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Shire of Denmark councillors to vote on COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Shire of Denmark councillors is set to vote on a local anti-vaccine mandate group’s call for the Shire to oppose vaccine mandates after a special electors’ meeting last month,

The Shire was required to hold a special electors’ meeting on the subject after more than 200 residents signed a petition calling for the meeting.

The petition was organised by Pro-Choice Denmark, a collective of local residents and business owners who say they are concerned about the impacts of the vaccine mandates, according to organiser Letitia Bracken.

The meeting was held on the outside grassed area near the council chambers and was attended by 250 community members on March 8.

Pro-Choice Denmark presented four motions, with the Shire’s deputy president Kingsley Gibson presiding over the meeting.

The first motion requested that the council adopt a “COVID-19 Vaccination Pro-Choice Statement” and lobby the State Government to remove the vaccination mandate policy.

The motion said unvaccinated people should not be prevented from working, discriminated against or restricted from access to a premises based on vaccination status.

The second motion called on the Shire not to restrict any of its functions, property, or services based on vaccination status and to reinstate any employees whose jobs were affected by their vaccination status.

At Tuesday night’s ordinary council meeting, the Shire is set to confirm that no staff members were stood down as a result of vaccine mandates.

Pro-Choice Denmark also requested that council actively advocates for the removal of vaccine mandates and that no volunteers, including emergency services, should be prevented from fulfilling their volunteer roles based on vaccination status.

The decisions made at the special electors’ meeting were reviewed in a report prepared for council by Shire chief executive David Schober.

“The Shire acknowledges the comments made by electors in relation to the mandatory vaccination requirements and restrictions (directives) imposed by the State Government,” Mr Schober said.

“The Shire supports these directives as necessary measures to reduce the risk of serious illness within our community based on public health advice provided by the State Government and Chief Medical Officer.

“As there is a high rate of vaccination in our community, this would indicate that a greater majority of members within the community accept the need to vaccinate.”

More than 95 per cent of Shire residents have had their first dose of a COVID vaccine and 94.7 per cent are double-vaccinated, according to the latest Federal Government statistics.

Most local businesses have complied with the vaccine mandates.

Mr Schober said the Shire noted the State Government was already reviewing restrictions and mandates and that the they would continue to rely on the public health advice.

“Given the Shire’s reliance on the public health advice provided by the State Government and Chief Medical Officer, officers are unable to support the decisions made at the special electors meeting, as it is outside of the jurisdiction of local government,” they said.

“The Shire supports the directives in place by the State Government as necessary measures to reduce the risk of serious illness within our community, based on public health advice provided by the State Government and Chief Medical Officer.”

The officer’s reported prepared for Tuesday’s meeting recommends that council take no further action with respect to the four decisions made at the March 8 special electors’ meeting.

“Officers suggest council receive the minutes, acknowledge the concerns raised by the four decisions made at the special meeting of electors, and provide a public written response,” Mr Schober said.

“With respect to the four decisions made during the special meeting of electors, officers suggest no further action is taken.”

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