More than isolated: the experience of children and young people with disability and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Disability Children and young people
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Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), the national representative organisation for children and young people with disability, identified that Australia lacked a coherent national response for children and young people with disability in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. They devised a survey to capture the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people and their families and identify unmet needs for resources and information.

Such a process was designed to capture issues relating to COVID-19 specifically, but also to help plan for future emergency scenarios (e.g. pandemics, bushfires, floods).

This report sets out the key findings of the survey, identifying areas requiring responses and future research priorities.

Summary of key findings:

  • Survey responses clearly demonstrated that people felt like there was a general lack of information about the coronavirus targeted to children and young people with disability and their families, with 82% stating they lacked information. Moreover, lack of information targeted to the particular needs of households exacerbated distress and uncertainty.
  • Uncertainty about education was a prominent theme, including school closures and challenges with learning from home, and that progress gained by children and young people with disability would be lost during this period.
  • Half of survey respondents experienced a decline in their mental health either for themselves or for the child or young person with disability. This increased over the period of the survey.

The main message of this report is that urgent action is needed to attend to the many inequities that people with disability and their families and carers face on a daily basis. Without movement on these issues, any future widespread emergencies will again produce substantial destabilisation for these households, with similarly detrimental impacts.

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