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The impact of and responses to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability Issues paper

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This issues paper asked the public to share their views on the Impact of, and responses to, the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability.

The issues paper asks 14 questions to help people and organisations to provide responses. 

Issues paper - The impact of and responses to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability (Auslan)


The impact of and responses to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability Issues paper


On 17 February 2022, we issued a Statement of ongoing concern about the impact of the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disability.

This statement said the government had ‘de-prioritised’ people with disability, and there was a lack of regard for their health and support needs.

We continue to hear how people with disability have been badly affected by the Omicron wave, that they aren’t safe and are not receiving the support they need.

We have now released an issues paper providing detail on:

  • how the Omicron wave has affected people with disability
  • what the Australian Government has done about the Omicron wave.

What we want to know

We would like you to tell us about your experiences so we can better understand a few things. In particular we want to know:

  • about the difficulties faced by people with disability during the Omicron wave like:
    • lack of access to Rapid Antigen Tests and PCR tests
    • lack of access to personal protective equipment such as face shields, masks, gowns and hand sanitiser
    • not enough disability support workers due to staff being unwell and limited replacement staff, leaving people without support.
  • When COVID-19 restrictions eased in late 2021 and early 2022 (eg when requirements to wear masks, isolate and lockdown were changed), how well did the government plan, prepare and respond to people with disability and keep them safe?
    • Did the government properly support people to get a vaccine? What stopped people from disability getting the vaccine? Was it a lack of staff to help with travel requirements? Was it a lack of accessible options like in-home vaccinations?
    • What was it like trying to find and use services and supports during the Omicron wave? Could you access them independently?
    • Was there enough information about what to do if you caught COVID-19 and had to isolate, and what to do if your symptoms got worse?
    • If there are future waves of COVID-19, what ideas and suggestions do you have for government and service providers to make sure people with disability can access support?

How to respond

At the end of our Issues paper, there is a list of questions about these topics. You do not have to answer every question. We value your experiences and suggestions.

You can respond in any way you like. You can record a video in Auslan, or have a support person translate your response into written English, or you can write it yourself.

We encourage people to respond by 29 April 2022.

To read the full Issues Paper, and for more information on how to respond, go to the Publications section on our website and click on Issues papers.

Overview of responses to the Impact of and responses to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability (Auslan)


Overview of responses to the Impact of and responses to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability Issues paper


In March this year, we asked people with disability to share their experiences of the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to know how it impacted them.

This video highlights some of the things people talked about in their responses.

What did people say?

People talked about the following:

Disruption to disability services – People said it was hard to access disability support workers due to staff being sick or being unable to attend in person, or appointments being cancelled. Some people had to rely on family members for support instead.

Access to essential health services – People reported problems accessing health care and delays in surgery. Others told us accessing health services via telehealth was helpful when they were sick or couldn’t leave their home.

Infection prevention, vaccination and boosters – People told us they had trouble accessing personal protective equipment as well as rapid antigen tests (RATs), that vaccination sites were often not accessible and that in-home vaccinations were hard to arrange.

Barriers to accessible information – People said public health advice and information was always changing and was not always accessible. For example, health updates provided on social media that were not compatible with screen reading software.

Fear and isolation – Many people experienced anxiety, fear and poor mental health. Others had good experiences as they could connect with other people online.

Lack of consultation – People said governments did not consider the needs of people with disability when mandating restrictions, implementing vaccine requirements or providing information. Lots of people agreed that people with disability, their families and advocacy organisations felt underrepresented and did not have opportunities to consult with governments.

Children and young people – Some people said children felt supported by government and school when they provided RATs and introduced vaccinations for children. Others reported negative impacts with the very quick transition to online learning and the lack of reasonable adjustments to support children.

Data – People reported that governments did not collect specific data on people with disability during COVID-19.

Emergency responses – Many people said they had problems accessing their assistive technology, disability support, food and vaccinations.

Proposals for change

People proposed changes. These included:

  • funding for disability advocacy organisations during national emergencies

  • direct support for people with disability and their families during pandemics so they can access care like mental health support, household basics like food and medication, and continued in-home and emergency respite care

  • continued government funding for telehealth services

  • accessible booking systems and services for vaccines and boosters, and in-home vaccinations for people who need them

  • consultation with peak disability organisations and the disability community on all areas of pandemic planning and decision-making

  • improved data collection during COVID-19 and future health pandemics.

More information

You can find more information on our website.

Go to the ‘Publications’ section and click on ‘Issues papers’.