ACT Government updates

Disability Strategy to provide more support to vulnerable Canberrans

May 18, 2020

Minister for Disability Suzanne Orr today launched the ACT Government’s COVID-19 Disability Strategy, which will guide the ACT Government’s engagement and support for people living with a disability, their families, their carers and the disability sector as a whole.

The Strategy outlines a number of principles, goals and objectives to support people with disability and the disability sector through this crisis, and during the post-emergency transition back to ‘business as usual’ including measures such as:

  • a targeted communication and engagement strategy;
  • supporting access to personal protective equipment, food relief, medications and consumables;
  • actions to ensure adequate personal supports including support for the disability workforce to plan for workforce challenges;
  • access to emergency supports including emergency accommodation;
  • supports to reduce social isolation;
  • actions to reduce the impact of financial disadvantage; and
  • a focus on safety.

Minister Orr said the introduction of this Strategy will ensure that people with disability and the disability sector are provided with timely, sensitive, informed and appropriate support during this time of uncertainty.

“People with Disability and people within the disability service sector have been concerned that their wellbeing will be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its impacts.  As we continue to respond to the threat of COVID-19 I want people living with disability and their supporters to know their concerns are heard, that is what this Strategy is about and the ACT Government will continue to review the strategy as the pandemic and its implications unfold," said Minister Orr.

“Many people have worked very hard in a very short amount of time to prepare and launch the ACT COVID-19 Disability Strategy. The Strategy aims to respond to the needs of all people with disability in the ACT community, not just National Disability Insurance Scheme participants. This includes measures across a broader range of issues than merely the health-system specific aspects of the COVID-19 experience."

The Disability Reference Group Chair Dougie Herd welcomed the announcement, saying focus on people with a disability, their families and their carers is crucial during this time.

“Some people with disability are among the highest-risk groups in our communities. We need reliable advice, authoritative information and timely responses to keep us, and the community, safe and well,” Mr. Herd said.

“Minister Orr has kept in touch with the DRG since the very beginning of the public health emergency. The Minister, her staff and the public servants in the ACT Government’s Office for Disability have involved us in their thinking, their policy development and response to COVID-19 planning. That is an approach that I believe better protects people with disability across the ACT.”

Minister Orr said the Government would continue to seek advice from people with disability and their advocates as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“The Strategy intends to be flexible and responsive to the ongoing threat and disruption caused by COVID-19. As we learn more about the virus, and how to better protect people, we will continue to include people with disability, their families and support networks in decision-making. This will ensure we maintain an inclusive and equal society, even in the face of an unprecedented health emergency.”.

The ACT COVID-19 Disability Strategy can be viewed here