New disability helpline to give advice

Ailish DelaneyBunbury Herald
South West residents can contact the helpline on 1800 643 787.
Camera IconSouth West residents can contact the helpline on 1800 643 787.

A new Disability Information Helpline has been created to provide information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of COVID-19.

The service also helps families, carers, support workers and services and is free to call on 1800 643 787.

South West Autism Network programs manager Nick Avery said the helpline was important to decrease misinformation and confusion about coronavirus.

“There’s a lot of crossover for many people with disability between health related issues and disability issues, so it can be a little confusing as to what meets what criteria,” Ms Avery said.

“The only issue is it’s not accessible to people who are deaf or hearing impaired and for people who might be non-speaking, so it would be great to see it expanded.”

For families with children at home with disabilities, Ms Avery recommended to avoid running the news on the TV during the day.

“If the news is playing all the time in your house then there’s no escape from it and it’s just heightening the anxiety kids are feeling,” Ms Avery said.

Spend more time doing fun stuff as a family, anything that takes your mind off the coronavirus situation.

Nick Avery

Ms Avery urged families who were worried and frightened about homeschooling their children to remember the current situation was “crisis schooling” and everyone was in the same boat.

“They need to be focusing on looking after the mental health of their kids,” she said.

Just think about schooling a bit more flexibly than usual and don’t panic about it.

Nick Avery

Ms Avery recommended families connected to peer support groups in their areas and reached out if they were not doing well.

“Contact your GP if you’re not coping well with the situation so you can get a mental healthcare plan and start accessing free counselling sessions,” she said.

“If you’re a parent carer of someone with a disability you can also access free counselling through Carers WA.”

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