National Disability Services (NDS) is calling for federal and state governments to make the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory for workers in the disability sector. The organisation said mandating the vaccine will help reduce resistance from front line staff and could potentially avert industrial relations disputes.
The position was reached following consultation with NDS members, consideration of the risks and benefits to disability services, and discussion with governments and other stakeholders.
NDS staff surveys and other correspondence revealed that voluntary take-up of the vaccine by disability support workers will be insufficient to afford the highest level of care for people with disability, CEO David Moody said.
“We realise that this will raise concerns around individual choice, but people with disabilities have no choice but to rely on these workers, and these workers need to be vaccinated to protect both themselves and the people with disabilities they support.
“We have spared no expense in getting the vaccine to Australia and we can no longer sit on the fence with its roll out,” he said. “We are not even talking about anti-vaxxers, it might just be that people want to wait and see, but carers do not have that luxury, any delay could be catastrophic for those they support and possibly themselves.”
NDS is seeking the support of all levels of government, and public health officers to implement the following measures:
• In the case of the Federal Government reconsider its stance of not mandating Covid-19 vaccines after each has been passed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
• In the absence of federal action, NDS is calling on state and territory governments to mandate TGA-approved vaccines via public health orders for the disability sector while providing for acceptable exemptions from having a vaccination
• NDS would also like to see the setting out protections and frameworks for those instances where workers decline to be vaccinated without having a valid exemption.
According to Moody, NDS has campaigned hard to have people with disabilities and the disability sector at the front of the vaccine queue.