The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed guidelines which aim to support people with disabilities during COVID-19, by ensuring they are treated with dignity and respect.
Guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19 aims to assist health care, disability services and support workers to take a human rights-based approach to decision-making during the pandemic.
Recommendations are focused around the need for practitioners to respect and take into consideration:
- The inherent dignity of a person
- Individual autonomy, including the freedom for a person to make their own choices
- A person’s ability to be fully included, participate and be in society
- Equality of opportunity
If these steps are not taken, the effect upon people with disability interacting with the healthcare system can be devastating.
Dr Ben Gauntlett, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, said: “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.
“People with disabilities may be placed in situations where they become vulnerable and profound power imbalances exist. 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.”
The guidelines have been created to provide advice for health care and disability support workers, although they may also be useful for people with disability, their families and carers in understanding their rights.
Humanrights.gov.au: New guidelines for the rights of people with disability during COVID-19