Ensuring vaccinations for disability support and community aged care workers

Australian Greens

Disability support workers and in-home and community aged care workers in the ACT will soon need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The ACT Chief Health Officer will sign a new public health direction that will require workers in these settings to be vaccinated as a condition of work or to provide in-home care or services.

Staff working across these sectors will be required to receive their first vaccine dose by no later than 1 November and be fully vaccinated by 29 November.

ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the decision to introduce mandatory vaccinations to these occupations was supported by recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, including the creation of national definitions.

“Although we have very high vaccination rates in the ACT and have worked hard to ensure people with disability and older people have every opportunity to be vaccinated, it is important that those providing care in higher risk settings also have the highest possible level of vaccination,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“Most eligible Canberrans have eagerly been getting vaccinated, but Commonwealth data indicate that rates are not as high among disability support workers.

“This decision aligns vaccination requirements for the ACT’s disability support and community aged care workers with those for staff in residential aged care facilities, hospitals, schools and early childhood education and care settings.”

Minister for Disability Emma Davidson said this direction will mean more confidence for people with disability, more certainty for the sector and keep more at-risk Canberrans protected as restrictions ease.

“The disability and aged care sectors provide a lot of essential support for many people and play an important role to support their individual needs to make Canberra a more inclusive place. Some of the people they support have felt uncomfortable asking for a worker who is fully vaccinated so this measure will provide more confidence in the sector and the organisations they access,” Minister Davidson said.

“It’s important that once support workers are vaccinated, they continue to follow public health directions and hygiene practices to help keep Canberrans well protected against COVID-19.”

Consultation with stakeholders, including unions, will continue prior to the Chief Health Officer signing a new public health order.

Under the public health orders:

  • People working in the disability sector must be vaccinated to provide services to people with disability if they are engaged by a registered NDIS provider, or state or territory government, to assist with daily life tasks and personal activities, group and centre-based activities, or provide disability support to clients who work at a social enterprise business.
  • Professionals that provide community nursing care and therapeutic supports must also be vaccinated.
  • People working in the in-home and community aged care sector must be vaccinated if they deliver home care services for the aged-care sector, or Commonwealth, state or territory government.

This requirement will apply to everyone who is engaged to work in these sectors and perform these duties, whether fulltime, part-time, casually or on a voluntary basis.

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