Oct Newsletter 2021


Useful COVID Info

1. We’ve all been using the COVID Safe Check-In QLD app for a while now.

But did you know about the history button in the top right corner? Press this to show your history, but you can also select any place recorded in your history to register that you are there again, a good shortcut when there’s a queue at the check-in point.2. The team at DSC has put together a table to track COVID supports that are available via the NDIS. Stay up to date!


How-To: Keeping COVID Vaccine Mandate’s Ethical 

Jane Williams and Holly Seale dissect the considerations employers need to take before introducing a vaccine mandate for their employees and share some tips on how to do it ethically.  

If you are an employer and thinking about a vaccine mandate for your workers, consider many things. And if you want to go down that path as a last resort, here’s how to do it ethically.

Vaccine mandates are not new. Internationally, COVID vaccines have been mandated in sectors such as health careeducation and business.

In Australia, public health orders have paved the way for mandates in workplaces, such as quarantine and construction. Now, attention is turning to vaccine mandates in businesses.

In the absence of specific health orders, the federal government says it’s up to businesses to decide if a vaccine mandate is appropriate. Aside from vaccine mandates in aged care, the federal government says vaccine mandates are not for government to impose. Not everyoneagrees. Employers are also receiving updated messages about whether a vaccine mandate is legal and under what circumstances.

If vaccine mandates are introduced at work, they must be introduced ethically. And the World Health Organization has guidance on this. Of the issues it raises, two are directly relevant to workplaces – necessity and trust.

In other words, is a vaccine mandate a necessary, reasonable, and proportionate response to a public health problem? This is not an easy or one-off decision. This is because the background risk of COVID infection can change rapidly, as we are seeing in Australia.

Second, how can employers approach the issue while fostering mutual trust between their workers and public health agencies? The point of fostering trust is what we’ll focus on

Promote choice first

You might not actually need a vaccine mandate. Offer alternatives before mandates, where possible, as a way of promoting trust.

This is called offering a “least restrictive alternative”, a liberty-promoting approach that aims not to coerce people unless or until they have been given every opportunity to be vaccinated because they choose to be.

Here are things businesses can and should try to promote choice:

  1. Make getting the vaccine easy. 
  2. Make sure there are no financial burdens associated with receiving the vaccine. 
  3. If staff are concerned about being vaccinated, facilitate access to reliable information and opportunities to ask questions/receive information in person. 
  4. Offer alternatives where they are feasible and effective.

Make it fair

The second way employers can foster trust is to make decisions fairly and ensure stakeholders feel supported and included. This procedural justice or fair decision-making process is intended to promote legitimacy – the idea that the decision is good – and deal with any disagreements.

One such approach argues decisions must be fully transparent, relevant, revisable and enforceable.
Here are some ways businesses can help ensure processes are fair when they are considering a mandate and whether they should decide to impose one:

  1. Involve stakeholders. 
  2. Be clear about the justification for and the goal of the mandate. 
  3. Support enforcement. Any mandate must be enforceable.

In a nutshell

Maintaining and promoting trust is essential when it comes to vaccine mandates. First, it matters to people subject to mandates, and it matters to the public more broadly because mutual trust is a cornerstone of effective public health engagement.

People should feel supported in their health decision making, and they should trust and feel respected by their employers. We’re seeing increasing politicisation about COVID public health measures in Australia and internationally. This is social harm we should avoid. 

Read the full article at ProBono Australia


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