Morrison must urgently support struggling disability sector

Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters is calling on the Federal Government to step up and provide greater support to the disability sector, as it struggles through the COVID pandemic.

“The Morrison Government must come up with a plan to ensure disability support services have financial support for services cancelled at the last minute and access to free RATs (rapid antigen tests).

“The sector is not exempt from staff shortages caused by the current COVID wave, if organisations like Amicus can’t provide their service, they won’t receive income.

“They need to be able to access government support to stay afloat,” Chesters said.

Disability support organisations have also flagged concerns over the cost of, and limited accessibility to, rapid antigen tests and N95 masks.

“It’s outrageous that the Morrison Government has been dealing with the pandemic for two years, yet disability services are still lacking clear information about essential equipment like masks and tests.

“Free RATs and appropriate PPE must be provided immediately.

“These clients are some of the most vulnerable in our community. They deserve better,” Chesters said.

Amicus CEO, Ann-Maree Davis says the service has posted consecutive monthly losses this financial year because of the pandemic.

“Amicus’ predominant source of funding is the NDIS, which means that all of this funding is attached to individuals, and therefore when services are cancelled there is no income.

“I think there is a misconception that not for profits are exempt from impacts, as they receive government funding.

“Access to a JobKeeper type scheme is absolutely essential for providers and businesses, including the not-for-profit sector, in particular those providers whose service mix does not include a fixed income stream, but the requirement for participant safety is still mandated and therefore unfunded,” Ms Davis said.