Guidelines to support the rights of people with disability

Tue 25 Aug 2020

Guidelines to support the rights of people with disability

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released new guidelines to support the rights of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Ben Gauntlett said the Guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19, were developed to assist health care, disability services and support workers take a human rights-based approach to decision-making during the pandemic.

Dr Gauntlett said the pandemic had highlighted the systemic disadvantage that Australians with disability may face.

“The interaction between people with disability and the health care and disability support systems during the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to significant human rights issues,” Dr Gauntlett said.

“People with disability may be placed in situations where they become vulnerable and profound power imbalances exist,” he said.

“We need to ensure all people are treated with dignity and respect.”

“Sometimes human rights issues arise inadvertently when health care professionals or disability support workers may be unaware of their own unconscious biases or the effect of their decisions.”

Dr Gauntlett, who is a member of the Advisory Committee for the COVID-19 Response for People with Disability, said the Guidelines had also been drafted to support the Committee’s Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability, which focused on clinical, public health and communications actions by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

“In addition to providing advice for health care and disability support workers, the Guidelines may also be useful for people with disability, their families and carers in understanding their rights,” he said.

The Commission’s 30-page Guidelines can be accessed on the Ausstralian Human Rights Commission's website