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Advocacy groups call for ADEs to close and keep workers safe

Workers with intellectual disability and their families are worried about getting coronavirus. They’re worried there is a high risk of catching it at their Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs).

Three advocacy groups put out a joint media release about these concerns on 2 April 2020:

  • Inclusion Australia (IA)
  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)
  • Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA).

IA, DANA and WWDA are concerned that ADEs are not putting the health of people with disability first. The government says that disability support work is “essential”. However, the ADEs that aren’t providing essential goods or services, should be closed.

The most important thing is to make sure that people with disability don’t catch coronavirus.

These organisations say that people with intellectual disability:

  • may need more support to follow coronavirus health guidelines about hand washing
  • may not fully understand social distancing
  • are safer at home.

On 1 April, a worker at a West Australian ADE was diagnosed with coronavirus. Advocacy groups believe the number of ADE workers with coronavirus will rise quickly unless they close until the virus has passed.

What can be done?

IA, DANA and WWDA want the Federal Government to set up a working group to come up with a plan for the temporary closure of ADEs. They want the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to let people use their ADE funding for supports at home. At the moment, if an ADE closes or provides online support, workers with disability can’t use this funding to get supports at home.

“Urgent action is needed now to shut down ADEs and to work alongside business and government on a safe and fair path forward,” said DANA CEO, Mary Mallett.

Original resource

You can read the original media release on the Inclusion Australia website.

Advocacy tips

  • Support people with disability to get the information they need before they decide to go to work.

  • Talk to the ADE provider. Explain that the health of people with disability is the most important thing.

  • If an NDIS participant is plan or self-managed, they might be able to talk to the ADE provider about changing their Service Agreement. This may let them use someone their funding for support at home or to stay job-ready.

22 April 2020
Applies to all states