Mission to Seafarers Portland supports foreign seafarers when they dock at the Port of Portland.
These international seafarers play a critical role in getting imports into Australia as well as shipping our goods overseas.
Throughout the Covid pandemic, they have been unable to leave their ships – even to visit the Mission to Seafarers’ store at the port which is a popular place to relax and buy essential items.
Many of these workers have been at sea for months and even years which has had a huge impact on their mental health.
The vast majority of foreign ships docking at Portland have been at sea for at least 17-18 days – a quarantine of sorts in itself.
This minimises the risk of Covid coming into Australia, however the Mission has committed to paying and helping co-ordinating vaccinations for those seafarers who remain unvaccinated.
Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania have all started relaxing their rules to allow vaccinated seafarers onto shore, but the Victorian Government continues its ban. The Portland Mission to Seafarers tell me they can’t even get a response to the issue from the government.
With our international borders to reopen to vaccinated travellers later this month, the Victorian Government needs to allow vaccinated foreign seafarers access to our shores – or support them to get a vaccination through the Mission to Seafarers.
The Mission to Seafarers in Portland do such a wonderful and selfless job in looking after the welfare of these foreign workers, so it is only right that we do everything we can to provide the mechanisms to safely allow vaccinated seafarers onto our shores. The government needs to show some compassion.