Media releases

The NDIA and Victorian Government must prioritise people with disability so they do not suffer in Stage 4 lockdowns

As the Victorian COVID-19 situation worsens and ‘a state of disaster’ is declared, children and adults with disability need to be a primary focus of government. We have already seen infections in group homes for people with disability, and significant impacts on their access to services and children’s right to education.

As the situation in the aged care system shows, it is vital that the Commonwealth and states work together to eliminate critical gaps for people with disability during the pandemic, including children and young people. A lack of joined-up planning and response creates preventable harm and risks.

There is a real risk that we will see increased impacts on children and adults with disability as the pandemic progresses, and if not properly planned for these will lead to tragic outcomes.

We, as a concerned group of disability advocacy organisations and academics, call on the Victorian Government, the Australian Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to make an urgent plan to ensure no person with disability is left behind.

This must:

  • Guarantee people with disability in Victoria can get the supports they need.
  • Urgently deliver a targeted, accessible inclusive information and communications strategy for all people with disability, in partnership with disability advocates.
  • Urgently fund and support disability workers to undertake high-quality training in infection control and PPE management, with a particular focus on casual workers and those in insecure employment.[1]
  • Ensure that all support workers and people with disability have full supplies of PPE
  • Provide equivalent protections to disability support workers as what is being made available to aged care workers, so they don’t work across settings risking virus transmission and leaving people without support.
  • Fund and provide individualised supports and accommodations for students with disability at home, using a service delivery platform similar to tele-health. This will ensure families in Victoria no longer need to make the impossible decision between the health of their child and physically attending school because they do not have enough support at home.[2]
  • Ensure effective measures are in place to recognise and respond to violence and abuse against people with disability at this time, as the risk of family violence and restrictive practices will increase during lockdown.

The Disability Royal Commission is holding a public hearing in August to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disability. It is not too late for governments and agencies to take strong and decisive action so we don’t need to be constantly looking backward at what could or should have been done.

This media statement has been endorsed by the following organisations

  1. Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO)
  2. Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) 
  3. All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education (All Means All) 
  4. Imagine More 
  5. Inclusion Australia
  6. Women with Disabilities Australia
  7. People with Disability Australia
  8. Disability Advocacy Network Australia
  9. Queensland Collective for Inclusive Education (QCIE) 
  10. YDAN Youth Disability Advocacy Network
  11. YDAS Youth Disability Advocacy Service 
  12. Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health 
  13. Down Syndrome Australia
  14. Family Advocacy
  15. NEDA National Ethnic Disability Alliance
  16. Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI)

[1] New research has shown 23% of disability support workers have received no training in PPE and of those who had 48% reported needing more – https://mspgh.unimelb.edu.au/news-and-events/disability-support-workers-and-covid-19-findings-from-our-survey

[2] Research by CYDA shows the devastating impacts on children and young people with disability and what needs to be done to provide essential support More than isolated: The experience of children and young people with disability and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, May 2020 Not even remotely fair: Experiences of students with disability during COVID-19, July 2020

Full media release in PDF and DOCX and quotes from organisation representatives are available on the CYDA webpage.