The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has today called for Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to be universally available to all Canberrans who need them.
ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The provision of up to 10 free tests for concession and health care card holders is a good start. However, thousands of Canberrans will still struggle to access and pay for the rapid tests that they need.
“There are many people on low incomes who do not have the necessary concession card and who will struggle to afford a RAT that they might require for work purposes or before visiting vulnerable relatives or friends.
“Priority need should be the determinant of access, not ability to pay.
“Denying free RATs to those who need them because of cost would be a denial of the universal principles underlying Medicare – principles essential for a just and equitable society.
Dr Campbell said that many Canberrans including people with disability, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, older people, women escaping domestic violence, temporary visa holders and people experiencing homelessness may not be able to access a pharmacy, do not have an appropriate concession card or may need more than the 10 free tests available.
“It is vital that Rapid Antigen Tests are made available to community sector organisations who are best placed to provide free RATs to marginalised people most at risk from COVID-19 who may not be able to access free kits at pharmacies.
“ACTCOSS's member organisations also need free and easy access to tests for their workers so they can carry on their work as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread. We also need clear guidelines on the use of RATs to protect workers and the vulnerable people that they support.
“ACTCOSS looks forward to working with the ACT Government to ensure that RATs are placed in the hands of those who need them most.
“However, we need additional support from the Commonwealth to ensure that all Australians have access to the tools required to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the most vulnerable in our community.”
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. Follow us @ACTCOSS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.