The COVID-19 pandemic and lack of clear direction has thrown the lives of children and young people with disability into turmoil throughout the last few months according to a new report released today.
The report, produced in partnership by UNSW Canberra and Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), has identified that Australia did not have a clear national response for children and young people with disability in the context of COVID-19.
UNSW Canberra academic Professor Helen Dickinson, one of the authors of the report, said that the lack of response simply reinforces the inequalities children and young people with disability already face in accessing essential services, support and their education.
“Many of those who care for children and young people with disability are constantly beset by difficult decisions and precariously balancing work, play, care and education to provide the best possible lives for those under their care,” she said.
“Most people can only manage these things when the world is operating as it normally does – but this global pandemic (especially when immediately preceded by bushfires) has thrown these precariously balanced routines off to such a degree that families are struggling to cope.”
Key findings from new report clearly demonstrated there was a lack of information about the coronavirus targeted to children and young people with disability and their families, with 82% stating they lacked information. This lack of information targeted to the particular needs of households exacerbated distress and uncertainty.
“Survey findings show that there are things that policy makers can do to better target information to children and young people with disability and to ensure that this is accessible.
“However, this will not solve all of the issues we picked up in the survey, which often relate to the significant inequities faced by people with disability and their families,” Professor Dickinson said.
The majority of respondents to the survey conducted by CYDA were unable to buy essential supplies, e.g. groceries, special dietary products, hygiene products, which peaked at the commencement of the pandemic period. Many of these essential goods were necessary for the children and young people with disability because of their conditions.
One in three respondents also experienced cancellation of support workers (either by self or service) and NDIS services.
“Urgent action is needed to attend to the many inequities that people with disability and their families and carers face on a daily basis. Without movement on these issues, any future widespread emergencies will again produce substantial destabilisation for children and young people with disability and with similarly detrimental impacts,” she said.
For more information on the report and the key findings visit the CYDA website.