Dylan Alcott’s calls for free rapid antigen testing, NDIS funding guarantee backed by disability advocates

Proponents have backed this year’s new Australian Dylan Alcott’s calls to provide free rapid antigen testing to people with disabilities, saying the measure could help save lives during the pandemic.

Alcott, the first person with a visible disability to receive the honor, said the needs of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 should be prioritized as the country opened up.

“We need to get them the vaccines and the tests and what else they need so they can get out there and start living their lives,” he said in his acceptance speech to Australian of the Year yesterday.

“If someone with a disability needs a free daily RAT test so they feel safe going out and doing things that we can all take for granted, they need to get that RAT test.”

Earlier this week, the federal government confirmed that participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) would be able to purchase RATs using funding in their plans.

But some advocates, including Sam Connor of People With Disability Australia, said more needed to be done to make RATs readily available.

“Half of us are already living in poverty – it is not possible to expect people with disabilities to either give up their care through NDIS or have to shell out for more RATs just so we can stay alive. This really needs to be done treated immediately, “she said.

Sam Connor wearing glasses and a plaid dress and smiling at the camera.
Sam Connor said improving access to RATs should be addressed immediately.(ABC: Glyn Jones)

Many people with disabilities face a higher risk of severe outbreaks of COVID-19 and need to use tests to ensure that caregivers and other visitors to the home are not contagious.

Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner Ben Gauntlett said that while it was important to improve access to RATs, other measures were needed to reduce the risk of becoming infected with the virus.

Dr. Guantlett also said that RATs could be distributed as needed through a system such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

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