Community consultation finds most North Coast residents intend to get a COVID-19 vaccine

Sixty per cent of North Coast residents who responded to a community consultation on COVID-19 vaccination either plan to be vaccinated or have been already.

A further 18% said they would probably have the vaccine, 10% said they probably wouldn’t and 12% rejected the idea of COVID-19 vaccination.

Healthy North Coast, which delivers the Australian Government’s PHN program from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie and inland, partnered with 89 Degrees East to develop the short online survey. It ran from 14 April to 15 May 2021 and attracted more than 1,000 respondents.

Healthy North Coast CEO, Julie Sturgess, thanked all participants for sharing their thoughts and feedback.

‘These responses from across the community help us to understand local sentiment, what people are thinking and how we can best serve their needs,’ Ms Sturgess said.

‘We’re interested in people’s views on vaccination and we’re carefully studying the feedback we’ve received, to help shape the local rollout of the vaccine program.

‘In the meantime, Healthy North Coast will continue to support our primary health carers and the community to stay COVID-safe right across the region.’

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 22% of 35–44-year-olds say they would ‘definitely not’ get the COVID-19 vaccine
  • healthcare workers are more likely to be ‘vaccine champions’ (43%), as are over 65s
  • the local government areas of Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Port Macquarie-Hastings indicated strong support for getting a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 60% of respondents saying they had had a vaccine already or were definitely intending to.
  • more than 30% of respondents from the local government areas of Bellingen, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Tweed said they probably wouldn’t or definitely wouldn’t get a vaccine.

The survey found 56% of people who support vaccination intend to get the jab when the vaccine is available to them (see table below). This compares to 42% from a national survey in April.

Diagram of survey responses showing 56% will get vaccinated when it's available.

Ms Sturgess said it was understandable there was a level of vaccine hesitancy. She said Healthy North Coast would continue to provide the community with evidence-based information and guidance while supporting the Australian Government’s national vaccine rollout.

‘As we look to analyse and understand the survey results with other health sector partners, we expect to provide additional information on the findings and how they can help us tailor our approach to local communication, resourcing and engagement,’ she said.

*NB: this survey employed a non-probability sampling technique known as selective sampling. Under this technique, oversampling was undertaken to ensure that the sample sizes were large enough to provide statistically valid sample estimates for all sample strata. While the absence of random sampling of respondents means that the findings from this survey may not be statistically representative of the general population, they nevertheless provide an accurate and reliable picture of the Healthy North Coast region.  

North Coast COVID-19 vaccine update

As at 15 June, more than 109,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the Healthy North Coast footprint, which covers from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie and inland.

The Ballina Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic (CVC) began administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week and will be able to start accepting people aged 40 to 59.

Planning is underway to increase the number of CVCs offering the Pfizer vaccine. The 6 other CVCs in our region are at Murwillumbah, Casino, Yamba, Nambucca Heads, Kempsey and Wauchope.

Additionally, 20 local general practices are due to begin administering the Pfizer vaccine from 5 July, with a further 10 commencing on 12 July. More practices are expected to be onboarded from 19 July.

The best way for people to find out when and where to book a vaccination is by using the online Vaccine Eligibility Checker and clinic finder.

Contact for media enquiries

Zoe Satherley (Mon-Wed)

Phone: 0428 623 093

Mike Hely (Wed-Fri)

Phone: 0437 978 473

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Our regional partners

  • Local Health District partners in our footprint: Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) & Northern New South Wales Local Health District (NNSWLHD)
  • Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS)
  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
  • Rural Doctors Network (RDN)
  • Rural Clinical Schools & Regional Training Hubs
  • General Practitioners
  • Registrars and International Medical Graduates
  • North Coast Allied Health Association (NCAHA)
  • Local Councils
    Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)
  • Universities including: Charles Sturt University (CSU), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Southern Cross University (SCU)

Aged Care Disaster Management Planning

Strategic Priority Area: One team

North Coast is identified as the region most likely to be impacted by climate change in Australia and also forecasted greatest growth in those 65+.

Healthy North Coast takes a lead role in ensuring the older population and the sector that supports them are prepared for, can respond to and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

We have led eight regional disaster management capacity building workshops, bringing together SES, community organisations and the aged care sector.

We have also developed disaster preparedness tip sheets for both residential and community aged care providers.

Voluntary Assisted Dying

Strategic Priority Area: One team

In May 2022, the NSW Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022. Effective from Tuesday, 28 November 2023, eligible people have the choice to access voluntary assisted dying. 

Healthy North Coast has developed a webpage for both health professionals and consumers, with links to available information and resources.

Living with Dementia resources

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

Healthy North Coast has worked with people living with dementia, their families and local service providers to develop an information booklet that will help them connect with local and national supports along their journey.

The booklet includes commonly asked questions for people to ask their GP and/or specialist.

The resource is available in digital and printed copies, with more than 5,000 distributed across the region. An e-version is available to clinicians via the Dementia and Cognitive Impairment HealthPathway.

Deteriorating Resident Triage Tool Pilot

Strategic Priority Area: One team

The Deteriorating Resident Response Tool (DRRT) has been developed to guide RN’s in Residential Aged Care homes (RACHs) to better understand, anticipate and make clinical decisions responding to the deteriorating health of residents.

The objective of the DRRT is to give RACH staff clear information to triage and provide appropriate care for a range of residents’ health conditions, and, in turn, prevent unnecessary presentations to ED.

The tool has been designed together with a specialist geriatrician, consulting with stakeholders such as Residential Aged Care Managers, NSW Ambulance, GPs, and experts from Mid and North Coast LHDs.

The pilot commences in March with four participating RACHs. Evaluation measures will include effectiveness in building RN confidence and reported reduction in unnecessary hospitalisations. Findings will inform a future planned, region-wide implementation.

North Coast Care Finders Program

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

The Care Finders program is a free region-wide service to support vulnerable older people who have no-one else to help them, to learn about, apply for and set up support services.

Care finders can help people understand what aged care services are available, set up an assessment, and find and choose services. They also help people with access to other supports in the community, both accessing services for the first time and changing or finding new services and supports.

On the North Coast, Healthy North Coast has commissioned four organisations to provide this important service: EACH, Carexcell, Lifetime Connect and Footprints.

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Psychological services in residential aged care homes

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Healthy North Coast commissions two service providers to deliver psychological therapies and supports for older people with, or at risk of developing, a mental illness and who are living in residential aged care homes (RACHs).

The aim of the program is to both provide direct support to residents and their families and carers, as well as upskill the RACH workforce to respond to the needs of residents presenting with mental health concerns.

Social prescribing (Healthy Me Healthy Community)

Strategic Priority Area: Securing a Healthier Future

Delivered by Feros Care, the Healthy Me, Healthy Community program aims to build individual and community connections to reduce loneliness and improve wellbeing in Port Macquarie.

The program helps people to connect with community, activities, supports and services that address their broader social determinants of health, as an alternative or supplement to a clinical approach.

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Digital Health in Residential Aged Care

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Timely access to primary health care professionals, whether through face-to-face consultation or telehealth, is recognised as an issue for many Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs), that in some cases can lead to potentially preventable hospitalisations. RACHs require adequate telehealth facilities to support access to virtual consultations for their residents.

Project goals

  • Assist participating RACHs to have appropriate telehealth facilities and equipment to enable their residents to virtually consult when needed with their primary health care professionals, specialists and other clinicians. 
  • Provide training to participating RACH staff to support them to have the capabilities to assist their residents in accessing virtual consultation services.
  • Encourage increased use of My Health Record by RACHs, to improve the availability and secure transfer of resident’s health care information between RACHs, primary care and acute care settings.
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Greater Choice at Home Palliative Care Program

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Aims to provide people who have life limiting conditions the opportunity to exercise choice and receive high quality care at home, harnessing improved and better coordinated supports and services that meet their individual needs.

Program objectives:

  • Improve access to palliative care at home and support end-of-life care systems and services (in primary health care and community care)
  • To enable the right care at the right time and in the right place (to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation)
  • Generate and use data to support continuous improvement of services across sectors
  • Use available technologies to support flexible and responsive palliative care at home, including in the after-hours.

These objectives will contribute to achieving the following intended overarching outcomes of:

  • Improved capacity and responsiveness of services to meet local needs and priorities
  • Improved patient access to quality palliative care services in the home
  • Improved coordination of care for patients across health care providers and integration of palliative care services in their region.

Education & training funding elibility

Funding is open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.

Workforce Locum support and R&R funding criteria

  • Available to primary care services in disaster impacted communities within the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Available to support short-term workforce coverage, allowing clinicians to rest and recover.
  • Workforce-support funding in total is capped for each site, over a 12-month period:
    • $10k for GPs and/or
    • $5K for nursing and/or
    • $5k administration support and/or
    • $5K allied/pharmacy and other.
  • Funding is not to be used to fill gaps in staffing that have not been able to recruit to and not to replace existing staff.
  • Healthy North Coast will assess requirements and approve available funding directly with the service requesting support.
  • Priority will be given to sites that have immediate, short-term workforce support needs.
  • Requests will be reviewed and supported on a case-by-case basis.
  • Program funding administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) to be paid monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever comes first).
  • Practices will be required to complete a request for payment form monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever occurs first).

Wellbeing Flexible Funding Criteria & Eligibility

  • Open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Activity must be purposeful, with the aim of increasing the wellbeing of your team.
  • Requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with funding allocated based on team size.*
  • Following approval by Healthy North Coast, funding will be administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) upon providing proof of expenses.
  • Funding cannot be used for the purchase of alcohol, or any other goods or services where the vendor cannot quote their Australian Business Number.
  • Planned activities must occur prior to 30th June 2024.
  • Funding will not be available for retrospective activities.
*Team Size
(Total staff and contractors)
Funding Available
Small (1-5)$500-$1500
Medium (6-20)$1500-$4000
Large (>20)$4000-$5000