People with disability from across Australia are calling for urgent action to make sure we are included in preparations for the current public health emergency.
Eight national peak organisations have come together to outline to all levels of government, the National Disability Insurance Agency, other agencies and the private sector, about the range of concerns that people with disability have.
We are disappointed that the recent Disability Reform Council and Cabinet meetings have yet again failed to meet the growing and urgent needs of people with disability. However, we acknowledge that our request for more flexibility for people with disability with NDIS plans has begun to be addressed.
There is a critical need to ensure that people with disability can continue to receive support during this crisis, both from workers and services. We need to know how services will continue, what protections are being put into place, and what measures will make sure people with disability aren’t left without essential supports.
People with disability need a proactive, phone-based outreach program through existing disability advocacy providers, to check on their wellbeing, see if they need equipment or supplies, and to provide reliable information. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability need to have a specific outreach program, delivered by Aboriginal-run disability organisations.
We need a national prioritised delivery service for essential goods for people with disability, such as sanitising equipment and medical consumables. Our NDIS plans must also have some flexibility to deal with the current emergency.
All emergency communication is to be provided in plain English, Easy Read and Auslan, and translated into community languages. Information must be made accessible and widely available.
People with disability need to have a disability specific package similar to that for older people which includes a suite of health-based initiatives such as:
- accessible clinics and testing
- telehealth resourcing and equal access to telehealth
- priority access to personal protective equipment such as masks and sanitiser
- continuation of chronic care plans
- expand access to home visits by GPs
In addition, all medical guidelines about triage or management of COVID-19 must ensure that people with disability will have equal access to health care, including ICU and other intensive treatment.
People with disability, who rely on the Disability Support Pension, Newstart or other income support payments must have all mutual obligation requirements suspended, and people who are applying for income support payments because they are not able to work must also have those applications dealt with quickly.
There must be clear plans for families of children and young people with disability if schools and early childhood services are shut down, and clear information throughout this uncertain time.
We urge all levels of government, agencies such as the NDIS, and the private sector to work with us to make sure that people with disability aren’t left behind in this current crisis.
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
Children and Young People with Disability
Disability Advocacy Network Australia
First People Disability Network
National Ethnic Disability Alliance
People with Disability Australia
Women with Disabilities Australia