Unvaccinated SES volunteers have been prevented from responding to Victoria’s flood crisis due to ongoing jab mandates.
The loophole is still active despite the Covid pandemic having officially ended in the state.
Liberal Democrats MP for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has pleaded with Premier Daniel Andrews to waive the rules.
“I heard before the flood that a number of State Emergency Service units were struggling to remain open because of vaccination requirements,” Mr Quilty said.
“Since the flood crisis began I have been contacted by a number of SES volunteers upset they were banned from attending their units to assist.
“It is absolute madness that while rivers are rising, scores of SES volunteers are not allowed to help because they might not reach double or triple vaccine requirements. Unvaccinated people are not even allowed to fill up sandbags if they are with the SES.”
Mr Quilty said last week’s end to emergency orders should also signal the conclusion of jab mandates.
“If the pandemic really is over as Premier Andrews claims, why can’t members of the SES help out their neighbours during floods?”
Victorian Opposition emergency services spokesman Brad Battin said the requirement should be overturned while floods continue to wreak havoc.
“We need volunteers on the ground doing what they do best, protecting Victorians, not blocked by bureaucratic red tape and outdated restrictions,” he said.
“We continue to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and to follow the health advice.
“However, forcing hardworking volunteers to choose between helping our most vulnerable communities and getting vaccinated is just not on.”
SES volunteers must have at least two doses of any Covid vaccine in order to attend emergencies.
They were also a prioritised group for vaccination during the rollout in 2021.
A Victorian SES spokesman said the number of unvaccinated volunteers is small.
“Emergency services personnel encounter a lot of vulnerable people in their work inclusive of those in aged care and health facilities,” he said.
“There is only a very small percentage of VICSES volunteers that have not had the two doses required and this has had no overall impact to service delivery.”