The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is calling on the new Albanese Government to reverse the previous Morrison government’s decision to scrap COVID leave disaster payments, which have supported frontline workers throughout the pandemic.
From today, workers who cannot work due to COVID-isolation requirements will no longer be entitled to receive emergency payments of between $450-$750 a week.
Annie Butler, ANMF federal secretary, said it was crucial that the payments remain in place to allow people to follow public health orders and stay in isolation in the event they either contract COVID or need to care for others with the virus.
“It’s a common-sense solution which will help workers adhere to public health orders and assist essential workers like nurses, midwives and care workers to care for the rest of the community and keep them as safe as possible – at a time when we are all at risk of new infections.”
Despite health departments relaxing a number of restrictions, Butler warns that the threat posed by COVID is far from over.
“In fact, we’re heading into a potential ‘winter’ wave – clearly demonstrated by the current increase in COVID cases and a worrying increase in hospitalisations.
“With many public health measures now being relaxed, we need to ensure that everything is done to support the whole community to abide by the restrictions still in place.”
Butler says that these payments are especially important to enable workers to complete the mandatory seven days’ isolation if they test positive — which remains policy in every state and territory.
“We need to make sure that every person is able to do so,” she adds.
“If we don’t, as we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, workers who aren’t supported to stay at home and isolate because they can’t afford to lose money, will continue to spread the virus further.
“Our health system simply can’t bear this extra pressure.”
“Nurses, midwives and care workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic since the beginning of 2020 and are continuing to work under extreme pressure – not just from the burden of COVID but also dealing with rising influenza cases, overwhelmed emergency departments and the ongoing crisis in aged care.
“We must learn from previous mistakes. Supporting people now will save money and, most importantly, lives in the long run, which is why the Government should be protecting the community by continuing to financially support people who are forced to isolate for 7-days.
The largest union in the country, the ANMF represents over 310,000 nurses, midwives and carers across Australia.