We should all be able to access the information and support that we need to get through this crisis.
Yet people aren’t being given the clear information they need to understand what this COVID-19 crisis means for them or what plans are in place to ensure that they have access to good healthcare if they need it.
Many people in at-risk communities were already struggling to access these services and supports, including First Nations people, disabled people, older Australians, LGBTQI+ people, rural and regional communities, women and children and people in detention.
As a result, many people in our community are feeling worried and uncertain about what this crisis means for them and for the people they love.
The government must ensure that people in our community who are at risk can access the right information and appropriate support to get through this crisis.
Making sure no one is left behind
Many disabled people need support to complete everyday tasks, like eating or showering, while others require around-the-clock support to survive. The community is worried that they won’t be able to continue receiving support and that the organisations that provide their support services will shut down.
- Read more
To support people with a disability we must:
- Ensure all COVID-19 test clinics are accessible and inclusive.
- Ensure all hospitals have the accessibility equipment they need.
- Create a dedicated advice hotline for disabled people and families.
- Ensure all information about the crisis is shared in ways that are easy to understand and accessible for everyone (including the use of interpreters, Easy Read, and Language specific formats).
- Give support workers priority access to personal protective equipment at no extra cost.
- Increase the capacity of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission so that the commission has the resources it needs to make sure service providers are meeting their support obligations and implementing effective safety procedures.
- Fastrack the National Disability Data Asset and utilise existing data to ensure that supports, funding, and equipment are delivered to high-risk areas.
- Provide targeted financial support to the disability sector to make sure that service providers and other support services can continue to support people through the crisis.
- Develop standby capacity that will allow rapid recruitment and expansion of the disability workforce sector by drawing on students of allied health including Occupational Therapists, physiotherapists and social workers.
- Provide financial resources to disability services so they can rapidly scale up their operations to support people during the closures of schools, day services and other programs.
- Ensure children with disability and their families have access to information and services to support them through the crisis.
- Increasing capacity to process Working with Children and Police checks so a new workforce can be mobilised quickly.
Domestic and family violence
Experience internationally confirms that this crisis will be a high-risk period for domestic and family violence. This comes at a time when support services are already under significant pressure. We must put in place measures now to enable these critical supports to continue.
- Read more
Support for people experiencing domestic and family violence should ensure:
- Frontline service providers must receive extra funds to ensure specialist staff are available while meeting public health restrictions. This will include investing in new technology to allow secure advice and support to be delivered remotely.
- Additional crisis accommodation to meet increased demand during the pandemic, and ensure facilities are suitable for self-isolation (and available for at least 14 days).
- Increasing National Housing and Homelessness Agreement funding to $500m to support States and Territories to provide crisis and homelessness services.
- Additional funding for Safe at Home programs and the security measures needed to support those programs.
- Support for safe technology programs to provide women with secure ways to contact police, safety organisations, or their support network without alerting their abuser.
- Additional targeted policing and justice programs, including specialist DV court hearings and Dv-trained police officers to oversee applications for AVOs / DVOs and enforcement.
Rural and regional communities
Australians living in rural and regional communities often struggle to access basic health services and have lower life expectancies and worse outcomes on key health indicators. They need targeted support to help them get through this crisis.
- Read more
Australians living in rural and regional communities often struggle to access basic health services and have lower life expectancies and worse outcomes on key health indicators
The Government should do everything it can to provide:
- Clear, accurate, up to date advice on COVID-19 to people in regional and remote communities
- Full access to health services including mental health and telehealth services
- Adequate resourcing in terms of medical supplies and personnel to rural and regional communities
- More intensive care units to meet higher demand
People in Detention
During this crisis, the Infection prevention and management protocols used in our detention system must be humane, respectful, and culturally sensitive. They must be implemented, updated and review on an ongoing basis so that people in detention can practice social distancing while continuing to engage in recreational, social and faith-based programs.
- Read more
If the Minister and Department aren’t willing to transfer refugees into community detention, they must ensure:
- Infection prevention and management protocols that are humane, respectful, and culturally sensitive are implemented and/or updated, and reviewed on an ongoing basis
- All detainees, staff, and visitors are made aware of relevant health protocols and procedures
- Rigorous cleaning, food-handling, and physical restraint regimes are implemented across all detention centres and APODs
- Ample cleaning and sanitising products are provided for detainees, staff, and visitors
- Visitation is encouraged, for mental health purposes, but managed along new/updated health protocols and procedures that are respectful of both detainees and visitors
- If physical visitation cannot be maintained due to health risks, alternative virtual/online visitations need to be facilitated
- Extra contact with facilitated with families who are either in community detention or third countries
- Delegated family and/or community members/advocates are provided with regular updates on preventative actions being taken within the detention centre, and on their family/community member in detention
- Recreation, social, and faith programs, protocols, and spaces are provided that allow for social distancing COVID-19 testing is provided for all detainees Increased and timely access to medical and mental health services
- Dedicated viral management facilities are provided in each detention centre and APOD for detainees and staff
During this crisis we need to make sure that the LGBTIQ+ community has everything we need to get through this crisis. LGBTIQ+ community members often suffer from discrimination in our healthcare system and research shows that LGBTIQ+ people have higher rates of respiratory and auto-immune conditions than the rest of the community.
- Read more
Why the LGBTIQ+ community is at risk:
- LGBTIQ+ people experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers. This is directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTIQ+.
- According to the LGBTI Health alliance, 71% of LGBTI+ people aged 16 to 27 indicated that they did not use a crisis support service during their most recent personal or mental health crisis. Many sited fear of discrimination as the main reason.
- Smoking rates in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community in Australia are about double the rate of the general population. Covid-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
To support the LGBTIQ+ community the government must ensure:
- All health services delivered are safe and appropriate for all LGBTIQ+ people
- Adequate funding is provided to LGBTIQ+ counselling services so they can rapidly scale up their mental health and suicide prevention projects
- Adequate funding is provided to peer support services for transgender, intersex and bisexual people
Many older Australians rely on support services to help them go about their daily lives and provide them with care when they need it. Many older people and their families are worried that they won’t be able to access this help as the crisis continues to develop, and that the organisations they rely on won’t be there to support them.
- Read more
Older Australians need access to:
- Guarantee continuity of support for older Australians in residential care and home care
- Rapid deployment of personal protective equipment across residential care and home care, especially in remote and very remote areas where this equipment is extremely expensive
- Continue to guarantee access to household goods to older people who are isolated at home
- Ensure that all health facilities, including pop up facilities, are fully accessible to older people
- Ensure continuity of medication for older Australians
- Guarantee access to financial support for not-for-profit aged care services that are negatively impacted by coronavirus to ensure continuity of service, replacement of staff and volunteers and increased workload
- Government to cover the subsidy of residential aged care residents who spend in excess of 52 days away from the facility
- Provide additional funding to remote aged care providers to maintain workforces and consider relaxing current funding restrictions to ensure continuity of service
First Nations People
First Nations people, particularly those living in remote areas, need clear information and a guarantee that culturally appropriate services will continue to be made available throughout this crisis.
- Read more
Support for First Nations communities must include:
- Prepare isolation and quarantine centres on country that can be used for suspected and diagnosed cases
- Provide information campaigns to communities and health services in language, culturally safe ways and through various communications channels
- Urgent distribution of more protective personal equipment for health workers in remote areas which is necessary for health workers relying on clinical diagnosis
- Guarantee essential health supplies such as incontinence pads and PEG feeding must be guaranteed
- Delivery of health services must be culturally safe and appropriate
- Ensure that essential supplies are available in all communities
- Guarantee the delivery of food to remote communities especially those facing barriers due to purchase restrictions and closed borders
- Ensure that everyone who needs income support gets access to it
- Support for communities that have lost income due to the closure of tourism and declining art sales
- Disabled First Nations peoples need a specific and further response such as funding for the First Nations Disability Network for proactive regular contacting disabled First Nations peoples
This crisis is already having an impact on the mental health of Australians. Now more than ever we must take care of our mental wellbeing, and ensure the systems are in place so people can access the mental healthcare they need, when they need it.
- Read more
- Communication from the Government and instructions around self-isolation and quarantining must be clear and consistent to ensure the anxiety of people with mental health conditions or ill-health is not exacerbated unnecessarily.
- Access to medications during periods of self-isolation and any community lock-down must be conducted in a manner that does not increase the risk of suicide for at-risk people.
- Provide additional funding support to Primary Health Networks (PHN) for community mental health and suicide prevention services to cater for an expected increase in demand for mental health care during and after the current COVID-19 crisis.
- Provide additional support and tools to enable community and not-for-profit organisations to reach out and contact by phone or videoconference those who are in self-isolation or quarantine; people who are deemed to be at-risk of increased mental ill-health; and those without family or support mechanisms.
- Provide additional funding for mental health services that provide counselling and support to at-risk communities including First Nations Peoples; Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities; the LGBTIQA+ community; people in rural, regional and remote communities; families and carers of people with complex mental health conditions; and at-risk children and young people.
- Provide additional support, funding and protective equipment to enable community and not-for-profit organisations to maintain face-to-face services for people with complex mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities.
- Develop a strategy for maintaining acute clinical care services and ensuring workers are provided with appropriate protective equipment. Increase mental health care workforce capacity by redeploying mental health nurses and peer support workers into regional, rural and remote communities, and communities particularly impacted by COVID-19.
The Greens are calling on the government to urgently take action to ensure that:
- People in our community who are at risk have access to clear information, adequate funding and appropriate supports get through this crisis.
- All people who require support can access additional funding to ensure they can continue to get the support they need.
- Service providers can access additional funding to enable them to deliver essential supports throughout this crisis.
- There is a stand-by workforce to ensure that people in our community who need support can have certainty that they will be able to get it, even if their usual service provider is unavailable.
- Women and children are not put at greater risk of family violence during this crisis and can access critical support services when they need them.
- No one is left without a home during this crisis, especially those in precarious and casual work. A nationwide freeze on evictions and rent rises, with additional funding for crisis and homelessness services is necessary.
- Detainees who have passed medical and security checks are transferred into community detention, where they have family, faith, and other community ties that would help house and support them.
Failing to address these issues will put the safety of our communities at risk.
The Greens are listening to those in the community who are at risk, addressing their concerns about the COVID-19 crisis and making sure that they are heard. We understand that urgent action is needed to make sure that people have the information and support they need to get through this crisis together.
Our Greens movement will always prioritise the wellbeing of our community, and we're committed to ensuring that in this time of crisis everyone has access to the information and appropriate support they need to live a good life.