Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and rapid antigen tests are essential for the disability sector says an Illawarra advocate. In fact, they could be the difference between life and death.
Edward Birt, the chief operating officer of The Disability Trust, says the sector is crying out for supplies as workers try to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Too often their stocks are falling short.
Disability workers are not the only ones struggling to obtain the supplies they need to do their job effectively. Healthcare workers, truck drivers and supermarket staff are finding it hard to source the tests so vital for their work.
As for the general public - well, some are even turning to social media to seek the location of pharmacies and stores with any supply of the elusive tests from others. Facebook posts on community groups abound with queries from those hunting down the kits; and those lucky enough to secure them are advising others of where to go - and fast.
So the news this week that politicians were being sent free tests from a private stockpile did not go down well.
MPs and parliamentary staff will be given 20 free rapid antigen tests each, which will be sent to electorate offices across NSW. Members and staff will be able to get one kit each week, announced on Monday.
Local MP Gareth Ward was one of the first to blast the decision to provide free RATs for pollies - with many still on holidays or able to work from home. The Kiama MP - who tested positive to COVID earlier this month - has pledged to donate his self-test kits to those more in need. He'll give half his kits to Flagstaff, which provides employment and support for those with a disability, and half to Salt Ministries, which provide support to the homeless.
Keira MP, and shadow health minister, Ryan Park has also criticised the move, taking to Twitter: "Our Premier has prioritised rapid tests for politicians over front line workers."
While the government has pledged free tests to concession card holders from later this month - and talks of a boost to supply - the reality is that tests are still in short supply. And for organisations like The Disability Trust, they can't come quick enough.
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