With more than 2,600 healthcare workers contracting COVID-19 the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF Victorian Branch) is calling on the state’s Opposition party and crossbenchers to support legislation to extend Victoria’s emergency law.
According to the union nurses, midwives and carer workers had felt the full brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak while caring for the Victorian community, and that by extending the state’s emergency law would help protect them and their families from the virus.
“2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and instead of celebrating, they’ve worked harder than ever before under unprecedented conditions, while they worry about contracting the virus themselves or passing it onto a family member,’ ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.
“It’s been brutal, and they’re exhausted with these last few weeks taking an enormous toll.
“Instead of calling them heroes and angels we want our politicians to let nurses, midwives and aged care personal care workers know that you have their back by passing a law to provide a framework for a COVID-safe normal once this outbreak is under control and to quickly respond if there are further outbreaks after this wave,” she said.
The current state of emergency law is allowed to run for six months and will expire on 13 September. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) directions that enforce the current COVID-19 restrictions come under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act and are only allowed to be made when a state of emergency had been declared. To continue DHHS direction, the state government has proposed legislation that will extend the law for a further 12 months.
Ms Fitzpatrick argued that the state of emergency law had provided the Chief Health Officer and the Victorian government the ability to compel the community to follow measures that had brought the spread of the virus under control and saved the lives of healthcare workers and many Victorians.
“This isn’t about maintaining stage 4 restrictions and curfews; it’s about having strong, enforceable rules in the foreseeable future for living with a pandemic.
“Even when restrictions ease, we’re all going to have to follow COVID-safe measures to avoid high rates of community transmission that will protect our healthcare workers so they will be there when you need them most,” she said.