Pharmacists call on Federal Government to provide free rapid antigen tests

Media Release
4 January 2022

Professional Pharmacists Australia, which represents employee pharmacists, today joined the growing chorus of voices asking the Federal Government to make RATs free and available for all Australians.

CEO of Professional Pharmacists Australia Jill McCabe said “we should be protecting the health and safety of all workers and their families, not just those who can afford to buy the tests.”

“We represent the vast majority of pharmacists in Australia – employee pharmacists – and we’re calling on the Federal Government to act urgently and provide the tests free to all given the surge in cases and the change in testing regimes,” said Ms McCabe.

“The virus hasn't changed just because the Federal Government’s definitions and approach to testing has changed.”

President of Professional Pharmacists Australia Geoff March said working pharmacists believe people’s access to RATs should not be dependent on how much they earn and can afford to pay.

“Employee pharmacists are on the frontline of this issue, constantly running out of supply and seeing the look on people’s faces when they struggle to pay for tests.

“Most Australians find the cost of testing their family prohibitive - if they’re able to find testing kits at all.

“If Australians have to rely on the private sector to get Covid tests, they will be paying up to $20 each - that’s $100 for a family of five for just one test each time.

“In the future more workers will need to access the tests before going into work so the financial strain will increase.

“We are concerned about the dire shortage in the supply of RATs, the prohibitive cost and the intensifying pressure on working pharmacists dealing with this issue, as well as continuing the vaccination program which now includes boosters and children's vaccination.”

“While pharmacy owners are receiving increased government funding for vaccinations - this is not being shared with the pharmacists who are working harder than ever before, like so many in the health sector.”

Ms McCabe said the Federal Government needed to step up to the challenge of supporting Australians to live with the virus.

“It’s one thing for the Government to shift to managing, and living with, the virus, but it’s another thing to completely obfuscate responsibility for protecting the health and safety of Australians,” Ms McCabe said.

Media contact: Tim O’Halloran 0409 059 617