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Immunity needed to ensure accurate outbreak review process

  • Public servants must be granted immunity from potential repercussions
  • Honesty and transparency essential to accuracy of report
  • Findings need to be implemented state wide

The inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak in the North West of Tasmania needs to ensure public service workers have immunity from any potential repercussions of speaking openly.

Shadow Minister for Health Sarah Lovell said the government needs to ensure its staff feel safe to speak up and voice their opinions and experiences in order to have an accurate and insightful review.

“To gain the most valuable evidence, it’s vital that these workers have immunity so they cannot be victimised for speaking out about their experiences – it’s disappointing that the Terms of Reference were not broadened after the consultation process.

“This isn’t about pointing a finger or placing blame, it is about ensuring everybody’s experiences are recorded accurately so all aspects of preparedness and response can be reviewed.

“This is a small community, people know each other well and it’s very easy to be identified by particular pieces of evidence that might be given – staff need to be confident there will not be consequences for speaking up about any potential flaws in the process.

“It is also vitally important the learnings from the outbreak be applicable statewide, to ensure the healthcare system is prepared in case of another COVID-19 outbreak or pandemic situation in the future.”

Labor Member for Braddon, Anita Dow, said the COVID-19 outbreak was devastating for the region.

“5,000 people were quarantined, major hospitals shut, the military was bought in, businesses were locked down for an extended period and beloved members of our community died as a result of the outbreak.

“The impacts of the pandemic will be felt particularly painfully by those in the North West for years to come, and it is important that all people feel safe to provide evidence that clearly sets out what happened in the lead up to, and during, the North West outbreak, so we can learn from the experience.

“Labor will be making a submission to the inquiry, and we urge others impacted by the outbreak to do so by the closing date on Friday.”

Sarah Lovell
Shadow Minister for Health

Anita Dow
Labor Member for Braddon