One major theme of COVID-19 media reporting has been stories of individuals craving physical contact and struggling with loneliness. But for some people with disability, this isn’t just the byproduct of a pandemic, it’s their everyday existence.
The Federal Government says it “wants answers” on the death of disability care recipient Ann Marie Smith in what police described as “degrading circumstances”, as pressure mounts on federal and state authorities to explain how her case was overlooked.
The essence of human rights is the right of everyone to live a dignified life. A life with shelter, food, access to health care, safety, inclusion in the community and respect. As a community we should value human rights because we value people. People from all backgrounds, living circumstances and abilities. People like Ann-Marie. A police investigation is now underway, and Ann-Marie’s death has been declared a major crime.
She died on April 6 from severe septic shock, multi-organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy after being stuck in a cane chair for 24-hours-a-day for more than a year.
The Federal Court has ruled in favour of a woman living with multiple sclerosis who wanted to fund sex work services in her National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan.
We are all struggling right now with how to assess risks, both for ourselves individually and for society as a whole. The stakes are extremely high. But one of the few advantages disabled people have during this pandemic is that we understand risk better than most. We live and work with it every day of our lives.
Advocacy groups are calling on the Morrison government to immediately accept a landmark federal court decision allowing people with disability to use their National Disability Insurance Scheme funding for specialised sex work services.
This led me to thinking about how the current environment is leading to disability accommodations becoming widely available, not because of some ethical awakening or increased empathy but because now everyone is disabled. If we follow the logic of the social model of disability, we are now working in an environment that is not ideal for the vast majority rather than an unseen minority. Allow me to expand on that for you by giving you some examples.
The answer to these and similar questions of equal access and fundamental rights of disabled people must be yes. Yes, it is always appropriate for disabled people to advocate for our rights, for full accommodation and inclusion, no matter what else is happening.
Although the experts welcomed the response plan, they say it needs to be based on human rights and principles to make sure ethical decision-making is used. Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Disability Innovation Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Jackie Leach Scully says that the national response plan is just the starting point of ensuring the needs of people with disability are met.
Sign this petition to add your support the Statement of Concern on COVID-19: Human rights, disability, and ethical decision-making, The Statement of Concern emphasises that key human rights principles and standards on the rights of people with disability must be included in the policies, protocols and guidelines that determine decision-making in the context of lifesaving medical treatment during COVID-19.
Many of us have experienced our freedoms and ability to earn reduced, our environments have become less than ideal, with services no longer delivering for us, and we are living in the shadow of an invisible enemy. Welcome to the world experienced by disabled people. You might have heard of the social and medical models of disability, and there is now no good reason not to understand what they mean – they apply to everyone.
Disabled people know better than most that in a crisis, in times of confusion, fear, and deprivation, rules and norms meant to protect us can disappear like wisps of smoke. But we just don’t know how things will actually play out. That’s another familiar experience for most disabled people … the gap between the way things are supposed to be, the way people think they are, and the way they actually are for people with disabilities.
Unless Governments and communities take action, discrimination against people with disabilities could increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, an expert with the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
Service providers are warning that 250,000 Australians with a disability are feeling “forgotten” by the emergency response planning for the COVID-19 virus. Peak body National Disability Services warned Federal Human Services Minister Stuart Robert yesterday that disability providers were underprepared for the crisis, with urgent action needed to protect and retain the sector’s workforce.