A new report released today by Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT), shows how difficult the COVID-19 pandemic has been for women with disabilities in the Canberra region.

“66% of women with disability said they did not know where to seek help with accessing health care during this time.” said C Moore, Chief Executive Officer, WWDACT.

The survey has shown the urgent need for advice on how to get remote access to the health system, and WWDACT welcomes the advocacy funding announced last week by the ACT government.

A further 44% of women said they did not know where to get help with legal matters, employment, or finances during COVID-19, though issues arose in all of these areas.

Seventy-two women responded to the survey, and 10 were interviewed about their experiences. The survey was conducted in May and June 2020.

The biggest concerns for women with disabilities during lockdown and continuing COVID-19 after restrictions have been eased, were mental health, physical health, isolation from friends and family, and employment.

Report author, Swathi Shanmukhasundaram, said that “This report echoes the growing inequalities experienced by women with disabilities in a system that has neglected their needs during this pandemic.” Findings highlighted service and carer disruptions which left women with disabilities without supports to complete essential tasks or maintain their health.

Mx Moore said: “Women with disabilities encounter barriers under normal circumstances due to discrimination, poor access and poverty. COVID-19 has dramatically complicated these issues.”

“These issues will continue to be relevant as restrictions ease and we look to an inclusive recovery for all Canberrans. The ACT Government COVID-19 Disability Strategy must continue to be well resourced and implemented to ensure this.”

The research was funded by the Disability Advocacy network of Australia, and will help build a picture of how responses to a health emergency need to be better targetted to ensure that all population groups are catered for.

The Report will be launched by Minster for Disability, Suzanne Orr at a Zoom Gathering on July 6 at 1.30pm.

Download the report: “The Responsibility has Fallen on Us”: Perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on Women* and Girls with Disabilities in the ACT and Region on the Publications page.

For more information and to attend the launch contact C Moore, ceo@wwdact.org.au, 0468 324 695.