Do They Know It’s Christmas Time ???

GrinchMerry Xmas everyone. I am sure looking forward to 2014. It’s gonna be a great year if you have a disability. Abbott and his band of merry men have got your back you see and the knives are out:

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade

We have so much to look forward to, don’t we? I mean The Abbott Government is making savage cuts to the public service. We got too many people working for Australian public service, way too many. So we are gonna get rid of a large percentage of them and run Australia on a skeleton staff. It’s only a little country after all. What are 23 million people in a country the size of Australia. They are but a smattering. There are plenty jobs elsewhere for em. Not at Holden though.

But in our world of plenty, we should spread a smile of joy!
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time..

Of course when we sack these pesky public servants lets weed out those pesky disabled. I mean since 1994 we have managed to reduce the number of people with a disability working in the public service from just over 8000 to just over 4000. Let’s get rid of some more. Let’s throw em on the dole and make em get work somewhere else. They have to work for sure. I’m sure there are plenty jobs out there, just not in the public service. I stress let’s get em on the dole and looking for work. I mean, after all, we don’t want them on the Disability Support Pension do we? The bludgers, what a disgrace that would be!

At Christmas time, it’s hard but when your having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear

And this is where I cease my jesting because this Christmas this is exactly what Tony Abbott and his Government is doing to people with a disability in Australia. He is creating a world of dread and fear. You see Australia is running in deficit. It’s not a huge deficit by world standards and Australia has the capacity to manage it. But it is a deficit nonetheless and of course if you are a Liberal deficits are bad things. This is even though most of us live our whole life in deficit. So to shore up the budget we have to get people with a disability working – Just not in the public service – NO SIREE!

To listen to Abbott and his rather unintelligent band of merry men he would have you believe that the deficit is largely the fault of people with a disability. The problem with Abbott’s band of unintelligent merry men is that they have power. The fact that they have power means that they are no joke!

And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is a bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom

And indeed people with a disability are weeping at the vicious targeting of them. I am not sure why Australia chooses to target the most vulnerable when the economy goes arse up, but there is no doubt that they do. Said Abbott, “ … nearly 60 per cent of disability pensioners had potentially treatable mental health or muscular-skeletal conditions. He said the disability pension cost $13 billion a year and the number of people receiving it was about to pass 800,000”

So what Abbott is suggesting is that that criteria for the disability pension needs to be toughened. He believes that there needs to be tougher guidelines for assessing disability to distinguish between those that have a permanent disability and those that do not.

It all sounds fine in theory but this is what happened in Britain. David Cameron’s Conservative Government decided that they would make it harder for people with a disability to receive disability benefits. What ensued was not budget savings but a human tragedy. The Austerity measures implemented by Cameron’s Government toughened up the criteria for receiving the British version of the Disability Support Pension.

Many individuals with a disability who previously qualified for the Disability Support Pension were deemed as fit to work. Many of them lost up to $130 a week as a result. This is despite having disabilities that severely impeded their ability to work. There were also horrendous delays in the assessment process meaning that many were left in limbo for long periods of time. The result was that 10 600 people with a disability died within six weeks of having their benefits cut. Surely this is a harsh lesson that Australia needs to learn from.

Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you!

Quite rightly the Australian Disability community have responded in anger at yet again being labeled as burdens to the country. To listen to the Government (and this includes the previous Government too) one would think that people with a disability are just sponges that are bleeding the country dry. Stella Young sums this up when she sardonically states, “Ahhh, the old tough love chestnut again! Give us less cash and we’ll be inspired to abandon our sweet, sweet deal watching daytime TV and living off the hard-working Aussie taxpayers.”

The problem with strategies that focus on trying to get people with a disability into work is that they often assume that people with a disability are not working because they choose to not work. Young points out the fallacy of this perception when she explains to Mr Abbott, “ … I’m afraid you’re forgetting a fairly big factor in this proposal; the intense, deeply-rooted discrimination that occurs in every facet of life for people with disabilities, including employment.”

And believe me the prejudice and discrimination runs deep. I once tried to get a deaf guy a plumbing apprenticeship. We brought the guy in for an interview and the first thing the boss said was – “Plumbing is no good for a deaf bloke. How are you gonna communicate when you are digging holes. You can’t get out of the hole every time you need to communicate. The job will never get done.” He said this even before he asked my client any questions about his abilities. This is an example of the deep rooted prejudice that Young talks about.

And so this Xmas people with a disability have not only been labeled as bludgers but the Government is threatening them with a watered down version of the NDIS. It’s gonna be watered down because to do the NDIS properly will cost too much. Of course this is a very short sighted view because to not do the NDIS properly is going to cost Australia far more in the long run.

The blows are coming from all quarters and people with a disability are protesting loudly on Facebook – But where is the voice of our peaks! Why have they not come out strongly in protest? How are we going to get these protests of the pages of Facebook and out into the real world?

I suspect the muted response is because it is Xmas and they are all on holiday. There is a reason the Government releases news like this at Xmas. Everyone is on holiday and there is no one at work to raise even a whimper. It could also be that the peaks are so frightened to speak out with impending cuts coming that they actually fear for their future. Whatever the reason, the voice of our disability representative organisations has not been raised above a whisper.

It’s been a wonderful Xmas if you have a disability hasn’t it? 2014 is looking bleak indeed. WE need a voice, and a loud one otherwise the lot of people with a disability Australia, already worse than most other comparable countries, will continue to spiral to the bottom of a seemingly bottomless barrel!

And to the members of Government I have to ask …

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Lyrics taken from – Feed the World – as Sung by BandAid

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Merry F#$king Xmas

XmasIt’s Xmas time. We are all in frantic mode. Last minute Xmas shopping needs to be done. Holidays need to be finalised. Of course there is the frenzy to get the house ready and the food ready for the hoards that are about to descend on our houses on Xmas day. Somehow this year we have no less than 18 people to cater for in our household. It just happens you know. It’s a week before Xmas and the wife pipes up – “By the way there are 18 of us for Xmas Day. Is that alright?” Of course it is alright, it’s the silly season, we all do silly things. ( For the record, I jest, I went into it with my eyes open – my wife told me 9 days before not one week – and yes I still jest :-D)

But it is hard to get jolly this Xmas. Usually I have something nice to write about. I usually write an inspiring story and we go into Xmas with a goofy little grin. Good news stories warm the cockles of our hearts. The warmth energises us and helps us to get ready for the challenges of the New Year. I say onwards and upwards fellow men and women.[1] But this year it is a bit hard to get inspired. In fact it is down right depressing. And Tony Abbott and his band of merry scrooges are largely to blame.

The Australian icon, Holden is to close. Holden has been struggling for some time. The Australian dollar has been high and exports have taken a hit. Wage costs are relatively high while production, by world standards, relatively low. In short Holden was finding it extremely difficult to compete. They sought assistance from the Government to weather the storm and the Government said no … Basically the Abbott Government said get competitive or get out. Conveniently the Government ignored what Holden described as “The perfect storm of economic conditions.”

General Motors, the American owners of Holden, realising that the Government had so little value for it, decided to pull the plug. With no assistance to weather the economic times or restructure its business they decided to pull out in 2017. In pulling out a total of 4200 jobs will be lost in Adelaide and Victoria. This does not include people employed by car part component manufacturers who will also be heavily impacted.

Rather than empathise and apologise for the circumstances Prime Minister Abbott came out with this extraordinary statement – “Some of them will find it difficult, but many of them will probably be liberated to pursue new opportunities and to get on with their lives,” Well thanks heaps PM, Xmas for the Holden Workers will be bleak indeed. Not to mention that the Northern Suburbs of Adelaide, already among the poorest in Australia, just had its heart and soul removed. I am sure all these people find it liberating. Merry F#$king Xmas!

And then there was Joe Hockey. He’s a jolly chap isn’t he? You see the National Disability Scheme is expensive. It’s proving to be more expensive than first thought. Says Hockey, We are determined to deliver the NDIS but it has to be affordable,” (Note that he has used the term’determined’ which in this authors view is short of an absolute committment ) Suddenly the NDIS, which was officially launched in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and Adelaide in July  this year has become not a launch but a trial. The focus on cost and the shift in describing the NDIS as a trial rather than a launch fooled no one.

The disability sector has a right to be worried about this non to subtle shift in its approach to the NDIS from the Government. The Government can wax lyrical about the NDIS being expensive and needing to be affordable but at the end of the day what they are doing is positioning themselves for a watered down version of the NDIS. What is really galling is that support to people with a disability is already done on the cheap. Care workers, for example, are paid a pittance. Indeed early price lists for purchasing equipment and services set out by the former Government were horrendously unrealistic and underpriced. Hockey is right on one thing; the former Government got it wrong. It was always going to be more expensive than they thought.

But providing full support to people with a disability is always going to cost what it will cost. For the NDIS to work and for people with a disability to be able to fully participate and have their needs met the simple answer is you have to pay what you have to pay. You cannot water it down and cut corners. The alternative is that people with a disability remain stuck at home – unable to work, unable to play and unable to be full members of our society. They same applies for their carers.  Are carers expected to never work and in many cases still be caring for their children who have disabilities well into their twilight years?

Mr. Hockey and his band of scrooges have to know the NDIS is not a COST. It is an investment.  It is an investment that will, in the long run, reap enormous benefits for people with a disability and the whole of Australia. Indeed Deakin University Academic Elizabeth Manning, whose 16 year old daughter has cerebral palsy, had this to say, “The NDIS makes cold, hard dollar sense. Thinking about it as some sort of welfare to be cut in bad times allows old-fashioned prejudice against people with disabilities to trump efficiency and money-saving investment.”  Manning goes on to perceptively point out – “There is nothing efficient about leaving people with disability and their families to spiral into crisis, when informal family carers continue to save taxpayers significant costs. People providing informal care are the most vulnerable group in the country, with the lowest levels of well-being and the most prone to poverty, marriage breakup and depression”

Understand this Mr. Hockey – Not rolling out the NDIS properly and focusing on costs and not social and economic benefits of the NDIS is the wrong way to go.  There is a reason Australian’s with a disability have some of the highest rates of poverty in the world and it is because this country does not provide for them properly. Focusing on cost rather than need is going to cost this country more in the long run. It’s just going to put more pressure and more cost on the welfare system. Worse, potentially it will cause great human suffering that need not occur.  Mr. Hockey is so in the Xmas spirit that he has chosen to raise all of this at Xmas, thus causing great duress and concern among those who live the disability experience. It must be nice to know that you are a burden to the country, especially at Xmas. Merry f#$king Xmas Mr. Hockey!

Moving away from the Government, mega rich BHP has sacked a deaf worker. The deaf worker in question has met every requirement of the job. He has passed all the tests including the Occupational Health and Safety test. Reports suggest he is an excellent and capable worker. BUT – BHP sacked him because of perceived communication problems. This is mega rich BHP, who I am pretty sure has the dosh to implement a system that will overcome any perceived communication difficulties. But no! Being deaf is a problem, even if you are an outstanding and capable worker. So off you go and play tiddly-winks or some other none to pressing or arduous occupation.  BHP are now subject to a human rights complaint for their troubles. ( May they lose and lose badly)  And so to you, the non to clever people at BHP, I say – Merry F#$king Xmas.

Over in South Australia the Deaf community had what is very likely the last function at their spiritual and cultural home that is affectionately known as 262. Regular readers of The Rebuttal will know the mega rich Townsend House, who are responsible for Deaf Can Do, have decided that to retain services for the Deaf community that they have to sell 262. This is despite members of the Deaf community making it clear that they would rather keep their building. They have let it be known, almost as one, that the services of Deaf Can Do have no value to them.

But it’s fashionable to ignore the very people that you are funded to serve. So 262 will be sold and un-needed and largely unwanted services will be subsidised from the sale. BUT the jolly souls at Townsend House have said they will buy the Deaf community a new home that the Deaf community will have full control over. BUT it seems that buying the said home is to have conditions with it. Conditions like having the money to look after the new home, which of course the Deaf community do not have. Money that they are now going to have to work their butts off to find.

Money that they do not have because Townsend House will sell the Deaf communities only asset. Of course you would think they would give some of the proceeds of the sale of 262 to the Deaf community to invest so that they can use it to maintain their new home. This may actually occur but until we know for sure it seems that the Deaf community are to be forever at the mercy of these unwanted masters at Townsend House. Always fearing another episode of mismanagement from the masters will put the foundations of the Deaf community at risk. To the masters at Townsend House I say – Merry F#$king Xmas. (Please note that the views I have expressed here are my own and should not be taken to be the views of the South Australian Deaf community or used to victimise the South Australian Deaf community in anyway.)

But do not despair! The Xmas spirit still exists. Of course it takes a child to remind us of this as we adults do our best to make a hash of the world. Just watch Claire Koch, who is just 5 years old, sign her schools Xmas carols for her Deaf parents – Completely unprompted! Watch her eyes and facial expressions – They are a joy!

And that is truly what Xmas is about. Merry Xmas everyone!


[1] I actually wrote “onwards and upwards chaps” – but thought this a little un-pc … I mean women are hardly chaps are they?

The Mind Game!

dinner

 

 

With thanks to Julie Judd for the Auslan translation that she provided at no charge. We are fortunate to have one of Australia’s finest interpreters providing us with much needed assistance for the Deaf community. Thank you Julie.

The real disability of deafness is not the lack of hearing but the way it plays with your mind. My friend Adam (not his real name) reminded me of this today. Adam and I were discussing deaf issues and Adam came out with an extraordinary statement. He said that he had not really fully come to terms with his hearing loss until he was 35. Even now Adam doesn’t see himself as Deaf and he certainly doesn’t see himself as hearing. Said Adam, “In some ways it’s similar to the questions of identity I faced when moving from the UK to Australia as a 10 year old. I am neither English nor Australian, but a mixture of the two. They are both comfortably familiar, but I feel I don’t particularly belong in either place. I just happen to live here, and that’s enough. Being Hard of Hearing is like that. We are not hearing, but we are not Deaf. We do not have a strong identity like the Deaf community, but we do experience many of the same or similar issues with access.”

Adam’s story is so typical of people who are born deaf but have had a mainstreamed education. Adam lived in a rural area and was bullied at school. He did not take this lying down and sometimes saw fit to retaliate. He admits he was sometimes disruptive in class. Perhaps it was his way of trying to be a cool kid and compensate for his deafness. Adam admits that he did not start wearing his hearing aids until he was 19 years old, perhaps another sign that he was in some kind of denial about his deafness.

His mother was active in the local area. She became an interpreter even though Adam did not himself sign. She set up a local parent support group for parents of deaf kids.  Adam never attended any functions that were organised by his mother. Adam admits it was because he just wanted to be seen as normal and for him mixing with other people who were deaf was anything but normal. Perhaps he just thought he was above those deaf people, after all he had done well at school and was pretty bright. He didn’t have problems, right?

Adam got through University with minimal support. He never asked for anything extra. Later he was to suffer from clinical depression. This is interesting because there is much research that indicates that depression and anxiety are much higher among people who are deaf. A few years later, most likely to try and understand where his depression may have come from, he attended a conference that focused on deafness and mental health. He was in his thirties by this time and got involved with members of the Deaf community for the first time.

Apart from needing to request some support at work his first experience of advocating for himself was when he started his Masters degree in 2010. He advocated hard for the University to provide him with captioning. It was a godsend and enabled him to complete his studies. Studying counselling provided Adam with an opportunity to self-reflect. It taught him a lot about himself and how his deafness had shaped him. But it took almost 35 years. Better late than never I guess.

Adam’s experience has many parallels with my own.  I refused to wear hearing aids for a long time. They were like a beacon that made me stand out like a sore thumb. I just wanted to be like everyone else. I remember friends showing off their ability to finger spell and me avoiding them like the plague – after all I wasn’t like those other deaf people – I spoke, I didn’t need this hand talk stuff.

Looking back I was an absolute mess. I was immature and lacking in any sort of confidence.  Interestingly, a bit like Adam, I was later to discover that I wasn’t really Deaf either. Although I had Deaf friends and partook in Deaf community activities I had a lot of hearing values. English was my language of choice, although I used sign language for social and professional needs. But I was very conscious that this Deaf culture they spoke about and this Deaf identity they spoke about was not really me. Do not get me wrong, I respect Deaf culture and the Deaf identity immensely.  A mark of my respect for it is that I understand what it really means and for me to claim it as my own would be a real insult to those that really do embrace Deaf culture and their Deaf identity.

Like Adam I was presented with an opportunity to really reflect on how my deafness had shaped me. For Adam it was studying counselling for me it was a job that I took on. This job was a research project titled the National Mental Health Education Project for Young Deaf People. What an eye opener that was!

The aim of this project was simply to identify factors that impacted on the development of positive mental health in young deaf people and then use this information to develop a model of support that could target some of these factors. As I researched I came across issues like bullying, family interaction, communication cycles, peer learning and stuff like how overhearing helps us to mature and develop. I learnt how overhearing helps us to develop the vocabulary we need to interact through each stage of our lives. It was fascinating.

I remember being completely gobsmacked by the story of the dinner table. It is a simple story where everyone chats away, it goes something like this. Mums talking, dads talking, siblings are talking and in the background the news is on television. Dad hears something on the TV and begins a discussion on it with one of his sons. The daughter pipes in and adds her views and in no time the discussion is lively and animated. Jokes are made and laughter happens.

Meanwhile the deaf child is sitting there watching it all, understanding nothing. As the family gets more and more animated the deaf child gets interested. In an effort to get involved the deaf child asks his mother, always the mother, what are you talking about. Mother looks at him and says – “Something about the war in Afghanistan, I’ll tell you later.”  Of course the deaf child gets back to his dinner. The opportunity for interaction, learning, language development and relationship building is lost forever.

This was the story that really inspired me because it reflected absolutely my own family experience. It was the story that really summed up my existence in a hearing world. It was a world where you were constantly struggling to get just tid-bits of information. And this information was the nectar of life. It is what makes you as a person and shapes you. Without it you face a constant battle to develop the language and information you need to interact with society in the different stages of life from childhood through to adolescence and adulthood. It is classic Erikson stages of life theory.

And this is what I meant at the start of this article when I said that deafness plays with the mind. Yet we as a society still largely focus on trying to make deaf kids hear. This is ok, and for some it helps a lot. But it doesn’t help enough. There is so much that kids who are deaf miss out on. Through my work I would often meet with kids who were described as having a mild to moderate hearing loss. What always struck me is that they would bemoan the fact that they missed out a lot in group settings. They would describe to me how much of a struggle it was for them to be part of the social group. Everyone thought because their hearing loss was relatively mild it did not have that much impact. The reality is that for these young mild to moderately deaf people It was hard, hard work. I suspect that this is the same for many young people with Cochlear implants.

I was fortunate that in 1999 I was given the opportunity to develop a program in Adelaide that focussed on the development of positive mental health in young deaf people. I developed a program that used role models, mentors and peer learning. We supported families using what we called communication mentors. A deaf person would go to the deaf kids family home. This was usually always after hours. We planned it this way because we wanted all the family involved. We wanted families to understand that they had a place in the communication cycle and this included grandparents and even close friends. We wanted families to be aware of the immense responsibilities placed on mothers to interpret all the family communication to the deaf kid. We wanted this responsibility shared. We wanted families to develop communication and include the deaf kids as much as they could. Why? Because it is through this communication that so much life learning occurs.

The communication mentor would share their own experiences and their own frustrations of growing up in a hearing family. They would pass on the skills, experience and knowledge that they had developed as a “successful deaf person” to the family.  This assisted the family to support the deaf kids to be more active members of the family. And it worked! Oh yes it worked. It wasn’t perfect but it targeted the real issues. It wasn’t just about making the deaf kid hear well. It was about everyone in the family being aware of the importance of communication and chipping in.

Then we had peer groups, life skill mentors, leadership groups. We linked young deaf people up in the country with young deaf people in the city.  We did this with really basic video conferencing. (It was 2000, fast internet was not yet here.) Together these country and city deaf kids planned events and functions. Signing and oral kids were thrown in a room and made to work out strategies where all could communicate. Groups of deaf kids role-played situations where they had to negotiate support needs at work or university and with real life professionals. It was all about developing “Deaf Life Skills” and entering into adult life with the skills and knowledge to be a successful deaf adult in life. That’s why we called it the SAIL program – Successful Adults in Life.

I say this without reservations and without a hint of conceit. It was the best program of its type in Australia and probably right up there among the best programs in the world. I was proud of it. I was really proud of it especially when it was expanded to include Blind and vision impaired kids. It expanded to four full time staff and every one of them was either deaf, blind or had a disability. And we had 30 or so casual mentors all who went through a training program. All who were required to do a Mandatory Reporting course. They were not volunteers; they were valued and paid workers. It was Australia’s first real Deaf Mentor program.

I said to my friend Adam that I wished that as a young kid that he and I could have had access to the SAIL program. I can tell you now it would have made my life so much easier entering into adulthood. The psychosocial needs of deaf kids are much neglected and not well understood.

So what happened to the SAIL program? Well the sensory sector in South Australia pulled it apart and destroyed it. Rather than try to understand its benefits they wanted its money. We had $300 000 back in 2000 and all the sensory sector did was fight over it. The program was evaluated independently and 98% of respondents indicated that they thought it was an extremely valued and needed program. Eventually SAIL was swallowed up into the services of Townsend House and operated by people who had no clue as to its purpose. It’s now, sadly, but a shadow of what it once was. Rest in peace SAIL – I hope that you can be resurrected someday soon. The Adam’s and the me’s of this world need you.


 

Abbotting

AbbottAustralia is screwed. About the only thing going right at the moment is that Australia’s cricket team has found its mojo and is giving the Pom’s a right old drubbing. Apart from that the whole country is going to the dogs. In fact the very funny, but valid, Urban Dictionary has come up with a new term. When something mean, wrong and unfair happens we say that the person or entity has been Abbotted.  Lose your job – You have been Abbotted. Get denied the right to marry – You have been Abbotted. Get thrown in a detention centre because you dared to seek a better life – You have been Abbotted.  Get denied basic care needs because the Government wants to save money – You have been Abbotted. Blame everyone else including the former government for your own meanness – You are Abbotting. Jokes aside it is really sad and serious. [1]

And Australia is becoming mean. Make no mistake about it.  In the Hunter valley a young man with multiple disabilities has been denied the chance to attend his school formal. His school thought it might be a tad embarrassing to have him there so neglected to provide him with an invite. His mother complained and received an apology. Gracefully the mother accepted the apology but has demanded action to ensure something like this never happens again. I can’t tell you much more beyond that. You see the story is a video story on the Nine NBN news site. Channel Nine is to mean to provide captioning. The Government is also to mean to enforce companies to provide captioning. Hence 3 or 4 million deafies like myself get no access. Damn it, Abbotted again![2]

Last weekend in Canberra there were many happy Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBTS) couples who got married. For the first time ever it was legal for such couples to get married. The Canberra Government legislated for such marriages to occur. As a result GLBTS couples from all over Australia converged on Canberra and legally got married for the first time. They were to be happy for no more than five days. This is all the time it took for their marriages to be annulled. You see George KING KONG Brandis, Australia’s newest Attorney General, doesn’t like such marriages and decided to puff out his chest and challenge the legislation in the High Court. Of course these people getting married were hurting no one at all but Brandis wanted to be King. Stupidly the High Court said Commonwealth Laws superseded the Canberra legislation and the marriages were null and void. Abbotted again and with a dose of Brandisitis to go with it. [3]

Rarely have I been so angry at a decision from the Government as the one that led to these marriages becoming void. I think probably 80% of Australians are in favour of GLBTS couples being allowed to marry, Some religious groups and others, that I can only describe as idiots, are opposed. Most of the idiots are in Government unfortunately. I reckon the whole of Australia should just shut down in protest until the Government sees sense. Go on a National Strike so to speak. It is not that far fetched. In fact it is already happening over in Iceland. Not so much because GLBTS couples can’t marry but because the Icelandic Government was crap.

A group of citizens (a lot of them) protested outside Iceland’s parliament. They forced the Government to resign and then this group rewrote the countries constitution. People power at it’s best. If we continue to get Abbotted in the manner that we currently are, I suggest this is the way to go. POWER TO THE PEOPLE! [4]

But Abbotting is not always visual. Sometimes it happens by stealth. Last year the Labor Government launched the much vaunted National Disability Insurance Scheme. The disability community across Australia rejoiced and celebrated. Of course the launch of the scheme was just the beginning. Much work needed to happen to make the scheme strong and workable. Recognising this, the Labor Government designed the launch in such a way that there was flexibility to amend and change how the scheme operated as it was rolled-out. Now let’s be clear here, the NDIS was OFFICIALLY launched. It is supposed to be the real thing and was to be national by 2018-2019.

Then, of course, Labor got turfed out of power. Australian’s got fed up of the inability of the Labor Party to govern itself. I mean if you can’t govern yourself you can’t Govern the country can you? So the whole of Australia got Abbotted as Australians voted the Abbott Government in. Of course the Abbott Government had promised until it was blue in the face that the NDIS would not be touched. Even though treasurer Joe Hockey said Australia needed to get in surplus before it got an NDIS Mr. Abbott publicly stated the NDIS would go ahead unheeded.

Now of late the Abbott Government has slightly changed its language in describing the NDIS.[5] You will note the Labor Government LAUNCHED the NDIS. Mr. Abbott has had a subtle change of language. You see the sites where the NDIS was launched are now described as trial sites – It’s no longer a launch. Prime Minister Abbott has said that although he – ” … absolutely” supported the scheme, there was a need to establish it on a sustainable basis”

And there you might actually have the first indication that the NDIS is about to be watered down in then interest of “sustainability”  Be afraid, be very afraid because it is not beyond reality that the NDIS is about to suffer a dose of dreaded Abbotting too. Remain diligent is all I can say and take lessons from the Icelanders.

On a brighter note there was a fake sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Some guy, apparently accredited as an interpreter, got up on stage and in front of billions of people worldwide flapped his arms and body in a series of made up gestures and pantomime. Worldwide the Deaf community and the interpreting profession were outraged. They went into overdrive. They protested and let it be known that the interpreter was a fake. They let the world know what real sign language interpreting was all about.

I profess I had a little giggle. Not because I am disrespectful of sign language, I use it in social and professional life after all, but because the fake interpreter was allowed to have got up on stage at all. It was an ironic kind of giggle, if you get my gist. But this fake interpreter has been a godsend for the Deaf community and the Sign Language interpreting profession because it has brought incredible attention to interpreting and sign language in a way that could not have been hoped for. And it has been mostly positive. Sure its shameful that Mr. Mandela’s funeral was tarnished in this way but the irony is that, even in death, Mr. Mandela is helping the oppressed. I would rather be Mandellered any day.

So on a rather depressing note I bring a year of The Rebuttal to an end. May 2014 be a better year for everyone. May you all avoid a dreaded Abbotting and continue to prosper. Despite the depressing last Rebuttal of the year – Life is generally good – But stay diligent people – Let’s keep the Abbotting to the minimum.


[3] Overseas readers may be puzzled by this. To explain Australia is a mish mash of Federal, State and territory laws. Canberra itself is a Territory and has its own laws. The trouble is that if the State or territory laws contradict Commonwealth laws, the Commonwealth wins.