Tereza’s right to protection from degrading treatment at a COVID-19 test site

Tereza uses a wheelchair and went to a drive-through COVID-19 testing site on a hot day in January 2021. After waiting nearly four hours for a test, she asked staff to use the toilet. As the site’s toilets were not wheelchair accessible, Tereza asked to be able to leave and re-join her spot in the line. She was told she would have to return to the start of the line if she left.

Tereza had to leave the queue and did not get her COVID-19 test. A bystander later contacted us to complain about how Tereza was treated.

‘It was blatant discrimination … they made no consideration of her needs’ – bystander

After hearing about Tereza’s case, we asked the Department of Health to respond to the bystander’s complaint and made our own enquiries. In response to those enquiries, the Department explained that in-home testing can be available for people with disabilities or chronic illness, and that testing sites should still make ‘reasonable adjustments’.

In Tereza’s case, the Department said staff at the site should either have hired a disability accessible toilet, offered to test Tereza ahead of others or helped her get to an accessible toilet without losing her spot in the queue.

As a result of our enquiry, the Department contacted all COVID-19 testing sites and reminded them of their obligations.

Please note: Outcomes may vary depending on individual circumstances