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
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