COVID-19 is profoundly impacting our lives and our region. This impact is even more evident for people with disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic creates a perfect storm where:

    • The barriers already facing people with disabilities are increasing on multiple fronts.
    • As seen with large and complex emergencies, the needs of people with disabilities are overlooked and they cannot access vital health, economic and social support in response efforts.
    • Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) are having to address urgent service shortfalls, stepping into the role government and humanitarian systems should be playing.

The COVID-19 pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities. This risks reversing the economic and social gains Australian aid has achieved through investment in disability inclusion in our region in the past decade.

Much can be gained now by building on Australia’s significant investment in disability inclusive development, but much could be lost if we do not recognise and respond to the unique threat that COVID-19 poses to people with disabilities in developing countries. We can and must do more to save lives and livelihoods now.