HOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED IN IT’S COVID-19 RESPONSE TO THE AUTISM COMMUNITY

HOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED IN IT’S COVID-19 RESPONSE TO THE AUTISM COMMUNITY

OPINION PIECE

When COVID-19 came uninvited to Australia, our prime minster Scott Morrison stepped out of parliament house and stood behind a lectern and staring directly into the lens of one of the many camera’s pointed at him he delivered his prewritten message for all Australians.

But did he?

When he said all Australians, I don’t believe that he was directing it at all Australians.

I feel that in the grand scheme of things he’d forgotten to include one important community of people, who were presumably watching their TV’s and wondering why have we been left out of this important address to the nation?

The community to which I am referring to is my community – the Autistic one.

Nothing Scott said whilst standing outside in Canberra from that day to this has included or been directed towards in my opinion the Autism community and in respect of how we would respond to this virus coming into disrupt our lives, and more importantly and this is where I feel that the government have dropped the ball – because for me it wasn’t what was being said but rather the way that they were delivering the messaging.

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the Charlie Brown show, you’ll know that the teachers in that never spoke but rather they made a wah-wah noise.

This is what it felt like to me sitting at home, glued to the TV wondering what the hell was going on.

And then the onslaught from the networks began which ranged from breakfast shows, to news-based panel shows, where suddenly everything was being linked to COVD-19.

Every second a new fresh piece of information was being fed to us, we were like hungry slathering dogs, being fed some fresh, uncooked piece of steak.

And yet still Scott would come out at various points during the day, to deliver his address to the baying journalists, and every day I’d feel even more confused, which turned to anger, which turned to despair.

And each and every day my anxiety and my mental health took a more severe battering than it had the previous day.

And this was because Scott never directly addressed our concerns, our worries, he just in my opinon addressed the nation.

If it wasn’t Scott it was various premiers from different states, coming out with varying often at times different messaging, it appeared that each state had their own clear idea of what rules each person should be adhering to dependant on where you lived within Australia.

The messaging became so different that the premiers as well as the prime minister all ended up contradicting each other which left me feeling even more confused that I had previously been.

The other missing element here is that no one from the government has in place a COVID-19 targeted strategy currently being implemented for anyone within the disability community.

So why when there are currently one in 70 Australians who are Autistic, and when the government started to release it modelling plans concerning COVID -19 how did it miss the mark with the disability community?

So, concerned have certain quarters of the disability sector been about what’s currently on offer to support the disability community during these uncertain times that the Royal Commission issued a public statement outlining their concerns.

They said in a statement

“The Royal Commission is deeply concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disability. The pandemic is an unprecedented public health, social and economic emergency that requires swift and effective action by governments, businesses and the community. Governments should ensure they take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities.”

The commission went onto say

“The Royal Commission appreciates and acknowledges the challenges that Australian governments and businesses are facing during this pandemic”.

The Royal Commission calls upon all governments to ensure that, in their responses, they include dedicated strategies to protect and support people with disability.”

If it’s come to the point where the Royal Commission has to step in to point out a glaring flaw in the current modelling COVID -19 plan then something surely needs to occur so that if we experience another outbreak then we can be more prepared and better understand the disability sector and it’s needs.

My message to the Australian government would be that they ensure that their strategies in responding to the pandemic include the taking of all necessary measures to seek to ensure the protection and safety of all persons with a disability.

The emergency planning and responses of the Australian governments should include a specific strategy to provide appropriate guidance, support and funding to meet the particular needs and requirements of people with disabilities.

I am also of the view that Australian governments should have sought input from people with disabilities, leading disability experts and advocates in developing their dedicated strategy, and in particular, in its COVID-19 Coordination Commission initiative.

You can read the full statement from the Royal Commission here

https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/statement-concern-response-covid-19-pandemic-people-disability

Carry On The Conversation

Do you think that the government have failed in it’s COVID-19 response to the disability community?

Let me know in the comments section below

As always, I can also be found on Twitter:@AutisticNickAU and on the Autistic Nick Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/AutisticNickAU/

3 thoughts on “HOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED IN IT’S COVID-19 RESPONSE TO THE AUTISM COMMUNITY”

  1. Hi Nick,

    I am one of the lucky ones to have a seat in a job that I love, and a seat that can be at home to work during this time. I’m also, seemingly, cut out to be working from home (I have always maintained a space for this kind of eventuality), can be much better focussed so I get more done than I would in a busy, noisy office, and have begun to thrive. (In fact, I’ve been supporting my work team through the challenges they’ve faced….

    So, while the world around me seems to be imploding, I am having the completely opposite reaction.
    And, for that, I will be eternally grateful.

    And that makes me feel a little guilty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a person with a disability (autism) working in the disability sector, and trust me, we’re well aware of the big gaps the government is leaving in its COVID-19 strategy. The entire disability sector is filled with vulnerable people, and we’re basically being left hanging. It took sustained lobbying and the intervention of Senator Steele-John to get the disability sector access to the government’s PPE stockpile at all (all the emphasis was on aged care and hospitals, never mind the well disabled who didn’t want to get sick). There’s been next to nothing to specifically address what’s being done for people with disabilities – we got a statement from the relevant minister in mid-April (to give a bit of context: the organisation I work for has been planning for and setting up for the pandemic since about mid-February) which mouthed bureaucratic inadequacies, and didn’t actually cover anything specific. As a person with a disability who is working with and for other people with disabilities, I’m disgusted by the government’s lack of consideration here.

    Liked by 1 person

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