The Gift

Has it come to the point that the Deaf Community in Adelaide has had to resort to ‘BEGGING’ ? – I do not use this word lightly. But begging is what they seem to have been reduced to. A week or so ago there was an article in an Adelaide Newspaper. The Deaf community are asking for someone or a company to invest in ‘262’. The famous ‘262’ is the heritage listed building on South Terrace that the Deaf community have called home since 1923. As part of this investment whoever buys ‘262’ can develop certain areas of the property but not the old building itself because it is heritage listed. The Deaf community have asked whoever wants to invest to then lease back ‘262’ to them long term so that it can remain as their home. In exchange the investor can make a profit from developing the areas of the property that do not come under the heritage listing.

Now some may call my use of the word BEGGING as extreme. But the fact of the matter is that the Deaf community in Adelaide is on its last legs. The truth of the matter is that unless they can find an investor, and soon, they will lose their spiritual home. This is despite the fact that the building was ‘gifted’ to them. Yes that’s correct, it was given to the Deaf community, just so long as they could find an incorporated body to help them run it. That incorporated body turned out to be the Deaf Sport and Recreation Association of South Australia. Wasn’t that kind of the “HEARING” administrators. (HA)

The HA knowing that the Deaf community loved and cherished ‘262’ decided that they would give it to them. But before you get all weepy eyed at their generosity let’s consider the facts. The first of these facts is that ‘262’ was not for the HA to ‘gift’ away. Let’s just remember that the old Deaf Society of South Australia was set up for Deaf people by Deaf people. How kind of the HA that had been trusted to look after ‘262’ to give it back by way of a ‘gift’. The fact is that they never truly morally owned ‘262’ to start with. What is a fact is that a succession of HA have made a mess of keeping it sustainable over a period of many years. So the reality is that the HA were saying, “We can’t fix the mess we made, here you can have it, fix it yourself.”

Now people may say that I am being ridiculous. But I have asked some questions and it seems that the main drivers in setting up the Deaf Society in Adelaide were Deaf people. There were three it seems – Bostock, Hawkins and Salas – who sought support from Samuel Johnston and Sir John Colton. Through sheer hard work they raised money to set up the first Deaf Society on Wright Street which was debt free. They moved to the current Deaf Society, 262, I think in 1923, with the help of benefactors. At the time ‘262’ was also debt free. So let us make no mistake – The Deaf Society was established through the nous of Deaf people FOR Deaf people and was paid for as the result of the efforts of DEAF people. The upkeep and administration of ‘262’ was trusted to HA who took it to its current state of near total collapse. Thanks for ‘gifting’ it back in such pristine condition. Well done!

Now on the Deaf Can Do website you will see a video message that explains how the HA of the Deaf Society are to ‘Gift’ the building back to the Deaf community. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0RpvOewln8&feature=youtu.be ) They say all the right things about its importance and the fact it is the Deaf communities spiritual home etc etc etc … But what they are really saying is, “We want to move to Welland. We want to take all the services and money there because it is cheaper for us. You can have the building and be responsible for its upkeep because we don’t want it. We don’t want it because it is a cash hole that is swallowing up our money” What they mean in a nut shell is,  “Here you can have ‘262’ and with it all the headaches of its upkeep.” But of course they are saying it in a much nicer way.

One of the conditions of this ‘wash our hands of it’ gift was that an incorporated organisation must look after the building for the Deaf community. This incorporated organisation turned out to be the Deaf Sport and Recreation Association of South Australia (SRASA). Of course SRASA were not silly.  In the video they explain that before accepting the ‘gift’ they wanted to do their due diligence and make sure accepting the gift was viable. Until they had done that due diligence they were not prepared to accept the ‘gift’. This was a very smart move on their part.

SRASA were to make an announcement after the process of due diligence had been completed. The information we have received is that SRASA received considerable monetary support from the HA to employ a consultant to carry out this due diligence process. The considerable expenditure is alleged to be in the vicinity of $76 000. It seems that the consultant received this $76 000 to tell everyone what they already knew. SRASA lacked the financial capacity to be able to maintain 262. So the decision, it is believed, is for ‘262’ to be sold, parts of it redeveloped, and ask that a would be investor lease the heritage listed building back to SRASA for a long period of time. This is the situation as it is understood. Corrections are welcome and encouraged to clarify any errors.

Now it may have been possible that SRASA could have made ‘262’ viable IF they had been able to develop business opportunities that could build on what they know best. What they know best is all things Deaf. But you see one of the conditions of the ‘gift’ was, allegedly, that the Deaf Administrators (DA) who were to take over the building were not allowed to establish any services in competition to the HA services. This meant they could not apply for grants that the HA might want to apply for, they could not set up businesses such as say interpreter booking service in competition with the HA, they could not rent out the building space to other services that might be competition to the HA and so on. So the income stream to maintain 262 that was most viable and understood by the DA was to be denied them. (In this case Deaf Services)

So how were they to make money? They could significantly redevelop the building so that it was modern office spaces. But they needed considerable capital to do that. The building is in need of significant maintenance already. It has been quoted that it costs around $180 000 ever year in maintenance. This is money that the DA simply does not have. Arguably the condition that the HA want to impose on the DA to accept the ‘gift’ is illegal anyway. It is a restraint of trade. BUT if this was to prove the case the HA could just withdraw their offer of the ‘gift’. They hold all the aces. (And you can bet that they know this!)

In the video it explains that the HA has taken services for the Deaf community away from ‘ 262’ to establish these services at their Welland and Modbury offices. The money for these services was ACTUALLY gifted to the current HA because the previous HA of the Deaf Society had made a mess of the Deaf Society finances and cried out to the current HA for help. This cry for help all happened back in 2007. At the time the current HA insisted that the Deaf Society was still an independent organisation and that they were working in ‘partnership’ to save them.

Some partnership this turned out to be. They changed name of the Deaf Society to Deaf Can Do so that it matched closely to one of the business names that they owned. They have now taken control of all the services money. They have taken the audiology business and the interpreting business. In fact they have taken almost every income stream that was available to the Deaf Society and claimed it as their own. And what did they leave the SA Deaf community? They have left a building that is falling down around their ears and no means to maintain it. They have denied the Deaf community the right to set up services in ‘262’ that are most viable to the Deaf community.  These services would enable income streams that would assist with the maintenance of the building.  Is this really a partnership? Don’t make me laugh; this was a fully fledged takeover. It was a bloodless coupe!

So what is the situation? The Deaf community need to find an investor that will become their benefactor. They will lose control of the very asset that the generations before them worked so hard to establish. They have trusted over a period of many years that the HA would do the right thing by them. Instead of having a debt free spiritual home they are left on a wing, a prayer and a run down building. They have been robbed and pillared of their assets. They have lost control of their services and the funding that went with them. They are, in short, totally disempowered. They have no ‘gift’ just a continuous fight for survival. And what of  the HA? Well they just get richer and richer.

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An Accessible Piece of Writing

SIGHHHHHHH!!! They are at it again. The Government has decided that I need to be spoken of in a certain way. I am, you see, a person. Not that I did not know this before but I have to be constantly reminded. Nothing, absolutely nothing must come before the person.  I am a not a blue eyed person. NOPE! I am a person with blue eyes. If I was lucky enough to have lots of money I would not be a rich person but a person who is rich, Of course I am deaf but not a deaf person rather I am a person who is deaf. You get the gist. I am sure Yoda was educated by our Governments and the ensuing confusion led to his unfortunate style of speech. What would Yoda say. “Deaf are person you” or “Person deaf you are” One fancies that the confusion and fear of getting it wrong would be enough to banish Yoda to silence forever.

In a moment of well meaning madness the Government has tried to develop a guideline to ensure that we speak about issues that are correctly of disability. You can not put at the front of anything disability… You must focus on the person. Of course in doing so the Government has unwittingly reminded us that a bad thing is disability.  So bad is it that last must come disability. Voldermort had it easy .. “Oh we do not speak his name…” Just try saying disa…. SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

And seriously what this political correctness does is put a pox on disability. It’s like it is taboo, undesirable and only to be mentioned as an after thought. In making people worry so much about using correctly the term disability we unwittingly portray as a bad thing disability. Not wanted, not needed and something to be tip toed around. In a society that already makes negative assumptions about disability, this is a bad thing. ( And yes my placement of the word disability in these sentences is sarcasm at its worst.)

But this Government has actually gone a step further. You see if a person with that nasty trait needs to go to the loo we can no longer say they need a disabled toilet. We can’t even say they need a toilet for the disabled. Disabled has been banished from the loo for ever. We now must call these special loos an accessible toilet. I am not kidding.

It gets worse. You know those special parking spots, those ones with the symbols that look like someone is sitting on a very big potty but are actually supposed to symbolise wheelchairs, well you cant call them disabled parking spots any more. You can’t even call those spots parking spots for the disabled. You have to call them accessible parking spaces. We are fast removing the word disability from our lexicon altogether.

Perhaps you think that I am over-reacting but I am not the only one that feels like this. Stella Young wrote about this recently on the Ramp Up Blog.  Says Young, a proud Crip and wheelchair user, “Now, I find the concept of having to clarify my status as a person extraordinarily condescending. No one else is ever asked to qualify their status as a person. Gay men and women are not “people with homosexuality”. Women are not “people who are female”. Footballers are not “people who play football”. I’ve met a lot of disabled people in my time, and not once have I ever met someone whose impairment is so profound, that their status as a person is in doubt”

And that pretty much sums it up.  Come on world get over it. Disability is not a dirty word it is an integral part of our society. Sure it is not always a barrel for fun having a disability but please just use the word without reservations. The DISABLED – there I’ve said it – by and large don’t care where in the sentence you use the word disability just so long as you can use it with out it making it seem like the most deadly of taboos AND PLEASE stop spending countless millions of dollars trying to work out how to speak about us properly, just ask us and we will tell you.  The money, I am sure, can be better spent elsewhere. Like on an extra shower for someone who needs it for example.

As Yoda would say. Disability? Care not that you say or where us.

Phantom Sounds

As a kid I used to lie awake at night and listen. The night is never silent. If it were summer a mosquito would announce itself with its alarming buzzing. The old Westinghouse Fridge would drone endlessly into the night. Behind my closed bedroom door I would hear the KEEEWOOOOSH as someone from the family flushed the toilet. There would be a constant VROOOOOM as cars passed the house. Occasionally the more deep throaty chugga chug of a lorry would rumble by. I would drift off to sleep with the cricket’s chirruping endlessly into the night.

In the morning those darned sparrows would awaken me with their incessant chirping.  The more irritating and sinister squawking of crows could be heard in the distance. Out the front the rubbish man would announce himself with the clanging of tin lids for these were the days when rubbish men were among the fittest people on earth. They would run along behind the truck lifting and then emptying heavy metal rubbish bins into the garbage truck. As they did so you might hear the barking of an annoyed dog because the rubbish man had dared encroach on his territory.

I would be summoned from my bedroom by my mother calling up the hall that breakfast was ready. I would sit down in the kitchen eating my Cocoa Pops as my mother bellowed her instructions for the day. I was not to be late. I was not to forget my book, I was to clean my teeth and brush my hair. She would yell these instructions from all corners of the house – the lounge, the bathroom or the bedroom – as she set about getting herself ready for work. Occasionally my father, who had been on the night shift at Holden’s, would bark at us a plea to be quiet so that he could sleep.

As I ate my breakfast the radio would be blaring in the background. My favourite song that I listened for everyday was Daddy Cool and their Eagle Rock – “Hey Hey Hey good old Eagle Rock’s here to stay, I’m just crazy ’bout the way we move, Doin’ the Eagle Rock”  The Beatles were soon to break up and the radio stations played Get Back annoyingly and constantly – “Get back, get back, Get back to where you once belonged, Get back, get back, Get back to where you once belonged, Get back, Loretta , Go home” At the end of a song the announcer would announce the time reminding me that I needed to hurry up and get ready.

Before leaving for school I would sit and watch Veronica and Fat Cat. These were the days before we were bombarded with news from the time we woke up until when went to bed. Roger Ramjet was my morning friend. I loved that each episode the narrator announced– “As this episodic episode begins…” And then of course there was Roger’s catch phrase … “But that’s Impossible …”

As I watched Roger the chattering of children at the front of our house would build to a crescendo as they excitedly made their way to school. I would listen for David and Peter as they passed my house. This would be my cue that it was time to go. Occasionally I would hear the squeal of brakes as an inattentive child attempted to cross the road, many were the times that the wail of an ambulance would follow soon after.

As we walked there would be inane chatter.  We would talk about The Brady Brunch. The episode the night before had been about Marcia’s braces. Peter had an annoying habit of copying the mannerisms of this American family. I particularly loathed it when he used the term, “You did too …”  as he accused his brother of some misdemeanour at home. We would chat about the Big Match excitedly, particularly if our favourite team had been shown the night before. I have particularly fond memories of Brian Moore and his excitable commentating – “Moore, Brooking, Robson – Out wide to Dowell – He crosses – IT’S IN THERE!!” The distinctive theme music of the Big Match – Da Da Da DADADADA  –  has never left me.

School would start with an assembly. We listened as the students read their stories, announced their sports results or played the dreaded recorder. The recorder was, for some unknown reason, the instrument of choice. It sounded horrible and the students would all roll their eyes as some would be virtuoso launched into a rendition of Once a Jolly Swagman. As all this happened friends would be whispering to me as to what was to happen at recess time. We were to pick teams for the usual soccer match, it was my turn to be goal keeper. Dave had brought his brand new ball to school that he had got for his birthday.

And at the end of the day we would head on home. We would watch endless repeats of Get Smart, Gilligan’s Islands and the Brady Bunch. The theme songs of the latter two occasionally, in quiet moments, even now play endlessly in my head…. “ Theres Gilligan, the Skipper too, a millionaire and his wiffffeee …. “ Over dinner the family would share stories of their day as we listened to Alex Macaskil read the 6.30 news on Channel 7. Occasionally, my inquisitive young mind would seek clarification of the stories of the day. My father was always willing to provide me with an explanation.

I am now deaf but these sounds have never left me. When I see children walking to school my minds ear still hears their boisterous chatter. As the lorry passes by the deep throaty rumble can still be heard deep in my memory. I fancy as the sparrows sit in the trees that their chirping still wakes me as it did before. As the repeats of Gilligan’s Island commence the theme song plays its jaunty tune in my head. There is never silence.

Phantom sounds alive and as loud as ever.

The Human What??? Awards

It is official. I do not matter. We do not matter. The only people that matter are the people who are part of the Boys and Girls Club. If your not in you are out. You are irrelevant. You can scream and you can rant but it is all to no avail. You can even try negotiating and dealing with the complaints departments. You can try all the manner of diplomatic solutions but all will be pointless. You see you have to be part of this elite Boys and Girls club to have any influence.

I have come to this conclusion as the result of the farcical decision to nominate the Big 4 Cinemas for a Human Rights award. To rub salt into the wound Foxtel were nominated too. The Boys and Girls club that consists of the Commissioner, the captioner, the lobbyist and the executives have combined to collude. Their aim is simply to keep the names of the Cinemas and Foxtel in bright lights. The fact that these two entities have an appalling record in human rights makes no difference. They have friends in high places and enormous profits are being made. Self gratification is the name of the game.

What exactly are Human Rights? Well the Australian Human Rights Commission, that has seen fit to accept these nominations, defines them beautifully.

  • the recognition and respect of peoples dignity
  • a set of moral and legal guidelines that promote and protect a recognition of our values, our identity and ability to ensure an adequate standard of living
  • the basic standards by which we can identify and measure inequality and fairness
  • those rights associated with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Using this frame work lets examine a few of these criteria. Lets start with the first criteria – The recognition and respect of Human dignity.  It is worth nothing that this criteria is also prominent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In fact it is the first of the declarations and states, All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Now before you read further watch this video in all its entirety.  It was, of course, made by the brilliant Phillip Debs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fylxGPHO394

Having watched this can you honestly say that Mr Debs left the cinema with dignity? He has had to go to the front desk, tell all and sundry he is deaf and needs CaptiView. He has had to wait a long time to get the device and let’s not forget all the cock ups that they made in getting it. He has then had to lump this unseemly device all over the cinema. It didn’t work. He had to get the manager several times and it still didn’t work. It finally worked after he had missed a quarter of the movie. What is worse he has had to endure this farce 15 times where only twice the captions worked as they should. He got no reimbursement, only an assurance that the difficulties would be reported to the big boss. Respect? Dignity? You tell me where they exist here.

In Darwin a couple of Aboriginal people were actually denied the device because they did not have a license. They offered other forms of ID but they were not accepted. In the end they went with out. Respect? Dignity? Where do they exist here?

Around Australia Deaf people are having their cinema experience ruined by this, in Mr Debs words, ‘Crap Technology’  They are leaving the cinema with eye strain and headaches because of the constant refocusing from device to screen. Tall people have to slump in their seats to use the device. People with vision issues have reported that they have to alternate their glasses on and off to try and watch a movie. Deaf kids are being denied the cinema experience because concentrating from device to screen is beyond them.

Now let’s look at point two and three of the Australian Human Rights Commission definition of human rights. Point  two – a set of moral and legal guidelines that promote and protect a recognition of our values, our identity and ability to ensure an adequate standard of living. What is moral about denying people the right to watch a movie in a way that they can enjoy it? Where does that provide the same standard of enjoyment as everyone else? Let’s look at point 3 – the basic standards by which we can identify and measure inequality and fairness. Are any of the examples listed in the previous standards FAIR or EQUAL? Of course they are not but some how the cinemas have been nominated for a Human Rights Award? Pray do tell me how.

And Foxtel? – hehehehehehehehehe. Foxtel are the richest television subsidiary in Australia. They have been in Australia for over a decade. Virtually every show they put on has a caption file available for it. Yet they are obliged to provide only 55% of their shows with captions. The captions often fail, double up or are not shown when they are advertised. Fair? Equal? In whose eyes?

For that 55% access to shows deaf people are expected to pay the full subscription. For the poor quality captioning deaf people are supposed to pay the full subscription. “OH”,  but Foxtel will claim,  “We provide more than we are legally obliged to.” Well WHOOOOOPPPPEEEEE! Arguably they can provide close to 100% captioning already but they simply do not want to. Yet they charge the deaf at the same rate as everyone else for less access and poorer quality. Dignity? Fair? Equal? Give me a break! BUT some how Foxtel got nominated for a Human Rights award too. What an absolute fricken JOKE!

I urge deaf people to not put up with this rubbish. Film yourselves and the sub standard access that you are putting up with at the cinema. Film your substandard Foxtel access. Post these films everywhere. Make them viral. Write to the Australian Huiman Rights Commission and let them know what you think of these joke nominations for Human Rights awards. Most of all PROTEST! The venue for the awards is at the Sydney Hilton on December 10th. Let the world know that the deaf have had enough – MAKE A STAND AND TAKE ACTION!

My Mate Tony

I was taken to account yesterday by my friend and writing mentor, Shirley. Shirley is often a soothing voice, although she can herself be very outspoken. She will often bring me to account if she feels I am taking cheap shots, as I sometimes do. On this particular occasion she challenged me over my description of Mitt Romney as a buffoon. I used this word on a Facebook Status that asked the question as to whether the US of A were about to elect a buffoon. I chose this word and backed it up with a couple of choice and humorous quotes that were attributed to Romney. My favourite was this, “I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was,”

As is often the case, Shirley was right.  This I realised after reading Romney’s speech to acknowledge that he had lost the election. It was dignified, articulate and humble. It reminded me again that politicians are only human and have strong beliefs, as we do. But because they are in the public forum they are seen as fair game to ridicule and abuse. This is not helped by the fact that they are often the prime culprits for dishing out such ridicule and abuse. But nevertheless, Shirley was right. They are, at the end of the day, just human beings wanting to make a difference. In light of this I have decided to come to the defense of my mate Tony. Yes the Tony – Tony Abbott.

Mr. Abbott has been the subject of much lampooning in recent times. The lampooning of him has hit home hard and his popularity has hit rock bottom with voters. This was largely due to an astonishing attack on him in Parliament by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. This famous attack on Mr. Abbott received media attention around the world. Put simply Gillard labeled Abbott as a sexist woman hater and backed it up with an array of quotes attributed to him. One of the quotes suggested that it was it was completely natural and acceptable for more men to be in power than women. Shortly after Gillards’s attack on him the Neilson Poll showed that only 37% were satisfied with Mr. Abbott’s performance with a whopping 60% being dissatisfied.

Now Mr. Abbott is not really my mate. I use the term loosely with a twinkle in my eye. All who know me know that I vote Labor, it would take something special to sway my vote to Liberals. I, like most people, have an alliance to a political party that is similar to the way many support a football team. BUT I feel there is a real need to defend Mr. Abbott. Whatever his politics he is basically a decent man. I say this on the basis of just one meeting with him and a quick response I got from him for a request for help.

I had the fortune of meeting Mr. Abbott in his office at Parliament house in Canberra. He had not long been in Opposition. At the time I think he was Shadow Minister for Health. I was assisting Deafness Forum with a spot of lobbying that focused on employment and other needs. Mr. Abbott was late; he had been held up by a Parliamentary vote. I chatted the ex CEO of Deafness Forum, Nicole Lawder, while we waited for him. When he finally arrived he muttered something along the lines of Parliament being a zoo and asked if he could be excused for a few minutes to attend some ‘personal needs’.

A few minutes later Mr. Abbott returned. He offered a hand for us to shake. It can only be described as a wet handshake because he had not quite dried his hands properly. He led us into his office. His office walls were adjourned with some stunning paintings. If memory serves me right Mr. Abbott asked for permission to remove his jacket and tie. He gestured to us to sit down at a low lying coffee table. He sat down with us and promptly put his hands behind his head and his feet on the coffee table. As he did so his pants rucked up a little exposing a glimpse of his hairy calves and the tops of his black socks. He told us to make ourselves comfortable. To lighten the air a little I asked if I could put my feet up too. He laughed and told me to go for it.

It was all very casual. We discussed a number of issues concerning deafness and employment. The conversation is a long distant memory but we talked about support in the workplace, interpreting, technology, provision of hearing aids and the like. What was refreshing about Mr. Abbott was that he actually listened. He not only listened but he challenged. He was not patronising in anyway.

We spoke about the need for ongoing provision of hearing aids at length. I let Mr. Abbott know that it was crazy that free hearing aids, batteries and repairs stopped at 21. There was a need for this to be life long. After all these kids don’t suddenly become hearing at 21 and replacement hearing aids and maintenance is a life long need. Mr. Abbott acknowledged this. A lesser person may have just nodded agreeably and left it at that with no intention whatsoever to follow it through. But Mr. Abbott questioned me. He wanted to know how he could possibly argue for life long hearing aid provision when so many people were competing for limited dollars. Not only did he challenge but he also provided examples of needs, priorities and the challenges that he had to consider as a politician. I found this refreshing.

Earlier in the day we had set up a meeting with the Labor Minister for employment, O’Connell I think it was. He failed to attend as he was detained by the Parliamentary vote. He sent a couple of his minders. We spoke with them about basically the same thing as we did with Mr. Abbott. All the minders did was to nod agreeably and take notes. I much preferred Mr. Abbott’s approach.

Mr. Abbott generously spoke to us for 45 minutes before having to return to the floor. I left the meeting with a great deal more respect for him than when I had gone in. The respect came from the fact he diligently listened, questioned and challenged us. Of course he made no promises; he could not really being in opposition. But he was tuned in and he obviously cared enough to not just want to suck up to me for a vote. Popularity did not seem high on his agenda.

A week or so later I had a need to contact Mr. Abbott again. My middle son has a genetic condition that requires weekly infusions of a drug to replace a missing enzyme. At the time there was a strong lobby to have the drug recognised under the life saving drugs program. I emailed Mr. Abbott to ask if he could lend support to the lobby. Within a fortnight I received a reply from Mr. Abbott. He had approached the Minister concerned, Jenny Macklin, to see what was happening. He provided me with a thorough update of the Ministers reply. The reply was along the lines that the drug was currently under consideration. Mr. Abbott offered his support and asked that we contact him if anything else was needed. About three months later the drug was approved. Mr. Abbott probably had no influence whatsoever but his prompt response and thorough reply added to the increased respect I had developed for him from our meeting.

The point of all this is that I found Tony Abbott to be a thoroughly decent chap. Sure I do not agree with his politics but he gave me the time of the day, listened, challenged and assisted me. Yet despite this I cheered Julia on, just as many of us did, when he received that savage verbal attack from Julia Gillard. In retrospect, none of us should have been cheering.

Sure Julia Gillard scored points for women that day. She raised many salient points of importance that centred on societies attitudes to women. BUT lets be realistic, Gillard was in survival mode. She was backed into a corner having cynically maneuvered to get Peter Slipper as Speaker of the house. Slipper proved to be a thoroughly indecent fellow. Gillard wanted Slipper as the Speaker, not because she thought that he would be a good Speaker, but because it meant that the Liberals would have one less vote on the floor of what is a hung Parliament. In the end this cynical political ploy came back and bit her firmly on the bum. Her attack on Abbott was as much a need to divert from the real issue as it was to score a political victory for women. I would say it was more so the former than the latter.

What of Abbott? His reputation is in tatters. What of his wife and two daughters who had to sit and watch their father be called a sexist women hater and not be able to defend him? That’s politics you say. Well only if we allow it to be that way. I do not think Abbott is a woman hater although he may have some sexist traditional values. My experience of him was as a thoroughly decent man. I am sure there are many that will disagree. Nevertheless I do not think he deserved that savage attack from Gillard.

But was I any better labeling Romney a buffoon? Truth be known, no I wasn’t. As Shirley pointed out to me these are just people that think differently from me. It does not make them any less decent human beings. Sure they want a certain amount of power but all they want is a better world. They might not see things the same way as I do but the majority certainly don’t deserve the abuse either. It was a lesson well learnt and I hope I heed it.

A Story – About My Day – By Samantha Connor (Printed with permission.)

Once upon a time, there were a group of advocates who were tired of being unable to access their workplace. They lobbied government hard for change, and eventually government came up with the much-lauded JobAccess scheme.

Hurrah! shouted the advocates (even the deaf ones, you can see an equivalent sign herehttp://www.auslan.org.au/dictionary/words/celebrate-1.html) Perhaps this will address the dismal number of people with disability who are employed by government in the public sector, under two percent! The scheme included a workplace modification scheme, where you would get $30,000 for building modifications plus other mods. Now people with disability will be able to access government employment!

One of the advocates, a slightly gimpy woman in purple dockers, decided to apply for the funding, on the basis that there wasn’t an accessible toilet that she could access in her workplace. No matter who you are, you see, you need to wee. Sometimes more than once a day.

So she started the process as it said to on the Job Access website. That was many months ago, and she jokingly put in a requisition order to senior management for a bigger office bin to wee in. They laughed, and so did she. But at the meeting today, none of them were laughing.

You see, over the years, some JobAccess reviews crept in, and eventually how it works in practice isn’t always the way it works in theory. The scheme is almost always applied retrospectively, for people with acquired injuries and degenerative disability – because which HR professional in the public service will hold off a job decision for up to a month to find out if they can modify their workplace? And the conditions are tighter – namely, who should spend the bucks.

And there’s the sticking point. If my actual workplace (this building) is modified, it won’t comply. Although its a cheaper retrofit, by about 15K. Because students occasionally access this building, they argue that my workplace should be providing a toilet block here, not them. Even if its only to attend a short meeting, they say we should be providing them with a toilet facility right here.

There’s the problem of the side road, too. They say they don’t want to put a path across it, because they think its dangerous. That’s because in the 1980s, someone didn’t build the road the way it was supposed to be built. Awesome. So there will be no continuous accessible path of travel, because that is also used by students. Despite the fact that nobody has been killed or injured or even had their feelings hurt on that road to date.

What it comes down to is that ‘they think the other person should do it’. The gimpy woman got mad. She threw many invectives, and asked ‘So shall I just piss in the office bin?’ Every time she said it, both the HR guy and the JobAccess lady cringed a little.

So the only solution is that the gimpy woman moves offices and compromises her job role by not having a confidential staff and student environment, so they can modify a designated ‘staff only’ building. They say they can do that, she and the HR guy says fine, she will move if she needs to. Then she reconsiders and says, well, if its the area that you generally use, you may not need to…

So an hour later (this process took the gimpy woman almost seven months) the solution was arrived at. Yes, they would buy power wheels for the workplace – at almost 13K, a huge investment but one that would make a difference – to the gimp, not to any other person with a disability who might want to work there in the future. And the toilets – yes, they would do it, if there was room, but only to the middle building – and as a state government organisation, it would take almost six months to tender and quote etc, said the HR manager glumly. Ah, said the JobAccess woman. We can’t possibly leave the job number open that long. What you’ll have to do is to get it all quoted and tendered up, then reapply at the end of the process, with no guarantees…

Froods, this is why we don’t trust government.

NB Related resources: http://www.auslan.org.au/dictionary/words/piss-1.html
http://www.auslan.org.au/dictionary/words/in-1.html
http://www.auslan.org.au/dictionary/words/office-1.html
http://www.auslan.org.au/dictionary/words/bin-1.html — with Dean Barton-Smith and 15 others.

Auslan: sign for celebrate

http://www.auslan.org.au

Keywords:hooray, win, victorious, cheer, rejoice,celebrate, anniversary, cheering, celebration