NSW distributes free RATs for vulnerable people

By Melissa Coade

April 26, 2022

Natasha Maclaren-Jones
NSW minister for disability services, and families and communities Natasha Maclaren-Jones. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Children and young people in out-of-home care, vulnerable multicultural communities, people living with a disability and Aboriginal communities cohorts will have free access to 7.9 million Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) distributed by the state government. 

In a statement on Friday NSW minister for disability services, and families and communities Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the measure would protect some of society’s most vulnerable people. 

“Given the higher risks for some cohorts, including people with disability if they contract COVID-19, ensuring early diagnosis and treatment is vital,” Maclaren-Jones said of the upcoming winter season. 

The free test distribution program will run for fourth months and RATs are progressively being rolled out across NSW.

Disability providers statewide will distribute the tests directly, as well as neighbourhood centres funded by the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ).

Karen Stace, National Disability Services state & territory senior manager, welcomed the announcement.

“It is great to see the government making it a priority to protect some of the most vulnerable in our community by allowing people to access as many RATs as they need, particularly as we head into the winter months,” Stace said. 

The government said a review to determine whether to extend the program into the later months of winter would occur in July. 

Serena Ovens, CEO of the NSW Physical Disability Council, said the program meant people living with a disability, their support workers, carers, and family were not being forgotten. 

“We need to protect those who are among the most at risk from COVID-19 [sic] to ensure that people with a disability can safely get back to doing what they love,” Ovens said.

Officials are reminding those who meet the criteria for being a vulnerable person that if they receive a positive RAT result to verify that with a PCR test. This way people can receive anti-viral medications or medical support where necessary.


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