Last night the Prime Minister announced that National Cabinet, made up of the state and territory leaders, had agreed to introduce mandatory COVID vaccinations for aged care workers with an expectation that workers will have received their first jab by September.
I went on the record this morning reconfirming our position – that while the Health Services Union strongly supports vaccinations as the way out this pandemic, the Federal Government should be working with aged care workers and their unions to jointly address the rollout in aged care.
Many thousands of aged care workers have already been vaccinated, despite the huge holes in the rollout. Instead of fixing the holes, Scott Morrison is now trying to put the onus back on the aged care workforce, who have worked for 18 months to keep our most vulnerable safe.
I have great concerns that the approach taken by the Federal Government will see aged care workers protest with their feet and leave the industry – plunging an already struggling sector deeper into crisis.
The details of this announcement are scarce. This is because it will be up to each state and territory government to mandate through a public health order, which may lead to differences across the country.
If the state and territory governments are determined to implement this, then more needs to be done to support you and your colleagues. You shouldn’t have to lose pay because the Federal Government wants a headline. You should have access to paid time off from work to get the jab and to recover.
I know that many aged care workers will today feel distressed or angry. The HSU is here for you. If you need support and advice, please contact our HSU Member Services Division on 1300 478 679 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.