COVID-19 disability response centre established in Victoria

By Shannon Jenkins

August 21, 2020

border permit
(AAP Image/James Ross)

The Victorian and federal governments have established a joint disability response centre, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced.

The state on Friday recorded 179 new COVID-19 cases — its lowest since July 13.

Andrews said the centre would enable “all the right people” to monitor and respond to the situation to protect vulnerable Victorians as well as staff in the sector.

Senior officials from the National Disability Insurance Agency, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, the Commonwealth Department of Social Services, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, and public health leadership would be deployed to the centre.

The governments have also committed a shared $15 million to fund a worker mobility reduction payment scheme to support disability workers who would normally move between multiple sites, Andrews noted.

“With that payment, that’ll mean that we can support them to, in turn, keep their clients safe. We all know that, in that sector, that’s what they’re motivated to do – to provide the best care and support to their clients,” he said.

The scheme was expected to run until December 2020, but the state government noted there could be exceptions.

Victoria currently has 62 active COVID-19 cases — 49 of which were staff — across 60 different disability residential services.

The disability response centre would mirror the arrangements of the state’s current aged care response centre, and, similarly, would be based within the State Control Centre.

Read more: Federal, Victorian public servants seconded to aged care response centre

The federal government has also committed $171 million to pandemic aged care response measures, including $9 million for the Victorian aged care response centre.

Following the national cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the money would bring the total amount of funding spent on the aged care response to $1 billion.

More than $103 million would go towards aged care preparedness measures, with $50 million to fund the aged care worker retention payment, and $9 million to support the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Morrison also announced a federal aged care emergency response centre may be established to assist other jurisdictions with the pandemic. However, he noted the national cabinet had indicated that no help was currently needed outside of Victoria.

The announcements came shorty after federal aged care minister Richard Colbeck was grilled over the government’s aged care response during the pandemic at the COVID-19 senate inquiry.

Read more: The Briefing: how prepared was the aged care sector for Victoria’s second wave?


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