Our NLB COVID disability hospital kit is here! Many thanks to those who contributed. You can print out, fill in and add it to your emergency toolkit.
People with disability, their families and workers have not been vaccinated at the same rate as other individuals in the population.
On Friday 28th September, evidence was given to a Senate Select Committee that only 4.8% of NDIS participants aged between 12 and 15 had been vaccinated - of 39.8% of the entire eligible NDIS population.
Workers are also under-vaccinated and people with disability, people with chronic health conditions and people living in congregate (group) settings are at very high risk.
There are a range of things that need to happen to keep people with disability safe. The OZSAGE site outlines a number of ways that people at high risk can be made safer from COVID.
In comparison to other countries, Australia is far behind. We face additional challenges - for example, Aboriginal people in Australia are far more likely to experience both disability and chronic health conditions and access to ventilators in regional and remote areas is an area of concern.
We have put out this call today, on the 3rd of October, 2021. New South Wales plans to 'open up' on the 11th of October, in a week's time.
As a community, we hold grave concerns for the welfare of people with disability. Australia has not directed sufficient resources to ensure people with disability, their families and workers will be safe.
We know that disabled people are most at risk, including people who are disabled as a result of age.
Those risks are magnified for people living in congregate (group) settings, as evidenced by the outbreaks in nursing homes and group homes across the world. People who are living in crowded housing, jails or other institutions are more at risk - we know that many people have not yet been counted or included in the 1a rollout, which has to date only included NDIS participants with disability who have SIL funding or who are younger people in nursing homes.
There are discrete groups which must be protected because of their exceptionally high risk category. They include people living in boarding houses, mental health units and other congregate settings, as well as diagnostic groups like people with Down syndrome (who are 36 times more likely to die as a result of contracting COVID). Over 70% of people who died of COVID in Australia in 2020 had underlying conditions.
Aboriginal people are also considered more at risk and as of last Friday 28th September, only 29.1% of Aboriginal NDIS participants had been fully vaccinated.
There are currently state by state and industry by industry discussions going on around mandatory testing for disability support workers. The COVID Disability Advisory Committee will be developing a position statement on mandatory vaccines for support workers in the near future.
As of last Friday 28th September 2021, only 59.3% of screened disability workers had been fully vaccinated. This data is incomplete - the data provided is from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and only applies to disability support workers who work for registered providers (about 155,000 workers).
Disability and allied health workers are estimated to make up about 300,000 members of the care workforce - at present, there is no way to capture the full number of workers, nor for people with disability to find out the vaccination status of a worker (unless the provider or state requires vaccination as a job pre requisite).
Research by the National Disability Insurance Agency tells us that under-vaccination rates among people with disability is not because of 'vaccine hesitancy', but lack of access to vaccines because of lack of support, supply issues and access barriers.
Our goal is to empower disabled people, their families, workers and supporters to take action make sure all disabled people are safe before they are exposed to additional risk..
The disability sector released an 11 point plan in August - we would add these urgent asks to that plan.
We are also aware that individual and community and responses can be very effective to keep people safe - over the coming weeks, we will be providing a number of campaign materials for people who want to lobby around the above issues, plus information about how to keep yourself and others safe and well.
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