Mikakos ‘determined’ to replace security guards after Stamford outbreak
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says she thought there was a “structural weakness” in the way the hotel quarantine program was set up and was glad to see responsibility moved to corrective services.
She says because DHHS didn’t have contracts with cleaning companies, it was reliant on other departments to resolve issues.
Counsel assisting Ben Ihle asks if in late May, when there was an outbreak at the Rydges hotel and she learnt that security companies were being given responsibility for PPE provision and training, she believed that arrangement was ok.
“I was advised that there was PPE being provided by the department above and beyond what was required,” she says.
“I also recall, because of the escalation of this situation [outbreak at Rydges hotel] … I do recall having a conversation with my secretary on that weekend about bringing Alfred Health in.”
Ms Mikakos says she was “reassured” by those measures, but by the time the Stamford Plaza hotel outbreak occurred she was “exasperated and absolutely determined to replace the security guards”.
She says she doesn’t want to offend people in the security guard profession, but from the public health team’s reports, she got a picture of a workforce that wasn’t forthcoming about other jobs they had, or shifts they had undertaken, which frustrated contact tracing efforts.
She says she then asked her department to consider alternative staffing options.