Putting people first to support COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Australia’s resources sector will continue to protect priority populations from COVID-19 while maintaining essential support as the government begins to implement its national vaccination program.

A National Resources Sector Position Statement on COVID-19 Vaccinations (link) released today by the MCA and APPEA outlines how the sector will support the Australian Government’s national vaccine rollout strategy as part of its ongoing work to keep workers, families and communities safe from COVID-19.

The position statement will help keep the resource sector workforce, families and communities safe and healthy, ensure that the sector does not adversely impact the health of regions and communities in which it operates and assists public health efforts where possible.

The approach is also aimed at maintaining operations, business continuity and production for the benefit of industry, workers, communities in which the industry operates, energy and fuel security and Australia’s economy.

Australia’s resources sector has been able to keep operating through the COVID-19 pandemic and keep workers, families and communities safe based on the strong support of governments and the sector’s National Resources Sector COVID-19 Protocols and supporting guidance which the position statement is designed to complement.

The sector has identified workforce sub-groups for priority vaccinations including:

  • Members of the workforce (not already prioritised in the government rollout schedule) that can be at higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and contractors, people aged over 50, immune-compromised members and specialists travelling to sites in remote areas
  • Site-based medical or paramedical emergency services professionals
  • Workers who are in contact with priority populations and communities and who are also required to undertake domestic or international travel, including those engaged on fly-in fly-out arrangements
  • Workers supporting essential services delivery, such as workers maintaining electricity, water and other essential services, including those with statutory roles
  • Essential safety workers required for safe site operations and the ongoing ability to operate.

The sector recognises that the rollout of vaccines should complement the need for maintaining COVID-safe practices and quarantine arrangements as determined by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

This position statement highlights the ability of some resource industry operations to serve as vaccination centres, particularly in remote areas of Australia where there are close links with priority populations and communities.

It also details the importance of a nationally-agreed process for vaccination confirmation, how resources companies will approach workforce vaccination, an ongoing commitment to support workers, families and communities, and proposes certain types of resources workers for priority vaccination.

Companies that may require vaccination for specific roles with a high risk of transmission should support access by employees to the vaccine. Employees will be able to demonstrate vaccination (or medical exemption) through Express Plus Medicare and MyGov apps and each company should develop a confidential record management procedure for employees for secure provision and recording of this information.

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