Disability group homes get 1.2m RATs

The federal government will distribute 1.2 million RATs to high-risk disability group homes, with a target of 5 million by June.

disablity-group-home, rapid-antigen-test

The federal government will distribute 1.2 million rapid antigen tests to high-risk disability group homes, with a target of 5 million kits to be delivered by June.

Linda Reynolds

The tests are being provided free to Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers, who will distribute them to NDIS residents and workers.

NDIS minister Linda Reynolds says the first deliveries will be to SIL providers with three or more NDIS participants. Distribution points for smaller providers are currently being worked out.

“The provision of rapid antigen tests in higher-risk residential disability settings provides an additional control to ensure the safety of participants and workers, and support providers to help manage any COVID-19 outbreaks,” the minister said in a statement.

Previously SIL participants and providers had to claim up to $12.50 per rapid antigen test.

300,000 RATs for NSW

In addition to the federal rollout of tests, the NSW government announced over the weekend that it will provide almost 300,000 RATs for people with disability and their support workers in the state.

The testing kits will be distributed to almost 9,000 people with disability and their support workers by staff in NSW Health Local Health Districts working with disability service providers, disability services minister Natasha Maclaren-Jones announced over the weekend.

“This roll out will help ensure that people with disability can be supported safely at home, and reduce the risk of infections spreading as well as the potential for hospital admission,” she said.

Ms Maclaren-Jones said The Department of Communities and and NSW Health are in the process of identifying priority groups.

Union calls for more action

The union representing NSW disability workers said the RATs were long overdue and said staff are still being exposed to the virus.

Troy Wright

CPSU assistant secretary Troy Right said the union is calling for a surge workforce and retention pay for the sector, similar to the recently announced aged care bonus.

“RATs for workers are an overdue intervention in a sector that’s been left to fend for itself for the past two years,” Mr Wright said.

It comes after a survey of more than 2000 NSW workers by the CPSU released earlier this month found only 3.2 per cent had access to RATS and 22 per cent said they only wore PPE when there were known Covid cases.

“Now NSW’s most vulnerable, who can’t necessarily wear appropriate PPE or socially distance, are being unnecessarily exposed to a virus which they’re more likely to end up in hospital from than the rest of the population,” he said.

Disability service providers were reluctant to speak out about the crisis in their sector because they feared losing contracts, Mr Wright said.

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Tags: covid-19, disability, featured, group-homes, rapid-antigen-test, SIL, supported-independent-living,

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