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Lack of support for people with disability, royal commission told

1 month ago 20

A woman with a disability went without a support worker for four days amid fears she and her husband may have been exposed to coronavirus.

Tammy Milne received a call three and a half hours after her support worker was due to arrive one afternoon during lockdown and told she wouldn’t be coming due to potential exposure to COVID-19.

Ms Milne, of Tasmania, has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a condition which limits joint movement and her husband also has chronic illness.

She told the disability royal commission she was left without support for four days and relied on a friend to provide food and care.

“At that time in that high stress situation where we are thinking, oh my gosh, potentially we’ve got COVID,” she said.

“We hadn’t done anything to bring it on ourselves. It invaded our home without our consent.

“It was like dragging ourselves through those four days. Sludging through mud, waiting for something to happen. Just always in the back of our minds, what if?

“Basically if Phillip and I got COVID, we’d be dead. It’s not like we could survive because of our complex medical issues.”

Ms Milne said there was no alternative but to rely on friends and she was lucky she could but others weren’t in the same scenario.

“What if I was totally isolated from the community with no contacts? What would have happened to us then?”

She said efforts then to obtain PPE were fruitless.

“I saw Scott Morrison saying PPE was being provided and I was like, “Hello, where is mine?” There was none.”

She said home masks turned up in the mail two weeks later but it was unknown where they were from or if they were fit for purpose.

Chair Ronald Sackville QC told the disability royal commission public hearing into impacts of COVID-19 that it was clear from the outset of the pandemic people with disability were likely to be disproportionately affected.

He said in the early weeks of the pandemic, the commission was told harrowing accounts experienced by people with disability including isolation, sudden loss of essential support services and an inability to access medicine, health care or even adequate food supplies.

A lack of protective equipment for carers and people with disability also exposed them to risk of infection, given people with disability often have multiple health conditions or chronic conditions that increase risk of infection.

Many live in segregated settings or are dependent on carers or service providers for life’s essentials.

The hearing continues.

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