Forgotten kids: Coronavirus pandemic creating havoc, fear for children and young people with disability

    Media Release 17 March 2020

    Tens of thousands of Australian kids and their families are being hit hard and left in the dark about how governments will support them through the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education (ACIE) and Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) in the past 24 hours surveyed more than 200 families of children with disability and young people about their experience of COVID-19 over recent weeks and found:

    34% had support workers cancelled or other NDIS services cancelled

    38% were unable to work or suffered a loss of income due to COVID-19

    15% had not been able to buy medication for children and young people with disability

    82% had not been able to buy essential supplies for children and young people with disability

    86% said they weren’t receiving the information they needed to keep children or young people with disability safe during the crisis.

    Families said they were frustrated by:

    The absence of Auslan interpreters on broadcast public health announcements

    Mixed messages from education systems across the country about social distancing; and

    A lack of direction about the availability of vital support should carers be quarantined.

    Disability advocacy groups across Australia yesterday held a crisis meeting to discuss the lack of support, prior to the Disability Reform Council (DRC) of state, territory and federal disability ministers meeting tomorrow being held for the first time since COVID-19 arrived in Australia.

    CYDA and ACIE said the DRC must come up with an immediate action plan to drive a coordinated and inclusive approach for children and young people with disability. . 

    CYDA spokesperson Mary Sayers said children and young people with disability already faced a hard enough time accessing inclusive education without unnecessary confusion about coronavirus stymying their schooling even further. She said families were grappling with uncertainty about sending their kids to school, where they continue to share bubble taps and play closely with other kids.

    Quotes from Mary Sayers, CEO, Children and Young People with Disability Australia

    “Governments across Australia need to take decisive and immediate actions for the tens of thousands of families who are worried that their kids with disability could be seriously harmed by Australia’s confusing approach to managing COVID-19 among at-risk groups, including immunosuppressed kids.

    “We understand the sands are continually shifting as new information about COVID-19 comes to light, but what’s not going to change is the measures that need to be taken to ensure kids with disability aren’t compromised more than other kids.

    “This isn’t a case of keep playing in the school ground – this is a case of potentially playing with kids’ lives.”

    Quotes from Sue Tape, parent, Brisbane

    (Daughter Eliza Tape, 8, Grade 2, Yeronga State School, has Rubinstein Taybi syndrome)

    “Surely the time has come for some decisive and pre-emptive action when it comes to protecting our kids. The confusion has to end now.”

    For interviews, information and case studies, media contact: Melanie Metlikovec 0415 650 281 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    Organisations supporting this call for inclusive and immediate actions for children and young people with disability and their families in response to COVID-19

    All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education (All Means All)

    Association for Children with a Disability (VIC)

    Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA)

    Down Syndrome Australia

    Family Advocacy NSW

    First Peoples Disability Advocacy Network

    Imagine More (ACT)

    Inclusion Australia

    JFA Purple Orange (SA)

    National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)

    Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI)

    Queensland Collective for Inclusive Education (QCIE)

    Tasmanian Disability Education Reform

    YDAS Youth Disability Advocacy Service (VIC)