Saturday 16 July 2022
Ahead of today’s National Cabinet meeting, Professionals (PA) has reiterated its call that the Federal Government extend the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment and provide free rapid antigen tests to concession card holders, in the wake of increased COVID-19 infections and hospitalisation rates.
PA’s CEO Jill McCabe said both measures were critical in managing the impact of COVID-19 on the community and the health care system, with COVID-19 cases continuing to surge due to the emergence of more infectious Omicron variants.
“We wrote to the Minister for Health on 5 July 2022, asking the Federal Government to reconsider its decision to terminate the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment as we believe this payment is essential for workers who need to self-isolate, but do not have access to paid leave entitlements for this purpose.
“This payment must remain a critical element of our national health response, as it allows workers to safely self-isolate at home but still be able to support their families financially.
Ms McCabe said that two and half years into the pandemic, many frontline workers, including members of Professionals Australia, such as pharmacists, pathologists and translators and interpreters, continue to work hard to protect the health and wellbeing of the community. Many workers have exhausted their personal leave entitlements and the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment provided an important safety net if they tested positive for COVID-19.
“As much as we’d all like the COVID-19 pandemic to be over, the reality is infections and hospitalisation rates are rapidly increasing, as the new Omicron variants take their toll.
Ms McCabe also said that in response to worsening COVID-19 infection rates, the provision of rapid antigen tests to concession card holders must also continue.
“We must acknowledge that with spiraling rates of COVID-19 infections, vulnerable Australians need more help than ever to protect their health. The provision of free rapid antigens tests has been vital in helping the elderly, people living with a disability and immunocompromised people to monitor their health and exposure to COVID-19.
“The Federal Government must continue to provide free rapid antigen tests to concession card holders to ensure these important members of our community are adequately supported and that their health is better protected.
“In the midst of winter, with surging rates of COVID-19, influenza, and record rates of people unable to work due to illness, the Federal Government must retain the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment and free rapid antigen tests to concession card holders to protect community health, the health system and the health care workers who are bearing the brunt of this crisis.
Media Contact: Darren Rodrigo 0414 783 405