In Defence of Dimity

CanelDimity has upset Deaf people again. She seems to have this unfailing ability to say things that will send the Deaf community into fits of indignation. There is an article on Yahoo News about baby Worrell. Baby Worrell is deaf and has received two cochlear implants. Said Dimity, “It’ll be as if his whole life has changed from black and white into rainbow,”[1]  This is Dimity at her best; aiming for the heartstrings. It is no surprise that she follows this up by explaining that increasing demand for the services of the Hear and Say Centre’s means they are $2 million short.  “I don’t want to have to turn parents away,” bemoans Dimity.

In October 2011 I wrote an article about Dimity.[2] In this article I made an amateur attempt to understand how her mind works. People may recall that Dimity upset the Deaf community then by calling deafness a scourge. I suggested at the time that Dimity was quite calculated in the things that she says. She is a master business woman and manipulator.  She plays on the message that people who are deaf are broken and need to be fixed. She knows that most of the public agree with her and she aims for their heart. She is not so worried about upsetting the Deaf community because she knows that when the Deaf community cry foul and try to promote Deafness in a positive way, most of the public simply cannot relate. I said at the time, and it still rings true today, People know hearing but they don’t know deaf and indeed they don’t want to. To them hearing is normality; deafness deficit. When we all scream GENOCIDE it plays right into Dimity’s hands. To most Australians deafness is something that needs to be fixed like cancer.”

As much as many in the Deaf community despise her, Dimity is not a bad person. She believes in what she does. She believes that all children should be able to hear and she wants to provide the very best service. She doesn’t fear upsetting the Deaf community because she knows that the negative response that she will get will generally just garner her more support in the wider community. She simply wants to draw attention to the things that the Hear and Say Centre do. She wants the very best for the people that she serves. We cannot blame her for that.

I, like many people, get frustrated at the way deafness is constantly misrepresented. I hate it that sign language is still classified as an inferior language. I hate it that people cannot or will not understand that sign language will enhance language acquisition for deaf kids; even those with cochlear implants. But I don’t hate Dimity, even though I once callously christened her Dimwitty. She is simply working hard for something that she strongly believes in. I wish she would do it differently, but one has to admire her passion and drive.

One has to accept that cochlear implants have benefitted many kids who are deaf. Cochlear implants have provided a generation of deaf kids with access to sound and spoken language. At their best they work brilliantly. That said, cochlear implants do have limitations. It’s still hard to hear with noisy backgrounds. Hearing in large groups is still difficult. Enjoyment of music is variable. Despite all these limitations one has to accept that Cochlear Implants have provided immense benefit to many deaf kids.

Recently I have been exploring having a cochlear implant. My cochlear implant journey is actually quite well advanced.  I have had the interview. I have had the hearing test. I have seen the specialist. Next in line are the balance test and the MRI. I have been very impressed with the professionalism of the Cochlear Implant clinic in Melbourne. I can tell you that when you are assessed for an implant they are totally honest with you. They provide you with information about the benefits and limitations of the Implant. They tell you it enhances lip-reading ability. They let you know of possible side effects. They point out certain situations where the Implant will not be beneficial. They explain that enjoyment of music varies from person to person. They even provide information about the benefits of learning Auslan.

Unlike the media, who hype the cochlear implant to the hilt, the Cochlear Implant Clinic does not. Sure they believe in it but they also do not want to give false hope. They let you know that the benefits from the implant come with many hours of hard work and training and that it will not be easy.

This is where Dimity comes in. She knows as well as most people that for the implant to benefit the child the training and support has to be the very best. There are no cutting corners. To provide this high quality service costs money. Dimity needs this money and she will work her butt off to get it. Yeah I wish she would be more positive about deafness generally and be more of an advocate for the use of Auslan. Even so, Dimity thorough her hard work is ensuring a generation of deaf kids with implants get the best possible support that money can buy. Whole heartedly or grudgingly, you have to admire her for that.

As a matter of interest, a friend returning from the recent Deaflympics in Bulgaria commented on how many participants had cochlear implants. I can’t recall exactly, but I think he may have suggested around 50% of participants had cochlear implants. That has not stopped them becoming part of the Deaf community has it? Amusingly my friend suggested that many were keen to improve their sign language skills before the next Deaflympics so that they could better interact with the opposite sex.

It just goes to show that wherever there are deaf people they will find each other. Deafness, even with a cochlear implant, can be isolating and lonely. It is for this reason that deaf people will nearly always seek each other out. Perhaps we fear Dimity a wee bit too much. Perhaps in the future we need to react smarter to her obvious marketing ploys.

Unsung Heroes

heroI think I have reached an age that I can be called a gnarly old advocate. I’m an old dog that chews at the bone constantly. I put myself out there. I challenge people and am not afraid of conflict. Some people love it, some people hate it and others despair. It’s funny because the public persona of me is one of some kind of rabid dog. My public persona and my professional one are poles apart. In fact when I left my last job, I was described as a fine diplomat and not sarcastically either. Usually there is a method to my madness. I do not always get it right but more often than not, I do. I would not have lasted 25 years in the disability sector without just a little nous.  Often people contact me for advice. They ask how to approach things or deal with certain people. I feel quite honoured when they do. It makes me feel rather like an elder.

An elder is what I am. Because I write the Rebuttal, which is very popular, I am very much a public face. But let me tell you, out there are some unsung heroes. These are the people who simply hammer away at an issue that is important to them. These people are making important inroads, particularly in the area of cinema access.

Now cinema access and that dreaded CaptiView device have been very much in the forefront of deaf advocacy in recent years. The CaptiView saga is a really sorry tale that has oft been told on these pages. But the positive of CaptiView is that it has inspired some people to do something. Some people simply were not content to put up with sub-standard access and decided to do something about it.

Of course as the Big 4 hastily rolled out the CaptiView dud two things became clear. Firstly, it was clear that the device was loathed by many. Secondly, it was clear that there was a lot of technical information that was not understood. For a long time, for example, we were told that open captions were not possible with the new digital technology. It is here where one of our first unsung heroes came into play.

The first of our unsung heroes is the delightful Joanne Beckwith. Ms Beckwith is the mother of a deaf child, the equally delightful Monique. Joanne was a proud mother when Monique recently represented Australia at the Deaflympics in swimming. Ms Beckwith is a photographer of the filming kind. She has some awesome contacts in the film and cinema industry. She was perhaps the first person who told us that it was rubbish that open captions were not possible with digital technology. She worked tirelessly to provide Action on Cinema Access with technical information about captioning and how it worked with digital technology. Without her I very much suspect we all would still be in the dark. Take a bow Ms Beckwith.

The second of our unsung heroes are the owners of Twilight Cinemas.  The Twilight Cinema business provides a mobile cinema. They travel and provide films in open settings or in venues like town halls where there is no permanent cinema. Twilight Cinemas demonstrated that captioning on screen was possible. I use the term captioning on screen here because technically they did not use open captioning files. What they did was get hold of the caption file that is usually used for CaptiView and switch it on so that the captions appeared on screen. They were actually quite brave in doing this. I am pretty sure that in doing so they put a few noses out of joint in the industry.

Who can forget that balmy evening at Hays Paddock?  In partnership with Vicdeaf and Arts Access Victoria, Twilight Cinemas screened the awesome movie Life of Pi. Some 600 people attended the open cinema event. They even demonstrated to me how they switched on the captions. It was not rocket science. As I said, Twilight Cinemas pushed the boat to make it happen. In doing so they inspired many of us to find ways to watch movies with captions on the screen so that we could be rid of the horrible CaptiView device.

Then of course we have the quite brilliant Anton Sammons, co founder of the Deaf Cinema Club. Anton was responsible for organising the screening of the Oz the Great and Powerful with captions. Anton took the initiative to contact an independent cinema. He asked whether they would show captions on screen if he booked a private screening. He worked tirelessly to publicise his initiative and filled up a 34 seat cinema. I believe the file for CaptiView captions was again used to show captions on the screen.

Anton remains an active advocate to get captions on the screen for deaf cinema goers. But the great thing about Anton’s work is that he has inspired others. Up in Queensland, in sunny Ballina, Michael Lockrey was inspired to set up his own Deaf Cinema Club. He also has negotiated with his local independent cinema and has been responsible for getting regular captioned sessions for deaf cinema goers in his region. Michael has been an active captioning advocate for a long time. He was one of the first to suggest that we should target independent cinemas. Anton and Michael – two more unsung heroes!

Last but not least we have Buffy Harrison and Jane Dunn out in Horsham, just over 300 kms from Melbourne. Buffy is herself deaf. Jane is a mother of a deaf daughter; the very cheeky but fabulous Cate. These two people approached their local cinema in Horsham and asked if the owner would show captioned sessions for people who are deaf. The owner did a bit of homework and managed to find out that there were actually open caption files designed for showing on screen with digital technology.

The first captioned session was shown three weeks ago and was attended by 45 people. Sleepy little Horsham is leading the way for cinema access for people who are deaf. All because of the initiative of these two people, Buffy and Jane. So successful have these two been that the cinema owner has started to advertise regular captioning sessions. This coming weekend there are not 1 but 2 movies with captions – and at decent times too. How cool is that? It is worth noting that both Buffy and Jane attended the screening of Oz the Great and Powerful that was organised by Anton – It’s not hard to see how these things take off is it?

As a gnarly old advocate I take my hat off to these people. They wanted something and they went out and got it. Rather than watch the “elders” like me quibbling and ranting they simply went out and showed us all how it was done. It is a lesson for us all. Take a bow!

Not Very Bright !

government is stupidAnd after two weeks of staunch Laborites like me whinging and moaning about the Abbott Government Deaf Australia has done what we all needed. It has laid down the challenge. How the Liberal’s will respond is any one’s guess. But now’s the time to cease the whinging, get our hands dirty and work with what we have. If this media release is anything to go by it shows that Deaf Australia are up for the fight. Let’s get in behind them.

So ended the last Rebuttal. I fancied myself as a sort of latter day Neville Chamberlain. Of course Chamberlain was the Prime Minister of Britain prior to WWII. He famously came back from a meeting with Hitler declaring, “…peace in our time” A few months later WWII was in full swing making a mockery of his statement. In the deaf sector it looks like history is about to repeat itself.

I was quite sincere in my sentiments. I really felt the post election period had been relentlessly negative. Prime Minister Abbott did not help himself with his one-woman cabinet, electing himself as Minister for Women and seemingly demoting disability Ministers to bit part players.

But what was happening was that the criticism coming through really was not about these issues. The criticism just relentlessly targeted Prime Minister Abbott. It became quite demeaning. Sure I laughed at some of the memes going around on Facebook and even shared some. In retrospect I wish I hadn’t. In doing so I simply contributed to the relentless negativity. My apologies to everyone that was forced to read them. Sharing those memes was not very bright.

Of course I am still whining, particularly about the demise of the NBN. I did so yesterday and came in for some ribbing from my mates. “Try living in South Korea…” said Stewart, or words to that effect. Apparently South Korea has the fastest broadband in the world but their lifestyle is no better that Australia’s said Stewart.  Wouldn’t our lifestyle be even better with their broadband?, was my retort. He told me to go back to England if I was that pissed off. (Wounds are still raw since the Aussies were drubbed in the Ashes 😀 )

But anyway my point is that there are some important issues to focus on and we, as communities that have concerns, need to be working together. Equity policy is a point in case. Equitable representation of women in government and equitable opportunities for people of disadvantage would seem to be pressing concerns. For example Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, has flagged the cutting back of targets for disadvantaged groups in higher education. This is something we all need to monitor and work together closely on.[1]

As I said in the last Rebuttal, we need to now to forget the negativity and have a focus on working with the Government. We need to continue the smart fight for the things that we hold dear. I encourage people to work with Deaf Australia and other disability peaks and continue to let them know of the issues that are of concern to them. Hopefully Deaf Australia etal can continue to raise these issues at high levels for us all.

What I do not encourage is blatant point scoring that Deafness Forum demonstrated today. Last week Deaf Australia released a punchy media release. It was a call to arms if you like. They criticized the non-appointment of a Disability Minister to the cabinet. They raised concerns about plans that “appeared” to indicate the slashing of the employment Assistance Fund. This fund included Auslan for employment and captioning in employment. Rumours were that Auslan and captioning funding was to be halved.

Good on Deaf Australia for raising these issues. Deafness Forum decided to investigate with the Government to see if the alleged cutting of the EAF was true. The Government has indicated that there are no “Anticipated”[2] cuts to the EAF. This was good news for all of us. However a word of caution in the use of the word “anticipated” This leaves the door ajar for cuts in the future. I would much rather see them say THERE WILL BE NO CUTS!

Congratulations to Deafness Forum for clarifying the issue and concerns surrounding the EAF. But it is here that my congratulations end. For reasons known only to them, in clarifying concerns about the cutting of the EAF, Deafness Forum took the opportunity to literally SLAM Deaf Australia. Below is the full text of their statement on their Facebook page.

Allegation of cuts to Employment Access Fund

A claim was made recently by an organisation with the deafness sector that the federal government would cut the Employment Assistance Fund.

Deafness Forum does not endorse the claim.

The Employment Assistance Fund helps people with disability by providing financial assistance to purchase a range of work related modifications and services.

Deafness Forum contacted the Department of Social Services and was advised the allegation was baseless.

Deafness Forum contacted the office of the Assistant Minister for Disability & Ageing and was informed the allegation was wrong.

Clearly in this statement Deafness Forum are having a go at Deaf Australia. there are several components of the Deafness Forum statement that are inaccurate. Deaf Australia said there “appear” to be plans to cut the fund which is entirely different from saying the fund WILL be cut. Further they said it was to be cut by 50%, not that it was being completely cut. It is worth noting also that, to my mind, Deaf Australia’s focus was only on the Auslan and captioning component of the EAF. All these things Deafness Forum have conveniently overlooked in their efforts to belittle Deaf Australia.

Australian’s who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing Impaired have grown tired of the constant bickering between our two major peaks. At a time when negotiations with a new Government require our peaks to show a united front, publicly demeaning Deaf Australia in this way is the last thing that we need. Sure they did not mention them by name but it is pretty obvious isn’t it?

All Deafness Forum needed to have done was to contact Deaf Australia and say they have contacted the Minister and this is the response. The two orgs could then have put out a joint statement saying that they were pleased that the EAF was not to be cut. Deaf Australia could have had the opportunity to retract their statement or at least explain where they had received their information.

Thank you for the clarification Deafness Forum but the public demeaning of Deaf Australia in this delicate political climate is, to put it mildly, NOT VERY BRIGHT! Let’s get smarter people, all of us, particularly me.

Merit, Deaf Australia and All That!

womenI hate the word merit. Merit is one of the most abused words in the human language. By definition merit according to Google means – The quality of being particularly good or worthy, esp. so as to deserve praise or reward. The word merit is getting a lot of airplay at the moment. Prime Minister Abbott has elected his frontbench and within it there is just one woman.  Prime Minister Abbott says there are plenty of skilled and talented Liberal women just knocking on the door but that they are not quite there. He chose his Front-Bench on merit he said.

Of course this is totally insulting to all women everywhere. Why? Because Prime Minister Abbott is saying that only one of the Liberal women is good enough and that the rest simply cant hack it. And if you go by the definition he also means these women are not deserving. To add insult to injury Prime Minister Abbott also suggested that the women who were part of the Labor Party ministries were mere tokens.  What an insult to such brilliant women such as Macklin, Ellis, Wong, Rishworth et al. It is not that the women in the Liberal Party cant do the job rather it is, as Jenna Price notes in the Canberra Times, “There are talented women in the Liberal Party who have been marginalised.”[1] And Tony Abbott is responsible for that.

Merit is a horrible way to select people. Why? Because it does not take into consideration a raft of social reasons as to why a person might not have the same experience as another. In the example of women they may have been guided in a way that was ‘traditional” and in the early stages of their career chose “female” specific occupations. Often it may not have been until much later that they realised this was an error and redirected their career. This may put them five to ten years behind their male contemporaries in terms of experience. Then of course there is childbirth and being a mother which can take years out off a woman’s career. It is not for nothing that women are paid less than men and have fewer opportunities to climb the corporate ladder.

People with a disability are in the same boat. They have a whole host of challenges to confront. Just getting educated is one of them. It might just be being able to access a lecture theatre so thatone can get a degree. It might be the language issues confronted by many deaf people. Deafness means that access to information through overhearing, media and social avenues is often hindered. For many young people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing what this means is that when they leave school they don’t quite have the experiences and maturity of their hearing peers. This often means it takes longer for them to complete their studies. For a whole range of reasons people with a disability are constantly playing catch up.

It’s not for nothing that unemployment and underemployment is rife among people with a disability. When they do finally get employment they are confronted with attitudes and barriers that often keep them in base grade work for many years. Of course when they apply for higher management jobs they are over looked because of that nasty word, MERIT. “You are highly skilled” say the bosses, “ …but you don’t quite have the experience and we chose the position on merit.”

Well good for the bosses. It didn’t take them double the time a non-disabled person did to get through University did it? They didn’t lack support at school did they thus making University an even greater challenge? And of course they didn’t have to confront Australia’s inherent prejudice and discrimination towards disability did they? It’s not for nothing 45% of Australia’s disability population live below the poverty line.

What this means is that people with a disability, like women, are constantly playing catch up. No matter what the skills and the experience they have they are simply hindered when it comes to competing on merit. This is why so many advocates, including myself, are now pushing for quotas and affirmative action when it comes to employing people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Let’s not call them minorities shall we because women can hardly be called a minority. Paradoxically, combined it is women, disability, Aboriginal and other groups that are actually the majority.

So what Mr Abbott has done by citing merit as his argument for appointing only one woman to his cabinet is put Australia back 40 to 50 years in terms of social gains. It is a never ending battle to try and overcome the meritocracy. Without proactive policies and policies that recognise ABILITY as integral and the disadvantage that many face, the lot of women, people with a disability, the Aboriginal community and other groups is unlikely to improve. We advocates are rightly frustrated that the minimal gains we have made in recent years appear to have been almost lost under the new Abbott regime.

Deaf Australia has recognised this with there recent and quite brilliant media release that questions the Liberals new front bench.[2]  Deaf Australia made their view clear, Tony Abbott shocked the nation on Monday when he announced his new cabinet; eliminating key ministerial portfolios, including Disability, Women, and Mental Health. Deaf Australia has condemned the move, saying it will take Australia backwards.”

This is what Deaf and Hard of hearing Australians want from their advocates. They don’t want pussy footing diplomacy they want things to be said as they really are. The media release makes riveting reading, “With this decision, Tony has already broken his promise made in his victory speech, saying there would be “no surprises, no excuses’,” said Deaf Australia Acting President Todd Wright today. “He has shown his true colours by further marginalising one of the most vulnerable minority groups in Australian society.”

Mr Wright outlined Deaf Australia’s concern at the alleged cutting of Auslan and caption funding for employment for Australians who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Already the amount given is pitiful. My own funding lasted barely 2 months this year. Mr Wright warns of the ramifications of cutting the funding when he forcefully points out, “If the EAF is cut, many Deaf people will be at risk of losing their jobs, as their employers will not be able to afford to pay for interpreters and other requirements. Forcing Deaf people back onto the dole is irresponsible and old-fashioned and will cost the government much more in the long run.”

This is simple and brilliant advocacy. I was inspired when I read it. After years of soft approach advocacy someone was finally telling it as it is. I know there are times for diplomacy but this is not one of them. People are worried and concerned, it is a time when we need forceful and brave advocacy.

Deaf Australia has made it very clear their concerns. Mr Wright, in what can only be described as laying down the gauntlet, let rip – “Abbott is washing his hands from disability issues by removing critical ministry and parliamentary secretary roles in his cabinet. He is out of touch with what the disability sector needs and will drag down long-term productivity gains in the workforce contradicting key Liberal policy.”

And after two weeks of staunch Laborites like me whinging and moaning about the Abbott Government Deaf Australia has done what we all needed. It has laid down the challenge. How the Liberal’s will respond is any one’s guess but now’s the time to cease the whinging, get our hands dirty and work with what we have. If this media release is anything to go by it shows that Deaf Australia are up for the fight. Let’s get in behind them!

What About Me???


Two weeks ago Australia elected Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. They elected him for no other reason than that internally the Labor Party was a rabble. No matter that the Labor Party had actually governed quite well. The economy was functioning well in difficult times. They put out policy and created social reform in a hung parliament that required negotiation skills of the highest calibre. Debt, despite the Liberals claims, was manageable and amongst the lowest in the world per head of population. These things did not matter because internally Labor was a rabble. And of course there was Kevin. And if there is one good thing about the Liberal’s coming to power, the demise of Kevin is it.

Yesterday Prime Minister Abbott announced his cabinet. To the surprise of no one it was male dominated. In fact in his cabinet there is only one woman, Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop. In the outer ministry there is a smattering of women. Condescendingly Prime Minister Abbott has stated that he has picked his cabinet on merit. In doing so he has basically said that there are no women within the Liberal Party that are capable.  Said the Prime Minister, “You have to make very tough judgment calls as a Prime Minister as to who is in and who is out of Cabinet and at the end of the day we, as a Coalition, have always said that these positions should be based on merit rather than on quota. And if I might say, with respect, have a look at the Labor Party and you can see what quotas do.”

How insulting is this to all the women of Australia? Particularly given that Prime Minister Abbott has his own quotas. He has a quota of National Party members which he must select because they are a Coalition. How else can you explain the selection of people like Barnaby Joyce or Warren Truss? Mr Truss is actually the Deputy Prime Minister simply because he is leader of the Nationals not because he is capable. This is hypocrisy at its best. It is a terrible, terrible slight to all the women of Australia! It was particularly disgusting suggesting that the Labor Party ministers who were women were simply there to fill quotas. The latter point is the biggest insult of all

Women aside it is a real concern to me is that there is no Ministry that is specifically for people with a disability. It can be argued that disability affects nearly 100% of Australia’s population.  Either a person has a disability or they are a family member, friend or support person of a person with a disability. Given that we are in the throes of launching the NDIS, which the Liberals have made a concrete promise to continue, and given the far reaching impact of disability one would think that a Minister for Disability was warranted. But No!

The closest that we have is Mitch Fifield. Mr Fifield is nice man. He is knowledgeable and very supportive of disability. He has been appointed as the Assistant Minister to Social Services. He is also the manager of Government Business in the Senate. Inside information tells me that he will be responsible for Disability and Aging. Of course Disability and Aging are one of the biggest populations in Australia. In between being the manager of Government Business in the Senate and assisting the Social Services Minister across a huge portfolio he will have a lot of time for disability wont he??

What is more telling is that Prime Minister Abbott has not even appointed a Parliamentary Secretary for Disability. Labor had three. They started with Bill Shorten who drove the early NDIS debate. They then had Senator Jan McLucas and when they lost Government they had Amanda Rishworth in the post. Note two very capable women there who are mere tokens according to Mr Abbott. (For the record I was not that impressed with Ms McLucas, but I know of a lot of people who were.)

So disability is absolutely demoted under a Liberal Government. There is no specific portfolio for one of the largest issues confronting Australia. Instead disability has been hidden away in Social Services. It appears to be the responsibility of Mr Fifield who already is heavily committed to two major roles. By hiding disability away in Social Services the Liberals have forever labelled disability as a welfare issue.

This is a real concern. It is certainly true that there are elements of disability that are a welfare issue. But anyone who is anyone knows that disability has far reaching implications across many areas. There are medical, social and economic impacts of disability. To my mind Australia has always been more focused on medical aspects of disability. Australia’s disability policy is heavily focused on fixing, managing and supporting the individual with a disability. Australia has yet to properly explore the social and economic impact of disability. With disability now hidden away in the Department of Social Services under the Liberals this does not look like it will change anytime soon.

This has always baffled me. I have always seen disability as its own thriving economy. There are jobs in innovation in the development of technology and infrastructure to ensure inclusion for people with a disability. There are jobs in education where people with a disability require specific education support. There are jobs in many specialist professions that focus on disability. There is business to be made and profits to be had from people with a disability simply by making business, events and entertainment inclusive. In short, people with a disability are an important economic cog for Australia.

Bill Forrester from Travability will tell you about the multiplier effect. When a person with a disability goes out into the community they rarely do so by themselves. They go with family, friends and sometimes support people. For example when a person with a disability goes to a restaurant they may have two or three others with them. If memory serves me correctly Forrester believes this multiplier effect is 2.5. What this means is that if a person with a disability visits a shop, a venue or a facility that is not accessible they take their business elsewhere. Believe me, this amounts to a lot of business and money!

And then you have the infrastructure issues. Labor launched the NDIS. It will be fully operational by 2019. All going well this will mean many more people with a disability will be getting out there into the community. Rather than going out once a month, it is foreseeable that people with a disability will now have the capacity to go out several times a week. This large influx of people with a disability to the community will require more accessible infrastructure. The impact of the NDIS in terms of infrastructure requirements has not been well thought out. It requires foresight, planning and mostly a significant investment.

Of course even Labor did not think about this. Even Labor was firmly entrenched in a medical view of disability. How else could they have come up with a condescending and medically focused name for the NDIS like DisabilityCare? BUT at least Labor gave disability a focus. They gave it a focus by having a Parliamentary Secretary for Disability. They gave it a focus by having a Prime Minister that actually took a keen interest and attended events and consultations concerning disability. They gave it a focus with a far reaching national consultation when developing the NDIS.

What do we have under the Liberals? Well we don’t know because it has been hidden away. It almost seems to be unmentionable, like Voldermort “… Oh, we do not mention its name…”

So to the women who are missing and the people with a disability that have been hidden I end with the lines of the famous song…

And now I’m standing on the corner all the world’s gone home
Nobody’s changed, nobody’s been saved
And I’m feeling cold and alone
I guess I’m lucky, I smile a lot
But sometimes I wish for more than I’ve got

What about me, it isn’t fair
I’ve had enough now I want my share
Can’t you see I wanna live But you just take more than you give

A Day in the Life ..


The thing about Australia is that disability is rarely taken seriously. People don’t see the issue of disability as an important thing to consider. By and large people see disability as a burden and an add on. The needs and rights of people with a disability are not something that people think about as a matter of process. If they did every building would have a flashing light so that the deaf can be aware of fire if it happens. If Australia was taking disability seriously every building, our entire infrastructure and all our processes would be designed so that people with a disability were a focal concern. It is an embarrassment that on Saturday at the elections stories abounded of the lack of access for people with disabilities. Poll booths were inaccessible, disabled parking not considered and there was little assistance for people with intellectual disabilities to understand the voting process. This is Australia, the lucky country.

Last week a wheelchair using friend of mine attended the NSW Art Gallery. She took part in a guided tour. Of course the Art Gallery had not even considered viewing art from a wheelchair user’s perspective. Art displays were in glass cabinets where people in a wheelchair could not see over the top. Pictures are hung at eye level for standing people. Displays are set up so that people with a wheelchair cannot navigate around them. In the tour no thought was given to the needs of the wheelchair user. People raise their arms stand on tip toe and generally obscure the view of the wheelchair user. The tour was so inaccessible that my friend left the tour and embarked on a tour on her own.

An example of an art display designed with no thought to wheelchair access.
An example of an art display designed with no thought to wheelchair access.

She took a lift to the Goya exhibition. After viewing the art she went back to the lift so that she could go back downstairs. To her horror the lift had broken down. She had a plane to catch in a few hours so she was not too alarmed. She found someone from the Gallery staff and asked for assistance. She was told that a couple of men would be up to assist. My friend had visions of muscular and bare chested firemen carrying her down the stairs. She joked about this with the Gallery staff.

Eventually two guys came up to assist her and they brought with them a device. The device apparently locked in the wheelchair and enabled the person in a wheelchair to be transported downstairs. But it was an old device and it did not fit my friend’s modern and expensive wheelchair.To my friends horror it appeared that the two men had little experience in the use of the device. One said he had used it once and thought he could remember how to use it. The other said that he had no idea how to use the device. My friend was terrified. She is no shrinking violet and had gone wheelchair abseiling the week before. Wheelchair abseiling was easy the device just looked insanely dangerous.

In the end, because my friend’s modern wheelchair did not fit the device, one of the men had to go downstairs and get one of the Gallery wheelchairs. This was an old wheelchair that they use for people who have injuries or have mobility issues. The device had been designed for these types of wheelchairs. The ironic thing is that what this means is that most wheelchair users who use modern wheelchairs would not be able to use the device either. The device is virtually useless.

So after some toing and froing the two guys eventually attached my friend to the device. This would not have been easy or dignified. She would have had to somehow get out of her chair and get in the Gallery one. Her own chair, worth a nifty $15 000, needed to be dismantled carefully so it was not damaged. Eventually all these challenges were negotiated and the two guys began to transport my friend down the stairs.

My friend said it was one of the most terrifying experiences of her life.  A few times her head was nearly smashed into the step. Then suddenly one of the guys had a brainwave. He apparently worked out that they had attached the chair the wrong way around, hence why my friend nearly had her brains dashed out. Eventually she got down the stairs with the aid of a stair lift. She had been the brunt of curious stares and whispers of people walking the stairs. Unsurprisingly she was flustered and on the verge of tears.

There is more to this story but it would take a virtual book to describe it all. But to add insult to injury when my friend got to the airport she was told by a guy assisting her that he had been “smashed by wheelchairs all day.” And then, in my friends words, “.. he fucked off”  My friend was later to see him running around with his two way radio. She had a special document that referred to her wheelchair and the need for it to be looked after properly. In trying to show this letter to the guy the guy put his hand in her face in what my friend described as the, “ …the universal shut the fuck up for a moment sign.”

This was the last straw for my friend. She broke down into tears of rage and went “molotov” Sadly this was not the end of her day from hell. When she arrived back in Perth she had a taxi driver try to refuse her fare. He wanted to refuse the fare because he didn’t have the insurance to cover any damage that might happen to her expensive wheelchair. My friend had seriously had enough and said to him, “..’Buddy, this is a fight you want to pick with another fucking woman on another fucking day. Put my wheels in the back of your station wagon. And do it now.”  Sensibly he did as he was told.

This is the sort of crap that Australians who have a disability are dealing with every day. It happens because Australia does not see people with a disability as equal citizens. Consider if there was a fire at the Gallery. If this was the case the lift would not be an option whether it was working or not. There is a woman in a wheelchair stuck upstairs and there is no one in the Gallery who is trained to get her out quickly and safely. What will happen? Well she will burn and likely die. I Am betting that staff are trained to evacuate all others quickly and safely – But people with a disability? If my friends experience is anything to go by virtually no thought has been given to their needs at all.

Australia is a signatory of the United Nations Convention of the  Rights of Persons with a Disability. The principles of the convention are clear:

  1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
  2. Non-discrimination;
  3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  5. Equality of opportunity;
  6. Accessibility;
  7. Equality between men and women;
  8. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities

These are the principles that Australia signed up to. In the day in the life of my friend NOT ONE OF THEM WERE MET. The lot of people with a disability in Australia is an absolute disgrace. My god a player from the St Kilda Football Club set a dwarf alight for fun! We have to do better than this!

This is your challenge Tony Abbott –Can you and your Party rise to it!

Seeking the Dream

Martin-Luther-King-Jr.-Art-13It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.  But 100 years later the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languishing in the corner of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

Martin Luther-King

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. Of course the speech centred on the situation of the American Negro of the time. King spoke of the Negro living in poverty. He spoke of the Negro lacking opportunity. Mostly and tellingly he said, “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” [1]

King could be talking about the lot of people with a disability in Australia. Disability access for Australians is a joke. This rich country that is Australia persists year after year in dealing people with a disability a cheque for funds that is clearly insufficient. I claimed $6 000 in July for the Auslan for Employment Scheme. It’s now the end of August. It is all gone! I just thank god I don’t need a wheelchair. I could be waiting up to four years for one. Sure the NDIS is supposed to be changing all that but that is a long way off.

The lot of people with a disability in Australia is just crap! Crap captioning, why our rich pay TV franchise isn’t forced to provide close to 100% is beyond me. Crap education, still we have people out there who get little or no support for their disability, particularly school age kids. Crap recreation, how much of our recreation is actually accessible for people with a disability? Crap housing, how many houses are affordable and designed so that people with a disability can live in them? Crap infrastructure, how many buildings, footpaths and roads are still inaccessible? And no, the NDIS wont fix all these problems.

Said King, “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds  in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” It is time for this country to stop making excuses. It is time to use some of its vast riches to improve the lot of people with a disability. Not slowly and incrementally, but fast, dramatically and now.

There is absolutely no excuse that people with a disability live in poverty because this mean and backward country will not provide. There is absolutely no excuse that people with a disability have to constantly beg and ask for things on a daily basis. There is absolutely no reason that almost daily I have to justify to other organisations why they have a duty to share the cost of accessibility and not place the burden on a few.

Fifty years ago King knew this. Sure he was speaking about racial issues but his words ring true for anyone who is discriminated against for any reason. “We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

Two weeks ago in Adelaide a deaf teacher of the deaf lost a court case so that she could only work with special conditions. She was treated like an outcast and a leper. She was portrayed as someone that was a risk and different. Bugger the fact that deaf people are working all over the world as teachers without issue. This is 2013 and Australia is allowed to do this! Over in Perth a wheelchair using friend has been forced to pee in a bucket because her employer won’t provide an accessible toilet EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE RECEIVED FUNDING FOR IT! Are you proud to be living in a country that does this to its citizens?

A friend had this to say on Facebook today about the lived experience of a wheelchair user  in Australia, “…  you will experience discrimination on a daily basis – at least a daily basis. 90% of art galleries will become inaccessible to you, and most small businesses and restaurants. Friends won’t always invite you out, because there are steps. You’ll routinely be discriminated against in work and education and travel and accommodation and even via legislation like the Migration Act or Defence Force, legally. And because you’re consequently segregated and isolated, people don’t have a chance to understand who you are. That means when charities and politicians portray you as an object of pity and charity, they don’t have a chance to understand that isn’t true.  There is so, so much more. It would be unbelievable if someone told you this, but they don’t. Outrage upon outrage. ‘There is no toilet for you to piss in at work. If you couldn’t communicate, your mother could kill you and get off with a $1000 fine and a suspended sentence. You won’t be able to catch a plane if there are two other wheelchair users on it……”

 King had a dream for Negro people but he may well have been talking about all people who need equality, I  have a dream today . . . I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain be made low. The rough places wild be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight.” That’s all people with a disability dream of – A field that is plain and level for us all.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

[1] In is speech King used the term Negro. The use of the term Negro, particularly by a white person like myself, can be seen as a mark of disrespect. I use the term only to paraphrase King and mean no disrespect.

The Jokes On Us!

jokerIn Melbourne this morning people who are Deaf or hard of hearing may have had a fancy to go to the movies. Of course those of us who can tolerate CaptiView, which number about two, are hardy souls. A friend of mine is one of those tolerant souls. She decided to check the websites to see which movies are captioned and which are not. Of course we know that it is unlikely that anything will be advertised as captioned, such is the incompetence of the cinemas. Nevertheless my friend checked hoping that some semblance of sanity had settled upon the world. To her surprise she found three movies with captions that were showing. But wait there is more!

Of course we know that when the Accessible Cinema Roll-Out was announced we were promised unheralded access to the movies. We should have known better. As always, people who are Deaf or hard of hearing are taken for mugs. Arguably cinema access  is worse than it was before the Accessible Cinema Roll-Out. My friend wanted to see a movie with captions, being deaf and all. She had a choice of movies that focused on – One Direction, Metallica and Robbie Williams. WTF comes to mind.

The irony that the accessible movies that are available to us deafies this weekend are all about music cannot be lost on anyone. Sure, I get that there are many deafies that enjoy music but for the majority of us, for obvious reasons, movies focusing on music would not be our first choice,. The sad thing is that this does not surprise me. People who are Deaf or hard of hearing in Australia are being treated like a joke. This is particularly so in South Australia.

I woke this morning to find a letter from the delightful CEO from Townsend House posted on Facebook. The CEO is without doubt persona-non-grata among the Deaf community in South Australia. This is understandable, particularly when she brands the people trying to save the beautiful 262 building as liars. Says Ms Curran of the many hundreds, possibly over a thousand, people who have lent their support to the Save 262 Campaign.  ….”Some people from DSRSA (Deaf Sports Recreation South Australia) and the Deaf community have behaved badly and told lies …”

Ms Curran went on to imply that because, some people had behaved badly and told lies, the efforts of Townsend House to try to lease the clubroom back for them from the prospective buyer fell through. Apparently the prospective buyers saw the Deaf community as rabble-rousers and wanted nothing to do with them. So effectively the loss of 262 for the Deaf community is now the Deaf communities fault. Last I looked the save 262 petition was touching on 1000 signatures. Shame on you, the 1000, you have lost 262 for the Deaf community – How could you? Yes, I jest.

Where did it all go wrong? If you want to know what promises were made to the Deaf community when the Townsend House and Deaf Society joined forces watch this video.

Having been promised that there were definitely no plans to sell 262 and having been promised utopia the Deaf community find themselves sold up the creek without a paddle. And for their pain they get labeled liars too.

Ms Curran claims that the Deaf Society was in such a bad way in 2006 that 262 was almost sold. Yet my friend found that in the 2006 Annual General Meeting minutes from the Royal South Australian Deaf Society, held on Friday 27th October 2006 at 7pm, the Treasurer’s report says “gross revenue has increased by ½ million”, and that “The Societies [sic] Balance sheet is strong”.

There are certainly lies happening but they are not coming from the Deaf community. What is worse, when Deaf community members ask perfectly legitimate questions or make perfectly legitimate comments on the Townsend House Facebook page, these questions and comments are being deleted. The authors of the comments or questions are then unceremoniously blocked.  Another example of Deaf people being treated like a joke.

Still in South Australia a Deaf teacher of the Deaf has been told she is risk. This is a long sorry saga but the gist of it is that a young Deaf woman graduated as a teacher of the Deaf. She, of course, fulfilled all the requirements of her course including prac-teaching. After she graduated she went to register as a teacher. To cut a long story short the Teachers Registration Board in South Australia told her she could work as a teacher but only if she was supervised at all times.

Quite rightly the young woman was having none of this. She appealed. She pointed out that having conditions on her registration that required her to be supervised at all times was unfair and limited her employment prospects. She pointed out that by having conditions and a flag on her Teacher Registration this made it more difficult for her to obtain work. More importantly she claimed that there were already several teachers of the deaf who were Deaf or hard of hearing working in South Australia. These people had no such conditions applied to them. So why her?

She had to front the Teacher Registration Board as part of her appeal. The Teachers Registration Board refused to budge. They insisted that the conditions had to remain. The young woman would not accept this and took the Teachers Registration Board to court for discrimination. To the surprise of no one, except the Teacher Registration Board,  she won. Commonsense, it seemed, was going to prevail. But no – The Teachers Registration Board appealed and the decision was reversed.

I have no words to describe the stupidity of the Teachers Registration Board. I have no words to describe the stupidity of the judge that reversed the decision. Deaf people and hard of hearing people the world over are working as teachers, nurses and even doctors. They work as lawyers too. They work as tradesmen, chefs and social workers. The world is their oyster. They do so competently and without restrictions.

All I can say is show me evidence of the risk. I can certainly show you evidence that there is none. The evidence is out there in the community where 100’s of people who are Deaf or hard of hearing are working as teachers successfully everyday and without restriction. Yet some know nothing judge has decided that this one Deaf person is a risk and therefore can only teach with restrictions. The judge has made this decision based on not one shred of evidence.

In making this decision the judge has put the future of all teachers who are Deaf or hard of hearing on the line. Now all teachers who are Deaf or hard of hearing in South Australia have to declare their deafness and declare all their support needs to the Teachers Registration Board. They are then at the mercy of the Teachers Registration Board to have restrictions placed on them as the Board sees fit.

And all this because some know nothing judge has made a decision that goes against all the evidence available to him/her. The decision has been made without a shred of evidence to show that teachers who are Deaf or hard of hearing are any sort of risk at all. How is that fair? The law, as they say, is an ass!

Yep, people who are Deaf or hard of hearing in Australia are being treated like a joke and it is no laughing matter!



The very word ‘secrecy‘ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.

John F. Kennedy

I absolutely love this quote. I especially love it because it is coming from a politician held in such  esteem as J F Kennedy. Old J F may have had his faults, who doesn’t, but what he said here is right on the ball.

I have worked in the Disability Sector and Deaf Sector for coming up 25 years. The fact that a lot of what we do is shrouded in secrecy has always been a cause of much frustration to me. Now there are times when secrecy is needed. For example when you are negotiating a contract and there are competing interests. It would not be fair to announce how much one person is bidding over another. BUT – for the most part secrecy is the cause of more problems than it is worth.

I am going to write very briefly here about the 262. I will tell you that secrecy and the lack of open communication with the South Australian Deaf community about what is going on with the sale of 262 is the cause of much friction. At the very least the South Australian Deaf community and its representatives needed to be kept fully up to date with anything that is related to 262 and its sale. Secrecy is largely what has led to a breakdown in the relationship between Townsend House and the Deaf community.

Nine times out of ten underhand secret behaviour that is excused with statements such as “commercial and in confidence” will come back to bite you on the bum. And so it was with Townsend House and their lack of openness with the Deaf community. What happened? Well someone left a flyer hanging around that divulged the interest of Healing Life Ministries to buy 262. By perchance a Deaf community member came across the flyer. It later turned out that negotiations had been going on for quite some time. Once the Deaf community found out that they had been kept in the dark, any chance of repairing the relationship between Townsend House and the Deaf community was probably gone forever. Secrecy will do that.

One of the silliest cases of secrecy I can remember involved something as simple as engraving information on a medal. This happened at the Australian Deaf Games. One of the Deaf community members, who was organising a sport at the Games, found out that medals were being organised but nothing was to be engraved on them. I was part of the decision that endorsed that. The argument was that engraving would be an additional cost that was not needed. It was a way of keeping cost to a minimum.

Anyway the Deaf community member in question thought engraving what the event was and some other relevant information would add value and sentiment when winning a medal, which is fair enough. He wanted to know what the cost differential was between engraving and not engraving . To my mind it was a really simple request. If you are going to make a decision you own it and explain it. If people don’t like your reasoning you at least can say that you were open and honest and move on. But in this case the Deaf community member was basically told to mind his own business – the official response? Well such information about the pricing of the medals was, “commercial and in confidence.”

Now I am a lone voice on the committee here. I believe that such a response served no purpose except to create mistrust. It made us organisers look like a “secret society” . Really the Deaf community member had a right to know. After all he was volunteering his time to organise his sport and coughing up good money to participate.

The problem with secrecy, particularly at a political level, is that it is abused. Certainly secrecy has a place. For example, if you out individuals who have expressed certain views in the process of making decisions there is a danger that they can be abused and ostracised. In such cases one needs to be discreet. Such dangers can be avoided if people stick to the issues. Decisions are made mostly with the best of intentions. If you have done nothing wrong there is nothing to hide.

A good example unnecessary secrecy is where Deaf Sports Australia chose Geelong over Wodonga as the host city for the last Australian Deaf Games. Wodonga was chosen by the selection committee after an exhaustive process which involved consultation with Deaf sports representatives. I was a member of the host city selection panel.

The Deaf Sports Australia Board took the view that holding the Games at Wodonga had some inherent risks. They felt it was more prudent to host the games at Geelong. It is absolutely the Deaf Sports Australia Board’s right to do that. As Directors they are the people liable for any losses. Personally I felt that the risks were minimal and that there were several tangible benefits in holding the Games at Wodonga. The Board thought otherwise. I respect that.

What I do not respect is that the reasons for choosing Geelong, and the fact that Wodonga was the preferred choice of the selection committee, were not made public. I believe that if Deaf Sports Australia had divulged what had happened behind closed doors and their reasoning for their decision they would have garnered immense respect. I know many will disagree with me but I think ownership and transparency of decision-making is a much undervalued trait.

People who are following the CaptiView saga will note that there is a posting at the Action on Cinema Access Facebook page. The posting is a copy of the original letter sent out by Bill Shorten to our cinema access representatives. The letter was sent soon after the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group was formed by the Government to guide the Accessible Cinema Roll-Out. This was in 2010.

What the letter clearly states is that decisions regarding the Accessible Cinema Roll-Out needed to be guided with clear input from consumers. In the letter, that is signed by Bill Shorten, it says,  “.. given the emerging nature of platforms such as ‘Captiview’, implementation will require ongoing consumer input to establish acceptability” This last quote, to me anyway, seems to be clearly saying that any technology that is introduced needs to have a clear endorsement of the consumer. Arguably CaptiView has never received that.

Indeed said one advocate, who has been heavily involved in the captioning lobby for many years, “ .. shame we weren’t given access to this earlier in the process.”  I absolutely agree because this letter could have been the deal breaker. But for whatever reason it was kept secret. The rest, as they say, is history.

Perhaps we need to heed the advice of Elia Kazan who said,

Whatever hysteria exists is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it.

Townsend House, in particular, should take note.


numptyDid you know that NUMPTY is actually a word?  My friend Peter has forever called me a numpty. I always thought it was an endearing term he gave me because I beat him at golf all the time. In fact NUMPTY is an official word recognized by the BBC on their page KEEPING UP WITH ENGLISH. It is defined as such – “N-U-M-P-T-Y. Numpty. Gentle word. Very gentle word. It feels to me like ‘silly billy’ or ‘you novice!’ It means somebody who displays a lack of knowledge or a lack of awareness.” Well I have had numpties up to here this week! In fact so fed up am I of the numpties that I have decided to out a few.

It started this morning with K – I AM A NUMPTY – RUDD. Announcing that Western Australia had finally signed up for the much-vaunted NDIS he said, “There are unique features to the WA scheme but I think it will be good for everybody, particularly those suffering with disabilities.” Of course Mr Rudd is the same numpty that patted a disabled woman on the head. Well HE has done it again. Well Numpty Rudd I would just like to point out that people with a disability do not suffer from a disability. In fact for the most part we all live jolly good lives. We are poor, certainly, because Australia wont cough up the money it can afford to ensure we are fully included members of Australian society. This is largely because Australia’s disability policy is written by numpties. BUT we do not suffer. We suffer from ignorant and patronizing attitudes but generally not from our disability. Let me say this clearly – YOU NUMPTY.

This week I was told by a colleague that the cost associated with my communication needs, albeit interpreting, was entirely my responsibility. My colleague is a nice fellow but his boss is clearly a numpty. My colleague was organizing a meeting to see how we could all work together to improve local employment outcomes for people with a disability. Knowing that I have two decades of experience, largely within the employment sector, he asked if I could share my wisdom.

“Sure”, I said, “ .. Just book the interpreters and I am there.” My colleague was quite happy to do so. He checked with his manager who said no. His manager said cos it was work my employer was responsible and therefore my employer has to pay. I pointed out that the meeting was:

1)    Organized by THEM

2)    Outside the boundaries of my region

3)    That they were getting my considerable knowledge for FREE.

4)    That under the DDA that they had certain obligations before saying no to a person which include CONSULTING to identify REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS.

5)    That they were a DISABILITY PROGRAM and ACCESS is their business!!!

I also pointed out that if a person in a wheelchair comes along that they would most certainly find an accessible building that has a ramp and that all their new buildings are required to have access for people in wheelchairs and that the said ramps were paid for by them, not the person in a wheelchair. Said I, “Now lets be realistic, a person with a wheelchair is not expected to carry a ramp under their arms or pay for their own ramps are they?”  Why then I asked, “ Am I expected to pay for the interpreters for a meeting that you are organizing for your region, as part of your program and when I am providing my considerable knowledge for free?”  My colleague, credit to him, knew that I was entirely correct. He said that he would get back to his manager. The said manager is still dilly-dallying. All I can say to the manager is YOU NUMPTY! For crying out loud, it’s a program that focuses on improving ACCESS. Practice what you preach! NUMPTY, NUMPTY NUMPTY!

The queen, king and champion of all numpties are the glorious management of Townsend House. They, of course, are responsible for the rather pathetic and ineffective services of Deaf Can Do. The services are irrelevant to the Deaf community, duplicated elsewhere and running at a heavy loss. The solution? Well it is to sell the beautiful and historical home of the South Australian Deaf community at 262, turf the Deaf community out on the street and then channel the money into the services of Deaf Can Do. Deaf Can Do services will then eat up all them profits from 262 and the Deaf community will be left with nothing. Numptiness at its best! (OK! I know that they said that they would find a new home for the Deaf community but, given their track record, don’t hold your breath.)

Too add insult to injury the numpties went and spent $11 000 to send their senior management team to Sydney for a business conference. Having told the Deaf community that the financial situation was so dire that they had to sell 262 they sent themselves off on a Junket. It was a two day Junket that cost them $11 000. Meanwhile the South Australian Deaf community is holding a candlelight vigil in front of 262 to show just how much the building means to them. Around the clock people are volunteering their time to attend the vigil in all weather. So what do the management do. Do they pay respect? Do they acknowledge the heartache and pain that their decisions are causing the Deaf community? No! They spend $11 000 on a two day junket while expecting us to believe that they are going broke! NUMPTIES!

But wait there is more. These same people want to become a service provider that people who are deaf or parents who have deaf children can tap into. They want to sell themselves as an EXPERT to provide early intervention services and get paid for it from NDIS funds. Here is what they are providing:

1)    Individual Speech therapy.

2)    Individual occupational therapy.

3)    Group occupational therapy.

4)    Early intervention, home, medical or centre visits.

5)    Early intervention groups.

6)    Technology support and training.

7)    Fund management.

This is an advertisement for CanDo4Kids which is part of the services that Townsend House provide. CanDo4Kids is the key service provider for deaf kids in South Australia. What is missing? Well there is no Auslan language development. This truly shows the respect that Townsend House have for the Deaf community and of their understanding of the power of sign language in a deaf child’s development. I suggest that if you are seeking services in South Australia for your deaf kids, seek it elsewhere. Surely this has to be the final insult!

Numpties – complete and utter!