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Government’s slow coronavirus response for people with disability

People with disability are some of the most vulnerable people in Australia when it comes to coronavirus. Australian advocacy groups have been lobbying governments since mid-March for a targeted response to protect people with disability.

Despite a slow response, this work has now partly paid off. The Australian Government has come up with a plan to help manage health care for people with disability during coronavirus. The government released its plan on 18 April. The plan looks at particular issues that people with disability face, including:

  • not being able to avoid close contact with carers and support workers
  • being more at risk of respiratory illnesses
  • barriers to getting health care.

What did the advocates ask for?

Advocacy groups came together to write two joint media releases and a letter to the Prime Minster and all premiers. The letter was signed by 71 groups around Australia. As organisations representing people with disability and their families, they asked government to act on a list of things to help people with disability through this crisis.

They asked government to make sure:

  • people have the support they need
  • people with disability and their workers can get tested for coronavirus
  • people with disability and their families have all the information they need to keep themselves safe and well
  • people with disability can get the health care they need when they need it
  • people who are on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) receive extra funds like people on other government payments
  • people understand what an “essential service” is
  • people are safe and not vulnerable to violence, abuse or exploitation
  • students with disability have what they need to get a good education like everyone else
  • they protect the human rights of people with disability.

The Australian Government’s new plan does address some of these actions, however, there are still some important areas that haven’t been included. For example, people on the DSP are still not eligible for the extra fortnightly payment that people on other payments are getting.

Advocacy groups will continue to check the Australian Government’s plan and response. As well as lobbying to make sure people with disability are considered in any new coronavirus plans.

For more information about the Australian Government’s new coronavirus plan for people with disability you can read our resource.

You can also read about the advocacy groups targeted action on the Disabled People’s Organisations Australia website.

Read the Easy Read version of An Open Letter to the National Cabinet: Immediate Actions Required for Australians with Disability in Response to Coronavirus (COVID19) (PDF).

22 April 2020