In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000


Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call

131126

Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700

healthdirect

24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500

ACT COVID-19 Disability Strategy Action Plan


Disability Strategy Action Plan [PDF 236KB]

The ACT COVID-19 Disability Strategy (the Strategy) was created to ensure that people with disability, their families, carers and the disability sector are supported through the COVID-19 health emergency and during the post-emergency transition.

The Strategy is supported by this Action Plan, which enables the ACT Government to be flexible and responsive to the changing environment. This Action Plan will be regularly updated to reflect the outcomes of consultation with the community and sector, as well as current and emerging issues and the measures being put in place to address them.

The Action plan outlines a broader range of actions and initiatives funded through the ACT COVID19 Stimulus Funding as well as actions undertaken by the Commonwealth.

Under the COVID19 ACT Disability Strategy a range of core initiatives have been explicitly funded to support people with disability, their families and their supporters to come through this crisis as well as possible.  These initiatives are:

Phase 1 – a total of $450,000 in funding for:-

Phase 2 – a further $400,000 in funding for:-

1) People with disability and their supporters will understand what to do and how to access support during this health emergency because the communication to themwill be clear, targeted and unambiguous and delivered by trusted sources inaccessible formats.

Targeted messaging

Resourcing has been provided to disability-focused organisations to create and disseminate targeted messaging to people with disability, their families, carers and supporters, including information about how to reduce social isolation.   This includes the development and distribution of Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness tools to individuals with disability, helping them to make a personal plan that ensures their ongoing access to information, supports and supplies.

Disability-specific information

The Connect in Canberra website has disability-specific advice, resources and information and acts as an information portal not just for people with disability but for all members of the ACT community. It provides links to information and resourcing about issues such as health, family, employment support and community support, as well as links to information in accessible and Easy English formats, including an Easy English version of this strategy. The Commonwealth Department of Health also has dedicated easy read resources External Link available at its website.

A disability-specific section External Link of the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website has been created and provides planning tools to help you manage the full range of issues associated with the health emergency, and clear messaging for workers, carers and people with disability on how to protect yourself from the risk of transmission.

COVID Connect

Community resilience is also supported by the COVID Connect wellbeing calls service, provided by the Australian Red Cross and available to all ACT residents. Register on the Red Cross website External Link or call 6234 7630 between 8am and 4pm weekdays.

Auslan

Auslan interpreters continue to interpret press conferences, and the accessibility of information is prioritised for all Government communications during the emergency.  This includes making information available in multiple languages and multiple formats to ensure that as many people as possible are able to access the material they need. A series of Auslan videos on the COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan for People with Disability External Link has also been uploaded to the front page of the Department of Health’s YouTube channel External Link

NDIS Participants

Support for NDIS participants is available, with a dedicated webpage External Link set up to provide information, support and the latest advice from the NDIA about the coronavirus. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission External Link also has information for NDIS participants and providers to support service delivery.

The Office for Disability continues to work with a range of community groups and peak bodies to encourage them to provide COVID-19 information targeted to the needs of their clients and stakeholders, and that links to ACT and Commonwealth Government information about the supports and services that are available to them, including the INVOLVED website External Link. This includes the Disability Reference Group, which will continue to advise government directly on ways to support people with disability during the crisis, bringing their experience, perspectives and links to the community to putting in place information and support measures.

2) People will have access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hygiene products, food security, medications and consumables.

For people with disability and disability support providers who cannot access PPE through their usual means,PPE has been made available at no cost upon application to the ACT Government through targeted resourcing – requests can be lodged through an online request form External Link or by emailing CSDPPE@act.gov.au.

People with disability are considered as a priority for assistance through the Canberra Relief NetworkExternal Link, with hygiene products such as toilet paper, soap and bacterial wipes available for people with disability and their families. The ACT Government will be continuing to identify and support local business and community initiatives that provide food relief and other assistance to people with disability who are in need.

Access to medications has been made easier, with the Home Medicines ServiceExternal Link established by the Commonwealth Government to provide free delivery of essential prescriptions for people with disability and other vulnerable members of the community. The Federal Department of Health has other information about providing health care remotely at their websiteExternal Link.

Australians who are having difficulty accessing their medical practitioner for a new prescriptionExternal Link can obtain a one-off standard quantity of eligible PBS/RPBS medicines subsidised under the PBS without a prescription. The patient must previously have been prescribed this medicine, and the pharmacist must also be satisfied that it is urgently needed and that it is not practicable to obtain a new prescription.

Canberra Health Services has made it easier to access telehealth services, with information at its websiteExternal Link about how to make a test call before an appointment and how to access the telehealth service on the day of the appointment.

Carers ACT also has a dedicated programExternal Link that helps clients access telehealth appointments.  Supported by the ACT Government,this program provides advice and assistance for getting connected to the telehealth appointment as well as help with using equipment and technology.

3) People with disability will have access to adequate personal supports because there will be engagement with providers to ensure continuity of essential services, guidelines for safe personal engagement, training for support workers on how to stay safe and standby capacity developed for the sector.

Disability peaks and advocacy groups continue to be a part of ACT Government working groups that identify and address the issues currently being experienced by people with disability and the disability support sector. ADACASExternal Link and Advocacy for InclusionExternal Link have both received funding for a full-time worker each to ensure that people with disability are able to receive individual advocacy assistance including through health settings.

The ACT Government has a range of information targeted at the needs of non-government community, disability and health services providersExternal Link. This includes the development of information and templates that support business continuity planning for service providers, with guidance available through ACT HealthExternal Link.

Funding a resource at the ACT Branch of National Disability ServicesExternal Link,  provides a central point of contact  for the ACT disability service sector. This partnership will ensure that organisations have opportunities to cooperate and collaborate in providing services and supports to people with disability if parts of the sector are affected by shutdowns and other events.

ACT resourcing has been allocated to a joint project resourced to deepen the behaviour support market in the ACT, specifically increasing the capability and capacity of behaviour support practitioners in the ACT.

Skills CanberraExternal Link is offering a range of subsidised training opportunities to encourage workforce sustainability.  The Skills Canberra initiativeExternal Link, provides a list of skills and qualifications which includes Certificate IV in Disability, Certificates in Auslan and skill sets in disability behavioural support and support in home and community settings.

COVID-19 information and resourcesExternal Link provides advice about subsidised training and support for businesses as part of the ACT Government’s response to COVID-19. This includes free and nationally accredited infection control and food handling trainingExternal Link under the National Infection Control Training Fund.

The ACT Government has also committed resources to support PPE and infection control training for staff in disability sector organisations and providers, which will help to minimise the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 for people with disability, their families and carers. Guidance is currently available for shared accommodation providers about emergency management in the event of a COVID-19 outbreakExternal Link, with this material regularly being updated as new information and recommendations come to hand.

4) People with disability will continue to have access to emergency support including access to emergency accommodation.

The Integrated Service Response Program (ISRP)continues to support people with disability who are experiencing difficulty accessing supports and services, including people not eligible for the NDIS due to their Australian residency status.

The ACT Government’s Community Services website provides a range of information and resources for people who need to access help, including information about emergency food relief and material targeted at the needs of people from non-English speaking backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

People with disability or their family members who require accommodation assistance in the event of an outbreak will be supported.  Resources have been allocated to support to people with disability, their families and carers in situations where they need to isolate under quarantine arrangements.

5) People with disability will know that their needs have been considered by Health as relevant Health departments will have overt messaging aimed at people withdisability providing advice and assurances that their lives count. There will be a range of health-related actions that are responsive and targeted to people with disability and their supporters.

The Commonwealth had developed a Management and Operational Plan for People with DisabilityExternal Link.    This plan has been developed to provide a targeted response for people with disability, their families, carers and support workers. The ACT Government has developed and published an ACT Implementation of this plan which is available on the ACT Health Directorate COVID-19 websiteExternal Link.

There are a range of contact points targeting people with disability and health professionals who support people with disability:

  • ACT COVID-19 Helpline: (02) 6207 7244
  • National Disability Information Helpline: 1800 643 787
  • COVID-19 Health Professionals Disability Advisory Service: 1800 131 330

ACT Government directorates and agencies are working together to ensure that health-related COVID-19 messaging is accessible and targeted to the needs of people with disability and their supporters. The ACT Government’s COVID-19 websiteExternal Link is regularly updated with information about issues that matter to people with disability, their families and their, including (but not limited to)

The Commonwealth Government, in consultation with the State and Territory governments, has COVID-19 advice specifically targeting the needs of people with disabilityExternal Link available online, including information for support workers and health professionals and links to other resources and material.

Similarly, the Australian Human Rights Commission has developed and published guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19External Link, which provides guidance to health care and disability service support workers on how best to minimise the vulnerability of people with disability in health care and related settings.

Disability support organisations are also connecting and collaborating during the COVID-19 emergency, identifying and implementing better health-related practices that minimise the significant health risks to their clients and staff presented by the corona virus.

Telehealth servicesExternal Link delivered by Canberra Health Services ensures that people with disability can access outpatient and other services without the need to physically attend a hospital or clinic, and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community ServicesExternal Link is now conducting telehealth consultations tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander- people.

6) People with disability and supporters will be supported to reduce social isolation through a range of virtual means and communications channels, including telephone engagement and accessible online engagement.

The Know Your Neighbour program has been established to support community connection and to help to minimise the risks of social isolation for people with disability. The program encourages people across the ACT to reach out to those around them and to make social contact across their community and provides a range of resources and information about other programs such as support for volunteering.

The Connect in Canberra website works as an information hub to help members of the ACT community to keep informed and connected, and provides information about assistance and supports for those people in need during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Libraries ACT have developed an “at home brain and boredom busters” webpageExternal Link providing information about library services that support online engagement from home, such as material about Canberra’s history and links to online technology and learning resources. They are also trialling a Mystery Box Delivery Service where staff will hand-pick a surprise selection of items to be delivered to people upon registration.

A range of ACT Government grants and funding offers have been shaped to support Canberrans, including people with disability to access ICT products, supports and skills to be able to access online engagements. These grants include Rapid Response projects implemented by community organisations to support better access and support through COVID-19.  A list of funded projects can be found at the Community Services Directorate COVID-19 Stimulus Rapid Response Grants Program.

Carers ACTExternal Link have a program dedicated to supporting people to use Tele-Health video-conferencingExternal Link at home to attend medical appointments, including providing equipment and supporting people to get connected for their appointment. For more information and support, please phone (02) 6296 9928 or email telehealth@carersact.org.au.

COVID ConnectExternal Link is a free service from Australian Red Cross to provide a friendly chat, a listening ear to help maintain or improve social connection to anyone who needs it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

7) We will reduce the impact of financial disadvantage in recognition that many people with disability will experience financial disadvantage and hardship and this health emergency will place additional strains for people without work,savings and financial resources.

People with disability are able to access extra trips under the Taxi Subsidy SchemeExternal Link, which helps those whose disability or mobility restriction prevents them from using public and community transport. More trips can be requested by phoning (02) 6207 0028 (Select Option 5, Sub Option 1 - Taxi Subsidy Scheme) or by emailing concessions@act.gov.au.

Families and households across the ACT are able to access assistance with rates and other government fees and chargesExternal Link, including access to a hardship fundExternal Link for casual and part-time workers experiencing financial hardship as a result of the health emergency. The Commonwealth Government, through Services Australia, also has information about assistance and paymentsExternal Link for people with disability, their carers and their families at their website.

An individual grants program targeting people with disability and their family carers offering financial support to relieve pressure in the home environment. This funding will be made available over the coming months and can be accessed through a range of disability and community providers and will be on the Community Services COVID-19 website.

8) People with disability and their families will be safe because their needs will be considered in all activities to ensure wellness, health, family safety, social connection and community resilience.

The safety and wellbeing of people with disability and their families continues to be a priority for the ACT Government.  Phase 2 of the Strategy will resource a project to build the capability of disability support organisations to better identify and respond to the needs of people with disability experiencing domestic and family violence.

A range of resources have been developed to support communities to build connection and resilience. One of these initiatives is the Know Your Neighbour resource which encourages people to reach out to their neighbours and connect.  We know that it is people looking out for each other that keep people safe.  Resources includes a card to pop in a neighbour’s mailbox as well as tips on how to connect.  A range of Easy English resources have been developed to help identify how to respond to people if they are at risk.

ACT Health has developed specific support and assistance for people experiencing challenges to their mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 health emergency, with information available at their websiteExternal Link including advice and links to other resources and places where people can get assistance.