First Nations people are extremely vulnerable to the COVID- 19 pandemic  

[by Ashlee Kearney]

Image: supplied

First Nations people with disabilities are extremely vulnerable to serious infection from COVID- 19.

 

Federal and State Governments must deliver support to protect First Nations communities especially those with disabilities. Social distancing is almost impossible in most communities where overcrowding in housing presents an increased risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

 

Self-isolation presents an additional conflict for First Nations people particularly those relying on the support of disability carers.

The essential care provided to First Nations people with disability is diverse and exceptionally crucial to their health and wellbeing, including personal support, independent living and therapy support.

 

First Nations people with disabilities and their carers also require equipment and supplies that are disability specific. First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) insists the Federal and State Governments to consider reasonable action to protect First Nations people with disability and their communities.

 

The Department of Social Services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) must fast track Aboriginal Community Connecters in First Nations communities.

 

Aboriginal Community Connecters focus on the availability and accessibility of information about the NDIS and are supported to complete and continue NDIS plans. This will ensure First Nations people with disabilities are supported and care is provided that is both culturally appropriate and disability specific.

 

An increase of Aboriginal Community Connectors will allow a more coordinated approach to support First Nations people with disabilities when evaluating and mitigating risk of serious infection of COVID- 19.

 

All agencies and Government Departments circulating updates should include accurate information in relation to hygiene practices and public gatherings. This information must reach First Nations communities, including in language if appropriate and necessary; and in multimedia to communicate with First Nations people with different disabilities.

 

Travel to remote communities should be appropriately regulated and clearly and uniformly applied among states and territories. The social security system needs to seriously consider suspending the mutual obligation activities of Job Active and Community Development Program (CDP.)

 

A large number of CDP participants are First Nations people with disabilities and forcing them to attend their workplaces puts them at risk of being infected or infecting others. These people should not be forced to choose between compromising their health and an income.

 

FPDN will continue to provide up to date information regarding our activities to all stakeholders as further advice from the Department of Health regarding the Coronavirus becomes available.

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