The Community and Public Sector Union is extremely concerned about another COVID-19 outbreak aboard a Border Force Marine Unit vessel.

The CPSU has learned today that there are several COVID-positive cases on a Cape Class vessel anchored in port.

We are particularly concerned that:

  • The Department of Home Affairs is not removing COVID-positive officers from the vessel, but rather keeping both positive and negative officers aboard – effectively inappropriately turning the vessel into a quarantine facility;
  • Some officers have been denied access to Rapid Antigen Tests, despite being close contacts;
  • Serious health and safety risks like this remain after Comcare intervened following a previous outbreak in January. Comcare placed an official Improvement Notice on the Department following the January outbreak and it is extremely concerning that officers are still being placed in needlessly risky situations;
  • Up to six vessels are currently non-operational due to COVID cases and understaffing.

Comments attributable to Brooke Muscat, CPSU Deputy National President:

“A full two years into the pandemic, it’s outrageous that the Department of Home Affairs and the Home Affairs Minister haven’t properly mitigated these obvious health and safety risks. They’ve had two years to sort this out, and every step of the way officers and CPSU representatives have tried to work with them to do that.”

“Officers should not be held on vessels when they have tested positive to COVID-19, nor should officers who have tested negative be held on a vessel with positive crew members, waiting to see if they catch it too. This is a huge physical and psycho-social hazard which no-one deserves.”

“We have today written to the Minister for Home Affairs to request that she intervene. It’s clear that her Department is unwilling or unable to make the proper plans to keep staff safe, so she needs to take some responsibility and step in.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Susie Byers 0438 846 443