Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Dreibergs will take on a vital role in the next phase of Western Australia’s fight against COVID-19 as the State’s new Vaccine Commander.
The appointment extends until April 30 and will see Deputy Commissioner Dreibergs oversee WA’s vaccination program, which has grown significantly over the past four months, leveraging cross-government capabilities to continue to maximise the rollout through State and Commonwealth channels.
Today’s announcement comes at a crucial time in the State’s fight against COVID-19 with priorities including further lifting third doses among adults and the paediatric rollout among children aged five to 11 as the new school year approaches.
Deputy Commissioner Dreibergs takes over from Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, who has served in the role since late August last year, steering the State towards the McGowan Government’s bold vaccination targets, as well as in his role as State Emergency Coordinator.
The Commander role also entails engaging with Commonwealth, State and non-government sectors, leading communications and stakeholder engagement to ensure specific hesitant groups are supported to take up the vaccine.
Since the Vaccine Commander role was established, a big focus has been placed on enhancing efforts to drive the vaccination coverage in WA’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with multiple tailored blitzes and programs developed and implemented to drive the rates up in these communities. This work will continue under the new Vaccine Commander’s lead.
Deputy Commissioner Dreibergs has decades of experience in leadership roles in WA Police, which has included playing a significant role in the State’s pandemic response as a key member of the Emergency Management Team. His contribution included planning and coordination that enabled Perth to safely host a historic AFL Grand Final at Optus Stadium.
The WA COVID-19 Vaccine Commander reports directly to the Premier and Health Minister.
The Chief Health Officer has statutory, regulatory, public health direction and clinical oversight roles in relation to the vaccination program, and will continue to perform those responsibilities in conjunction with the Vaccine Commander.
WA’s COVID-19 vaccination program commenced 11 months ago to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to priority groups prescribed by the Commonwealth Government.
Since then, the State’s scope has expanded significantly to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to those eligible, including everyone aged five years and older, with now more than 96.7 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over receiving their first dose of the vaccine.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“As Western Australia’s new Vaccine Commander, Deputy Commissioner Gary Dreibergs will play a vital role in steering our State through the next phase in our fight against the pandemic.
“He has already made a significant contribution to Western Australia’s safe management of COVID-19, which makes him the right choice to steer our State’s crucial vaccination rollout in what is a new era.
“I want to acknowledge and thank Commissioner Chris Dawson for his outstanding work as Western Australia’s inaugural Vaccine Commander.
“Commissioner Dawson’s work ethic, leadership and unwavering sense of duty are key reasons our State has not only reached our bold vaccine targets, but also surpassed them – targets many critics thought were unachievable.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Commissioner Chris Dawson in the State’s fight against the pandemic in his role as State Emergency Coordinator.”
As stated by Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
“Commissioner Dawson has played a hugely significant role in helping Western Australia through the pandemic and has been pivotal in ensuring our vaccination rates are among the best in the country.
“We thank him for his dedication and leadership over this challenging period. Our State is a safer place for his efforts.
“I’d like to congratulate Gary Dreibergs on his appointment as Vaccine Commander and I look forward to working closely with him in this new role.
“Mr Dreibergs has held a wide range of operational positions within the WA Police force over the course of his career and his extensive expertise will be invaluable as we prepare to enter the next phase of our pandemic management.”