Read about the effect of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Disability Support and the NDIS here.

Royal Commission raises concerns about COVID-19 support

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Posted 2 months ago by Rebecca St Clair

“Anxiety [about COVID-19] is exacerbated by the feeling that they are being left behind or ignored in government and community responses.” (Source: Shutterstock)
“Anxiety [about COVID-19] is exacerbated by the feeling that they are being left behind or ignored in government and community responses.” (Source: Shutterstock)

The Disability Royal Commission (DRC) has released a statement saying it's “deeply concerned” about the impact of COVID-19 on people with a disability.

The Commission acknowledged the recent new measures introduced by the NDIS as positive, however, says many people with a disability are left out as these measures are specific to the NDIS and NDIS participants.  

The DRC adds, “Anxiety [about COVID-19] is exacerbated by the feeling that they are being left behind or ignored in government and community responses.”

The DRC has heard from members of the community and found that people with a disability:

  • Continue to face barriers in accessing prevention, screening and treatment for COVID-19.

  • Are unable to access medications and therapeutic services due to low supplies and restrictions in access.

  • May not have access to mental health services.

  • Are unable to easily access health supplies to keep themselves safe, such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser and sterilising equipment.

  • Are worried that discrimination or unconscious bias could impact their access to critical and lifesaving health care during this crisis.

The call for change came after Prime Minister Scott Morrisson announced economic stimulus packages and further restrictions on social gatherings to lessen the impact of COVID-19.

Eight peak bodies including, People With Disability Australia (PWDA), Women With Disability Australia (WWDA), Inclusion Australia, and the First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) have also raised their concerns releasing a joint statement saying, “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.”

Advocates say that people with disability who receive the Disability Support Pension (DSP) are “experiencing and facing additional, unforeseen costs in this time of crisis. [These costs are] causing significant levels of distress and anxiety, and only serving to further entrench DSP recipients into poverty.”

Currently, people with a disability who receive DSP cannot access the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight, which was recently extended to be accessible to student and youth payments.

Advocates say, “It is well recognised that 50% of people with disability already live in poverty, so additional costs at this time are ‘tipping people with disability over the edge'.

“We urgently ask that the Australian Government act swiftly to include DSP recipients in the Coronavirus Supplement to ensure that people with disability are not further disadvantaged by the impact of the Coronavirus.”

Both the DRC and disability advocates are calling on both State and Federal Governments to include a specific strategy to provide appropriate support and funding for people with disability.

What concerns do you have about accessing support during COVID-19? Tell us in the comments below

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