Support workers in residential disability facilities may find themselves having to get vaccinated by the end of October if they want to keep working.

Linda Reynolds

The federal government is considering making vaccination against covid-19 mandatory for disability workers from the end of October.

Following a meeting of National Cabinet last Friday Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPCC) would consider the evidence for mandatory vaccination of disability support workers in high risk settings next month.

“In August the AHPPC will consider making it mandatory for disability support workers who support NDIS participants in high risk disability residential settings to have had at least their first dose of covid-19 vaccine by October 31,” he said.

It comes after the government announced mandatory vaccination for age care workers and amid a surge in covid cases linked to the Delta variant in NSW.

However, concerns have been expressed about mandatory vaccination not applying to the home care workforce.

In the meantime, disability workers were being given priority for vaccination and were strongly encouraged to get a jab, Mr Morrison said.

Carers of NDIS participants and staff, carers, infrequent visitors and volunteers in a residential care settings are currently eligible for vaccination, as well as in-home and community disability workers.

Independent assessments shelved

Meanwhile, controversial plans for mandatory independent NDIS assessments have been dropped after months of pushback.

State and territory disability ministers have agreed that the proposed reforms would not proceed after meeting with their federal counterpart Linda Reynolds on July 9.

In a statement issued after meeting Senator Reynolds, who paused the reforms three months ago, said the government had heeded the lessons of people with lived experience and decided not to introduce independent assessments.

“After eight  years of operations, now is the time to take he lessons of the lived experience and turn those lessons into a better NDIS,” she said in a statement.

 “All ministers agreed to work in partnership with those with lived disability experience on the design of a person-centred model that will deliver consistency and equity (and is) consistent with assessment requiremens under the NDIS act.”

Opponents had expressed concern about people with disability having to be assessed by a stranger while Labor claimed it was a ploy to cut supports.

Tasmanian Disability services minister Sarah Courtney, one of the ministers the meeting last friday, said she was pleased ministers had committed to a co-design process to ensure a person-centred model that delivers consistency and equity.

She also welcomed the commitment of public consultation on any future proposed legislative amendments to the NDIS.

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