COVID-19 Updates & Resources

CEO’s Message June / July 2020

Welcome to the June-July edition of The Advocate.

Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, ADA Australia’s work from home team has ensured that advocacy support has remained accessible to those who need it. The past few months have created additional uncertainty for many older Queenslanders and those living with disability, making access to advocacy support all the more essential.

In line with recommendations around preventing viral transmission, ADA Australia is making greater use of our social media platforms and electronic communication to allow advocates to support older people and their carers without risk of infection. The adage of necessity being the mother of invention may hold true during this extraordinary time, with lessons learned during this pandemic informing smarter and more effective ways of providing advocacy support.

It is pleasing that aside from a brief period at the start of the pandemic when the number of calls received were fewer than usual, there has been no decrease in demand for our services. Amidst all the challenges currently impacting the aged care and disability sectors, demand for advocacy support remains high. We remain committed to safely supporting people who need accurate information about rights or require an advocate to support them to resolve a care related concern.

As a member of the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), ADA Australia has been actively involved in the development of the Aged Care Visitor Access Code. The Access Code provides a nationally consistent approach to ensuring aged care residents can continue receiving visitors, while minimising the risk of COVID-19. For those residents and their families who were unable to see each other during the initial period of the pandemic due to provider concerns about the spread of the virus, the Access Code reinstates their right to maintain contact with a loved one in care, while observing practical and necessary safety protocols.

The Access Code is a useful tool in framing conversations with aged care providers around the enduring rights of recipients at the same time as ensuring the resident population remains safe from infection. A disappointing aspect to its introduction has been the failure of some residential aged care providers to embrace the spirit of the Code and allow visits to happen. Anyone reading this who has been unable to visit a family member or friend in care should contact ADA Australia for support.

In other news, our Human Rights Service was recently approved to become a Community Legal Centre (CLC) and will soon commence operating as ADA Law. Funding has been secured from the Queensland Government for operational costs for the next five years. I will issue a separate communication about this in coming weeks. This represents an exciting evolution of this service whose primary focus will remain supporting people whose capacity is questioned as they navigate service systems, including tribunals in Queensland.

In this issue, we provide information about the new Self-Advocacy Toolkit designed to allow adults to develop skills as self-advocates while still having access to disability advocates if required. The toolkit is just one of several new initiatives and readers can look forward in the next edition to reading about the launch of mHLaw – an online resource for mental health consumers, their supporters, health professionals and community lawyers. Stay tuned for more on this.

As we emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown, please take care, continue to observe the key safety messages and wishing you the best of health.

Geoff Rowe

ADA Australia CEO