I told you this question would keep cropping up.
Reporter: How is it possible that you don’t have the power to enforce aged care workers to not work across multiple sites? You can enforce bans on visitations, you can enforce the private residential aged care to change their arrangements in response to an outbreak?
Foley: I think you’re inviting me to do two things. One is to be critical to the Commonwealth which I’m not going to do. I’m going to work cooperatively with the Commonwealth to address a real problem. And you’re inviting me to on the run reframe the regulatory framework that’s applied for COVID responses right across the Commonwealth in private residential aged care for some 14 months. Clearly the Victorian government, and all the state governments and territory government’s powers when it comes to pandemic responses are broad and significant. But they also try to be as consistent as possible and in line with the national direction set by National Cabinet. In this regard, without doubt, the chief health officer’s powers are very broad. But they also need to be appropriately reflected against the national consistent policies wherever that applies. That is in the case of private residential aged care.
Reporter: We know how devastating it is when COVID enters into aged care facilities. It’s happened again. Isn’t the proportionate response to ban aged care workers from working across multiple sites and making that, supplying it across the board as opposed to just the public?
Foley: We had a system in place through the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre in both public and private systems that achieve precisely that. The state made a policy and financial decision to continue that. You’d have to ask the Commonwealth what the reasons as to why they didn’t continue that policy which I understand now they have re-established. So we welcome that strongly. But in regards to the broader policy issue, I refer you back to my original answer. That this is a consistent approach across the states and territories. If it’s going to change, our preferred position would be to do it at a consistent national basis.
Reporter: Will it be something that you push for at National Cabinet?
Foley: Well, I’m not on National Cabinet.
Reporter: The Government is.
Foley: Yes, clearly the Government is. But National Cabinet’s agenda is I think organic and fluid. And it would be a position that states and territories through Health Ministers, aged care ministers and discussions with the Commonwealth I’m sure would land in an appropriate space.
Reporter: I understand people would be absolutely shocked that this is still happening?
Foley: Yes, I would.
Reporter: Is it something you’d be advocating for to take to National Cabinet and for National Cabinet to have this discussion?
Foley: The agenda for National Cabinet is a process that is led through states and territories agreeing and we as circumstances change would look to how that agenda changes.
Reporter: Have you spoken to other state and territory leaders to potentially bring this on the agenda?
Foley: I haven’t spoken to state and territory leaders but I speak regularly to health ministers, both state and health, and issues on the health system more broadly that every state and territory is facing and the application of issues around the vaccination program are well and truly on the National Cabinet agenda. Lessons from circumstances that continue to apply I’m sure might well make their way through the system.