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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2601 ..

COVID-19—vaccination rollout

MR DAVIS: My question is to the Minister for Health and relates to vaccine rates. Minister, in an August briefing from ACOSS, the organisation cited serious concerns about high-risk groups being left behind in achieving COVID-19 vaccination coverage. Will the ACT have targets for these disadvantaged groups?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Davis for the question. One of the points that the Chief Minister and I have both made regularly at press conferences is that as we look at the 70 per cent fully vaccinated rate, the 80 per cent fully vaccinated rate and the 90 per cent fully vaccinated rate right across our community, we are also looking at the different parts of our community, particularly those who might be more vulnerable or who might have difficulty, for whatever reason, accessing mainstream health services.

That is exactly why we have established what we call the access to equity program for vaccination. The government has collaborated with the Capital Health Network and the commonwealth to support primary care organisations like Interchange Health Co-op and Directions Health Services, and also Companion House, to provide vaccinations right across diverse communities. This includes Directions providing outreach and mobile services across a number of social housing and other sites across Canberra.

So far—this data is a bit old—we have provided at least 500 COVID-19 vaccination doses to these community partners as part of the equity to access program. That is in addition to the doses provided by the commonwealth. The access to equity vaccination program works with each individual’s trusted provider and established supports to optimise vaccine take-up and uses a variety of tools, including targeted communication and dedicated in-reach.

This week Canberra Health Services is also supporting Winnunga Nimmityjah, which had to close down for the first two days of this week as a result of a contact at Winnunga. Canberra Health Services is ensuring that they can continue to meet their appointments of about 120 people a day through there, as well, through the week while their staff are furloughed. On Monday and Tuesday, those people with appointments had the opportunity to come to AIS.

MR DAVIS: Minister, could you elaborate in more detail on specific in-reach and outreach programs that ACT Health is undertaking and will undertake to make sure that vaccinations reach those who need them the most.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I can speak about some of those things. Directions, as part of their mobile service, which we and the Capital Health Network fund, have been going around to a range of social housing sites offering vaccination. We have specifically worked with them to increase that in the inner north as we have seen the outbreaks associated with Condamine Court and Ainslie Village. We know that there is a lot of movement between different social housing sites within the inner north, so that has been a specific target and focus, with our Canberra Health Services team working alongside Directions to deliver that.

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