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Saturday, April 13, 2024

New plan for disabled care COVID management

The Australian and Victorian Governments have agreed to improve the coronavirus response in disability residential care through a strengthened Disability Response Centre to coordinate and manage outbreaks.

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews said the joint disability response would be based within the centre of emergency management – the State Control Centre – allowing authorities to better share information and work rapidly to respond to outbreaks.

“Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, but we know some Victorians are more vulnerable to this disease – that’s why we are all working together in this fight,” the Premier said.

“State and Federal authorities are already working side by side, but this will ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect Victorians in disability services.

“We know there is anxiety and apprehension about coronavirus among NDIS clients, carers and support workers, with 62 active cases in disability residential services. Of these active cases, 49 are staff.”

He said staff working across sites presented one of the highest risks for introducing the virus into disability residential services.

“Stage 4 restrictions put a legal obligation on service providers to restrict movement across sites as much as possible, but care arrangements typically involve care workers moving between multiple disability residential services,” he said.

The Premier said the Victorian and Federal Governments would work together to support workers and providers to reduce movement between sites, so that “reducing shifts doesn’t mean reducing income for our vital carer workforce”.

“We know this is a highly casualised workforce and no one should have to choose between making the right decision to prevent the spread of coronavirus and putting dinner on the table,” he said.

Mr Andrews said a $15 million Worker Mobility Reduction Payment scheme to compensate disability residential service providers for delivering a “one worker-two sites” cap would be established, with funding to cover lost hours of works as well the higher cost of sourcing additional workers.

He said the scheme would run until December 2020 and would be linked to public health workforce directions – with exceptions for emergency situations.

“Over the coming days, governance and staffing arrangements will be finalised while the existing state-led Victorian Disability Rapid Response Group continues to manage outbreaks until the opening of the Centre next week.”

The Centre will be staffed with senior officials from the National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, Commonwealth Department of Social Services, Victorian Department of Health and Services and public health leadership teams.

“We know that due to high levels of casualisation in the workforce, staff working across multiple sites is a risk to themselves and clients,” said Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan.

“This support will mean no one is worse off as we reduce mobility to protect staff and clients.”

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