09/09/2021

The Department for Energy and Mining continues to work closely with SA Health and SAPOL on applications for cross border travel for the resources and energy sector.  The current dynamic operating environment requires a shift away from business-as-usual for fly-in fly-out/drive-in drive-out cross border movements.  It is clear that short duration rosters involving frequent cross border travel between South Australia and restricted zones will not be approved at this time, necessitating a review of roster arrangements and mitigations to support successful travel applications, and ensure continuity of operations and the wellbeing of employees across the sector. 

The Department has been working to streamline processes for industry based on recent experience, and the following recommendations are provided to improve the timeliness of cross-border application processes:

For essential travellers who have not been in a locked down area in the 14 days prior to arriving in South Australia, Cross Border Travel Applications (only) should be made by the individual traveller using the  SA Police travel application. An employer declaration, using this Employer Letter Template (DOCX 21.8 KB) must be uploaded with this application.  In this instance, there is no need to apply for a SA Health Exemption to accompany the application.

For essential travellers who have been in a locked down area in the 14 days prior to arriving in South Australia, a SA Health Exemption must be sought prior to submitting a Cross Border Travel Application.  In this instance, if an individual has not attached an SA Health Exemption to a Cross Border Travel Application, it will be declined. While there is an online portal that individual employees can use for the SA Health exemption process, the Department strongly recommends employers across the resources and energy sector use the following tailored process for quality and consistency reasons, and to ensure the Department can efficiently assist you.  The recommended process involves employers completing an Exemption Application Form (DOCX 24.7 KB) on behalf of their employees. 
This exemption process is best managed as close as possible to the owner of the operation/site/facility (for example: for Olympic Dam – the process is managed by BHP, as opposed to primary or sub-contractors). While this is not a requirement, experience indicates that this is the most efficient and effective approach.

The Exemption Application Form (DOCX 24.7 KB) should be submitted as a single word document for each individual traveller by employers (only) for a group of employees intending to travel at a specific point in time. This is the sole document that is required for assessment by the Exemptions Committee – no other attachments are required. Accordingly, each form must include sufficient detail to support the application, and make a case that approval should be granted.  The form requires inputs that cover off on the key risk elements:  origin, transit, destination and key mitigations, as well as why the travel is unavoidable.  The inputs must directly inform the decision of whether the State ought to accept the residual risk associated with an individual travelling into South Australia, at a time when other South Australian residents from those hot zone jurisdictions are prohibited from undertaking cross-border travel. 

The form should then be emailed to Health.ExemptionsCovid19@sa.gov.au and cc’d to Health.DEMtoHealth@sa.gov.au, the latter being monitored by Department for Energy and Mining staff who will assist in moving applications through the process.

Once submitted, a decision will then be made on the application.  If it is declined, the company officer who applied on behalf of the individual workers will receive an email response and should contact the DEM officers via the email above to discuss next steps. If it is approved, the company officer who applied on behalf of the individual workers will receive exemption approval letters which describe the conditions of approval for each individual. These letters, along with an employer declaration using this Employer Letter Template (DOCX 21.8 KB) should be sent to the individual workers so that they can each individually make a  SAPOL online travel application with those two documents attached where specified.  If those attachments are not supplied with the application, it will be declined.  When making a Cross Border Travel Application following approval from SA Health, ensure that the worker selects the category of “Exemption issued by SA Health” from the online menu.

It is critical that workers do not move to cross the border without the necessary exemption and essential traveller approvals, evidence of a negative test within 72 hours, and shortly, evidence of vaccination, or they will be denied entry and penalties may be applied.

To reduce the administrative burden, it is recommended that company pre-mounting processes are adjusted to align with these new templates. I am confident that the revised process will run more smoothly, and will continue the existing decline in decision-timeframes, however I acknowledge there is further room for improvement and fully expect further revisions. Any issues with this process for resources and energy applications, and/or the names and reference numbers for any existing or future applications submitted using  the online SA Health portal should be directed by email to Health.DEMtoHealth@sa.gov.au so that the Department can continue to assist you.

Importantly, the revised process does not modify DEM’s previous advice that companies and individuals must continue to monitor COVID-19 exposures relevant to their travel, as lock-down and potential exposure events can arise that will affect travel and work arrangements in South Australia at the point of arrival and when already in the state. 

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to prevent COVID-19 infection in South Australia.  I trust the changes to process described above contribute to clarity and efficiency of your essential worker movements in South Australia.

Stay well,

Paul Heithersay
Chief Executive
Department for Energy and Mining

Previous Resources Sector COVID-19 updates

The information contained in this resources and energy industry update has been verified by the South Australian Government COVID-19 Public Information Function Support Group coordinated by SA Police.