Aged-care providers and the union movement have united to reject what they are calling the “current blame shifting on vaccination”, saying it is Government failures that have caused low vaccination rates among staff, not the actions of the workers.
In a statement released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and behalf of various organisation in the aged-care sector, they argue that they have been calling for fast action on vaccinating workers within the high-risk sector for at least six months.
“However, the government’s aged-care vaccine program has too often led to disappointment, frustration, confusion and anger,” the statement reads.
Collaboration wants five key principles implemented
The Australian Aged Care Collaboration – a coalition of peak organisations for aged-care employer groups – has joined with the ANMF, AWU, UWU, HSU, ASU and the ACTU to demand that the Government implement five key principles into a rollout strategy that will enable aged-care workers to be vaccinated quickly and safely using the Pfizer vaccine only.
These principles are: client, resident and worker safety must be ensured; Government-funded workplace vaccination and prioritised access to vaccination providers near workplaces; Paid leave to access vaccinations and recover from effects or reactions if needed; targeted vaccine education and communication; transparency and accountability on vaccine data and supply.
According to the coalition, aged-care workers were told at the beginning of 2021 that they were first priority and would receive easy access to the vaccine in their workplace. This did not happen.
It says the only way to improve vaccine pick up is to make it easy for workers, not to shame them.
Workers are at the front line delivering vital services
“Aged-care workers are some of the hardest-working, yet lowest-paid, in the country,” the statement reads. “Aged-care workers are at the frontline and delivering care to our most vulnerable in the middle of a pandemic.”
Australian Aged Care Collaboration Spokesperson, Patricia Sparrow, said aged-care workers should be a top priority for vaccinations.
“They shouldn’t be left to navigate the vaccine ‘hunger games’ like everyone else. Our workers are already struggling in a very challenging work environment in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
“It needs to be easy and simple for them to be vaccinated, protect themselves and their families and continue to care for and protect residents,” she said.