Disability support workers may soon be forced to get vaccinated against coronavirus if they want to keep their jobs.
The compulsory jab policy has been recommended by a panel of health experts and will be debated at a national cabinet meeting on Friday.
The proposed mandate follows a similar order imposed on aged care workers, who must receive at least one dose by mid-September to remain employed in the industry.
The federal government is providing nursing home staff paid leave to get vaccinated and a day off if they experience side effects.
Just one third of the disability workforce has received one vaccine dose and only 15 per cent are fully protected.
Many disability workers are extremely keen to get vaccinated but have been hampered by the lack of supplies and easy access to jabs.
Federal Disability Minister Linda Reynolds is calling on state and territory leaders to endorse the vaccine mandate.
“It is very important disability support workers, particularly those who work in disability accommodation, are vaccinated to protect those they look after,” she told ABC radio.
Less than 50 per cent of Australians living in disability care have received one dose of the vaccine and fewer than one in four residents are fully vaccinated.
Senator Reynolds said vaccination rates among disabled Australians had doubled in the last six weeks and were increasing rapidly.
Even so, she expects everyone living in disability care to be vaccinated “in the next couple of months”.
Senator Reynolds said there were more than 6,000 disability care facilities across Australia and each participant required an individual plan.
Disability care providers and unions are broadly supportive of the workforce mandate, so long as the vaccines are easy to access and paid leave is provided.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said on Thursday disability workers want to be vaccinated but many haven’t been able to get a jab.
“Disability workers want to be vaccinated. The vaccines aren’t available,” he told reporters. “That is the problem here. There aren’t enough deals done.”
With reporting by SBS News