Goodstart Early Learning mandates COVID-19 vaccination for all employees
Australia’s largest early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider, Goodstart Early Learning, has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will now be mandatory for all employees.
The measure has been implemented, the provider said, to protect the health of young children and the in-centre teams who educate and care for them. All 15,000 Goodstart employees fall under the mandate, and have until the end of November to comply, unless they are able to provide a medical reason under which they are unable to be vaccinated.
CEO Julia Davison said the decision, an ECEC sector first, requires Goodstart employees across Australia to be fully vaccinated by November 29, in every state and territory, with initial vaccinations, or first doses, required by the end of October.
Vaccination is already mandatory for the early childhood sector in New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
“With children unable to be vaccinated, the best way to keep children safe is to vaccinate the adults around them,” Ms Davison said, emphasising the reach of the network.
Over 70,000 children attend Goodstart’s 670 centres located in every state and territory, supported by 15,000 educators, teachers, cooks, cleaners, maintenance workers and centre directors.
“At Goodstart safety is a priority and this is an important part of keeping all Goodstarters safe,” she continued.
“We know that as vaccination rates rise, COVID becomes a pandemic of the unvaccinated, particularly young children, as no vaccines have been approved for them. While most children are at low risk of serious infection, we should do everything we can to keep that risk as low as possible.”
Ms Davison said that while Goodstart’s award-winning COVID-safe plan for its centres has ensured that children, families and educators are as safe as possible up to this point, the spread of the Delta variant “is challenging.”
“In states like NSW and Victoria where Delta has taken such a toll, we’ve seen centre closures increase significantly,” she explained.
“Expert advice from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute makes it very clear that the only reasonable step is to ensure every adult who works in our centres is vaccinated.”
Ms Davison said with supply increasing, and the national plan to re-open Australia not far off, it had become urgent for all early learning centres to vaccinate staff.
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