Following calls by councils and Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW), early childhood education and care workers in COVID hotspots will now be prioritised for Pfizer vaccines.
LGNSW President, Linda Scott, said the association and affected councils had called on State and Federal governments to prioritise vaccinations for the local government frontline workforce to protect essential workers and families using council services, including children.
“Mayors and councillors have rallied tirelessly to call on the State and Federal government to vaccinate our early education and care workforce, who provide essential support for our communities,” Ms Scott said.
“I met with Minister Greg Hunt and the National COVID Vaccination Taskforce representatives on behalf of our local government sector about the roll out of COVID vaccinations, including to our own staff, earlier this month.
“As a result, together, I am pleased to say we have been able to secure the commitment to priority vaccinations.”
Ms Scott said while the vaccination commitment was a genuine win for affected councils, many were still struggling with uncertain financial futures because of the Commonwealth’s decision to waive gap fees during the COVID lockdown.
“Council-run education and care services across New South Wales continue to be under financial threat because of waiving of gap fees, which means a vital component of funding is no longer available to early childhood providers,” Ms Scott said.
“Many private operators can access State Government business grants designed to help COVID-affected businesses, but council-run services do not have access to those grants.
“Local government operates the largest number of early childhood education services in New South Wales, and in rural and regional New South Wales is often the only provider.
“These essential services are all doing it tough in the current lockdown, and some are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a week.
“Without further funding, the ongoing viability of critical local government early education and care services and the jobs they support are under threat.
“Last year the New South Wales Government supported council-run education and care centres affected by COVID closures by providing $82 million funding to centres that were not eligible to participate in JobKeeper arrangements.
“This funding was vital to keeping these greatly-valued council-run services for our communities afloat.
“I am hopeful the New South Wales Government will once again work with us to ensure these education and care centres are financially supported through this current lockdown crisis.”