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COVID-19: Update from WALGA President and CEO
26 November 2021

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Guidance Provided by the Office of the Chief Health Officer (CHO)
WALGA has been working with the Office of the CHO to obtain answers to commonly asked questions received from Local Governments. Below are some common questions and answers.
1. How broad will the Group 2 Directions be and which Local Government facilities/premises and areas will be captured?

The drafting of the Group 2 Directions is not yet complete and they are likely to be released in mid-December. However the Office of the CHO has advised that the Group 2 Directions will not be as broad in their coverage of the Local Government facilities and premises as had been expected.

WALGA is currently working with the Office of the CHO to obtain clarity around which areas clearly won’t be covered by the Group 2 Directions and will communicate further information to the sector as soon as it is known.

2. What is a Local Government required to do if the Public Health Directions state the Local Government must ‘collect and maintain a record of the vaccination status?’

The Public Health Directions (Directions) require the Local Government to ‘collect and maintain a record of the vaccination status’ of each worker who must receive a COVID-19 vaccine under the Directions.
A Local Government can, but it is not required to, keep a copy of the worker’s evidence of vaccination such as a COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate, to comply with the Directions.
It is sufficient for a designated person at the Local Government to view the worker’s evidence and keep a written record of that. For example, a list of all employees with a check box against each name to confirm their vaccination record has been cited and that they have received one or both vaccinations as required, would be sufficient.

3. Do Local Governments need to ‘collect and maintain a record of the vaccination status’ of employees of contractors engaged to provide services for the Local Government or of other third parties who operate at restricted facilities owned or operated by Local Governments?

The obligations under the Directions have been expressed to apply to the ‘employer, owner, occupier, operator or person apparently in charge of’ the restricted facility/premises. Local Governments will need to review the specific Directions that apply to determine if any other person has an obligation to ensure that persons entering a restricted facility/premises are vaccinated.
The Office of the CHO advises that the Directions do not require each of the parties listed (employer, owner, operator, etc) to collect vaccination records or control access to the restricted facility, but only for one of them to. 
For example if a Local Government:
  • outsourced the operation of a restricted facility covered by Directions; or
  • leased part of a restricted facility to a third party e.g. a hire car company at an airport,
then it should satisfy itself that the operator or third-party lessee is complying with the Directions. The Local Government would not be required to collect the vaccination status of each employee of the operator or third-party lessee.
It is suggested that the entity with the most direct relationship to the workers or individuals entering the restricted facility/premises should fulfill the obligations under the Directions. The Local Government can then write to all operators, contractors or third -party lessees on their premises or entering facilities covered by the Directions to confirm in writing that they are complying with the PH Directions and that they are only allowing vaccinated workers to attend the premises/facilities.

4. What are the requirements for Elected Members to be vaccinated?

WALGA has queried whether Elected Members would be included in the following categories in the group 3 ‘lockdown group’ under the Government’s COVID-19 mandatory vaccination policy:
  • ‘Local Government services where working from home is not possible; or
  • ‘members and staff of Members of Parliament of Western Australia’.
It is unlikely that Elected Members will be included in the Group 1 or 2 Directions, and the lock down group directions will only be published at the time of a lockdown.
If Elected Members fall into the group ‘Local Government services where working from home is not possible’, Elected Members can either:
  • Participate in any Council meetings electronically during a public health emergency or state of emergency pursuant to r. 14C and 14D of the Local Government (Administration) Regulations; or
  • Attend the meeting if they are fully vaccinated.
If the wording of the group ‘members and staff of Members of Parliament of Western Australia’, is expanded to include Elected Members, Elected Members will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to attend Council meetings and events.
Last week, WALGA again wrote to the Office of the CHO to confirm which lockdown category Elected Members would be covered under and they are currently following this up. Once clarified, further information on this issue will be communicated via a future COVID Update.
For more information regarding the Directions, email the COVID-19 response team
Fire and Emergency Services Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No.2)
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to assist emergency services volunteers to understand the requirements of the Fire and Emergency Services Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No.2) for emergency services volunteers.
The Directions (No.2) provide that Local Government must take ‘all reasonable and lawful steps’ to collect and maintain a record of the vaccination status of Bushfire Brigade (BFB) volunteers.

WALGA and DFES are working together to develop advice for the sector on options for collection and management of vaccination records for BFB volunteers, including DFES sharing the vaccination status of BFB volunteers from data collected on the DFES Volunteer Hub. This advice will be provided as soon as possible.
For more information, view the FAQ document.
Templates for Employee Relations Subscribers
The WALGA Employee Relations team has prepared the following templates and documents for subscribers to the service:
  • A template letter that Local Governments can send employees who are required to be vaccinated under the Directions.
  • A template letter that Local Governments can send employees where no Directions yet apply but explains the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy and pending arrival of new Directions.
  • A template checklist that you can work through to ensure your Local Government is complying with the Directions.
  • Mandatory Vaccination Requirements FAQs #1 – Where Public Health Directions re mandatory vaccinations apply.
  • Mandatory Vaccination Requirements FAQs #2 – No Public Health Directions re mandatory vaccinations apply

The FAQ documents will be updated as required, as the information in this area is changing rapidly. Subscribers can log into the WALGA website and review the resources here.
For questions about employees and COVID-19 vaccinations, subscribers can email WALGA Employee Relations or call 1300 366 956.
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West Leederville, WA 6007
PO Box 1544, West Perth, WA 6872
Tel: (08) 9213 2000 | Fax: (08) 9213 2077
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