COVID-19: Ethical decision-making for First Peoples living with disability

COVID-19 Indigenous health Disabilities Health services accessibility Australia

These guidelines outline necessary principles and recommendations specific for First Peoples living with disability and how their treatment is prioritised and managed.

The COVID-19 pandemic raises significant issues of disability and racial inequality in healthcare delivery. The primary risk of the pandemic to people with a disability is that healthcare resources (such as intensive care) may not be provided to them in times of scarcity. The pandemic is also highlighting some of the serious structural problems that health systems experience when providing care to people from different racial backgrounds.

Key Findings:

  • The first step must be to recognise the reality of disability for First Peoples in Australia. They experience a disproportionately high percentage of disability within their populations.
  • Discussions of easing restrictions, nation-wide, potentially present a higher risk of increasing numbers of outbreaks across the country. 
  • If healthcare is going to be effectively provided to First Peoples during the pandemic, the healthcare sector needs to listen and understand the specific problems of delivery that are experienced by First Peoples with a disability.
  • State and Federal health authorities must commit to including First Peoples with a disability in planning for decision-making regarding healthcare during the pandemic.
  • State and Territory governments must understand this existential threat and take whatever action is necessary to protect Elders as the guardians of First Peoples’ cultures.
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