COVID-19 response: Austria
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Information relayed by Österreichischer Behindertenrat (Austrian Disability Council) – Read their latest news on COVID-19
Information is in German, unless otherwise stated. Titles were translated.
- Closure of sheltered employment structures and their kindergartens – Lebenshilfe Oberösterreich of Lower Austria
- Representatives of persons with disabilities must be heard
- Press conference “More visibility for persons with disabilities in times of crisis”
- Disability lawyer and Austrian Disability Council: Accessibility helps in crisis management
- Government Aid Package: Include organisations of persons with disabilities
- Letter to BM Anschober: additions and changes in the COVID 19 law
- Open letter to the Ministry of Education: Overwhelmed in home schooling/lack of accessibility
- Corona crisis taskforces exclude the expertise of people with disabilities
- Article on Multiple Sclerosis and Coronavirus – MS Geselleschaft
- Videos in Austrian Sing Language on Facebook – the Relay Austrian Federation for the Deaf
- News broadcast on Coronavirus available in sign language (12 March) – ORF
- Update stream for persons with disabilities living in Vienna – Bizeps – Center of independent living
Relayed by the Fundamental Rights Agency second bulletin (May 2020):
- In Austria, the Third COVID-19 Law of 4 April established a fund for families facing hardships (“Familenhärtefonds”). The fund includes 30 Million Euros and is run by the Federal Ministry of Labour, Family and Youth (Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Familie und Jugend). The Austrian Anti-Poverty Network states the fund does not cater to families who require social assistance, who are part of the working poor, who are single parents, who have any form of disability, and who are in marginal employment (i.e. earning under roughly 460 Euros a month for which no tax or insurance must be paid.).
- Persons with disabilities and older people: In Austria, the Austrian Ombudsman Board62 (Volksanwaltschaft), as well as the Platform for Disabled, Chronically Ill and Old People63 (Plattform behinderter, chronisch kranker und alter Menschen) and the Association for Seniors64 (Seniorenbund) criticised that the laws on social distancing take no special consideration of persons with disabilities or older people, who particularly suffer from isolation and feelings of loneliness. The Austrian Ombudsman Board stated the need for creative solutions and measures to mitigate the negative consequences of isolation for people with (multiple) disabilities in care homes. Persons, particularly those with severe impairments, are negatively impacted by the ban on visits and by rapidly changing rules for social conduct, eg. wearing masks. Measures impact on their right to acceptable healthcare that makes use of the maximum available resources. Furthermore, the Austrian Ombudsman Board calls for care homes (for people with disabilities as well as for elderly persons) to refrain from forbidding patients from leaving care grounds for walks. This impacts on their freedom of movement and right to healthcare. Kurier newspaper reports that by the end of April or beginning of May, depending on province, visits to care and elderly homes will gradually be allowed again.65
- Persons with disabilities: The NGO Lebenshilfe criticises the lack of additional medical supplies, face masks and protective gear for organisations offering care for people with disabilities, who are at particular risk for contracting COVID-19.66 This impacts on their right to health and to equal treatment. The Independent Monitoring Committee (Unabhängiger Monitoringausschuss) and the Council for Persons with Disabilities (Behindertenrat) point to the importance of self-determination and criticise that persons with disabilities were not included in crisis teams planning mitigating measures, which is not in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.