To get down to business on the vaccine roll out, we need to all work together across the community

ACOSS welcomes the support of business groups on the vaccine roll out and is looking forward to engaging with the vaccine taskforce on the community sector’s crucial role, along with other key stakeholders, such as the union movement.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“Government needs to go beyond working with the business community on the vaccine roll out and there is support from the community sector, unions and business leaders to all work together. Community services are on the ground helping people to understand how they can access vaccines. We need to see community sector leaders also empowered and resourced to communicate clear messages to the people their services support, especially people facing poverty and disadvantage.

“Communities across the country need to be hearing about the vaccination roll-out from local leaders who they trust, for example, from First Nations leaders and culturally diverse leaders,” Dr Goldie said.

CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner, said:

“When First Nations leaders get vaccinated it really helps to encourage the rest of the community and I’ve seen great examples of that. First Nations leaders are absolutely vital to the success of our vaccine roll out, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more susceptible to the virus. First Nations health leaders have done an exceptional job keeping our people safe from the virus, particularly in remote areas, and their experience and relationships are also crucial on the vaccine front.”

CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, Mohammad Al-Khafaji, said:

“The importance of culturally diverse community leaders was not recognised early enough in planning for vaccine roll out. While we’re working with the Government to remedy this, we need to see it made an urgent priority broadly across vaccination efforts.

CEO of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Adjunct Professor Darryl O’Donnell said:

“As we learned from our effective response to the HIV pandemic, we know that diverse sexual, gender, socio-economic and multicultural populations are likely to be disproportionately excluded from mainstream health responses unless government works closely with community-led organisations. The social services and community-led health sector, like business, are crucial to include in developing the vaccine roll-out plan, including ongoing engagement around appropriate modes of communication and sites for vaccination of people who identify with the communities we represent.”

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie continued:

“The vaccine roll out must be made accessible for people who face barriers to engaging online, which is the case for many people on low incomes. We know people are having to sacrifice internet access and phone credit with rising rents. Many impacts of this pandemic have disproportionately affected people on lower incomes and from more vulnerable groups.

“We have been advising the government of the importance of community sector engagement in the vaccine roll out for months and look forward to engaging with the taskforce.

“When it comes to the vaccine roll out, just as is the case with lockdowns, for the whole community to be protected, we really need to be all in this together and not leave people behind,” Dr Goldie said.