The University of Melbourne
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Disability Support Workers: The Forgotten Workforce in COVID-19

Version 2 2021-06-08, 05:41
Version 1 2020-08-04, 02:35
online resource
posted on 2021-06-08, 05:41 authored by ANNE KAVANAGHANNE KAVANAGH, Stefanie DimovStefanie Dimov, HELEN DICKINSON, Marissa ShieldsMarissa Shields, Sully AlexSully Alex, Ashley McAllisterAshley McAllister

Researchers from the Disability and Health unit at the University of Melbourne and UNSW Canberra conducted an online survey of 357 disability support workers (DSWs) between late May and June 2020 about working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report outlines an overview of findings relating to physical distancing, COVID-19 infection control training, purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), COVID-19 testing, support provided, and financial and psychological stresses experienced by workers are summarised along with recommendations arising from the findings (Recommendations 1-8).

Further recommendations are made to ensure continuity of disability support when COVID-19 infection occurs, while minimising transmission risk between workers and the people with disability they are supporting (Recommendations 9-11). These recommendations are summarised before turning to the results.

The Wave 2 follow up findings from surveys conducted in October 2020, can be found here:


There are fact sheets associated with this report that are also available for download on this page.

This report is part of a series of research undertaking on the disability support workforce during COVID-19.

For more information or to access these reports:

Accessible version


Melbourne Disability Institute, The University of Melbourne

NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health (CRE-DH)