People with disability may face unique challenges and risks during the COVID-19 health emergency.
People with disability, especially those who also have underlying chronic health conditions, may be at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and of experiencing severe illness. It is important for people with disability, their friends, families and carers to understand and follow health advice.
You can ask people coming to your home to provide support to you some questions. If you are a support worker you can offer this information to the people you support to provide a level of assurance. Here are some questions that you can ask.
- Are you vaccinated?
- Are you a close or casual contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and has it been 14 days or less since your last exposure to the case?
- Do you have any COVID-19 symptoms?
- Have you been in a geographical area of risk in the last 14 days?
- Are you currently in quarantine?
- Do you live in a household with a person who is currently in quarantine or isolation?
The ACT Government has made easy read resources that can help people with disability understand COVID-19, testing, vaccination and quarantine.
The Community Services Directorate website has more information for people with disability and disability service providers including:
- a COVID-19 planning tool for people with disability
- resources to explain COVID-19
- disability support services
- personal protective equipment
Easy English documents and videos about COVID-19 have been developed for the ACT by Advocacy for Inclusion and are available on their Resources page.
If you are unwell or cannot work because you are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test, you may be eligible for financial assistance.
The assistance will vary depending on your specific circumstances and eligibility.
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
If you cannot earn an income because you must isolate, quarantine or care for someone with COVID-19, you may be able to access the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
You can find more information on the $1,500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, including eligibility criteria and how to apply on the Services Australia website.
COVID-19 Disaster Payment
If you are unable to earn an income during the ACT lockdown period, you may be able to access the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment.
Depending on how many hours of work you have lost during the lockdown period, payment amounts can vary from $200 to up to $750.
More information about the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, including eligibility and how to apply, is available on the Services Australia website.
Financial assistance while waiting for a test result
If you are unable to work because you are in isolation while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, you may be able to access the $270 COVID-19 Test Hardship Isolation Payment.
The COVID-19 Test Hardship Isolation Payment is an initiative of the ACT Government.
Find out more about eligibility guidelines and how to apply.
Testing and vaccination
Getting tested for COVID-19
Getting tested for COVID-19 helps keep you and the community safe. If you have even mild symptoms of COVID-19, get tested straight away then follow the advice of ACT Health.
There are testing clinics across Canberra, including some that take appointments.
There is a dedicated Access and Sensory testing site at the Garran Surge Centre for people with disability, children and young people with sensory or additional needs, and those who need additional support to undertake a test.
If you need to get tested but are having difficulty attending or getting to a testing site call ACT Health on 02 5124 6500 between 8.30am and 6pm.
Getting your COVID-19 vaccination
Getting vaccinated will help protect you from getting sick. To make an appointment call the ACT COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Line on 02 5124 7700 (option 3) between 7am and 7pm each day.
There is an Access and Sensory vaccination clinic within the Weston Creek Community Health Centre available for people with disability and their support staff, volunteer or carer attending the appointment. Please explain what help you will need when you make your booking.
The Access and Sensory vaccination clinic offers:
- vaccinations for people with disability or mental health conditions and their support staff, volunteer or carer (only one additional person can attend the appointment and they must also have a booking if they are also getting vaccinated)
- longer appointment times
- quiet, large and separate rooms where vaccinations will take place
- footstools and beds to keep people comfortable and ensure needs are supported
- natural light throughout the clinic
- a dimmable vaccination room for people who may be more sensitive to light
- an accessible entry point for wheelchairs and other mobility equipment
- parking directly in front of the clinic and is accessible to the clinic.
More information about vaccinations, and the Access and Sensory clinic is available on the COVID-19 vaccine page.
In-home COVID-19 vaccination
If a person with disability feels they may need to be vaccinated in their home because they have significant barriers to accessing other vaccination options, they can contact the ACT vaccination booking line on 02 5124 7700 (choose option 3 for the dedicated disability line).
Easy read information about vaccinations
The Australian Government Department of Health has also published a range of easy read resources and videos about preparing for and receiving a COVID-19 vaccination:
- COVID-19 vaccination – Easy Read resources
- COVID-19 vaccination – more information and support people at vaccination appointments
- COVID-19 vaccination – medications, getting the vaccination in a wheelchair and eligibility
- COVID-19 vaccination – where to get the vaccine and visiting family members after vaccination
- COVID-19 vaccination – Dr Lucas de Toca providing an update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to people with disability
The Australian Government Department of Health and Inclusion Australia held a webinar to discuss the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine and answer questions from people with intellectual disability and supporters. A recording of the webinar is available on the Department of Health website.
Transport for testing and vaccinations
There is a list of community transport providers on the Community Services Directorate website. These providers can provide transport to COVID-19 testing and vaccination appointments.
Food and essential needs
Emergency food relief
If you are experiencing hardship and cannot afford to feed your family or yourself you can request a food and essential item delivery to your front door for free.
A limited number of non-perishable pantry items are available through this service.
This is an urgent relief service for those most in need. To place an order call VolunteeringACT on 1800 43 11 33, Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm. If the phone is not answered, please leave a message and someone will return your call.
Grocery deliveries for vulnerable customers
Woolworths provide a Priority Assistance service with dedicated delivery windows to make sure vulnerable members of the community have access to grocery deliveries
Eligible customers include seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self-isolate.
They also provide Priority Assistance services to vulnerable business customers which include aged care facilities, childcare centres, disability services, community housing, some charities, and prisons.
Register for priority assistance and be sure to include any supporting information to assist Woolworths in assessing your request.
If you have accessed the Priority Assistance service before, you should be able to see 'preferred' delivery windows whenever shopping online with Woolworths via a mobile or desktop device.
Priority Assist windows are limited, so there may be times where customers will not find a preferred window.
The ACT Human Rights Commission promotes the human rights and welfare of everyone in the ACT. Their services are free and confidential and can help:
- if you have experienced discrimination, racism or unfair treatment – you can make a complaint
- if you are not happy with a health service, a disability service, services for older people and services for children and young people including schools – you can make a complaint
- If you are a child or a young person and something isn’t right at home or at school
- if you are a child or young person in care or involved with youth justice and need help understanding your rights and need support
- if you are worried about an older person or a person with disability being neglected or abused, or not getting the services they need
- if you are a victim of crime and need support, counselling, financial assistance or to understand your rights as a victim of crime.
- if you are a victim of crime and need help communicating with police or in court, to tell your story and provide clear evidence to police
- if you are worried about violence at home or in the family, or about a partner or spouse trying to control you
- if you need help understanding your rights and what to expect when you are dealing with government agencies
You can remain anonymous when you contact the Commission.
The Commission has Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander officers who can provide culturally safe support.
The Commission also has a dedicated multicultural liaison officer who can help you access services and provide you with culturally appropriate support.
Contact the ACT Human Rights Commission
Phone: 02 6205 2222 or via Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450
Mental health and wellbeing
The COVID-19 pandemic can be a worrying time for all Canberrans. The rapid changes and ongoing uncertainty can have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people with disability. Some people with disability may not understand the changes, are unable to receive their usual supports, or follow their typical routines.
The Community Services Directorate website has advice about services that can provide support for people with disability.
Information for services providers and carers
All disability supported accommodation providers must have a plan for how they would respond if a resident, staff member or visitor to the accommodation tests positive for COVID-19.
People who have been to a geographical area of risk should not visit or work in high-risk settings, including supported independent living homes, for 14 days after leaving these areas. This includes staff, volunteers and visitors.
Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Advice for disability providers on COVID-19, including information about infection control and PPE, can be found on the ACT Health website.
Everyone aged 12 years and over must always wear a mask when leaving home, including in workplaces. A mask must fit securely around the face and covers the nose and mouth to provide the wearer with protection against infection. A scarf or bandana is not a face mask.
A person is not required to wear a face mask if they have a disability, or physical or mental health illness or condition, which makes wearing a face mask detrimental to their condition.
Information about when a person may remove their face mask is available on the Protect yourself page.
Priority vaccination appointments for disability support workers
Priority vaccination appointments are available for health, aged and disability care workers (and volunteers) to maximise vaccination coverage across this essential workforce. There is more information, including how to make a booking on the COVID-19 vaccination page.
ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner – restrictive practices
In the ACT, restrictive practices cannot be used to administer any voluntary medical procedures, including COVID-19 vaccines.