Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) and Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) and allies across the disability and health sectors, have sent an open letter to Federal and State disability and health ministers, seeking vital supplies, services and supports in the current COVID-19 environment.
The authors of the letter say the current environment is having a significant impacts on Queenslanders with disability and pose significant risks to people’s access to basic essential supports.
“We are calling for people with disability and their families to be formally recognised as a priority cohort to access vitally needed supplies, services, and supports in the same way as the Commonwealth residential aged care sector.”
“We are calling for priority access to testing, vaccinations, boosters, and protective equipment for people with disability, including people with mental health, and chronic conditions, supported Through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Queensland Community Support Scheme (QCSS) and community mental health and community care organisations, and their carers.”
“People with disability often get left behind in disaster situations. The mortality rate is higher. Complications are more. The complexities of life become even more challenging,” Dr Palipana said.
“I believe that we are a fundamentally good people living in a lucky country. I hope that during this time, all of us get behind the most vulnerable in our society.”
“This means enabling equitable access to testing, care, and basic life needs during the pandemic for people with disability.”
The QND is making the following demands for action:
1. In the absence of supply of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), immediately prioritise access to PCR testing and processing of results for people with disability, family, carers, and workers who receive NDIS or community care support, community mental health, or palliative care. This to include priority bookings and accessibility measures at testing sites that give people with disability direct access to tests without having to wait in long lines and meet accessibility needs.
2. Advocate to the Commonwealth Government for priority access of PPE and distribution for NDIS participants and people with disability and mental health conditions supported through community managed organisations or palliative care programs and their workers as well as clear pathways to access supply.
3. Priority access and distribution channels for stocks of giving kits, formula and continence aids to people supported in home in community.
4. Provide transparent information about the overarching National plan for the requisition of PPE, RATs, giving sets, and formula for people with disability who receive disability supports in the community.
5. As supply of RATs increases provide priority access and establish distribution pathways for NDIS participants, those receiving support through a community managed organisation, and palliative care clients as well as their workers.
6. Deliver accessibility measures for Queenslanders with disability who need support to read RAT instructions and results for people who are vision impaired, blind and colour blind and people who are deaf and hard of hearing and for people with disability who may not be proficient in English.
7. Continued and accelerated prioritisation of people with disability for vaccination shots and boosters, including disability accommodation sites.
The full text of the QDN letter is at this link . Queenslanders with Disability Network Open Letter
Separately today Volunteering Queensland issued a call for the Queensland Government to support the volunteering sector by urgently providing rapid antigen tests and personal protective equipment to volunteer involving organisations.
Cover image of Dr Dinesh Palipana provided.