Coronavirus pandemic creating fear for Australian children and young people with a disability

Thousands of Australian children with a disability and their families are being kept in the dark over how governments will support them through the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.

In recent days, the Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education (ACIE) and Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) surveyed more than 200 families of children and young people with disability about their experience with the evolving COVID-19.

Findings showed:

  • 34% had support workers cancelled or other NDIS services cancelled
  • 38% were unable to work or suffered a loss of income due to COVID-19
  • 15% had not been able to buy medication for children and young people with disability
  • 82% had not been able to buy essential supplies
  • 86% said they weren’t receiving the necessary information to keep children or young people with disability safe during the crisis

Families also revealed they are frustrated by the absence of Auslan interpreters on broadcast public health announcements, mixed messages from education institutions across the country regarding social distancing, and a lack of direction about the availability of vital support should carers be quarantined.

On Monday, disability advocacy groups across Australia held crisis meetings to discuss the lack of support, prior to the Disability Reform Council (DRC) of state, territory and federal disability ministers meeting scheduled for today.

CYDA and ACIE are calling for an immediate action plan to drive a coordinated and inclusive approach to support children and young people with disability.

CYDA CEO Mary Sayers said children and young people with disability already faced hurdles in accessing inclusive education without unnecessary confusion about coronavirus disrupting their schooling even further.

“Governments across Australia need to take decisive and immediate actions for the tens and thousands of families who are worried that their kids with disability could be seriously harmed by Australia’s confusing approach to managing COVID-19 among at-risk groups, including immunosuppressed kids

“We understand the sands are continually shifting as new information about COVID-19 comes to light, but what’s not going to change is the measures that need to be taken to ensure kids with disability aren’t compromised more than other kids.”

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