Three major universities will impose their own vaccine mandates even if the Queensland Government refuses.
Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government is facing growing calls from the education sector and health experts to introduce vaccine mandates on tertiary campuses.
The premier on Tuesday announced sweeping vaccine mandates for workers at state and private schools, child care centres, prisons, and youth detention complexes and airports – but not universities.
The University of Queensland, Griffith University, and the University of Southern Queensland have taken matters into their own hands and plan to ban unvaccinated staff and students.
Major Queensland universities are preparing to impose their own vaccine mandates as calls grow for the government to rollout jab rules on tertiary campuses
The institutions have begun seeking feedback from staff on students about the potential health measures they are considering adopting prior to semester 1, 2022, The Brisbane Times reports.
QUT intends to bar the unvaccinated from the campus and graduations when state restrictions are relaxed on December 17, and is ‘prioritising efforts to enable the vaccination’ of health students.
Meanwhile, Griffith is exploring a ‘regime of regular testing and additional safety measure’, a spokeswoman said.
But the union representing Queensland university staff argues institutions should not have to be in charge of rolling out vaccine mandates on campus, which will be logistically difficult to enforce.
National Tertiary Education Union’s Queensland division secretary Michael McNally fears inconsistent methods across the sector might place vulnerable staff at risk.
‘We want the government to be involved and in control of this,’ Mr McNally told Brisbane Times.
‘We’re not clear why such massive workplaces with such a large cohort of young people coming in and out is not considered a significant concern in terms of Covid spreading.’
University of South Queensland (pictured) has also been consulting with staff and students about vaccines
Mr McNally said he was gobsmacked the government announced mandates for schools this week but left universities out of the discussion.
UQ epidemiologist and public health physician Linda Selvey was also surprised universities were neglected in state and territory vaccine requirements.
Queensland Health said the onus was on organisations that were not already included in the mandates to devise their own settings.
Victoria is the only state with regulations requiring higher-education students to be vaccinated to participate in face-to-face learning.
The National Tertiary Education Union’s Queensland is calling on Annastacia Palaszczuk to introduce vaccine mandates for universities
However, universities in other states, including the University of NSW, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney, introduced vaccination rules in October, in line with NSW’s reopening guidelines.
On Tuesday, Ms Palaszczuk announced teachers, guards, volunteers, cleaners, maintenance and other workers must have had one dose by December 17 and be fully vaccinated by January 23 to enter any ‘high-risk settings’.
She said the measures are aimed at protecting children aged under 12 who aren’t yet eligible for vaccines from the virus as the state eases restrictions later this year.
‘We are taking the strong action to protect the vulnerable in Queensland,’ Ms Palaszczuk told parliament on Tuesday morning.
‘If you can’t be vaccinated, we want to make sure those around you are vaccinated. If you are in a high-risk group, we also want to make sure those around you are vaccinated.’
The Queensland government this week announced sweeping vaccine mandates for several industries. Pictured: A woman receives a Pfizer vaccine jab at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in Brisbane in August
Queensland already mandated vaccines for health and police services workers, with Police Minister Mark Ryan confirming more than 99 per cent of serving police officers were vaccinated and some were already getting boosters.
Mr Ryan says Surf Life Saving Queensland also mandated that all volunteers and staff over the age of 16 must be vaccinated by March 2022.
The state government will also ban unvaccinated people from all venues in the state from December 17.
People who have not had the jab won’t be allowed to work in or enter restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, theatres, cinemas, sports stadiums, galleries, museums or libraries from that date.
Figures show 86.46 per cent of Queenslanders have had one dose and 76.44 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Source: Daily Mail UK