Health care workers barred from SA 

18 August 2020

Health care professionals living interstate will no longer be deemed essential under South Australia's new border restrictions, prompting concerns patients will suffer.

Aged care worker Debra Brockie, who lives in the Victorian town of Nelson, just 4km from the South-East border, told Channel 9 news she and other cross-border staff who work at Mt Gambier’s Boandik aged care facility were barred from entering SA by SA Health.

“Aged care is so essential and they need us,’’ Ms Brockie said.

“Where we all work will be affected by not having us there.’’

Maddi Redding, an operating theatre nurse who lives in the Victorian town of Apsley, 7km east of the border, has also been denied entry to SA and can no longer work at Naracoorte Hospital.

“The Naracoorte Hospital, they’re going to get overworked because there’s less of us border dwellers to go and work,’’ she told Nine News.

“It’s just putting lives at risk to be perfectly honest.’’

From 12.01am, Friday, 21 August, cross-border community members need to complete a cross-border travel registration form to show they are an essential traveller (e.g. health services worker) along with relevant supporting documentation.

As of Friday, only Victorians who are considered essential travellers will be able to enter the state.

Previously, Victorians within 40km of the state border could cross into South Australia if they had regular coronavirus tests.

The Minister for Health Stephen Wade said cross-border commuters “represent a higher risk’’ of COVID.

“They’re more likely to come in contact with an ill person who might have COVID. They’ve got a greater propensity to transmit that to vulnerable people,’’ he told Channel 9.

CEO/Secretary of the ANMF (SA Branch) Adj. Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said the union recognises the necessity for increasing the restrictions on cross-border travel for the safety of the community.

“However, the rapid decision to implement these restrictions has added stress and pressure for nurses and other health care workers to apply and gather evidence in a very short period of time,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“We believe adding a layer of common sense and some flexibility while prioritising the safety of community is required.

“We do not want to be in a situation where we have health care workers not being able to provide much-needed care due to an administration issue.’’