CEO backs vax order
CITY of Ballarat CEO Evan King has said he supports a new State Government rule that’s made COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for all municipal workers.
A Chief Health Officer direction late last week means that City of Ballarat employees will join over one million other Victorian’s who must have two coronavirus jabs by late November.
“I certainly support mandatory vaccination for local government to ensure any interactions with our community mean our staff are safe and our community is safe,” Mr King said.
“It’s really important. The only way out of the pandemic is vaccination.”
Up until the order relating to municipal workers was made, Mr King said the rules around who did and didn’t need to have the shots among City of Ballarat workers was vague.
“The amendment of the direction really cleared it up for local government,” he said.
“Trying to work through the directions and understand who they related to and who they didn’t was pretty challenging, and each local government was taking slightly different interpretations.”
Under the order, all City of Ballarat employees need to have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine or booked their first injection by 22 October.
As of 26 November, all municipal workers will need to be fully vaccinated or hold a medical exemption.
“We’re working with our organisation to ensure that everyone coming onto worksites have either a booking for a vaccination or have had their first dose, making sure we’re sighting proof of that and recoding that information,” Mr King said.
While it wasn’t yet clear if there were any municipal employees who were going to refuse the vaccine, Mr King acknowledged that hesitancy was a possibility within the workforce.
He also said the City was developing systems to deal with such issues if they arose.
“We’re going to have to work through that in a respectful manner and try and support them through that,” Mr King said.
“We’re open to looking at [work from home] opportunities, but inherent in all positions in local government there is a requirement to be able to work on site at some point in time.”
As for those who flat out refused to get the vaccine, Mr King said termination of employment was an option but not one he wanted to see happen.
“It’s certainly not our preference to be doing that,” he said. “But ultimately we have to follow the directions of the Chief Health Officer.”