A Daley Labor Government will fund up to 8000 vaccinations for at-risk workers and other members of the community in rural and regional NSW as part of its $4 million commitment to combat Q fever, Lismore electorate candidate Janelle Saffin has promised.
The vaccinations will be available to those who are currently not covered under employer schemes.
Under this policy Labor will extend the existing vaccinations to workers in key industries as well as young students and teachers in agricultural colleges, who should all be vaccinated but are often not.
Q fever is a bacterial infection that can cause a severe flu-like illness. The bacteria are spread from animals, mainly cattle, sheep and goats. People who do not have contact with animals may also be infected.
This commitment will ensure a more effective response to this insidious disease, Ms Saffin said.
“This is an important community safety issue which affects the health of rural workers, farmers, and many others in our community, who are still reeling from the multi-factor impacts many years later.”
Of the promised funding, $3.7 million will be allocated to testing and vaccinations. The remaining $300,000 will progress the groundbreaking work of Professor Stephen Graves at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute at Menangle in the development of a new vaccine which will be simpler to administer.
The program will be reviewed at the end of the second year.
Between 2002 and 2012, there were 177 workers compensation claims for Q fever in NSW with costs totaling more than $3.5 million.
Labor’s program will be rolled out in GP clinics in at risk areas and include a $500 subsidy to cover costs associated with pathology testing required, as well as the cost of the vaccine.
It’s a cause familiar to party leaders, with Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Mick Veitch a long-term sufferer from Q fever after contracting it as a shearer.
Opposition leader Michael Daley said he came from a long line of dairy farmers from the state’s Mid North Coast and therefore has an understanding of people who work on the land.
“Labor believes this is an important community safety issue which affects the health of students, farmers, sole trader businesses and community members as well as employees,” he said,
“For some people, Q fever will affect their health and ability to work for many years.”