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COVID-19: Ethical decision-making for First Peoples living with disability

By April 28, 2020No Comments

First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) in partnership with Professor Cameron Stewart, Sydney Health Law, University of Sydney, and Professor Jackie Leach Scully, Disability Innovation Institute UNSW, have outlined necessary principles and recommendations regarding the ethical decision-making for First Peoples Living with Disability. These guidelines are specific for individuals presenting to an Intensive Care Unit and how their treatment is prioritised and managed.

FPDN CEO, Damian Griffis stated “we have seen scenarios play out overseas where a point system has been the tool used to determine who is worthy of treatment and prioritising individuals level of care. People who are disadvantaged often score lower on those point ranking systems, and it is those same people who miss out on receiving appropriate medical attention and support. Our fear in Australia is that First Peoples with disability who are already experiencing higher levels of disadvantage and are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 will be triaged out of the health system or be provided with inadequate support.”

Discussions of easing restrictions, nation-wide, potentially present a higher risk of increasing numbers of outbreaks across the country. These ethical considerations must be adapted and implemented.

All Federal, State and Territory government agencies must remove disability from consideration of resource allocation when it is used as a broad criterion for exclusion from critical care.
State and Federal health authorities must commit to including First Peoples with a disability in planning for decision-making regarding healthcare during the pandemic.
State and Federal health authorities must commit to identifying areas of strain and work to re-establish strong relationships of trust and confidence with the First Peoples affected. In cases where that cannot be implemented, arrangements should be made to give access to alternative healthcare resources.
State and Territory policies on pandemic healthcare must expressly refer to the need to be culturally competent when providing services to First Peoples with a disability.
The State and Territory governments must look at how more students can be transitioned into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthcare workforce.
State and Territory governments must understand this existential threat and take whatever action is necessary to protect Elders as the guardians of First Peoples’ cultures.


Click here to read the Statement