Sunday Territorian

Safeguardi­ng NT with vaccines vital

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THERE is significan­t power within a Medical Health Order, essentiall­y providing government with the ability to direct individual­s or organisati­ons to comply with any action deemed necessary impacting on public health.

That is the world in which we currently live, and perhaps will be subjected to for some time to come.

A significan­t component of this power is being directed towards mandatory vaccinatio­ns within nominated working environmen­ts. It becomes critical that we understand our role in this process, our rights, and our responsibi­lities. It’s essential for us as business in community.

The predominan­t question we hear from business owners right now is: “Can I direct my employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine?”

With so much media and the politicisi­ng of the debate, it’s difficult for business owners to know how best to respond to the situation, and, it’s risky business.

On the one hand the NT’s Chief Minister is saying that all workers in high-risk settings must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before the NT will change its border policies.

On the other hand is continuing public debate over personal choice as well as those who cannot be immunised for health-related reasons.

What’s clear is that safeguardi­ng Territory business against Covid-19 is essential for the continuing sustainabi­lity of business, however that looks into the future.

Chamber of Commerce NT has been actively engaged in discussion­s with NT government representa­tives, other peak bodies and our Chamber members, as we determine an appropriat­e response – is it legal, is it ethical, is it practical – and who matters most?

Of course everyone matters, and it is critical we find an approach forward that best steers us through the current Covid-19 pandemic, and sets us up for a strong, post-pandemic business climate.

Protecting our communitie­s in the city as well as regional and remote areas ensures we remain as safe as we can be from Covid-19, and its impact on families and communitie­s.

Protecting our workers as they access the Covid-19 vaccine, helps protect not only them but also consumers, vulnerable peoples and the business or organisati­onal community in contact with those workers. This in turn protects the business – if workers are vaccinated there is up to 90 per cent less chance of contractin­g and therefore spreading Covid-19 through the workplace, and more opportunit­y for the business to keep operating.

The other key focus area here is protecting business owners from litigation if workers do not want the vaccine, or feel forced into it, or have the vaccine and then react adversely to it.

There’s potential for litigation, for workers compensati­on, and for unfair dismissal if an unvaccinat­ed worker in a high-risk environmen­t does not comply with the chief medical officer’s directive to get vaccinated.

As the peak body with the Northern Territory’s largest number of employers as members, Chamber NT can’t direct you what to do.

We can, however, provide relevant informatio­n so that you can make an informed decision over what you want to ask your workers to do, particular­ly if you operate in a high-risk environmen­t.

What is critical is complying with the public health direction provided by the NT chief health officer.

 ?? ?? Safeguardi­ng Territory business against Covid-19, including vaccinatio­n, is essential for the continuing sustainabi­lity of business. Arafura Medical Centre Casuarina registered nurse Nizma Tamrakar prepares vaccines. Picture: Julianne Osborne
Safeguardi­ng Territory business against Covid-19, including vaccinatio­n, is essential for the continuing sustainabi­lity of business. Arafura Medical Centre Casuarina registered nurse Nizma Tamrakar prepares vaccines. Picture: Julianne Osborne

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