HEALTH officials working in Woketoria’s hotel quarantine program were not trained in gender neutral pronouns, an inquiry into the operation has heard.
“Everything I know about Covid-19 came from a cisgendered white male who only taught us about infection control,” Max Cough, who worked as an officer of the Department of Health at one of the hotels used for quarantine, said in a statement.
He said he had received no instruction on how sexual orientation or gender identity should be considered when managing hotel quarantine.
“The entirety of our training was to do with health protocols,” a tearful Mr Cough told the inquiry.
“No other training or induction was given prior to commencing my first shift, or subsequently.”
When asked if this had contributed to flaws in the quarantine process, Mr Cough told the inquiry: “Absolutely. It was almost impossible to order infected patients back to their rooms when we weren’t sure which pronoun to use.”
Mounting evidence of the failures of the state government-run program that unleashed Woketoria’s coronavirus second wave played out at the inquiry last week, which heard tales of lax diversity training and a security guard who was allowed to work despite having no idea about how structural racism made some ethnic groups more likely to contract the virus.
The inquiry has previously heard that 99 per cent of Woketoria’s current cases of Covid-19 can be linked to outbreaks at hotels used to quarantine returning overseas travellers.
Mr Cough said it was a mistake to quarantine people in hotels that lacked gender neutral toilets.
“The whole atmosphere was generally very non-inclusive,” he said. “Frankly I wasn’t surprised when the virus escaped into the wider community.”
Lockie Uppy, who was employed as a quarantine security guard after responding to an ad on Tinder, said he was surprised at the lack of training he received.
“There was a lot of talk about masks and gloves and proper sanitation,” he said. “But we were given zero information about the climate emergency.
“I thought they would have had time for at least one module on how the burning of fossil fuels affects the spread of the virus.”
He said he quit on June 18 as Woketorian schools were reopening, telling the inquiry: “I didn’t want to be the guy who knows nothing about intersectionality when the kids at my daughter’s primary school are all over it.”
Another witness, known only as Non Binary Security 1, said he received infection-control training before starting work but was ignored when he expressed concern that the security team contracted to keep people in isolation lacked diversity.
“I counted one trans person, three queers and a couple of pan-sexuals but not a single indigenous person working security on the fourth floor of the hotel where I was stationed,” he told the inquiry.
“We already know that Covid-19 affects blacks in disproportionate numbers. It would have been nice if the security team had reflected that.”
Woketorian Premier Dan Andrews expressed shock at revelations from the inquiry.
“We have been emphasising equality and diversity over quality and assurance for most of my time in office, so I really cannot understand how this has happened,” he said.
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