The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is calling for council front line workers to be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccination.
ALGA says that councils employ a significant number of aged care and disability care staff, already identified to be in the first cohort, but other front line council workers should also be defined as priority groups.
“(These include) people such as waste services staff, building and compliance officers, rangers, and food and environmental health workers,” ALGA President, Linda Scott, said.
“To protect them – and the many people they engage with each day – they should be classified as being eligible for priority vaccine access.”
Scott said councils also employ customer service staff to provide essential services to residents and ratepayers, many of whom are elderly or vulnerable, and these individuals should also be considered for early access to the vaccine.
“Local government has played a significant role in ensuring that businesses and public spaces operate in a COVID-safe way in the past 12 months,” she said.
“Councils have kept in touch with vulnerable people in isolation, delivered meals and library books, and worked in countless ways to keep our communities as safe as possible.
“Local government has cooperated closely with state and territory governments to support the implementation of COVID response measures and recovery, and the sector is ready to play its part in the vaccine rollout.
“Councils will help promote the program and educate local communities about efficacy and safety of the vaccine.
“We can provide spaces suitable for mass vaccinations with waiting areas that allow for physical distancing.
“All these will be factors in ensuring the highest possible immunisation rate.”
Scott said any discussion by National Cabinet of regional or rural locations for COVID quarantine facilities also needs to consider the local government perspective.
“To open new facilities with minimal public consultation risks compromising the integrity of the quarantine program as well as potentially spreading COVID-19 to local communities,” she said.
“Quarantine camps in regional areas will have a direct effect on local government.
“These impacts would be better understood and appreciated if local government was represented in National Cabinet.”
Media release, Feb 4
Australian Local Government Association