Industry group ATSA has written to 15 Disability and Health Ministers to ensure the supply of assistive technologies (AT) remains on the agenda as an essential service.
Each state has differing approaches within their legislations regarding what is an essential service and what is not, and while it is clear in NSW where support of medical devices is listed within the legislation, in Victoria it will be determined at the time.
“Regardless of this, ATSA strongly recommends that business plan with the expectation that the supply of AT will be an essential service especially in a lockdown,” ATSA executive officer David Sinclair said in a statement to F2L. ATSA was also in discussion with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) about the fast unfolding situation to ensure the AT sector is fully supported and considered an essential service.
Sinclair said the current situation is that only activities that have been listed are to cease operation. The supply of goods and services is not listed, therefore, AT suppliers need to continue to operate.
ATSA has requested the industry be provided with support and consideration for the following:
- Logistic support
- Cost relief due to the falling dollar and the impact COVID-19 is having on the cost of doing business
- Access to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
Some states have elected to close their borders, and it was important to advise ATSA of any issues in shipping or supplying stock or obtaining PPE, in addition to difficulties with sourcing suppliers from overseas or accessing orders through customs, Sinclair said.
ATSA is also seeking interest in opening discussion with government for Telehealth to support clients with their AT. “With respect to supply contracts with government or others, ATSA highly recommends contacting them to discuss cost implications due to the fall in the Australian dollar,” he said.
The Department of Communities and Justice is working to contact 42,000 vulnerable social housing tenants living in NSW, including people with disability, to check on their welfare and offer additional assistance, NSW Minister for Disability Services Gareth Ward, told F2L.
“Continuity of services and support for people with disability is paramount during this difficult time and our government is doing everything it can to support people with disability, their families and carers.
“Proactive outreach for high-risk participants and extension of NDIS plans for up to 24 months are some of the measures agreed upon at the recent COAG Disability Reform Council meeting. I will continue to work collaboratively with the Commonwealth and my State and Territory colleagues to ensure people with disability receive the necessary support,” the minister said.
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