AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NATIONAL CABINET: Immediate Actions Required for Australians with Disability in Response to Coronavirus (COVID19)

We are a diverse range of organisations from across Australia, representing the interests of people with disability, their families, carers and support persons. Collectively, we have significant, direct and growing knowledge of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID19) on people with disability in Australia.

Australians with disability represent some of the most excluded of all Australians in relation to the impacts of Coronavirus. Our needs remain largely forgotten as evidenced by the fact that people with disability are rarely if ever, mentioned in any press conference, media release or government conversation about Coronavirus. The national discourse relating to Coronavirus is inherently ableist – preferencing able-bodied people as the norm. This ableist discourse is resulting in the exclusion of people with disability in efforts to prevent the spread of and address, the impact of the Coronavirus.

We are deeply concerned by the lack of specific and targeted measures from Australian Governments to proactively protect and support people with disability, their families, carers and support persons from the impact of COVID19.

We call on all Australian Governments to take the following urgent actions to protect the lives of Australians with disability in the context of COVID19:

  1. Guarantee continuity of supports for all people with disability.
  2. Expand criteria for COVID19 testing to include people with disability and their support persons.
  3. Urgently improve information and communications to be inclusive of all people with disability.
  4. Take measures to remove the barriers to adequate healthcare for people with disability.
  5. Include recipients of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) in the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.
  6. Urgently define what constitutes an ‘essential service’ for people with disability.
  7. Ensure effective measures are in place to recognise and respond to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of people with disability.
  8. Prevent discrimination of students with disability in the provision of education.
  9. Ensure the human rights of people with disability in congregate and other settings are upheld.
  10. Adequately resource Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) and Disability Representative Organisations (DROs) to enable support of, and advocacy for, people with disability.

Read the full letter in the following formats:

You can stream an Auslan interpreted version here.

This letter has been endorsed by the following organisations:

  • First Peoples Disability Network
  • Women with Disabilities Australia
  • People with Disability Australia
  • National Ethnic Disability Alliance
  • Children and Young People with Disability Australia
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia
  • Deaf Australia
  • Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
  • Deafblind Australia
  • Deafness Forum of Australia
  • Brain Injury Australia
  • Inclusion Australia
  • Blind Citizens Australia
  • Down Syndrome Australia
  • Physical Disability Australia
  • Every Australian Counts
  • Disability Resources Centre Advocacy
  • Ideas
  • Disability Justice Australia
  • Enhanced Lifestyles
  • National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum
  • Imagine More
  • Advocacy Western Australia
  • Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service
  • Melbourne East Disability Advocacy
  • Queensland Advocacy Incorporated
  • Family Advocacy
  • Grampians Disability Advocacy
  • Syndromes Without A Name
  • Advocacy Tasmania
  • Southwest Advocacy Association
  • Victorian Rural Advocacy Network
  • Assert 4 All
  • Colac Otway Region Advocacy Service
  • Disability Information and Advocacy Service
  • Gipplsland Disability Advocacy
  • Community Resource Unit
  • AED Legal Centre
  • ANTaR
  • Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health
  • People with Disabilities Western Australia
  • Association for Children with Disability Tasmania
  • Association for Children with a Disability Victoria
  • All Means All
  • Queensland Collective for Inclusive Education
  • Southern Disability Advocacy
  • Rights Information and Advocacy Centre
  • Regional Disability Advocacy Service
  • Youth Disability Advocacy Service
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
  • Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
  • Barwon Disability Resource Council
  • North East Citizen Advocacy
  • Julia Farr Youth
  • Leadership Plus
  • Women with Disabilities Victoria
  • Citizens Advocacy Perth West
  • Speakout Advocacy
  • Developmental Disability WA
  • Women with Disabilities ACT
  • Council for Intellectual Disability
  • Citizen Advocacy Sunbury
  • South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability
  • Parent to Parent Queensland
  • People with Disabilities ACT
  • Aspergers Victoria
  • Disability Advocacy and Complaints Service of South Australia
  • Disability Advocacy Victoria
  • Advocacy for Inclusion
  • National LGBTI Health Alliance
  • Physical Disability Council NSW
  • University of Western Sydney