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The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) attended the public hearing for the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 this week, to speak on the impact the CoronaVirus pandemic has had on people with disability.

AFDO’s Vice President, Trevor Carroll spoke about how he had become increasingly alarmed at the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the human rights of people with disability.

Trevor addressed the issue of disability advocates being unable to visit many people with disability who lived in congregate residential facilities because disability advocates are not deemed to be essential workers, leaving people with disability who live in Aged Care facilities and Supported Disability Accommodation (Group Homes) unable to access advocacy if they were unable to read, write or speak, and needed individual support to communicate with an advocate.

Dr Karen Soldatic, Associate Professor at Western Sydney University, and Mr Bryn Overend, Principal Lawyer at Social Security Rights Victoria also joined AFDO to give evidence of the impact on Disability Support Pension (DSP) and Carer payment recipients who were not included in the Federal Government’s $550 per fortnight CoronaVirus Supplement, leaving them disproportionately negatively affected and more vulnerable to the pandemic.

DSP and Carer payment recipients are more likely to need to remain in isolation, which exacerbates living costs and barriers to support. This includes a lack of access to public transport, increased costs for food and delivery, increased utility costs, inability to access bulk or cheaper priced food and necessities, and difficulty in obtaining necessary medication.

The full Opening Statements by Mr Carroll, Mr Overend, and Dr Soldatic are available via the links below.

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