WA COVID-19 Update: Mandatory vaccination public health direction and exemptions for community services sector released
What you need to know
- From 1 December 2021, disability services workers must not enter or remain at a community care service facility or accommodation if they have not had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or provided proof of a medical exemption
- From 1 January 2022, disability services workers must not enter or remain at a community care service facility or accommodation if they have not had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or provided proof of a medical exemption
The WA Chief Health Officer released the mandatory vaccination public health direction and exemption process for the community services sector. See the Community Care Services Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions.
These orders apply to services relating to disability support, and services relating to mental health, amongst many others.
From 12.01am on 1 December 2021, WA disability services workers must not enter or remain at a community care service facility, if that worker has not had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or provided proof of a medical exemption.From 12.01am on 1 January 2022, WA disability services workers must not enter or remain at a community care service facility if that worker has not had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or provided proof of a medical exemption. Disability support services include all support services funded through the NDIS.
A disability services worker includes board members (who attends a community care services facility), paid staff, unpaid staff, agency staff, contractors, students and interns.A community care service facility can include a disability service provider office, site, and vehicles as well as disability support accommodation facilities.
These orders are broad and we anticipate that they will apply to most of your workforce. NDS recommends that members review these public health directions to enable your organisation to respond and take action as necessary to ensure you are compliant when the orders come into effect on 1 December 2021.
Employers should encourage workers who will be requesting an exemption on medical grounds to apply to the Australian Immunisation Register using their IM011 form. This must be completed by a GP or specialist medical practitioner and submitted to the Australian Immunisation Register for assessment. Where an exemption is given, this must be provided to the employer as proof of exemption.
Advice received by NDS indicates that there is a backlog of exemption applications with Services Australia and this may affect a worker’s ability to comply within the timeframes. As such, it may be prudent to apply for a temporary exemption from the Chief Health Officer at the WA Department of Health to cover until the medical exemption application is finalised. See Information and forms regarding exemption requests for community service workers.
Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted to COVIDVaccinationExemption@health.wa.gov.au
Also, a reminder there is a SafeWork Australia webpage addressing considerations for NDIS employers and mandatory vaccines.
NDS is organising an online forum for senior sector leaders and human resource managers to discuss the public health direction with state government officials. Details of this event will be released as soon as possible.