Protecting the lives of Australians with disability during Coronavirus

The Australian Government has taken urgent action to protect the lives of Australians with disability as we continue to confront the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, National Cabinet agreed to release the Management and Operational Plan for COVID-19 for People with Disability (the Plan).

The Plan forms part of the national response developed by the Government and is aligned to the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Coronavirus (COVID-19) with representation from a range of backgrounds including people with lived experience, Disabled Peoples Organisations, the disability service sector, the research sector, the healthcare sector including medical practitioners and nursing, disability advocates, Australian Government officials, and state and territory government officials.

National Cabinet also agreed to begin implementing the plan to ensure some of the most vulnerable people in our community get the health care, support and help they need, where and when they need it.

Currently, there are more than four million people with disability in Australia.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said this practical and comprehensive plan will save and protect some of Australia's most vulnerable.

'Some people with disability are significantly more at risk of adverse health outcomes if they become infected with coronavirus than the general population–this plan will ensure our support is joined up for these at risk groups.'

The Plan addresses factors such as the reliance on close contact with carers and support workers, having a compromised immune system, and the presence of multiple underlying health conditions.

Minister Ruston said an advisory committee with expertise across the health and disability sectors and people with lived experience, including Disability Discrimination Commissioner Dr Ben Gauntlett, had overseen development of the plan.

'All governments, the disability sector and the community play a role in minimising the risk of harm and protecting the rights of people with disability. This Plan provides us with the framework to do this during the pandemic.'

Minister Robert said the plan supports the extensive measures all governments have enacted to support the safety of Australians with disability and NDIS participants, reducing their exposure to the virus and maintaining essential services.

'The Australian Government has injected over $1 billion into supporting Australians with disability during this difficult time, and have announced measures to ensure NDIS participants have access to essential supports, and to give NDIS service providers some financial relief to help them remain viable and retain their staff.'

The Plan will be a living document which will be updated periodically as new evidence emerges and is available at https://health.gov.au/resources/publications/management-and-operational-plan-for-people-with-disability

This response is part of the Australian Government's fast tracked $2.4 billion COVID-19 National Health Plan announced by the Prime Minister on 11 March 2020.