The Victorian union for nurses, midwives and personal care workers is calling on the Morrison Government to provide free rapid antigen tests (RATs) to all NDIS participants.
Only concession or healthcare card holders can access a limited number of free RATs. This means that a proportion of Victorian people with a disability use their NDIS funding to pay for their own, and their support workers’, RATs.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) understands that as part of the Andrews State Government 44-million RAT bulk order, 132,970 free tests have been distributed to the disability sector in Victoria between 14 January and 18 March 2022. This includes: department-funded residential disability services, NDIS-funded Supported Independent Living services and Short Term Assistance Accommodation (STAA). A further 6000 RATs have been supplied to disability liaison officers.
Whilst this State Government support is truly welcomed, the disability sector is regulated and funded by the Commonwealth and much more needs to be done.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Assistant Secretary Madeleine Harradence said ‘This unfairly increases the financial burden on vulnerable people with a disability instead of the government carrying the cost for those most at risk.
‘There’s an additional risk to nurses working with untested clients in the community who may have COVID-19 but no symptoms and can’t afford a RAT.
‘The Morrison Government should not be putting additional financial pressures on the disability sector,’ she said.
Victoria currently has 159 Covid-19 active cases in participants and 137 active cases in workers. Sadly since the pandemic began 27 people with a disability have died in Victoria*.
‘Australians desperately need a federal government that shows leadership and respect for those with a disability and those that care for them,’ Ms Harradence said.
‘The Morrison Government’s decision to not provide RATs to the disability sector and NDIS participants is another monumental failure to protect those most vulnerable,’ she said.
* Only registered NDIS providers are required to notify the NDIS Commission for services regulated by the NDIS Commission. These figures do not represent all NDIS participants or all people with disability.