"Mind Your Vote" by Dean Barton-Smith

It is Election Time again where all the political parties come out in the public, kiss babies, throw out ambitious policies here and there, toss a few millions of dollars in some areas, promise better lifestyle for families, businesses, make some snide remakes about their opposition, face numerous negative television campaigns about why you should not vote for the other, play poker by upping whatever the other party is offering and then ‘raise it’ by a few million more.

In between that we get cluttered with party scandals and history lessons of what the Labor and Liberals have done in the past and how the country will be worse off with any of them.

Then you would get a knock on the door from your local Federal MP candidate – who you have never seen in your life- and who claims to ‘truly understand your needs’ (cough, cough – remind me again where you live? Ah… a suburb not part of my electorate! And so what are my needs that you claim to know? Then he goes on about climate change, transport, schools etc? I remind him again “Thats great BUT what are MY needs? Then he realizes I am Deaf and is stumped.) And that’s just the first 17 days!

Then we get caught up in the spin of multi-million dollar promises. $5m provided for disability programs here. $1m provided for programs there. $4m for mentorship program for Reach Foundation here. But hang a sec, that’s over four years not one year and this needs to be dispersed nationwide. Big numbers they may be but one needs to do the maths.

I was asked if I was a candidate at the election for X-Y-Z Party what I would be offering:

  • Ensuring Auslan become a mandatory requirement in all primary schools
  • As part of My School program, provide indicator as to level of disability access.
  • Investment into quality nationally standardnise Auslan Interpreting courses to meet growing demands.
  • Remote/Rural areas to have up to date technologies to allow students full access where interpreters are not available.
  • Compulsory education at both primary and secondary schools about disability issues.
  • People with disability are to be considered first and foremost in any jobs being advertised by any recruitment agencies. Migrant employment is to be the last resort.
  • Focus on fully accessible skill/apprentice training for any person with a disability
  • Greater percentage of Australians With a Disability in Government department (at least 8%) with at least 4% in supervisory/management position. 3% increase annually.
  • Access to Auslan/Remote Captioning funding uncapped for those in workplaces that have annual turnover less than $5m per annum (audited) Helps Small Medium Businesses
  • Abolition of low scale sliding pay rate for AWD (eg no more $2 per hour rate)
  • Six monthly review on accessibility compliance on all transport. Penalties apply for non compliance
  • Six monthly site inspections on accessibility compliance at all venues. Penalties apply for non compliance.
  • Greater funding towards art/theatre pathways for AWD.
  • Abolition of able bodied actors portraying people with disabilities
  • Cinema access to be 100% by end of 2015 including remote rural areas. This includes options of close and open captioning and audio description
  • Fairer allocation of funding based on level of needs and size of disability market.
  • Greater recognition and support for Olympic, Paralympic and Deaflympic Teams
  • Review accessibility of resources currently available across all high performance and grass roots programs.
  • Strong, effective youth programs that develop leaderships that can be converted back into community and sport.
  • At least 20% of all Boards/Advisory bodies must consist of AWD. This includes at all Government levels
  • Develop tiered funding level to ensure lesser known sport is better supported and grow.
  • Reduction of cost hearing aid/batteries
  • Better quality support services for AWD in relation to mental health
  • Introduction of National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • Compulsory education for those in health care sector re disability issues including part of core subjects when achieving nursing, medical degrees.
  • Abolition of using AWD and/or children in any promotional activities portraying them in a negative light
  • Review of ensuring AWD are well represented, training and working in meaningful employment within organizations that allows them to prosper
Disability Discrimination Act
  • Review complaint process and strengthening human rights
  • Implement random site inspection and issue penalties for non compliance after initial audit undertaken within certain timeline
  • Any discrimination identified by court of law will be issues with hefty penalties to both individuals and company/organizations concerned. Penalties will entail ongoing reviews for compliance.
  • Establishment of a Department of Disability Issues which entails a centralization approach to ensure all departments are in compliance with existing legislation, accessibility and staff awareness/training.
  • Develop probity checks before any new program is launched to ensure disability issues are at the forefront of planning.
  • Minister of Disability must be a person with a disability
  • Holds cabinet position and is engaged in all matters including emergency, security, health, welfare etc.
  • Introduce Disability Inclusion Allowance.
  • Mentoring programs for potential AWD with parliamentary potentials
  • Greater representation of AWD at both Senate and Representative Levels.
  • Moving from ‘Subject To Citizen”
United Nations
  • Active engagement and representation at various UN committees including development and training as part of succession planning.
Community Advocacy/Support
  • Review and improve level of funding/support provided by national and state advocacy bodies to enable social inclusion model to be achieved.
  • Abolish prevention of access to Australia based on disability. Breaches human rights.

These are just a snap shot and are not exhaustive. Many other policies have some value. Nevertheless we should be reminded that ‘our vote counts’ and we should challenge our parties as to  just what  they will REALLY offer that meet the NEEDS for AWD.

In any case I’m reminded of a good line from the Indiana Jones movie that I watched with my son.  In the movie Indiana had to choose the Holy Grail amongst many other various types of holy ‘cups’ in a cavern. The ghost of the legendary King Arthur, or was it King Richard the Lionheart, gave Indiana stern but calm words of wisdom before selecting to….”Choose wisely.”

Come Election Day, so should we.

2 thoughts on “"Mind Your Vote" by Dean Barton-Smith

  1. Brilliant stuff. Im using this to send to my Federal MP in my electorate to seek response to this and what else they will offer.

    Abbott and now Peacock makes degratory remarks about people with disabilities. Zthey just say sorry but typical of Liberal make no effort to show any policies for people with disabilities.

    So far I have seen in the media politicians hust a few crackers here and there along with some scraps in some electorates.

    Shocking really when we account for over 20% of the Australian population.

    Arts Access Australia is seeking $20m over four years. Still a very small sum but hey we can do great things. Lets see if any party responds to this. Then watch what happens to the other part of the sector that remains untouched as Dean shown above.

    Come on guys… wake up and apply the pressure like we did with the cinema campaign. They wont do anything unless we ask and make some noise. I dont want to wait another four bloody years of bird feed!

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