Urgent Government Action Needed To Assist People With Disability In The COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Australian Government has developed a targeted action plan for the aged care and health care sector and yet have taken no action for the disability sector, which also provides essential services. 

One in five people in Australia have a disability and so far the State & Federal Governments including the NDIA have sat silently, refusing to give answers to the specific needs of the disability sector. A large portion of people with disability fall into the vulnerable category and require specific supports in place for them, especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic with the threat of disruptions to disability services, schools and potential requirements for self-isolation. The health sector is not prepared to meet the needs of people with disability and disability service providers are scrambling to meet the care requirements for people with disability with no flexibility offered from the NDIA and severely limited access to the resources required. Similar to the aged care sector we have a large vulnerable population that has significant and often complex needs. There is the same need to deliver personal care services and additionally many disability services are delivered in group settings. 

We demand urgent action be taken immediately to address the needs of people with disability and the providers that service the sector.

We need:

1. Immediate changes to allow flexibility and urgent review of NDIS support plans to support people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the event of school closures and service closures as well as self-isolation and quarantine scenarios.

2. Rapid increase in the training and capacity of the disability care workforce to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The government must ensure that disability services stay open and can still be delivered otherwise the lives of people with disability and their families / carers will be at risk.

3. Provision of financial and other support to carers and family members that need to take time off work to care for their loved ones in the event of school and other service closures.

4. Provision of financial resources and other support to disability providers so they can scale up their operations in the event of the closure of schools, day services and other programs. 

5. Give priority access to personal protective equipment and resources to both people with disability and to disability service providers to ensure safe provision of services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

6. A dedicated hotline created for people with disability and disability service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We demand action at the highest levels of government, across the National Disability Insurance Agency and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to support people with disability and their families and to prevent the deaths of people with disability in the coming weeks and months.