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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