WA mandates resources vaccinations

vaccine

The Western Australian Government has followed public health advice to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and other resources sector workers from December.

The mandatory first doses are due to be received before 12:01am on December 1, with full vaccination expected of resources workers, workers in remote operations or working in rural and remote locations by January 1, 2022.

Premier Mark McGowan said this was in line with the state’s strategy so far and acknowledged the sector’s contribution to that.

“WA has followed the health advice which has kept us safe and protected our family, friends and the WA community,” McGowan said.

“We’ve worked with industry along the way and what is not lost on all of us is that because the resources sector was able to operate during the height of the pandemic, Western Australians have benefited and enjoyed freedoms other places in the country cannot.”

The changes come due to FIFO and resources workers’ mobile nature, with higher rates of contact with more vulnerable Aboriginal communities.

McGowan made it clear how important the vaccination roll out was to him and his government.

“To all the impacted workers who have done their share throughout the pandemic, stay the course and heed the health advice. I’m urging you to take this next step and get the COVID vaccine now,” he said.

Western Australia currently has more than 100 state-run COVID-19 vaccination clinics, including walk-in locations in the state’s regional communities.

A list of these locations is available on the HealthyWA website.

The announcement was backed by Health Minister Roger Cook.

“If a resources worker became infected with COVID-19 and the virus was then transmitted to one of our remote Aboriginal communities where people are very vulnerable to the illness, the consequences would be disastrous,” Cook said.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the sector has always stressed the importance of health and safety and that this was no different.

“This is about workers protecting themselves, their colleagues and their workplaces and communities they operate in,” Johnston said.

“As an industry in WA, we pride ourselves on a range of factors including the health and safety of our workforce and getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the next obvious critical element.”

Johnston said those who choose not to receive the vaccinations will be asked to seek employment elsewhere.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia chief executive officer Paul Everingham said the mandate could impact up to 250,000 people.

This included 140,000 to 150,000 direct employees, plus another 100,000 in the contracted workforce, ancillary services, drivers and maintenance providers.

“We’ve done some survey work across all kinds of Australian industries. It tends to be about 10 to 15 per cent initially where there’s some concerns or fear around COVID vaccinations,” Everingham said.

“That tends to drop to around 5 per cent with information and education.”

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