17 July 2020

The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus guides the Australian health sector response.

The Australian Government has released a Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability (the Plan). It supports the objectives of the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). It includes:

  • an overview of the plan,

  • its objectives and principles;

  • rationale for the plan;

  • roles and responsibilities;

  • governance and consultation;

  • the operational plan phases;

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that people with disability and their families and carers have equitable access to health care during the outbreak, including accessible health and social care advice, and access to essential supports and services.

COVID-19 presents a significant and unprecedented challenge for many people with disability, including children and young people, the people who support them, and the disability sector as a whole. Some people with disability are more likely to be vulnerable to the effects associated with COVID-19 including impacts which continue following the pandemic period.

The Plan has been developed for people of all ages with disability, their families, support workers and the disability and health care sectors. The Plan will take a risk-based approach, prioritising individuals whose disability, current health status and the setting in which they live, places them at a bigger risk of negative outcomes related to COVID-19.

The objectives of the Plan are to:

  • minimise the spread of COVID-19, and illness and/or death caused by the virus for people with disability ;

  • guide action across Australia to reduce the risk of people with disability catching COVID-19 ;

  • provide information to and empower all people with disability, their families, and support workers in relation to COVID-19 ;

  • identify the scientific nature of the virus, and determine how severe the disease is for people with disability ;

  • support effective health care, including rehabilitation, for people with disability who contract COVID-19, and reduce additional challenges from COVID-19 for healthcare and disability support workers ;

  • support people with disability in continuing to access vital health care for conditions that are not related to COVID-19 throughout the virus period.

The following principles underpin the Plan and actions under it:

  • EQUITY: The human rights of people with disability are maintained through a health care response that is fair, accessible for everyone, and specific to people with disability.

  • PREVENTION: Preventing people with disability becoming infected is the main focus.

  • INFORMED: People with disability, their families and support workers understand what to do during the virus outbreak and how to access support.

  • TARGETED: Clear and targeted information and advice is communicated in a range of accessible ways.

  • SUPPORT NETWORKS: Supporters of people with disability (families, support workers and others providing formal and informal supports) are important to the safety of people with disability, during the virus outbreak.

  • PARTNERSHIPS: The health sector and the disability sector must work together to respond to the range of needs that people with disability, their families and support workers have.

  • CULTURAL CONSIDERATION: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability need specific focus in this plan and associated plans, with underlying disadvantage, cultural considerations, remoteness and other issues making it challenging for this group to have fair and equal access to health care and other supports.

  • WELLBEING: protect the mental health and wellbeing of people with disability and their families by involving them in making decisions and not disrupting their daily lives. Where appropriate, provide appropriate health care in non-hospital settings as much as possible, and provide the necessary support that people with disability need. 

Everyone has a role to play in protecting the health of people with disability from being infected by COVID-19. This includes the health and disability agencies of the Australian and state and territory governments, people with disability, families, support workers, and the healthcare and disability sectors.

Click below for the full plans.

Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability

Easy Read - Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability

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