People living with a disability deserve betterNews
People in Corangamite are potentially among many Australians living with a disability yet to be COVID-19 vaccinated, which is appalling given Prime Minister Morrison’s assurances that vulnerable Australians would be a priority for vaccines, local MP Libby Coker said today.
“I chaired the Corangamite NDIS Reference Group last week and was saddened to learn that there is still poor understanding of COVID issues among some people with disabilities in this region, even as vaccines are finally becoming widely available in the community,” Ms Coker said.
“People with a disability were supposed to be looked after early in the rollout, but it’s becoming obvious yet again that the Prime Minister hasn’t delivered on his promise to vulnerable Australians on vaccinations.
“Last week a draft report of the Royal Commission looking into the treatment of people living with a disability spotlighted glaring failures in the Morrison-Joyce Government’s vaccine rollout to one of our most vulnerable groups.
“The draft report said the rollout to people with a disability was ‘seriously deficient’.
“There was a failure to consult properly with people with a disability and their support workers and service providers, a lack of transparency in decision making and a failure to provide clear and easily understood information about vaccines and the rollout.”
Geelong-based disability consultant and member of the Corangamite NDIS Reference Group Lynne Foreman, who lives with a disability, said the information from the Commonwealth agencies such as the NDIS had been poor.
“I never got emails or other notifications from the Commonwealth about the vaccine and the rollout. I always thought people with a disability were to be a priority,” Ms Foreman said.
“I know that especially among people with an intellectual disability, some still don’t understand the concept of the vaccine. People locally in residential care have been concerned about poor information and the slow availability of vaccinations for themselves and support staff.”
Women With Disabilities Victoria local hub liaison officer Deb Haygarth said she felt people with a disability were left ‘high and dry’ when it came to the vaccination.
“I understand the lack of available vaccines was a huge issue. Due to their vulnerability, persons suffering from a disability should have been top priority,” Ms Haygarth said.
“The fact people were not contacted, so had little understanding of the procedure to receive a vaccination, showing the care factor of those in charge.
“The degree of disability was the model of protection. If a person was mentally and physically capable of researching and seeking out for themselves, they would be protected. If not, it's been a waiting game for authorised people to step in. This has not been good enough.”
Rights Information Advocacy Centre disability advocate Rachael Thompson has also expressed concern about the government’s lack of meaningful action to take steps to improve the vaccine roll-out for people with disability.
“Once again people with disability are being left behind and treated as second class citizens. There needs to be specific outreach to people with disability and the government must comply with best practice international standards for COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs,” Ms Thompson said.
“They should also follow People With Disability Australia’s 11-point plan immediately, which has been prepared in consultation with people with disability and endorsed by more than 60 disability advocacy organisations and peak bodies across Australia.”
Ms Coker said that although the community is moving to the lifting of COVID restrictions and ‘freedom day’, she’s not convinced all people living with a disability have been given enough information on vaccinations, based on the flow of anecdotal evidence coming to her electorate office and via the reference group.
“I don’t believe they’ve all been given a genuine opportunity to make an informed vaccination decision nor to receive a priority vaccination, as promised by the Morrison Government,” Ms Coker said.
“People with disabilities have found it challenging to get to a vaccination hub or a GP for a vaccination. Many are reluctant to be in public due to their higher vulnerability to illnesses, including COVID.
“People living with disabilities have been left behind at every stage of the Morrison-Joyce Government’s vaccination rollout. They deserve much, much better.”
Reference: The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability last week (27 Sept) released its draft Report of Public hearing 12: The experiences of people with disability, in the context of the Australian Government’s approach to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.