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Stop blaming aged care workers for government failures on vaccines - Providers and unions unite

Thursday 8th July, 2021

Aged care providers and the union movement have united to reject the current blame shifting on vaccination, saying it is government failures that have caused low vaccination rates, not workers.

Providers and unions 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 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 Morrison Government implement the five following principles into a rollout strategy that will support aged care workers to be vaccinated quickly and safely using the Pfizer vaccine only:

  • Ensure client, resident and worker safety
  • 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

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.

The only way to improve vaccine pick up is to make it easy for workers, not to shame them.

Aged care workers are some of the hardest working yet lowest paid in the country.

Aged care workers are at the frontline and delivering care to our most vulnerable in the middle of a pandemic.

Quotes attributable to ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler:

"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.

"The Government has not been able to deliver on its own strategy, which prioritised aged care workers as the highest priority, and is now using a ‘smoke and mirrors’ game to pin the responsibility on the worker. But as we’ve seen with the latest COVID outbreak in NSW, the vaccine roll-out in privately-run aged care facilities is not a game. It is completely serious.

"The Government’s so-called plan for aged care vaccinations has done nothing but increase confusion and, now for relatives of aged care residents in NSW, alarm. Workers are still not guaranteed access to vaccines, whether on or off-site and there’s insufficient support or special leave provisions to manage possible side-effects or reactions and the need to take time off.

"The Government must finally listen to workers, their unions and providers - and act on our recommendations."