COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate – Vaccinate or Terminate

24 September 2021

Doorstop: Today – Friday 24 September 2:00pm
ANMF Office Launceston – 19 Brisbane Street
Emily Shepherd – The ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary 

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian Branch (ANMF) supports and has encouraged all nurses, midwives and care workers to have the COVID-19 Vaccination as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, recent mandatory directions for all Health Care staff announced by Jeremy Rockliff on 2 September 2021, following the Aged Care Mandate taking effect on 17 September, has caused significant concern that an already stretched health care system will have even less nurses, midwives and care workers increasing the number of vacancies and workload concerns, after 31 October 2021. 

Despite the commitment by the Department of Health that all health care workers would have a suite of options available to them if they could not be vaccinated, it has been confirmed that this is not the case and any unvaccinated health care worker (aside from those with a medical exemption) will be terminated. 

“The ANMF has sought a commitment that re-deployment of nurses and midwives would be considered as part of the suite of options for those that were not vaccinated and this was confirmed both by the Premier’s office on 2 September and on 7 September at a meeting regarding the mandate with the department of health and unions, yet this is now not even being contemplated with health care workers being told vaccinate or be terminated”, said Emily Shepherd, the ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary. 

The Department has cited the Public Health Direction as to why re-deployment is not an option, due to all health premises being included, however, the department and the State Service Management Office have unequivocally stated that they will not even consider intra-agency transfer. 

“It is alarming that whilst the ANMF is supporting members across the State with workload concerns that the Government and Department have not even considered the alternate risk to the Health Care System with the implementation of the Mandatory Vaccination Direction – which is that health system service delivery will potentially be undermined if nurses and midwives leave the health professions altogether as a result of the mandate.” 

The ANMF is incredibly concerned that the Government and Department of Health have not been transparent with health care staff, offering a suite of options if they can not be vaccinated, then only offering vaccination or termination. The ANMF was not consulted on the Direction prior to it being announced and the follow up meeting with the Department of Health and unions began with Department of Health representatives not even wanting to discuss the rationale for the direction. 

The ANMF has today written to the Secretary of Health and called for individual case management of each individual who can not be vaccinated (for whatever reason) and consider their individual circumstances and all options available, including intra agency re-deployment for the individual and also for the Department of Health’s staffing strategy that will ensure health system continuity after 31 October 2021, in the event that nurse, midwives and other healthcare workers are terminated leaving health service understaffed. 

“The Government, Department of Health and Director of Public Health made the decision unilaterally to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations as they indicated it was to address the risk to the health system, staff and patients, it is critical they also consider the alternate risk that this poses to the health system in terms of staffing availability,” Ms Shepherd said. 

-End –

Media contact:
Emily Shepherd,
ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary
Mobile: 0400 884 021