The New South Wales (NSW) Government has begun to ease restrictions in relation to COVID-19 rules and regulations due to the high vaccination rates across the state. For Neighbourhood and Community Centres, this provides an opportunity to increase or re-open their face-to-face activities, programs and services. However, the issues around how to engage with vaccinated and unvaccinated community members, staff and volunteers, has raised a number of complex challenges.
In order for Neighbourhood and Community Centres to have direct contact with all members of the public during this transition period, where not everyone is vaccinated, it is important to be well informed, have plans prepared, as well as policies and procedures in place to keep everyone safe and to comply with government and community expectations. The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), requires that all funded services have a COVID-19 Management Plan and relevant policies in place as part of your contractual obligations.
In a recent meeting, the LCSA Board adpoted a Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and a COVID-19 Safety Policy, which is available to members as a free resource. The LCSA Board also released the following statement.
"LCSA supports vaccination and strongly encourages all LCSA member organisations' staff, volunteers and community members to be vaccinated if there is no medical contraindication. Vaccination of our members will assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable community members. Vaccination of LCSA members also helps protect staff and volunteers in the workplace. Crucially, people who are fully vaccinated have a much lower risk of becoming infected and if they do contract COVID-19, they have a much lower risk of serious illness. LCSA is aware that some members have concerns about the safety of the vaccine. We encourage anyone with concerns to discuss them with their trusted healthcare provider."
LCSA acknowledges that for many Neighbourhood and Community Centres there are complex challenges around managing COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the workplace. We recommend that organisations keep on top of the advice and requirements provided by the NSW Government and in particular with the latest updates from NSW Health. However, if you are finding it difficult to implement or understand your organisations COVID-19 legal requirements and considerations, particularly due to any emerging issues or concerns raised by staff, volunteers, or community members, around mandatory vaccination, we recommend getting independent legal advice to assist you. Justice Connect has a range of legal information, advice, ongoing webinars and support available to Not-For-Profits in response to COVID-19 issues.
Official information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) - NSW Government
COVID Information - NSW Health
COVID-19 (coronavirus) Response - NSW Department of Communities & Justice
Managing vaccines in the workplace - Justice Connect
COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace - FairWork Ombudsman
Download LCSA's Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and COVID-19 Safety Policy (Available to LCSA Members Only).
LCSA's COVID Policies