Minister Robert, CEO NDIA, Commissioner of NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission - Personal Protective Equipment

30 March 2020

Dear Minster Robert, Mr Hoffman and Commissioner Head,

We write to express concern about the lack of support being provided for disability service providers, disability support workers and Australians with a disability who receive support from these services, including NDIS participants.

Disability service providers from around the country have contacted us with serious concerns about the lack of advice from Government and the NDIS in relation to COVID-19. These service providers want two things: clear advice on how to protect workers and clients and ensure continuity of supports, as well as access to personal protective equipment (PPE) from the national stockpile.

Service providers have recently been advised to request PPE from the national stockpile via an email address ([email protected]), only to be told they are not a high priority and will not receive it.

It is common knowledge that PPE is in short supply, but it is also commonly known following Minister Hunt’s media on the issue, that more will be available soon.

We urge you all to provide clear health and operational advice to disability service providers, in addition to a commitment that when PPE stocks are replenished, they will receive supplies.

Disability service providers have told us that if there is a risk to their staff or clients, they will be forced to divert the clients to hospitals by ambulance. It is even more important during this crisis that hospitals are not undertaking the routine services that disability service providers deliver in the homes of Australians with disability (i.e. changing catheters and other hygiene processes).

Furthermore, disability support workers often deliver services in the homes of many clients each day. The potential for them to spread COVID-19 is very concerning to us and to constituents who have contacted us over the last two weeks. Of particular concern is the fact that delivering many of these services does not enable workers to observe the 1.5m distance rule. They need advice specific to their work, as well as the PPE to undertake it safely.

Following the private briefings provided to Mr Shorten, and then the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS from Mr Hoffman and Commissioner Head on Wednesday 25 March it is not clear that sufficient actions are being taken with the necessary urgency to ensure NDIS participants and the broader disability services industry is safe and operational during this crisis. While service providers may not be NDIA workers, the operation of the NDIS is not viable without them.

We urge the Government to take ownership for the specific issues outlined in this letter and ensure disability services can continue to be provided as we face down COVID-19. Certainty needs to be communicated to NDIS participants with urgency.




Bill Shorten MP

Shadow Minister for the NDIS

Shadow Minister for Government Services

Federal Member for Maribyrnong


Alicia Payne MP

Member for Canberra

Member of the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS