updated to answer some of your frequently asked questions.

DCS and COVID-19

Are there any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in SA prisons?

On Sunday 15 November 2020, one staff member at Yatala Labour Prison tested positive to COVID-19.

To date, there have been no further positive results recorded for DCS staff members or prisoners.

What is the department’s response to COVID-19?

The department’s number one priority now and going forward is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all prisons across South Australia.

DCS is taking all preventative steps necessary to ensure the health and safety of our prisons, while prioritising and protecting our prisoners and staff.

DCS are continuing to work closely with SA Health and are utilising up to date and accurate advice from them around COVID-19.

How is DCS preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our prisons?

DCS has mapped out an escalated response plan to ensure the department takes every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our prisons.

Extensive operational planning and decision making is occurring across our prisons giving consideration to our unique custodial environment.

DCS has plans in place for:

  • an individual suspected of COVID-19,
  • an individual confirmed with COVID-19, and
  • both scenarios if multiple prisoners are infected.

Our first action for a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 is to isolate the individual and then to assess the potential for further cases.   Some prisons or areas of prisons may need to be quarantined to ensure the risk of potential spread is limited.

The department also continues to work nationally with corrections in other jurisdictions to share our planning and decisions to ensure our approach is considered, consistent and in line with best practice.

DCS continues to implement necessary plans and is following the advice that is given by SA Health as the lead agency. Continuing advice from SA Health will be implemented immediately by the department.

What happens if a prisoner presents as unwell?

All prisoners across the state who report as unwell are medically assessed and treated.

If a prisoner meets the criteria for testing for COVID-19 the prisoner will be isolated, and the department's strict policies put into place.

DCS will ensure medical care is provided to prisoners, equivalent to what is available in the community.

Will prisoners be advised if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in prison?

Yes – all prisoners will be advised if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the prison. They will also be notified about how DCS is managing the situation. Keeping a clear flow of information is part of the DCS strategy; reassuring people that all that can be done is being done is important at this time.

Will family be advised if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in prison?

As with all serious medical issues, if a prisoner is confirmed to have COVID-19 their next of kin will be notified.

Will low risk prisoners be released early on to Home Detention or parole?

There are no current plans to release additional prisoners early.  Currently SA has a Home Detention program which continues to operate as usual.

Can prisoners still get compassionate leave for funerals etc?

As you would be aware there are strict community restrictions in place that limit the number of people who can attend some events, based on the venue and its facilities. This means that the addition of a prisoner and an escort may have an impact on other family members in the community attending. In addition, the requirements of isolation and social distancing means that compassionate leave will not be granted for funeral attendance until these measures are no longer required.

If there is a problem who can I talk to at the prison?

If the problem is not medical you should follow the same processes described on our Family and Friends web page.

I have a question regarding DCS and COVID-19?

If you have any questions regarding DCS and COVID-19, please phone the SA Health COVID Information Line on 1800 253 787 or email

Prisoner health

What is DCS doing to keep prisoners healthy?

Prisoners have been getting the same health, hygiene and distancing messages that you would have seen in the media and are being advised to seek help immediately if they feel unwell.

A strict regime of cleaning is being maintained in all prisons with a focus on high-traffic and high use areas.

What about vulnerable prisoners?

DCS has implemented a support strategy for our vulnerable prisoner population groups, such as prisoners with a disability, mental health concerns, and aged and infirmed prisoners. ​