Information and resources
Everyone’s experience of Covid-19 will be different depending upon their unique circumstances and individual support needs. There is a lot of information out there and it can be stressful trying to find the right information. This page contains some useful resources that may assist you in preparing for Covid-19 and staying as safe as possible.
Understand what Covid-19 is and how it might affect you
Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) has created some factsheets about Covid-19, including Easy Read versions. The factsheets cover topics such as ‘What is Covid -19’, ‘What does Covid-19 self-quarantine mean’ and how Covid-19 might impact your tenancy agreement.
There is also a National Covid helpline which operates 24 hours, 7 days a week. The number is 1800 020 080.
If you are deaf or hearing impaired or have a speech impairment, you can call the National Relay Service on 133 677.
Follow the latest advice from the Queensland Government
Directions from the Queensland Government change regularly as the pandemic evolves. You can check this website for up-to-date information. This website also has specific pages for people with disability, their carers and support workers and for disability accommodation services.
The Queensland Government has a website outlining how people with disability can get ‘Covid-Ready.’ It includes information about getting vaccinated, ensuring you have all your essential items, preparing a Covid-Ready Kit and preparing a Covid Care Plan.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website also has quick links to Easy Read and Auslan resources about COVID-19 on a range of topics, including frequently asked questions, how to stay safe from COVID and what you can do if you think you have COVID-19.
The Queensland Government website has information about vaccinations, as well as video resources about vaccines and the possible side effects. It also has information about supporting people with disability to provide informed consent.
The Australian Government website has dedicated resources about COVID-19 vaccines, including information in Auslan, Easy Read format and Social scripts.
If you need help to book a vaccination appointment, you can call the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787. The Disability Gateway is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST).
You can also request to have in-home vaccinations via your GP and Primary Health Network.
There are resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians on the Australian Government website as well as the First Peoples Disability Network Australia website.
Think about what will happen if you and/or your support workers contract COVID-19
If you and/or your support workers contract COVID-19, this will likely impact your services. Consider having a conversation with your service providers in advance to work out what will happen.
You may wish to consider:
- Support workers who are a close contact of someone who has contracted COVID-19 can still attend work as they are deemed to be critically essential workers. However, your service provider must seek your informed consent first. The Department of Disability Services is currently developing guidelines for service providers about this.
- Consider rostering workers in a way that minimises the risk of exposure between workers, if possible.
- Will you have access to personal protective equipment (PPE)? Participants can purchase PPE using their NDIS funding. The NDIA has also applied a temporary increase in some NDIS price limits in recognition of the costs of support worker PPE to providers. There are videos on how to use PPE on the Health Direct website. Consider what you might need and where you will get it. For example, face masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer.
- Will you be able to access certain supports via telehealth? NDIS participants can use their funding to purchase low-cost assistive technology such as smart devices and fitness equipment during the pandemic.
- How often will your workers undergo a test to determine if they have contracted COVID-19? NDIS participants can now purchase Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) with funding from their NDIS plan. People with an eligible Commonwealth concession card can also access up to 10 free RATs over a 3 month period through community pharmacies. You can find participating pharmacies on the Pharmacy Guild website. Support workers may also consider getting regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
- Has the provider completed the free online training on infection and prevention control for COVID-19 provided by the Department of Health?
- Providers can contact Aspen Medical and/or email email@example.com if they need assistance with workforce issues and responding to the pandemic.
- If a support worker attends your home who later tests positive to COVID-19, your provider can claim the cost of a one-off professional deep clean of your house directly from the NDIA.
- If you live in supported independent living, there are a number of measures available, including for providers who can claim the cost of regular RAT testing.
You may need to isolate at home
Consider issues such as whether you can have your medicines delivered, your groceries delivered and whether you can access some supports via telehealth.
If you need assistance to access essential food and medicines during isolation, you can contact the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.
You can also talk to someone at Beyond Blue who are providing a COVID-19 mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348.
From 12 January to 28 February 2022, if you normally have a support worker help you with meal preparation, you can temporarily use your NDIS Core supports budget to pay for a meal preparation and delivery service, instead of paying a support worker to help you with these tasks at home.
You may need go to hospital
Consider whether you need to contact your local hospital to plan for a potential admission due to your unique medical needs.
QDN and Health Consumers Queensland have developed a resource called ‘Know your rights: A guide for people with disability to get the hospital care they need during Covid-19.’
There is also a resource by Nobody Left Behind called ‘Covid Disability Hospital Kit’ where you can write down important information about your care and support needs in case you have to go to hospital.
The Queensland government have produced this checklist – ‘Ways you can help me – a checklist from a person with disability‘ which you can take with you when accessing health services.
Some hospitals have ‘Disability Nurse Navigators’ who support patients with complex needs whilst in hospital and then once they are a home. Disability Nurse Navigators are currently employed at Logan Hospital, the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital, Redlands Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth 11 Jubilee (QE11) Hospital. They are also available in the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service.
If you go to hospital, remember that you can activate ‘Ryan’s Rule’ to request an urgent clinical review if you feel that your condition is getting worse and your concerns are not being listened to.
Understand your rights
You have a right to expect that your disability service providers will continue to support you during the pandemic.
With the help of law firm Minter Ellison, QAI have put together the resource COVID-19, disability and the law to help people with disability understand their legal rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has stated that:
‘NDIS service providers are responsible for ensuring they have plans in place to ensure business continuity and continuity of critical supports for participants, including during the Covid-19 pandemic.’
All NDIS providers, whether registered or unregistered, are obliged under the NDIS Code of Conduct to provide supports in a safe and competent manner and to promptly take steps to raise and act on concerns that might impact the quality or safety of supports provided to people with disability.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has developed three factsheets about participant rights, what participants can expect from their providers and how to make a complaint about a provider. These are also available in Auslan and Easy Read and Braille copies can be requested.
Your provider is required to inform the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission if they are unable to continue delivering services safely. They must also notify the Commission if a participant or worker contracts COVID-19, using this form.
Caxton Legal Centre has developed a suite of resources called Covid-19 legal information.
The Queensland Human Rights Commission has developed some helpful Covid-19 Fact sheets as well, which cover your rights in relation to vaccination and face masks, as well as specific concerns relating to bail and protecting human rights in locked environments.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has also developed Easy Read guidelines on ‘Human Rights in health and disability care during Covid-19.’
There is also the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights which outlines essential rights to healthcare that apply to all people in all places where health care is provided in Australia.
If you are sick
You can use the symptom checker on the Health Direct website if you think you might have Covid-19.
You can call the national Covid-19 hotline to speak with someone about your symptoms on 1800 022 222. You can also call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or 134 COVID (13 42 68) or the national Covid helpline on 1800 020 080 which operates 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Get tested for Covid-19.
The Queensland Government website has some video resources for people with disability on getting tested for Covid-19, as well as suggestions on what to do if you need help getting a test. You can talk to your doctor or find a respiratory clinic. You can book an appointment at a testing clinic via the Hot Doc website to avoid waiting in line for a long time. You can also try to arrange to be tested at home. If you need to be tested at home, call 134 COVID (13 42 68).
If you are waiting for a result from a PCR test, you can check your My Health Record to see if your result has been uploaded.
If you are worried about your NDIS funding
You can contact the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) if your situation has changed due to Covid-19 and you have questions about your NDIS funding. You can call the NDIS call center on 1800 800 110 and select option 5 to speak with someone about Covid-19 related enquiries.
If you need help finding services
You can contact your Local Area Coordinator who can help you access NDIS and other government services. They help NDIS participants as well as people who are ineligible for the NDIS. You can find contact details for your Local Area Coordinator here.
If you need to talk to an independent disability advocate
Commencing January 2022, the Queensland Government has provided funding for an information and referral hotline named Pathways for Queenslanders with disability. Pathways can listen to your problem and assist with connecting you to the appropriate support including finding the disability advocacy organisation that is funded to provide support in your area. You can contact Pathways by calling 1800 130 582, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the website.
Additionally, you can search for the disability advocacy organisation funded for your area by searching the National Disability Advocacy Finder using your post code.
If you want to talk to someone about your legal rights
If you think you have been discriminated against or your human rights have been breached as a result of a COVID-19 related issue, you can talk to a lawyer and seek legal advice. The following organisations might be able to help:
- Basic Rights Queensland – call (07) 3847 5532
- Cairns Community Legal Centre – call (07) 4031 7688
- Caxton Legal Centre – call (07) 3214 6333
- Community Legal Centres Queensland – you can use the Find legal help part of their website or call (07) 3392 0092
- Legal Aid Queensland – call 1300 65 11 88
- QAI – call (07) 3844 4200 or 1300 130 582
- Townsville Community Legal Centre – call (07) 4721 5511
You can also find a private lawyer by using the Queensland Law Society website.