Call for rapid antigen tests for disability workers

Testing times: DARE Disability Support senior client service co-ordinator Emma Coghlan with a rapid antigen testing kit.
Testing times: DARE Disability Support senior client service co-ordinator Emma Coghlan with a rapid antigen testing kit.

Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman has joined DARE Disability Support CEO Andrew Daly in calling for rapid antigen testing to be made available for disability service providers.

In a media release Ms Templeman stated that rapid antigen testing for disability workers will reduce the chances of infection in people with disabilities, and therefore their families and support workers.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) does not currently enable disability service providers to maintain stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and makes no provision for the use of rapid antigen testing either via direct payments to providers or individual support plans.

Mr Daly, CEO of Springwood-based DARE Disability Support, called for more funding to be made available for rapid antigen testing for workers in the disability sector.

"It is DARE's belief that rapid antigen testing will enable disability service providers to identify chains of emerging transmission early and prevent infection in people with disabilities, their families and support workers," he said

"Clearly, the impact of not funding rapid antigen testing in the disability sector will be higher levels of infections and transmissions in the disability and broader community, and the very real risk that disability providers will not be able to continue to provide services and people with disability will suffer."

Rapid antigen testing can detect COVID-19 extremely early in infection. By either saliva sample or nasal swab it can produce results in 10 to 15 minutes.

Ms Templeman called on the federal government to do more to ensure such testing can be delivered to disability sector workers.

"Disability support workers can be a highly mobile workforce, and funding rapid antigen self-testing would help with early identification of infection and therefore reduce the risk of transmission and keep staff and services available," said Ms Templeman.

"It simply makes sense for the government to do whatever it can so that some of the most vulnerable members of our society are not left behind as we navigate our way through the new COVID environment."