Toni Mitchell is worried what might happen if her son Joshy gets Coronavirus

COVID-19 – governments must act on equal treatment for people with disability

26 March 2020

Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) has joined a loud call for government action to prevent people with intellectual or developmental disability being disadvantaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call for action is in a position statement of the Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry UNSW, CID, Inclusion Australia and the Australian Association of Developmental Disability Medicine.

The statement has already been endorsed by over 1,150 signatories including eminent health and disability professionals and leading disability advocacy and service provider organisations.

People with intellectual or developmental disability are particularly vulnerable to adverse outcomes from COVID-19. They are also at risk of unconscious prejudice and attitudes that devalue them and restrict or delay their access to healthcare. These issues were starkly illustrated in the recent Disability Royal Commission hearing on healthcare.

The call for action says that governments and leading health organisations need to take urgent action to prepare and equip all levels of the healthcare sector to work with people with intellectual and developmental disability. People with disability need equal access to prevention, screening and treatment of COVID-19.

The disability sector must also play its part in ensuring good health care.

We understand that COVID-19 places health practitioners under enormous stress. Health practitioners and people with disability need support to ensure the best possible outcomes during this disaster.

Toni Mitchell, who gave evidence to the Royal Commission with her son Joshy, has emphasised the grave risks she sees in getting appropriate treatment for her son if he contracts COVID-19.

Listen to Toni Mitchell and Professor Trollor of UNSW being interviewed on ABC radio.

See also a report on the ABC News website.

You can read and endorse the position statement.

Yesterday, the Disability Royal Commission also issued a Statement of Concern about government responses the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission called on all Australian governments to ensure that responses to the pandemic include “all necessary measures to seek to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities”.

Note – Our position statement seeks to complement the important statements issued by academics and peak advocacy groups on COVID-19 responses needed for all people with disability.

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