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Disability Discrimination Commissioner Dr Ben Gauntlett released new guidelines in August 2020 to support the rights of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic today.

The Australian Human Rights Commission developed the Guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19 to help disability services and support workers and health care professionals take a human rights-based approach to decision-making during the pandemic, which has caused major disruption to society since the start of 2020.

Speaking about the urgent need for the guidelines, Dr Ben Gauntlett said,

“The interaction between people with disability and the health care and disability support systems during the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to significant human rights issues.

People with disability may be placed in situations where they become vulnerable and profound power imbalances exist. We need to ensure all people are treated with dignity and respect.

Sometimes human rights issues arise inadvertently when health care professionals or disability support workers may be unaware of their own unconscious biases or the effect of their decisions.”

The Australian Government Advisory Committee for the COVID-19 Response for People with Disability was formed in April of 2020.

Dr Gauntlett, as a member of the Committee, said the Guidelines had been drafted to support the Committee’s Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability, which focuses on clinical, public health and communications actions by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

The Guidelines may also be useful for people with disability, their families, and carers in understanding their rights.

The Guidelines are available to read in full here.

There is an Easy Read version here.

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