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Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability

COVID-19 & people with intellectual disabilities

COVID-19 and Human Rights issues for People with intellectual disabilities

Presented by: Dr Elena Jenkin

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What is the webinar about?

People with intellectual disabilities are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. Whilst Victorian disability services have a responsibility to protect people with intellectual disabilities’ human right to health, there is concern that other human rights have been diminished, leaving many people vulnerable to human rights abuses. This webinar will report upon research findings that examine this human rights nexus.

People with intellectual disabilities are more likely to contract, experience serious symptoms and die from COVID-19. However, potentially devastating health outcomes (including death) are not the only challenge people with intellectual disability face in a time when protection of their human rights is not necessarily at the forefront of society’s gaze. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has articulated its concern that “measures to ‘lockdown’ facilities and/or restrict visiting may have the unintended consequence of reduced formal oversight mechanisms (such as Community Visitor Schemes) and informal oversight provided by family, friends, supporters and advocates. With the decrease of oversight comes an increase in the risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation”.

Our research aimed to develop an understanding of how Victorian disability service providers are balancing the human rights of the people they support and protection of their health and well-being in the context of the COVID and were 19 crisis. Key findings will be reported and the challenges discussed. It is hoped that these research findings and the discussion will be drawn upon to inform the sector to further safeguard the rights of people with intellectual disabilities.

Who is presenting?

Dr Elena Jenkin is a Lecturer and Research Fellow in disability and inclusion at Deakin University. The research role is examining how disability organisations balance the nexus between protecting people with disabilities from COVID-19 and facilitating their human rights and decision making.

Elena’s PhD involved seeking to understand more about the human rights of Pacific children with disabilities via culturally relevant and accessible child participation methods and ethical guidelines.

Elena has worked as a consultant and research fellow with governments, non-government organisations, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) and academia. Elena has worked in Solomon Islands, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Nepal and Australia and provided technical advice to twelve additional countries. Elena is an invited member of the UNICEF Network for Ethics in Evidence and Data in Development Organisations