Getting the voice of people with intellectual disability heard during the pandemic

10 July 2020

Did you know the Australian Government has made a plan to keep people with disability safe during Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We welcome the Government’s plan and know it had to be put together really quickly. However, people with intellectual disability have told us they are disappointed the Government didn’t consult them about the plan.

One person we spoke with said, “People with disability haven’t been included. We have been left out like we don’t even exist.”

It’s important that people with intellectual disability be consulted; they have a right to have a say about plans that affect them.

In May we asked people with intellectual disability about Coronavirus. We wanted to hear from them about the pandemic and what the Government can do to make sure the plan is inclusive.

What people with intellectual disability said

We wrote a report about what people said. The report has 12 recommendations.

Here are 3 important things people with intellectual disability told us.

1. Telling people about the Government’s plan
Although people were glad there is a plan, most had never heard of it.

“The Government should let people with intellectual disability know that there is a plan.”

2. Easy Read information on Coronavirus
People said there was not enough information about Coronavirus in Easy Read. They said it was hard to find Easy Read information.

“It would be good to get all information about Coronavirus in Easy Read.”

3. Health workers are key
People said they want the Government to make sure GPs, psychologists and pharmacists have Easy Read info on Coronavirus.

“GPs should give people with intellectual disability information or brochures on where they can get tested. It should be in Easy Read.”

What’s next?

In May we presented our findings to the Government’s advisory committee on the plan.

The findings were presented by Leonie McLean from Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) and Gavin Burner from South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability (SACID).

Leonie and Gavin told the committee about the consultations and shared their own experiences of living through the Coronavirus pandemic.

We gave our report to the committee.

The advisory committee and the Department of Health have welcomed the report. We look forward to the Government acting on the report’s recommendations.

About the plan

In April 2020, the Federal Government established the Advisory Committee for the COVID-19 Response for People with Disability. Jim Simpson, CID’s Senior Advocate, is on the committee.

The committee helped develop the plan, which has the long title of “The Australian Government Department of Health’s Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability: Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)”.

The purpose of the plan is to keep people with disability safe from Coronavirus. The plan says people with disability must get the health care they need.

Find out more

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