A forgotten population? Australia's COVID response for people with disability

People with disability are more at risk within the COVID-19 pandemic for a range of clinical and social reasons. This presentation explores how Australian governments responded in developing policy and programmes to protect people with disability. It will be argued that while there were some positive developments, people with disability and disability support workers have largely been forgotten in Australia's response and even when identified as a priority group critical implementation capabilities lacked. Moreover, some of the recent developments we have seen around personalisation policy as associated with the NDIS may have served to make individuals less safe. This presentation will conclude by thinking about what lessons we can take from these events in terms of how we can make people with disability more safe in emergency contexts.

Helen Dickinson is Professor of Public Service Research in the Public Service Research Group at the School of Business, UNSW Canberra. Her expertise is in public services, particularly in relation to topics such as governance, policy implementation and stewardship of 4th industrial revolution technologies. Helen has published nineteen books and over one hundred peer-reviewed journal articles on these topics and is also a frequent commentator within the mainstream media. She is co-editor of the Journal of Health, Organization and Management. In 2015 Helen was made a Victorian Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia and in 2019 awarded a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. In 2021 Helen was named one of Apolitical’s 100 most influential academics in government. She has worked with a range of different levels of government, community organisations and private organisations in Australia, UK, New Zealand and Europe on research and consultancy programmes.