Community Pharmacy to join COVID-19 vaccine workforce

Community pharmacies around Australia are being invited to join the nation-wide effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to millions of Australians over the coming months, as work continues to protect more people from the deadly pandemic.

The Australian Government is committed to providing access to safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19, and the distribution effort will be one of the largest logistical operations in our country’s history.

An expression of interest (EOI) process will commence on 1 February 2021 for community pharmacies around Australia to participate in the, “Community Pharmacy COVID‑19 Vaccination Program,” to immunise priority populations from Phase 2a (expected from May 2021) onwards of the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination rollout strategy.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said, “Community pharmacy will be an important partner in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.”

“Utilising the existing network of thousands of community pharmacies will ensure the general population have broader access to COVID-19 vaccinations, provide choice in where the community receive a vaccine, and address barriers to access some parts of rural and regional Australia,” Minister Hunt said.

“Participation in the program will be voluntary and pharmacies will need to demonstrate they meet the highest safety standards and have capacity and capability to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, as well as ensuring they continue to provide important services to their local communities. These standards have been informed by the expert medical advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).”

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, said community pharmacists across Australia welcomed the opportunity to be part of the healthcare sector’s commitment to ensuring the maximum possible uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Some 94 per cent of pharmacies are members of the pharmacy profession’s quality assurance program, QCPP, and the robustness of this program underpins the sector’s ability to meet the challenges of the pandemic and the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations, while maintaining the levels of service and medicine delivery critical to their role as frontline healthcare professionals,” Mr Tambassis said.

“With a network of some 5.800 pharmacies across Australia, appropriately trained pharmacists are ideally placed to provide the opportunities and access for Australians to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

“Our members are committed to helping protect communities in all areas of the country and, as has been shown during all phases of this pandemic, will continue to go above and beyond for their patients.

“The Guild looks forward to helping ensure the resources and skills of pharmacists are recognised and quickly utilised in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”

An EOI process commenced recently for general practices to assist in the delivery of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and community pharmacies will be another important vaccination point for many communities.

Community pharmacies will be incentivised to provide both doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Australians wishing to be vaccinated, to ensure maximum uptake of the vaccine.

The Australian Government will continue to work with state and territory health authorities and the health sector to finalise the locations for vaccine distribution.

All health professionals involved in the vaccination program will have undertaken specialised training, which is currently in development. This training is expected to be rolled out from early February.

Many of Australia’s community pharmacies are already critical in the delivery of the seasonal influenza vaccines across the entire population, and their efforts in stepping up to support the COVID‑19 vaccine program will be important in ensuring wide accessibility and take up.

This will be the first time a national community pharmacy vaccination program will be rolled out funded by the Commonwealth Government.

More information about the Governments COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy is available at and the EOI will be issued from 1 February 2021.

The Government thanks the community pharmacy sector for their constructive engagement and collaboration over recent months, in particular the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

2021 Senior Australian of the Year

Congratulations Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM from the Northern Territory, who has been named the Senior Australian of the year for 2021.

Dr Ungunmerr Baumann was recognised for her contribution to children’s education, demonstrating an admirable commitment to making Australia a better place.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said Dr Ungunmerr Baumann had gone above and beyond in her service to education in the Top End.

“Miriam-Rose became the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the Northern Territory in 1975, and later served as the principal of the Catholic school in her home community,” Minister Colbeck said.

“She is a renowned artist and a strong advocate for visual art to be a part of every child’s education.

“The Miriam Rose Foundation, which she began, is driving reconciliation at the grassroots level by bridging the divide between Aboriginal culture and wider Australian society.

“The Senior Australian of the Year award is recognition of significant achievement over many years, but it also highlights that dedicated Australians working for their communities come from all walks of life and background.”

Minister Colbeck also paid tribute to the other nominees from across Australia and the winners in each state and territory.

“It must be a difficult task narrowing down the nominees each year, looking through those shortlisted for this honour shows that you can always make a difference.

“While there is only one Senior Australian of the Year, I am continually impressed by all of those Australians who are nominated – they should all be rightly proud of their achievements.”

Congratulations to each of the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year finalists, who continue to inspire and contribute to their communities.

New South Wales Aunty Isabel Reid Elder, survivor and advocate for the Stolen Generation
Victoria Bich Cam Nguyen Refugee and migrant advocate, multicultural leader, CEO of the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association
Queensland Aunty McRose Elu Advocate for Torres Strait communities and climate change
Tasmania Brian Williams Scout leader and mentor
South Australia Professor Richard Bruggemann Disability advocate
Western Australia Dr Richard Walley OAM Aboriginal cultural champion, musician, performer and artist
Australian Capital Territory Patricia Anderson AO Writer and advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples

$311 million for dementia, cancer and additional medical research

Twelve grant opportunities from the Morrison Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), with a total value of almost $311 million, will launch today.

The funding aims to generate improved health care and outcomes by supporting health and medical research and innovation projects in key areas such as dementia, aged care, and applied research led by clinicians.

A total of $17.5 million is on offer for research into dementia and aged care. Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, and the number one cause of death for women.

Almost half a million people are currently living with dementia in Australia, with this number expected to reach around 1.1 million in less than 30 years.

The 2020 MRFF grant opportunity from the Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission targets large scale, interdisciplinary research into dementia and aged care in four streams.

  • $1 million to develop measures to assess dementia care at a local organisational level and improve its quality
  • $6 million to develop interventions for holistic and multidisciplinary care, including new digital technologies to support care, managing transitions between care types, and managing the progression of dementia
  • $8 million for research to develop better diagnostic and prognostic tools for dementia, including biological markers of disease onset and progression
  • $2.5 million for research into effective infection control practices in aged care settings and during transitions.

Through the Clinician Researchers Initiative, the Government will make $25 million available to support clinician’s research health issues of significance to their patients.

Historically, clinician researchers have faced multiple challenges to effectively combine their patient care and research roles.

Grants of up to $3 million are available for research teams comprising a mix of senior and early- to mid-career clinician researchers, and supported by academic researchers.

The research will have potential to improve outcomes for patients, address an area of high need, improve the safety, quality and effectiveness of health services, and/or improve the efficiency of health services.

Funding will be allocated across three streams—teams led by general practitioners (GPs), medical specialists, or allied health professionals.

The chosen research projects will be embedded within a health service, such as hospitals or general practices, or health networks (Primary Health Networks or Local Health Networks).

The $190.8 million MRFF Clinician Researchers initiative will build research capacity in our health system, to ensure research is matched to clinical practice and leads to improved safety and quality in health services.

The MRFF is a capital preserved fund which matured at $20 billion in July 2020. It is long-term, sustainable investment in Australian health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.

In total, our Government directly invested a record $1.28 billion in health and medical research in 2019-20, which represented 13.6 per cent of Australian Government investment in Australian research.

The Morrison Government will invest a record $6.6 billion in health and medical research between 2020-21 and 2023-24.

Details of the 2020 MRFF grant opportunities are below.

Grant opportunity MRFF stream Funding
2020 Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission 2020 Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission $17.5 million
2020 Clinician Researchers: Applied Research in Health Clinician Researchers $25 million
2020 Paediatric Cancer Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research (EPCDR) $9.6 million
2020 Improving Diagnosis in Cancers with Low Survival EPCDR $25 million
2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation Rapid Applied Research Translation $55 million
2020 Early Stage Translation and Commercialisation Support Medical Research Commercialisation $79 million
2020 Genomics Health Futures Mission Genomics Health Futures Mission $45 million
2020 Stem Cell Therapies Mission Stem Cell Therapies Mission $19 million
2020 Cardiovascular Health Mission Cardiovascular Health Mission $20.3 million
2020 Traumatic Brain Injury Mission 2020 Traumatic Brain Injury Mission $4.3 million
2020 Indigenous Health Research Fund Indigenous Health Research Fund $11.1 million
Total   $310.8 million

Further to the launch to the 12 MRFF grant opportunities, public consultation opened today on the Roadmaps and Implementation Plans for six MRFF Missions: Cardiovascular Health Mission; Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission; Genomics Health Futures Mission; Indigenous Health Research Fund; Stem Cell Therapies Mission; and Traumatic Brain Injury Mission.

The Roadmaps and Implementation Plans set the strategic direction for the Missions, including identifying the research questions and priorities MRFF funding will focus on. Written submissions can be made at any time via, and webinars will be held in February and/or March 2021.

Further information on the MRFF is available at and on the grant opportunities is at

City’s westward move delivers new era of modern service

City of Newcastle has now closed out all four projects associated with its move to a new administrative building at 12 Stewart Avenue in Newcastle West.

With the work complete, City of Newcastle can now report to the public on the total cost of each of the four projects.

This decision is in keeping with City of Newcastle’s own long held plans and aligns with NSW Government priorities to shift the CBD west as part of the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, while also providing modern facilities for its employees.

The Roundhouse itself will reopen in early 2021 as the city’s first five-star hotel after being sold in late 2018 for $16.5 million (plus GST).

The four projects delivered as part of the move to 12 Stewart Avenue include:

  • office space for 450 staff (staff worked previously across three properties) ($8,389,994)
  • a Local Emergency Operations Centre ($2,173,982)
  • a Digital Library ($3,267,465)
  • a Council Chamber ($1,041,824).

City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said the relocation was the first modernisation of the organisation in more than 40 years and had resulted in a better work environment, more efficient systems, greater flexibility and improved staff culture, providing an improved service for residents and ratepayers.

It also enabled 450 staff who had been spread across three separate buildings and 13 floors to be working together under the one roof.

“Relocating our City Administration Centre to Newcastle West has provided our staff with a new fit-for-purpose office featuring modern amenities, a flexible design, community areas and meeting rooms to encourage better communication and collaborative decision-making,” Mr Bath said.

“Our Level 1 Customer Service Centre reflects our move towards enhancing the experience community members have when transacting business with city staff and has been co-located with the most digitally advanced library in NSW to provide our community with access to state-of-the-art technologies.

“This space has been designed to double as the Council Chamber when meetings occur twice each month and is equipped with technology that allows for the community to directly participate in Council meetings without the need to leave their home.

“A purpose-built local emergency operations centre was also created as part of our move to Newcastle West, providing a dedicated space where City of Newcastle can work with emergency services including Police, SES, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance and others to deliver a coordinated response to natural disasters and other incidents.

“All these elements have come together to deliver an environment in which staff can make more collaborative decisions and therefore better serve the residents of Newcastle.”

City of Newcastle was the first of four local councils to bring their administration centre up to contemporary work standards, with a frugal approach that compares favourably to the nearby projects.

“Lake Macquarie City Council is spending $17.8m on their fit-out, Mid Coast Council has budgeted $20m and Maitland’s project is budgeted at $28m,” Mr Bath said.

“The $8.3m spent on our relocation is evidence of the frugal approach we have taken, while the move itself also allowed us to identify cost effective co-locatable opportunities such as the Digital Library and LEOC, which if built elsewhere would have come at a considerably larger expense.”

Mr Bath said the relocation paved the way for the revitalisation of the Civic cultural precinct and the sale of properties including the Roundhouse and the Frederick Ash Building.

“The sale of these buildings has allowed us to direct significantly more funds into projects that benefit the community, with the $16.5 million proceeds from the Roundhouse going directly towards our record $116 million program of upgrading and improving key community assets,” Mr Bath said.

“Another $9.5 million from the sale of three properties including the Frederick Ash building is being used to part fund the much-needed restoration of the Newcastle Ocean Baths, with the first stage upgrade to the pools and lower promenade starting next year.”

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the relocation was in line with City of Newcastle’s own long held plans, as well as NSW Government priorities to shift the CBD west as a catalytic site in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan.

“This area is rapidly transforming into Newcastle’s new CBD. We’re pleased to be part of this strategic shift, which is not only revitalising a long dormant part of the city but is also allowing new life to be injected into our civic cultural precinct and some of our most treasured community facilities,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Four projects have been delivered as part of the move to 12 Stewart Avenue, including office space for our administrative staff, a brand new, state-of-the-art Digital Library, the new Council Chamber, and the purpose-built Local Emergency Operations Centre.

“This is designed to provide the best value to our residents and a seamless experience for all community members.

“I would like to thank the following Councillors who along with me voted in favour of the decision to relocate the majority of our indoor staff to 12 Stewart Avenue:

  • Councillor Matthew Byrne
  • Councillor John Church
  • Councillor Declan Clausen
  • Councillor Carol Duncan
  • Councillor Jason Dunn
  • Councillor John Mackenzie
  • Councillor Andrea Rufo
  • Councillor Allan Robinson
  • Councillor Emma White
  • Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz.
Project Final Cost
1. Relocation to 12 Stewart Avenue Project Management (APP)

Design (Inc. design & cost consultancies, certification & approvals)

Staff relocation

Construction (Inc. preliminaries & margin)

Carpet rebate under lease terms







2. Local Emergency Operations Centre  

Project Management (APP)

Design (Inc. design & cost consultancies, certification & approvals)

Construction (materials, labour, preliminaries & margin)





3. Digital Library 

Project Management (APP)

Design (Inc. design & cost consultancies, certification & approvals)

Construction (Inc. preliminaries & margin)





4. Council Chamber 

Project Management (APP)

Design (Inc. design & cost consultancies, certification & approvals)

Construction (Inc. preliminaries & margin)





Contract administration (Graphite Projects) for all four projects, as well as associated costs including signage, flagpoles, etc $2,749,827


Australian Greens Peace & Disarmament spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said today that the scope of the Office of the Special Investigator’s remit must be broad so that it can examine the conduct of all levels of command within the SAS and ADF, not just individuals mentioned in the Brereton Inquiry Report.

“The Office of the Special Investigator and their investigations must be completely independent, operate with full transparency and have the powers to examine all levels of command. It is unacceptable for this critical investigation to be led by an individual with professional or personal ties to the ADF,” Steele-John.

“With everything we’ve heard today from the Prime Minister, and from Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation case against the Nine Newspapers, it is abundantly clear that there are significant cultural problems within the SAS that must be addressed.

“It is alleged on the public record that innocent people have lost their lives at the hands of Australian soldiers; the individuals responsible must lose more than just their medals and the Australian people must know to what extent those allegations are true.

“But, this is clearly not just a couple of isolated incidents, within a single SAS unit by a couple of rogue soldiers; these alleged incidents are the symptom of a much deeper cultural problem within the SAS.

“The Brereton Inquiry Report must be made public in full and not redacted to within an inch of being read by the public in any meaningful way. Australians deserve to know the truth.”


The Service NSW app is being retooled to include a QR code to allow customers to check in at hospitality venues across NSW, ensuring contact tracers can quickly access customer details and keep people safe.

Customers will be able to use the Service NSW app to check-in at hospitality venues in Dubbo and those owned by Merivale, thanks to a trial of the technology going live this week.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the technology would make life easier for business and customers.

“Digital record keeping is a no brainer – it’s safer, saves time and helps officials for contact tracing purposes,” Mr Dominello said.

“Any registered COVID Safe business will be issued a unique QR code which customers can scan using their Service NSW app. It will also be used for customer and staff check-ins in over 100 Service NSW Centres across the state.

“This automatically captures the date, time and location, and securely stores them on a Service NSW database for 28 days for the sole purpose of COVID tracing in the event of an outbreak.”

Mr Dominello said the technology would also be trialled at NSW venues owned by hospitality group Merivale.

“We want to help businesses and customers to make the check-in experience as seamless and consistent as possible,” Mr Dominello said.

“The purpose of the trial in Dubbo is to test and refine the technology in a live environment to ensure it delivers the best experience for customers and businesses while also aiding the vital work of our NSW Health contact tracing team.

“I thank Merivale and all the local businesses in Dubbo for their involvement in the trial.”

The trial will help inform a state wide rollout of the check-in technology. More than five million customers have a MyServiceNSW Account and approximately 1.7 million customers already have the Service NSW app on their mobile phone.


The community is invited to help shape Sydney’s newest park, almost 10 hectares of open space on former inaccessible industrial land to be transformed as part of the Rozelle Interchange project.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said Rozelle residents would have access to this new space, similar in size to Victoria Park near Sydney University, to relax, exercise and enjoy the outdoors once the Rozelle Interchange is completed in 2023.

“It’s exciting to be delivering a new park for the people of Rozelle and neighbouring communities, and this is their chance to have a say about the revitalisation of this prominent location.” Mr Constance said

“Our goal is to create a treasured place for the community to enjoy including new walking, running and cycling tracks that connect to surrounding suburbs.”

A draft Urban Design Landscape Plan will go on public display from August 10 providing insight into how the park could look. Residents will have an opportunity to give feedback on its proposed landscape design, pedestrian and cyclist connections, playground equipment, fitness stations and lighting.

The park will be created on the former Rozelle rail yards, currently a project construction site.

A Technical Working Group will also be established, comprising NSW Government agencies and community members, to consider potential local sporting uses and the community’s needs.

“We want to work with the community and key stakeholders to understand their views on the ongoing use for the parklands such as community sporting facilities and playing surfaces,” Mr Constance said.

The Group will seek expressions of interest for community involvement in the coming weeks.

The Rozelle Interchange, part of the third stage of WestConnex, includes a new underground motorway interchange and underground bypass of Victoria Road between Iron Cove Bridge and Anzac Bridge. It will reduce traffic on Victoria Road by 50 per cent.

The project will create more than 15,000 jobs by the time it opens to traffic in late 2023.

Mr Constance said online community consultation would include two virtual presentations to give an overview of the Urban Design Landscape Plan, ensuring residents can have their say during COVID-19.

“This is a great opportunity to shape this unique project and I urge locals and those with an interest to get involved,” Mr Constance said

The plan can be accessed and commented on via the website from 9am on 10 August.

Greens call on Scott Morrison to pursue elimination strategy for COVID-19

Dr Richard Di Natale, Australian Greens health spokesperson, is today calling on the Prime Minister to adopt an elimination strategy for COVID-19 to keep restrictions in place until the rate of community transmission reaches zero.

“It’s now time to commit to eliminating COVID-19 from the community, and give Australians some level of certainty in the face of this pandemic.”

“We have already eliminated the virus in some states, which has allowed people to resume doing many of the things they love and provided some certainty for the business community,” said Dr Di Natale.

“The current suppression approach means allowing restrictions to loosen while there’s still virus circulating in the community. This is likely to involve a continuing cycle of see-sawing lockdowns as outbreaks pop up across the country, which means ongoing economic disruption and uncertainty.

“Here in Victoria, we have seen how quickly a handful of cases can turn into a second wave with devastating consequences for our community. Making our goal in Victoria elimination of the virus while we are already in a second lockdown will likely mean extending restrictions beyond six weeks. However, it’s a small price to pay if it means avoiding more lockdowns in the future and giving the business community some certainty.”

Key experts, including former secretary of the federal Department of Health and Director of the Health Program at the Grattan Institute Stephen Duckett, Professor Bill Bowtell and many others, are calling for governments to commit to an elimination approach. This would require restrictions to remain in place until the level of community transmission reaches zero and stays there.

“The current uncertainty in the community about the possibility of future lockdowns is bad for the community and bad for the economy. A clear roadmap towards the elimination of the virus in Australia would provide certainty for both people and the economy.”


Drastically reduced planning assessment times, less red tape, and user friendly e-planning tools will help turbo-charge the economic recovery, through an $83 million NSW Planning Reform Action Plan revealed today.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) event, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the plan would build on momentum created by the NSW Government’s efforts to use the planning system to keep people in jobs and keep the economy moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The planning system has proved an incredibly powerful tool in our fight against the economic impacts of the pandemic,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This plan takes us into the next phase of reform, creating a system that is efficient, rigorous, supports our economy and our environment, is accessible online and is easy for anyone to use.”

The changes will slash times as follows;

  • Rezoning decisions cut by 191 days (33% time savings)
  • Decisions on Development Applications (DAs) for larger, regionally significant projects cut by 91 days (25% time savings)
  • Decisions on major projects of significance to the State cut by 20 days (17% time savings).

The Government has also invested almost $10 million to enhance its ePlanning platform and ensure all councils can get online to process DAs more quickly and transparently slash DA processing times by more than half.

“Homeowners can now lodge DAs online from the comfort of their home, making renovating quicker, easier and hassle-free,” Ms Berejiklian said.

All councils will have to adopt the online system by 1 July 2021.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the NSW Planning Reform Action Plan builds on the momentum underway to create a more timely, certain and transparent planning system.

“In the past 10 weeks alone, we’ve approved projects worth more than $1 billion a week, unlocking the potential to create more than 30,000 jobs, 2 million sqm of open space and more than 8,000 new homes,” Mr Stokes said.

“This plan will cut unnecessary duplication of processes and boost resources in our assessment team, so that we can keep as many people in jobs and keep our State moving both now and in the months and years ahead.

“NSW Government agencies are also on notice as part of this plan both to reduce the number of unnecessary concurrences and referrals cases, and reduce those that are outside statutory timeframes, with support from the newly established Planning Delivery Unit that is unblocking projects that are stuck in the system.”

The NSW Planning Reform Action Plan also includes:

  • Implementing the next phase of the ePlanning Program to make it easier to interact with the planning system;
  • A reduction in applications requiring agency concurrences and referrals, and new benchmark timeframes on key assessment and planning functions;
  • Complying development reforms to support emerging industries and fast track government projects; and
  • Boost the role and resourcing of the Land and Environment Court by establishing a new class of appeals for rezonings to help unblock the planning system and appoint an additional two commissioners to enable more cases to be heard each year.

For more information on the Planning Reform Action Plan visit


An Albanese Labor Government will reverse Scott Morrison’s $83.7 million cut to the ABC to save regional jobs, protect critical emergency broadcasting and support local news and content.

ABC emergency coverage saved lives during the summer bushfires and staff came off leave to ensure Australians were kept informed. Now 250 dedicated ABC staff face the sack as a result of Scott Morrison’s cuts.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will make the announcement in Eden-Monaro today with Labor candidate Kristy McBain.

This builds on Labor’s pledge to improve broadcast coverage across Eden-Monaro with a focus on ABC local radio black spots, as well as power back-up for broadcasting transmission facilities so they work for longer during natural disasters.

The ABC has worked tirelessly to support regional communities across Australia, particularly through drought, bushfires and now coronavirus. Labor thanks hardworking ABC staff for their dedication.

This Saturday, the people of Eden-Monaro have the chance to send the Government a message: Don’t cut ABC jobs, regional news or emergency broadcasting.

The only way to ensure a strong voice for Eden-Monaro and the ABC is to vote for Labor’s Kristy McBain.