Advice has now been issued to the sector about the scope to implement the National Cabinet decision to establish mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) workers (please see below). The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has endorsed the scope of the workforce to establish mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements under public health orders to be for residential aged care workers, which includes volunteers engaged through the RACFs. Other volunteers, including those engaged through the Community Visitors Scheme and home care, are not included within the scope of these mandatory requirements.

AHPCC have advised outside of the core workforce, the risk of transmission remains in instances where other workers are coming into close contact with residents or other staff. This includes allied health professionals, hairdressers, pastoral care workers and other in-reach contractors, volunteers, and visitors. Vaccination is strongly encouraged for anyone entering a RACF, particularly these groups.

Please note, State and Territory governments are drafting their public health orders and organisations should keep abreast of directions arising from these.

Statement from the Department of Health:

The Australian Government is working closely with the states and territories to implement the National Cabinet decision to mandate that at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by administered by mid-September 2021 for all residential aged care workers.

In an effort to ensure national consistency, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has considered the key parameters and endorsed the approach to defining who the relevant directions will apply to and the targeted exemptions that may be available.

States and territories are currently finalising their draft public health orders and directions. We expect further information on the specific application of these orders, including processes for managing exemptions and compliance with the orders, will be released soon.

Vaccination is strongly encouraged for all people entering a residential aged care facility and a range of mechanisms remain open to support residential aged care workers to access a vaccine. Further information on the Australian Government’s vaccination program is available on the Department’s website.