A royal commission wants urgent government action to protect people with disability from abuse and neglect during the coronavirus pandemic and specific support to meet their health needs.
People with disability feel left behind or ignored in the government and community responses to the pandemic, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability said on Thursday.
The commission said it was deeply concerned about the pandemic's impact on people with disability, calling for governments to take all necessary steps to ensure their protection and safety.
As well as demanding action on health care, the commission said it was very concerned about the wellbeing of people living in group homes, prisons and mental health facilities.
It warned locking down facilities or restricting visits, to reduce the risk of infection, may have the unintended consequence of reduced oversight by formal community visitor schemes, families and advocates.
"With the decrease of oversight comes an increase in the risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
"We encourage governments to implement all necessary measures to protect and support people with disability in residential settings during the pandemic."
The commission said people with disability may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to increased risk of infection, a higher number of health issues and underlying conditions such as chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses.
The commission said governments should provide appropriate support and funding to meet the specific needs of people with disability, including First Nations people.
It said some people with disability will be unable to maintain social distancing practices because they rely on support workers, family and friends for daily personal care such as eating, drinking, toileting and showering.
Those people may not be able to provide their usual support during the pandemic, it added.
The commission commended businesses for taking steps to provide priority access to food for people with disability and government measures to ensure essential support was in place through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
But it noted many people with disability did not use NDIS supports.
Peak disability groups have also called for governments to meet the growing and urgent needs of people with disability during the coronavirus crisis.
Some of the measures announced to assist NDIS participants and providers include face to face planning shifted to telephone meetings, financial assistance to providers or proactive outreach to high-risk participants.
"NDIS is also providing and disseminating information to disability services providers in relation to infection control training," a spokesman for NDIS minister Stuart Robert said.
Australian Associated Press