COVID-19 Commission must ensure vulnerable in our community are protected

Amnesty International Australia is calling for an urgent injection of funding for frontline services who are facing an explosion in demand for their services and a reduction in available volunteers.

Amnesty International campaigner Tim O’Connor, welcoming the establishment of the Independent National Coordination Commission for COVID-19, said: “Australia’s most vulnerable people are being forgotten in the response so far from Government, and we ask this new body to put them at the forefront of the next phase of this escalating pandemic.

“The homeless, survivors of domestic violence, Indigenous peoples, those struggling with mental health issues, refugees and migrant groups and individuals are contacting us in anxiety and with specific needs that need to be urgently addressed,” O’Connor said.

“While we welcome many of the measures the Government has taken in seeking to address the loss of jobs and incomes to individuals and businesses, the needs of our most vulnerable people must be promptly addressed.

“There is an urgent need for resources to bolster the not for profit and charity organisations that provide the frontline services to many of our most vulnerable, or we risk many, many more lives.

“Indigenous communities have reported a lack of information, often compounded by a deficit of telecommunication and internet access. Domestic violence organisations are crying out for a national campaign to provide information on warning signs and shelter locations to manage what they worry is a problem about to exponentially increase. More than 1400 refugees are detained in unhygienic conditions posing a health risk to themselves and a much broader public health risk to the general public.

“This new body needs to put these vulnerable groups at the forefront, increase the resources available to these groups and ensure that every single decision that is made is balanced with the human rights of everyone as a primary consideration.”