The Royal Commission has released a draft report on the experiences of people with disability, in the context of the Australian government’s approach to the COVID 19 vaccine rollout.
The draft Commissioners report contains 17 findings and 7 recommendations for the Government.
It focuses on evidence from Public Hearing 12 held in May but also incorporates developments since then.
The report considers ‘3 core problems’ with the rollout for people with disability:
- Department of Health’s (DoH) failure to consult people with disability, workers, providers and representative organisations
- DoH’s lack of transparency in decision-making
- Failure to provide accessible information
Some key findings:
- The decision to prioritise aged care residents over people in residential disability accommodation was made without consultation with the disability community, and that this decision was not made public until it was revealed to the Senate Select Standing Committee on 20/4/21.
- In framing the vaccine roll-out; Aust. Govt did not genuinely consult or seek advice for People with Disability (PWD) or disability representative organisations
- Lack of transparency & failure to provide clear information by the Aust. Govt on roll-out of vaccine damaged credibility and trustworthiness of the Aust. Govt among PWD.
- Govt did not conduct the rollout in accordance with the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollo-out Strategy released on 7.1.2021.
Summary of the Recommendations:
- Govt should continue to prioritise access to vaccinations for PWD in residential settings
- Govt should continue to prioritise access to vaccination for all disability support workers.
- Govt should ensure all people with intellectual disability are eligible for vaccine and support them gain urgent access to the vaccine.
- Govt should ensure that no state of territory significantly ease restrictions when the threshold of 70% of the population are fully vaccinated unless all PWD have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and all disability support workers have been fully vaccinated.
- Govt should prioritise consultations with disability representative organisations.
- Govt should review language it uses in publications to describe or refer to PWD & their circumstances.
- Aust Govt should prioritise clear and accessible communications for PWD and the sector concerning the vaccine rollout & the importance of vaccination for PWD.
The Government will have a chance to respond to the draft report before it goes to the Governor General at the end of the week.
The draft report notes the Royal Commission may continue to follow up the vaccination rollout through a roundtable or a one-day hearing in November.