Jab required for Vic teachers, NSW prepares app to prove vaccination

By Jackson Graham

September 22, 2021

James Merlino
James Merlino. (AAP Image/Luis Ascui)

Teachers in Victoria will need to have their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by mid-October to attend work as health advice increasingly recommends government-mandated vaccinations. 

Victoria’s deputy premier James Merlino announced all teachers, including in early childhood centres and care, would require a first jab by October 18 and a second jab by November 29 to attend work. 

The requirement has come from Victoria’s chief health officer and will be enforced under the Health and Wellbeing Act. 

“This protects staff, it protects students, it protects our children’s families,” Merlino said. 

Asked if vaccine mandates would extend to all public sector workers, Merlino said only the chief health officer could decide.

“Those decisions in terms of what cohorts of people, what industries, are required to be vaccinated to work are not decisions that politicians make and nor should they be — they are purely decisions made by our public health experts,” he said.

It came as Victoria faced a third day of protests, which initially began with state-mandated jabs for construction workers and a shut down of the industry due to non-compliance. Health authorities say the mandate has lifted the number of workers getting vaccinated. 

Liam Elphick, an expert in discrimination law from Monash University, told The Mandarin if states were to have greater freedoms for vaccinated people it was preferable that governments mandated vaccination. 

“A cafe owner is not the person to whom that obligation should fall,” Elphick said.

He said discrimination law protected businesses when enforcing that workers or customers were vaccinated if they were acting in accordance with a government mandate.

“If a government has done that then businesses can feel legally protected when it comes to ‘no jab, no entry’,” Elphick said. 

Meanwhile NSW will pilot integrating vaccination certificates into a state-based app to enable vaccinated people to move more freely when jab targets are reached. 

NSW customer service minister Victor Dominello confirmed the app might be still in a pilot phase when the state reached its 70% double-dose target, possibly as early as October 11. 

He said people could currently download their vaccination certificate onto their smartphone through the Medicare Express app or, for people without smartphones, call Services Australia to provide a copy.

“What we will be doing is integrating that, and providing people with the option of then having that in their services app to make it really easy when checking into venues across NSW,” Dominello said. 

“That way you won’t have to open up several different apps just to get into a venue.” 

He said the NSW government was in the process of getting information through the Australian immunisation register, and if people consented their certificates would go into the Services NSW app.

“We are now in the process of consulting industry in relation to the design of how it should work,” Dominello said. 

“We are aiming to do a pilot in the regions commencing on 6 October for two weeks.”

Back in Victoria, Merlino also announced the risk of coronavirus spreading in schools would be reduced with $190 million to improve airflow. 

The government has signed a contract with Samsung worth $125 million to deliver 51,000 air purification units to Victoria’s government, low-fee Catholic and independent schools. 

Schools also have access to $60 million for sails to create more shaded outdoor learning areas, while the government has bought 3500 new CO2 devices worth $7 million.

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