Lessons for Disaster Preparedness

Report on the impact of COVID-19 disaster management for people with disability and the advocacy sector, with preliminary advice for future disaster management

In November 2020, DANA conducted a survey of disability advocacy organisations across the country. This report provides an analysis of the findings, (including an examination of urgent access issues and the critical role of advocacy) and also outlines priorities for future disaster planning and the need for planning to be inclusive of people with disability and their advocates.

Read the full report authored by researcher Polly Bennett:

DANA Report – Lesson for Disaster Preparedness from 2020

Thirty organisations responded to the survey, which is 39% of the DANA membership. Most responses were from Victoria and NSW.

Report findings – Urgent Issues for People with Disability

Nearly two thirds (61.5%) of comments in the survey detailed access issues for people with disability. The most often mentioned access issues were the following, starting with most mentioned:
1. difficulty accessing advocacy services (due to waitlists for example)
2. lack of access to support services
3. lack of access to technology
4. difficulty accessing the NDIS or changes to plans
5. inaccessible government communication; and
6. difficulty accessing basics such as food

This finding is matched by the most common additional issues requiring advocacy because of COVID-19 and associated lockdown measures. They were,
in order:
1. ensuring continuation of support services
2. interpreting and helping implement government guidelines and laws
3. ensuring increased support services
4. supporting people through isolation and living alone
5. ensuring safe housing; and
6. adjustments to NDIS plans

In Victoria, the number of advocates assisting with adjustments to NDIS plans was significantly higher than for other states.
“Many of the issues people with disability faced were not the result of any one thing that could be ‘fixed’ in isolation, but an exacerbation of
pre-existing issues, by emergency response programs that presumed a baseline that was mismatched with the lived experience of our clients.”