The federal government has launched a new service to support people with disability during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on Friday said the Disability Information Helpline has been created to help those who are concerned about or have been affected by COVID-19.
Sitting within the Department of Social Services, the helpline is free, private, and fact-checked for people with disability, their families, carers, support workers, and service providers.
According to PM&C, helpline staff can refer people to advocacy, counselling, and other supports, and will “use their connections to find things out, check the facts, and get information”.
The announcement came several days after the government announced it would push for new laws which would grant the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner the power to ban unsuitable providers and staff from working with NDIS participants.
In a recent survey conducted by Children and Young People with Disability Australia, more than 80% of respondents reported a lack of information regarding how the coronavirus might affect children with disability.
Half of all respondents reported a decline in mental health, either for themselves or for a child or young person with disability. This figure increased over the period of the six-week survey, which began in mid-March.
Meanwhile, more than 60% of respondents said they couldn’t buy essential supplies, and almost 20% were unable to buy essential medication.
People can call the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787. The service is available seven days a week, excluding national public holidays.