The minister responsible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has said she wants the COVID-19 vaccines to be made mandatory for workers in disability care.

Key points:

  • National Cabinet is expected to discuss the issue tomorrow
  • Linda Reynolds says 40,000 disability support workers have already been vaccinated
  • The peak body for non-government service providers also wants it to be mandatory for support workers

National Cabinet has agreed that from mid-September people working in residential aged care will need to have had at least one vaccine dose.

The move from voluntary to mandatory vaccines was done to try and raise the number of workers who’d had the jab and provide greater protection to residents.

NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said she wanted the same done for disability care staff and it was expected to be one of the things state and territory leaders discussed when they met again tomorrow.

“It is certainly an issue that we’ve been working with states and territories on. It is very important, I believe, that disability support workers, particularly those who work in disability accommodation, are vaccinated to protect those that they look after.”

Senator Reynolds said 36 per cent of the disability workforce had received a vaccine dose.

“It is increasing very rapidly,” she said.

Residential aged and disability care residents and workers in those areas are part of the first phase of the government’s vaccine strategy because they have been identified as some of the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19.

As at June 1, 355 of the more than 22,000 people with disabilities living in residential settings had been fully vaccinated.

Senator Reynolds said over the last six weeks the number of NDIS participants and those in residential care who had “been vaccinated” had doubled, but she did not specify if that was first or second doses.

She said the vaccine rollout in disability care would be finished “in the next couple of months”.

When asked if he thought the vaccines should be mandatory, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese did not give a specific answer, but said vaccine supply was the main issue.

“Disability workers want to be vaccinated … the vaccines aren’t available,” he said.

“The problem here is they cannot get vaccines.”

There are also calls in the sector for the vaccine to become mandatory, including from the peak body for non-government service providers, National Disability Services and one of the country’s largest service providers, Aruma.

Separate from the National Cabinet meeting on Friday, Senator Reynolds said she would meet with her state and territory counterparts about the future rollout and plans for the NDIS.

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NDIS Minister wants COVID vaccine to be mandatory for disability care workers
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