Labor is demanding cash incentives for disability workers looking after some of Australia’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.
The federal government is giving retention payments of up to $800 a quarter to aged care workers in residential and home care roles.
The opposition’s disability spokesman Bill Shorten wants a similar bonus given to disability workers during the pandemic.
Mr Shorten said carers were being paid “peanuts” and the government’s stimulus measures would not boost their wages.
“Disability work is an essential service and we need to keep them on the front line,” the former Labor leader told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“That’s why a retention bonus to already low-paid workers is a sensible and supplementary, complimentary strategy.”
Mr Shorten also wants more personal protective equipment made available to disability workers in a bid to stop them catching and spreading coronavirus.
He believes they should also get access to extra temperature testing which has been extended to health workers.
The Labor frontbencher argues his strategy will save hospital resources which could be placed under pressure if disabled people with coronavirus have to be cared for.
“It’s the old story – a stitch in time saves nine later,” Mr Shorten said.
Greens disability spokesman Jordon Steele-John has urged the government to extend a $550 fortnightly dole boost to the Disability Support Pension and Carer Support Payment.
“It’s clear the government is still not taking the needs of disabled people seriously in their response to COVID-19,” he said.
Senator Steele-John said people with disabilities were facing extra PPE costs, as well as higher charges for transport, medical supplies and extra support.