Statement: Include people with disabilities in the COVID-19 response

Disability advocate organisations are calling on the Australian Government to take immediate action to include people with disability in COVID-19 response efforts, here in Australia and around the world.

For the one billion people with disabilities globally, COVID-19 will heighten existing accessibility challenges and discrimination. People with disability are more likely to live in poverty and have a tougher time finding and keeping a job. They often experience difficulty accessing government health messaging and support services. These issues are not only relevant to people with disability in Australia, but are far reaching.

If not designed in consultation with people with disability, COVID-19 responses will have unintended consequences for this already marginalised group of people. For people living in the poorest communities around the world these consequences can and will be amplified. We must ensure our global response is inclusive and the impacts are addressed. By doing so we ensure no-one is left behind.

Disability advocate organisations object to a wait-and-see attitude and call for urgent action from the Australian Government to form an inclusive international response. Together, we propose the following measures:

  • Fully include people with disabilities in COVID-19 planning and ensure ongoing engagement throughout the crisis
  • Provide people with disability relevant information about infection mitigation, public restriction plans, and the services offered, in a diversity of accessible formats with use of accessible technologies
  • Ensure support services, personal assistance, physical and communication accessibility for people with disabilities during quarantine and social distancing
  • Include people with disability in all response efforts, including access to healthcare and life saving measures without discrimination and on an equal basis to others
  • Ensure people with disability have access to adequate income support on an equal basis with others
  • Ensure continuation of pre-existing programs and funding towards inclusion and empowerment of people with disability, even as these are modified to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions
  • Dedicate new, additional Commonwealth expenditure beyond existing Australian Official Development Assistance to form an inclusive COVID-19 response

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In partnership with:

Jane Edge
CEO
CBM Australia

Jeff Smith
CEO
People with Disability Australia

Ross Joyce
CEO
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Lim Puay Tiak (PT)
Chairman
ASEAN Disability Forum

Lucy Daniel
Executive Officer
ADDC

Learn more about CBM Australia's advocacy work