Disability Royal Commission releases COVID-19 report following pandemic hearing

The Disability Royal Commission has published a report outlining the experiences of people with disability during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The report was published three months after The Royal Commission held its fifth public hearing from Tuesday 18 August – Friday 21 August 2020 in Sydney. The hearing was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it was live streamed via the Disability Royal Commission website.

Noting The Disability Royal Commission’s Statement of Concern released on 26 March 2020 regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disability, and Issues Paper on Emergency Planning, the COVID-19 hearing highlighted the experiences of a people with disability during the ongoing pandemic.

The COVID-19 report makes 22 wide-ranging recommendations after receiving evidence from people with disability, advocates, experts, and government representatives during the August COVID-19 hearing.

During the fifth public hearing, people with disability told the Disability Royal Commission of their fear, anxiety, and stress during the pandemic and how they felt invisible and ignored.

The COVID-19 report suggested it was a “serious failure” that no Australian Government agency with responsibility for disability policy, including the Department of Health, made “any significant effort” to consult with people with disability or their representative organisations during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also said that a failure to consult people with disability during the onset of the pandemic, contributed to the Australian Government’s failure to address the needs of people with disability and the challenges confronting them.

The COVID-19 report also made the following recommendations:

  1. The Australian Government ensure that all agencies responsible for planning and implementing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic consult with people with disability and their representative organisations in future.
  2. The Australian Government protect and support people with disability during times of pandemic and future emergencies.
  3. The NDIS Commission review the NDIS Practice Standards and NDIS Quality Indicators to ensure they are appropriate for pandemics and emergencies.
  4. The Australian Government Department of Health ensure that an appropriately resourced unit or team has specific responsibility for developing plans and programs to protect the health and wellbeing of people with disability, including during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on the COVID-19 report, please visit the Disability Royal Commission website.

An Easy English version of the COVID-19 report can also be viewed here.