A coalition of Australia’s peak organisations representing aged care providers and workers is calling on the Federal Government to ensure the aged care workforce is vaccinated quickly.

The provider and the union groups said they have united after six months of calling for support to vaccinate the aged care workforce to say that government failures have caused low vaccination rates, not workers.  

The group is calling on the Morrison Government to implement five principles into a quick and safe aged care workforce rollout strategy using the Pfizer vaccine only.

The principles are:

  •  ensure client, resident and worker safety
  • government-funded workplace vaccination or prioritised access to providers near workplaces
  • paid leave to access vaccinations and recover from side effects
  • targeted vaccine education and communication
  • transparency and accountability on vaccine data and supply.

The united force includes the Australian Aged Care Collaboration  members Aged & Community Services Australia, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia and UnitingCare Australia, and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Australian Workers’ Union, United Workers Union, Health Services Union, Australian Services Union and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. 

Leading Age Services Australia CEO and AACC spokesperson Sean Rooney said provider groups have been calling on the government to work with the sector to ensure aged care residents and staff were vaccinated as efficiently, effectively and safely as possible since January.

“It has been extremely frustrating and disappointing to have the solutions developed by the sector to achieve this, including how to best enable and support the vaccine program to include staff being vaccinated on site at aged care facilities be ignored by government,” Mr Rooney told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Sean Rooney

The government flagged aged care as a national priority and said vaccinations would be completed by the end of March but resident vaccinations have just been completed, only a third of aged care home staff have received theirs and it is unclear where home care workers stand, he said.

Mr Rooney said a rollout strategy including the five principles was crucial to ensuring the aged care workforce could access a vaccination quickly and safely and receive time to recover from any side effects without losing any wages.

“Given the pace of the rollout to date, we are also seeking clear communication from the government on availability of supplies and timing as to when staff can be safely and efficiently vaccinated,” Mr Rooney said.

Annie Butler

“The Department of Health has said that staff can get vaccinated at their local GP or a vaccination hub but this has led to delays. This is not good enough,” Mr Rooney said.

ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler echoed Mr Rooney’s frustrations regarding the rollout.

“We’re angry that the government is trying to blame workers for its own failure to manage the COVID-19 vaccination rollout both in aged care and across the community,” Ms Butler said in a statement.

Fellow AACC spokesperson and CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia Patricia Sparrow said it should be simple for aged care staff to get their vaccination.

Patricia Sparrow

“Aged care workers should be a top priority. They shouldn’t be left to navigate the vaccine ‘hunger games’ like everyone else,” Ms Sparrow said in a statement.

United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith said “it’s devastating for older Australians that once more we are at crisis point before serious attention is being paid to their safety and the safety of those who care for them.”

AAA has sought comment from Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt. 

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2 Comments

  1. Vaccine- should be readily available to anyone wanting it.
    It should not in my view be Mandated – Alternate arrangements for people not wanting it should be make- such as mandatory PPE- excluding from work if a declared COVID outbreak in a facility. This safe guards the residents and Staff . Consenting decision making in our own health care is critical and worth fighting for. Vaccinations are highly important – I think we can all agree- no other vaccine in history has been released so quickly and we are still in the trial phase- inadequate data for long term effects/ potential, so is the individuals medical consent right to have a say in what they are injected with.
    Mandating it is Coercive control, Have something injected in to you that you may or may not react to- have no ability for compensation if you are one of the few who react badly to this- A like it or lump it, Be sacked if you say no, is no choice- but all potential impact for that individual aged care worker- Its a Gun to our heads – get the Jab or loos your Job and be financially destitute- the exact definition of Coercive control – with is now recognised as ABUSE.
    If this was in private life- its called Domestic violence – Coercive control, what gives the government or workplaces to have the same level of control over Our bodies.
    Oh by the way – its NOT mandated for the residents or their visitors that can bring it in- just the staff.
    Unions need to fight for both sides protection.

  2. I’m a aged care worker and I could not get my Pfizer vaccine straight away , my local Liberal member was useless also as they could not help also I live in a rural area and had to book for my vaccine and that will be just in over a month . This shows the failure of the Morrison government to aged care workers . If I can’t get my jab be mid September I would be out of a job then my home .

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