ACOSS backs call for vaccination gap for people with disability to be closed before easing COVID restrictions, as well as for other high risk groups

27 September 2021

National Cabinet must urgently address the call by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability to improve the vaccination rates of people with disabilities and disability support workers before easing COVID restrictions in any states or territories.

National Cabinet must urgently set specific vaccination targets for all higher-risk groups before relaxing COVID restrictions, including people on low incomes, First Nations people, those without medicare cards, including people on temporary visas.

Australian evidence shows that people on lower incomes are dying at FOUR TIMES the rate of higher income people, and in the UK 60% of people who died of COVID were people with a disability.

ACOSS supports the 11-point plan on government action to protect people with disability from COVID-19, by  People with Disability Australia backed by more than 60 organisations.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We only have one chance to get this right – it’s a matter of life and death for people in high-risk groups.

“First and second dose vaccination rates are still much lower for people with a disability, First Nations people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and those on lower incomes. All these groups are at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID and it would be unconscionable to ease restrictions until we are sure people at high risk have at least the same vaccination rate as the broader community or as recommended by public health advice.

“We are very concerned that many people will be unprotected who have not had the chance to become fully vaccinated. This includes people with chronic illness, those living in regional and remote areas and people who are homeless. We are concerned also for people who are not citizens, without a Medicare card, refugees and asylum seekers, and people in detention.

“There are many barriers that make accessing vaccinations harder for different groups of people, including vaccine availability, whether they are being delivered by trusted people in communities, and work or home responsibilities that limit access.

“The community sector is absolutely committed to doing all we can to make sure those most at risk are not left behind in the vaccine roll out. Trusted community leaders and groups are working day and night to encourage vaccination with great success. We need greater resources and support for community-led strategies.

“Federal, state and territory governments must agree at National Cabinet that restrictions will not be eased in a way that leaves whole communities exposed.” Dr Goldie concluded.

ACOSS will again write to National Cabinet restating information in these briefings:

Vaccination Targets & Data Transparency – ACOSS Briefing

Community Sector Vaccination Principles

PWD Australia 11-point plan of action to vaccinate people with disabilitiesa