Barriers and enablers in developing a COVID-19 policy response for people with disability – what can we learn?
As multiple states head back into lockdowns and restrictions due to new COVID-19 outbreaks around the nation, focus is once again on the Federal Government’s policy response to the pandemic.
As we have seen with outbreaks in aged and disability care settings, policy responses must take into account groups who may be more at risk from COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, people with disability were largely ignored in the Federal Government’s initial COVID-19 policy response.
Consequently the disability sector rapidly mobilised to lobby for a disability specific response. A new report examines what helped and hindered the development of a COVID-19 policy response for people with disability and what we can learn from this for future crisis and emergency situations.
This report was authored by Celia Green, Gemma Carey and Helen Dickinson from the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health. You can read the full report here
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians with disability were identified as a vulnerable population due to increased risk of morbidity and mortality as a result of underlying health conditions, potential exposures to multiple support workers and informal carers, and ‘social determinants of health’ impacts such as discrimination and social exclusion. Despite this, people with disability were largely ignored in the Federal Government’s initial COVID-19 policy response. Consequently, the disability sector rapidly mobilised to lobby for the Federal Government to create a disability specific policy response, which resulted in the Commonwealth Department of Health forming an Advisory Group and associated Roundtable to help inform the development of a response.
In our new report from the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health we explore the barriers and enablers that led to the development of the Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability the Federal Government’s National Action Plan for protecting people with disability during the pandemic. We interviewed 18 key stakeholders who were part of the development of the Action Plan to find out what they thought helped or hindered the process of developing a COVID-19 policy response for people with disability.
Despite an initial lack of action to protect people with disability by the Federal Government, there were a number of enablers that helped both draw policy makers attention to the issue and facilitated a relatively rapid policy response once policy makers were on board.