Ensuring a human rights focus: Exploring how disability services in Victoria are responding to COVID-19
How are disability service providers balancing the human rights of the people they support with protection of their health and well-being during COVID-19?
There are pressing concerns amongst Victorians with disability, their supporters, service providers and advocates that in a rapidly evolving pandemic such as COVID-19, specific human rights granted to Australians with disabilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD), are at risk of being violated.
Specifically, these rights include a right to liberty, independence, autonomy, access to information, and freedom from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has articulated its concern that, “measures to ‘lockdown’ facilities and/or restrict visiting may have the unintended consequence of reduced formal oversight mechanisms and informal oversight provided by family, friends, supporters and advocates”.
The aim of this research is to develop an understanding of how Victorian disability service providers are balancing the human rights of the people they support and protection of their health and well-being in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
We plan to augment this project by interviewing 10 people with disability (this may include their supporters) to gauge their experiences of service delivery during this period of COVID-19 related restrictions. This data will allow a comparison of service providers and service users’ perspectives across the period of COVID-19 restrictions.
This component of the research will not be carried out immediately, as it will require a high-risk human ethics application, which will take several months to be processed. An ethics application for this component of the research will be submitted now, so it can be carried out as soon as possible.