The Australian government has acted to address many of the issues raised in the Disability Royal Commission Public Hearing Report about experiences of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Improvements to how we consult with people with disability, improvements to data, governance arrangements and the development of further guidance for providers of disability accommodation services are detailed in the government’s response to the report tabled in Parliament today.
The Government supports, or supports in principle, 21 of the recommendations and notes one.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the Morrison Government welcomed the opportunity to respond to the report.
“Australia acted swiftly in responding to protecting both the overall population and in particular our most vulnerable Australians,” Minister Hunt said.
“To that end, we recognise it is a profoundly important human outcome that we have been able to keep Australians with disability overwhelmingly safe with significantly lower positive case numbers and lives lost in the disability community, than in the broader Australian population, which itself has been one of the strongest outcomes in the world.
“We continue to work closely with stakeholders representing the interests of people with disability, states, territories and across Commonwealth agencies to improve our response to COVID-19 for people with disability.”
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the Government had carefully considered the report and some milestones had already been achieved in collaboration with all levels of government, as well as the health and disability sectors.
“We acknowledge the importance of involving people with disability and their representative organisations in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies and are committed to even closer engagement in the future, as the need arises,” Minister Ruston said.
“We are developing a new National Disability Strategy to begin in 2021 to focus the efforts of all levels of government on improving outcomes for people with disability.
“As a key first step, disability ministers nationally have agreed to establish an NDS Advisory Council to advise governments on the new Strategy, to be designed in collaboration with people with disability and the disability community.
“We have also committed funding to develop Good Practice Guidelines for engaging with people with disability to support the participation of people with disability in future consultation.”