Push for disability workers to have mandatory jabs

By Tom Ravlic

September 10, 2021

Disability support workers should be subject to mandatory vaccination to better protect vulnerable people, according to Catholic Health Australia.
Disability support workers should be subject to mandatory vaccination to better protect vulnerable people, according to Catholic Health Australia. (Good Studio/Adobe)

Disability support workers should be subject to mandatory vaccination in the same way as workers in aged care services to better protect vulnerable people, according to Catholic Health Australia.

Catholic Health Australia is an advisory body for community care providers, and it wants vaccinations in the disability services sector to be expedited at a time when the delta variant of coronavirus is spreading quickly.

Expecting workers to opt-in to vaccination is not working, according to the advisory body, and Rebecca Burdick Davies, the CHA’s director of mission and strategy, said disability support workers should be treated the same way as aged care and health care workers.

“We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our community and we can start by requiring our staff to be vaccinated. These workers are going into people’s homes and moving around the community — it is part of their job description. Their place of work is the community and we have learned that the Delta variant spreads rapidly via mobile workforces,” Burdick Davies said.

“Every day we delay is another day where people living with a disability and the people that care for them are exposed to unnecessary risk. Our members are already organising the vaccination of staff but for the minority who are hesitating for whatever reason, that hard push from government will draw a line in the sand.”

St Vincent de Paul NSW is one of the members of the Catholic Health Australia and its chief executive officer, Jack de Groot, said that there is a need to ensure vulnerable clients are protected as numbers of people in the population that are vaccinated increases, and the community begins to open up again.

“Vinnies is committed to the care and well-being of some of our community’s most forgotten and hidden people. The lives of those Australians living with disability matter.  Their well-being requires a workforce that is healthy, and which strives every day to make a real difference to those living with disability,” de Groot said.

“Mandatory vaccination in our services should be part of the normal requirements to maintain the health and safety of our communities.”

Catholic Health Australia is not the only peak body or association concerned about getting vaccination levels up within its workforce.

The Health Services Union recently announced that it has launched a lottery with a $50,000 prize pool in order to encourage its members to get vaccinated.

That prize pool is set to be divided into 50 individual prizes of $1,000 each for those members of the union that are vaccinated or have an appointment to get themselves jabbed.

The union representing employees in financial services institutions also called over the past month for people working in banks to be a priority for vaccination.

Julia Angrisano, the national secretary of the Finance Sector Union, said on August 12 that workers in banks were essential to the functioning of society and their access to vaccination was critical.

“Retail bank workers are facing a heightened risk due to the transmissibility of the Delta variant  and the fact that they are exposed to large numbers of customers in shopping centres which are frequently listed as exposure sites by Health authorities,” Angrisano said.

“Face-to-face banking is an essential service but the location of bank branches, in shopping centres or local shopping strips puts workers at risk.”


READ MORE:

‘Dehumanising’ and ‘a nightmare’: why disability groups want NDIS independent assessments scrapped

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