Coronavirus and the health of people with disability – the government acts

20 April 2020

The federal government has responded strongly to calls from the disability community by releasing a plan on how the health sector will meet the needs of people with disability during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The plan was developed in one week through strong collaborative action between federal government agencies and an advisory committee drawn from the disability community.

The advisory group included Jim Simpson from Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) and Inclusion Australia, Professor Julian Trollor of UNSW, and a range of other disability advocates, researchers and professionals.

All of Australia’s chief medical officers  endorsed the plan, which was adopted by the National Cabinet on 16 April.

The plan includes a strong focus on the rights of people with disability. It commits to ensuring people with disability receive the same standards of health care as other people in the community. It sets out what needs to happen to maximise prevention of Coronavirus for people with disability, to prepare and support the health and disability workforce, and to provide people with the right treatment.

The national advisory committee will continue to meet to oversee the implementation of the plan and advise on any amendments that are needed.

Fast and full implementation of the plan is vital.

Each state and territory will lead local action on the plan. We are already working with NSW Health on action in our state and our colleagues in Queensland are working with their health department on a Coronavirus disability advisory group.

We urge people in other states and territories to advocate with their health department to make sure they are acting on the national plan and in collaboration with the disability community.

We congratulate the federal Department of Health and all others who have contributed to the national plan and action so far.

As well as the health focused issues in the plan, much needs to happen to make sure people with disability continue to receive necessary disability support during the pandemic.

We look forward to continuing to work with the federal and NSW governments to protect the rights and health of people with disability through this very challenging time.

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