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Vaccine Equity for Victorians – Including People Living With a Disability

Drummond Street Services wants to offer its solidarity to those who are in our communities, including those who are living with disabilities, their families and loved ones, including children and young people by providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine at a proposed pop-up clinic at some of our services sites.

Some 18 months on from the pandemic, where hopes of ‘building back better’ and ‘all in this together’, showed that the very best of these intentions, did not speak to the lived experiences of many in our communities.

Instead, it showed the many fractures in the very systems that we look to and have the responsibility to ensure all have the care and support they need, and that their health in all aspects is protected.

These times have challenged us all, with our communities and families showing us how resilient and patient they are have been – in adhering to public health orders, staying at home, enduring lock-down after lock-down whilst waiting for the opportunity for access to a vaccine.

Vaccine priority categories were established, and rightly so – in recognition that some of us or among us are made that more ‘vulnerable’ due to our health experiences, socio-economic circumstances and more so due to the social structures and systems that far too often overlook those who need the most assistance.

This was highlighted again when The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability released their draft Report of Public hearing 12: The experiences of people with disability, in the context of the Australian Government’s approach to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

We all want to resume our lives and no longer be away from those we love, however the push from some within the communities, our governments and in the media discourse, continue to forget that until those in our communities not only have access, but if needed the support to get vaccinated – they will continue to more at risk.  This is not ‘freedom’ or equity for all, but still only ‘freedom’ for some.

We have also seen first-hand how our systems, attitudes or inactions continue to discriminate, marginalise and harm in our work with survivors of institutional abuse, and People with Disabilities.

Through Drummond Street Services’  free, trauma-informed, inclusive support service, as part of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability – our Your Way Through’ program, we support people with a disability, their carers and families to share their stories of abuse or neglect or focus on their recovery from complex trauma.

We have an experienced team of complex trauma practitioners and peer practitioners with lived experiences who are available to support people with a disability, their carers and their families navigate the road to trauma recovery as well as make submissions to the Disability Royal Commission.

Karen Field, Drummond Street Services CEO says,

“It is just not good enough, that too many did not – and continue to not – have access to the vaccine, and that their physical and mental health is put at such great risk.  As we always try to do, we will continue to advocate on behalf of those within our communities – whether this is our First Nations brothers and sisters, our LGBTIQ+ communities, people of colour and People with Disabilities”.

We also need and want to play our part. Therefore, I am pleased to advise that we are working with our community partners: YSAS, Odyssey House and Co-health to offer vaccine access at our DS service site in Carlton as part of our network of safe and trusted places that both our clients and those in our communities can get their protection they need”.

We also applaud the Victorian State Government’s recent announcement to provide specialist access to People with Disabilities as part of their State network of vaccination hubs, and that the Victorian Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers has made a commitment to people with a disability to ensure their health is protected before public health orders are eased”.

Drummond Street Services also wants to offer its solidarity to People with Disabilities Australia (PWDA) and their campaign – #SpeedUpVaxForPWD. 

For updates on our vaccine community clinic and information on our support services, including ‘Your Way Through’ – www.ds.org.au For media enquiries: Ali Hogg at ali.hogg@ds.org.au or Phoebe Wallish at phoebe.wallish@ds.org.au or contact us at 03 9663 6733.