Friday, May 20 2022

The Queensland Chief Department of Children, Juvenile Justice and Multicultural Affairs explained that the decision to impose the COVID-19 vaccine on her staff was one of the most difficult issues she had to face in her career.

Deidre Mulkerin told a room of more than 800 public sector attendees at the BiiG conference in Brisbane on Wednesday that the decision to impose a vaccination mandate on her staff was one of the most important calls she had ever made. But the choice she had to make as public sector boss during a once-in-a-100-year pandemic meant leaning into a skill all bureaucrats need to feel comfortable working within. their ordinary work.

“Many of us have made decisions about requiring vaccines for our workforce. If that was by far the hardest and most terrifying decision I’ve had to make,” Mulkerin said.

“I have spent my whole life working in child protection – justice is a very difficult business, and social services [means] make life-changing decisions for children and families. But the weight of the decision [of] forcing the vaccines for my colleagues, which meant that some people lost their jobs – and in particular some First Nations colleagues, who were very afraid to have the vaccine – I had to make a decision on what was most great good,” she said.

In Queensland, vaccination mandates apply in youth detention facilities and visitors over 16 must present proof of vaccination or medical exemption. For eligible children in care over the age of five, the department also has doing everything possible to ensure that they can be vaccinated whenever possible.

Last November, the Prime Minister announced all public sector employees working in the education, early childhood, corrections, youth justice and airport sectors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to continue working. People working in high-risk government environments were required to be fully vaccinated by the end of January 2022.

“The only way to prevent deaths and protect Queenslanders from new variants of COVID-19 is to accelerate our vaccination rollout,” said Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“These measures are intended to protect our most vulnerable. To keep our children safe, we need to make sure our teachers and frontline education workers are vaccinated. »

The senior Queensland bureaucrat made her remarks as part of a senior leadership group, which focused on the theme “people, practice, innovation and performance”. Reflecting on what it meant to be innovative in the context of the public sector, the ministry’s chief executive said that delivering services in a complex environment necessarily meant making decisions without having all the answers.

“It’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay not to know the answers, and it’s okay not to know where [the decision will] come on,” she added.

“Did I lose sleep about [the decision]? Absolutely. Do I hope it was the right decision? I am on. Do I worry about the impact on this every day? Absolutely.”

In Mulkerin’s view, the current service delivery operating environment where public health risks remain but COVID metrics are gradually easingdecisions such as workforce vaccination mandates are a feature of what she said was a time of transition.

“[This period] it’s about innovation, creativity and intervening in the decisions that are really difficult, within the framework of the public interest and the public good – keeping that true,” she said.

Mulkerin is a recognized public sector leader and a first graduate of the NSW Public Service Commission’s leadership academy. She has held a number of senior management positions responsible for child legal protection, juvenile justice, housing, homelessness, and domestic and family violence prevention. She is also a former assistant secretary, commissioned, for NSW Family and Community Services.

Commenting on what transforming public services means to her, Mulkerin highlighted four key issues: fostering open networks and communication; thinking about building more responsive and reliable systems; strengthen the discipline of public administration; and focus on leadership values.

“I think values ​​guide leadership, and how we actually do all of this implementation and delivery work needs to be underpinned by trust, integrity, kindness, and compassion,” she said. declared.


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