‘We should do everything we can’: Childcare giant to mandate jabs for all employees

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Childcare giant Goodstart Early Learning will make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for all employees nationwide making it the latest private sector to make jabs compulsory.

Chief executive officer Julia Davison made the announcement late on Monday that Goodstart would insist all 15,000 employees in every state and territory be fully vaccinated by November 29, making it the first in the sector to mandate the vaccine.

Goodstart Julia Davison has mandated vaccinations for staff at the company’s early learning centres.Credit:Graham Jepson

Ms Davison said the company, Australia’s largest not-for-profit early learning and care provider, would require staff at Goodstart’s 670 centres receive their first vaccinations before the end of October.

It came as two of its Melbourne centres were listed as tier-1 and tier-2 sites.

“With children unable to be vaccinated, the best way to keep children safe is to vaccinate the adults around them,” Ms Davison said.

“We know that as vaccination rates rise, COVID becomes a pandemic of the un-vaccinated particularly young children, as no vaccines have been approved for them.

“While most children are at low risk of serious infection, we should do everything we can to keep that risk as low as possible.”

Ms Davison said expert advice from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute had made it clear that the only reasonable step was to ensure every adult who worked in their centres was vaccinated with more than 700,000 children enrolled.

“Today I have written to the State and Territory leaders who are yet to mandate vaccination for the early learning sector urging them to do so quickly,” she said.

Vaccinations are already mandatory for the early childhood sector in NSWales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

Goodstart joins a rising number of high-profile industries and service providers to make vaccinations mandatory for employees, including Telstra, fruit and vegetable processor SPC and Qantas.

On Monday, the University of Melbourne became the third university to introduce a mandatory jab policy following similar announcements from La Trobe and Monash universities.

In an email from Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell, he said full vaccination would be required to attend University of Melbourne campuses from November 5 to align the school with the Victorian government’s road map, which states on-site learning and work can re-commence for the fully vaccinated from that date.

“From this date, all students, staff, contractors and visitors attending our campuses will be required to be fully vaccinated. A fully vaccinated student body and workforce will reduce disease transmission rates, minimise the severity of any breakthrough infections and reduce the likelihood of severe disease requiring admission to hospital,” he wrote.

“It will also assist in reducing disruption to on-campus activities from future exposures.”

But the National Tertiary Education Union warned more engagement was needed.

Annette Herrera, NTEU University of Melbourne branch president, said the university community must feel physically safe to learn, teach, research and work.

“Ensuring the actual and perceived risks associated with returning to work on the University’s campuses is something that needs to be done together with employees, not as an edict from the Vice Chancellor,” Ms Herrera said.

The health department said a positive case attended Goodstart Early Learning’s Kennedy Street site on September 21 with an exposure time of 9am to 5.30pm, listing it as tier-1 exposure site.

The same case also attended the centre the following day between 9am and 11.30am.

Anyone who has visited this location during these times must get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days from exposure.

The health department said the centre’s Pascoe Vale site had been listed as a tier-2 site for September 20 from 9.40am to 5.10pm and September 21 from 8.40am to 4.40pm.

“Some individuals will be tier-1 contacts required to quarantine for 14 days and the Department will be in contact with them directly with this advice,” they said.

“Anyone who has visited this location during these times should urgently get tested, then isolate until confirmation of a negative result. Continue to monitor for symptoms, get tested again if symptoms appear.”

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