WA aged care workers reject forced jabs

Nearly a third of WA aged care workers polled said they would quit if forced to get vaccinated.
Nearly a third of WA aged care workers polled said they would quit if forced to get vaccinated.

A third of West Australian aged care workers would quit the industry if forced to get COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a new survey.

State and federal leaders have discussed potentially enforcing mandatory vaccinations in aged care amid concerns about the slow rollout in the sector.

The Australian Nursing Federation has polled 4000 members who work in aged care in WA on the topic.

Almost two thirds of respondents said vaccinations should remain voluntary and 31 per cent said they would leave the industry if forced to get a jab.

If staff were forced to be vaccinated, it should also be mandatory for relatives and visitors, according to 85 per cent of respondents.

Aged care staff also want to be given their choice of vaccines.

ANF state secretary Mark Olson said enforcing vaccinations would exacerbate staff shortages in the aged care sector.

"We are desperately short of aged care nurses and carers," he said on Friday.

"We cannot afford to adopt policies that would worsen well-documented difficulties facing the sector and create an even bigger shortage of staff."

Mr Olson has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and WA Premier Mark McGowan urging them to persist with voluntary vaccinations.

Mr Morrison earlier this month said state and federal leaders were "leaning heavily" towards forcing aged care workers to get jabs.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has been asked to provide advice on how such a program could be rolled out.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly earlier this month acknowledged that it could have unintended consequences.

He said some security guards in WA had chosen to leave the industry after vaccinations were enforced for frontline hotel quarantine workers.

"We don't want that to be an issue," he said.

Mr Olson said he would be providing the survey results to Professor Kelly and the AHPPC.

WA's parliament on Thursday night passed urgent legislation aimed at closing a loophole which allows coronavirus contact tracing data gathered by the SafeWA app to be lawfully used by police.

It emerged this week that senior police had twice accessed the information since mandatory registration at venues was first enforced late last year.

The data was obtained to help identify witnesses to the December shooting murder of senior Rebels bikie Nick Martin at Perth Motorplex, and again in March in relation to a serious stabbing.

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson has defended the decision, saying the seriousness of the crimes justified using any lawful means available to investigate them.

The premier has said he only become aware of the requests in April, months after the data was first accessed by police.

But it was revealed in parliament that health director-general David Russell-Weisz had known prior to the March election.

Liberal MP Tjorn Sibma accused the government of a lack of transparency, saying it had significantly undermined public trust.

The legislation nonetheless passed with support from the opposition.

Australian Associated Press