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COVID-19 response from Disability Reform Council "appalling": Greens

Thursday 19 March, 2020

Australian Greens disability spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John has described the COAG Disability Reform Council's (DRC) response to COVID-19 as appalling

Senator Steele-John has called on the DRC to act with more urgency, and provide more clarity about the impacts COVID-19 will have on disabled people, our families and our support networks.

"Yesterday's meeting was an opportunity for the DRC to show that they are listening to the disability community and take urgent action. They've failed to do either; their response has been too slow and frankly, does not respond appropriately to the urgent needs of our community," Steele-John said.

"What we needed from yesterday's meeting was a comprehensive action plan to ensure that people in our community who are at risk have access to the right information and appropriate supports to get through this crisis. What we got was a list of so-called priorities that didn't cover half all of our concerns or have a clear timeline for action.

"Critically, a dedicated hotline and a phone-based outreach program for people who are at risk must be established to provide support, carry out well-being checks and reassure the community that their needs will be met. The list of priorities identified by the DRC is also lacking in several key areas.

"Disabled people need a commitment that throughout the life of this crisis there will be equal access to healthcare for all and that all steps will be taken to ensure our hospital system is accessible and inclusive for all.

"It is not good enough to say that "appropriate consideration" will be given to disabled people as part of the health response; our community needs to know that people will get the healthcare they need, when they need it.

"There has been no mention of the need to develop a stand-by workforce to ensure that disabled people who need support can have certainity that they will be able to get it, even if their usual service provider is compromised.

"Access to increased funding for disabled people where needed to ensure that we can continue to access services and supports is critical, just as it is critical to support service providers.

"The outcomes of this meeting have failed to address the urgency of the issues disabled people face and the DRC must now act."

Senator Steee-John said the Greens support the recommendations made by Australian peak disability organisations in response to the COAG Disability Reform Council, which can be found here.

Media Contacts:
STEELE-JOHN - Tim Oliver; 0448 316 387

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