Departments and agencies reporting high vaccination levels as office return looms

By Jackson Graham

Wednesday October 20, 2021

Public agencies are reporting high vaccination among staff but some are not surveying workforces if state governments have not made the jab mandatory. 
Public agencies are reporting high vaccination among staff but some are not surveying workforces if state governments have not made the jab mandatory.  (terovesalainen/Adobe)

Public agencies and departments are reporting high vaccination among staff but some are not surveying workforces if state governments have not made the jab mandatory. 

In Victoria, as a deadline approached for all workers not at home to have at least their first jab by October 15, Victoria Police stood down 34 officers and nine PSOs who did not comply with the direction. 

A spokesperson for Victoria Police told The Mandarin the employees had been referred to a professional standards command for failing to abide by an instruction of the chief commissioner. 

She said “subsequent disciplinary action” could “result in the members being terminated”. 

The Queensland government has mandated that all hospital and health services workers at Queensland health receive at least one dose of the vaccine by September 30 and a second dose by the end of this month. 

A Queensland health spokesperson said 94% of the 115,000 staff had received a first dose by October 8. They noted that, “We will be working with any staff to support vaccination if they have not already done so.” 

“For the small percentage of staff who do not wish to receive the vaccine, our approach is to find out why staff may decline to be vaccinated and explore whether there is additional information or support that can be provided to enable them to be vaccinated.

“Following that, we will work with these staff to explore alternative options to keep them and our workplaces safe.” 

The department as of early October had received more than 1,900 exemption requests but the number it grants on medical grounds is expected to be limited. 

The defence department did not provide a figure for how many of its employees were vaccinated but a spokesperson said it was “pleased with the uptake”.

Asked about staff returning to offices, they said the department would continue to be flexible and comply with public health orders and advice. 

“Where possible, defence is supporting flexible work arrangements where it suits the individual and defence’s operational requirements,” the spokesperson said. 

“The nature of defence’s work means it is not purely an office-based workplace, ranging from office accommodation to military bases. As such, our workforce has always maintained a hybrid style depending on work locations.” 

Meanwhile, at the federal treasury department, a spokesperson said the high vaccination rates in the ACT, NSW and Victoria meant the department would not be surveying how many of its staff had received the jab.

“Treasury employees have been strongly encouraged to get vaccinated if they can,” they said. “Our return to the office will be gradual and align with the public health orders in each jurisdiction and our operational needs.” 

A spokesperson for ACT Health said because vaccination was not mandatory, the department had not surveyed the vaccination of its 850 staff either. 

“Given the first-dose vaccination rate in the ACT is greater than 99% we are confident that a similarly high percentage of our staff are vaccinated,” he said. 

The majority of the department’s staff are working from home and the spokesman said it would consult with staff in coming weeks about returning. 

“When we return to the office we will not differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees unless their role requires them to be vaccinated under the ACT’s public health orders for health care workers.”


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