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Thursday, December 7, 2023

AACC urges Vic Govt to reconsider allowing unvaxxed visitors to enter aged care facilities

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The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) has called on the Victorian Government to urgently review a decision to allow unvaccinated visitors to residential aged care homes in the state.

The AACC has written to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, seeking a meeting as a matter of urgency.

The AACC is a group of six aged care peak bodies – Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and UnitingCare Australia – representing more than 1000 aged care providers delivering care to nearly a million older Australians.

Prior to the publication of the Care Facilities Directions on October 29, both Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) raised concerns about the decision to allow up to five non-vaccinated visitors to aged care homes per day.

In a statement, the AACC said no one wants to experience the high rate of disease in facilities again, given the traumatic experience in Victoria last year.

It said that there are still high rates of community transmission in Victoria and even though the workforce and a high proportion of residents are vaccinated the presence of unvaccinated visitors poses too much of a risk particularly to vulnerable older residents.

Aged care providers strive to take the utmost care in protecting their residents and staff from COVID but, the AACC said, the current rules in Victoria make this difficult to achieve.

Vaccination is one of the most important defences available to protect our older Australians the AACC said and therefore it urges the Victorian Government to reconsider this position.

NSW, ACT, and SA have all issued public health orders which only permit fully vaccinated visitors, with limited exemptions.

It is understood that Queensland also intends to restrict visitation to those who are vaccinated once they lift restrictions.

The aged care sector is currently reviewing the national Visitor Access Code.

This has been endorsed by all provider and consumer organisations and proposes that all visitors be vaccinated with limited exceptions.

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