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    Member for Lowan Emma Kealy.

Rapid testing call for unvaccinated workers

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called on Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley to open the door for rapid COVID-19 testing of workers who fail to be vaccinated by a mandated deadline.

Ms Kealy said rapid testing represented a way to fill essential jobs that a vaccinated workforce was unable to meet in her electorate.

She said in industries where there were no alternative workers available, and particularly in areas in Lowan where there are no localised cases of COVID-19 and high rates of vaccination, the government had to consider alternatives to mandatory vaccination.

Ms Kealy raised the issue as an adjournment matter in State Parliament yesterday, saying it was particularly relevant to community services such as childcare and education as well as business.

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“I ask the minister to permit rapid testing for workers who are not vaccinated to ensure the ‘unintended consequences’ of a reduced workforce does not inadvertently yet significantly cut access to essential services and businesses in our wider community,” she said.

Ms Kealy said rapid testing was essential because a replacement workforce was unavailable to replace unvaccinated staff unable to attend work.

“In these businesses and community services, because there isn’t an abundance of workers available, we simply can’t backfill those roles in the short term,” she said.

“There is already a critical shortage of childcare workers, teachers and trained workers in key roles across Lowan – our employment issue isn’t a matter of unemployment, but around filling vacant jobs.

“In my electorate, I have been contacted by parents in Horsham and Hamilton who have been told that childcare will not be available from the mandated vaccination date – simply because some workers will not be vaccinated by the deadline and these roles cannot be filled.

“We’re also weeks away from harvest, yet unvaccinated workers will not be able to perform essential support.

“Given the majority of this work involves no contact with other people, sitting in a truck or header by yourself, and due to the chronic lack of farmhands and harvest workers, this could be devastating for our agricultural sector.”

Ms Kealy encouraged people to get vaccinated, or make an appointment to speak to their health professional to discuss vaccination.

“While I can see that mandating vaccination will push up lagging vaccination rates in areas of Melbourne, our region has done an exceptional job of getting vaccinated,” she said.

“It is clear that mandating vaccination is having unintended consequences for our services and businesses by reducing the available workforce. An inability to fill these vacancies in the immediate future will result in a significant impact on the wider community where there simply isn’t a fully trained workforce waiting in the wings for a job.”

The entire October 13, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!