It was a really merry Xmas for the leaders of many of our Disability Peaks this year. The Abbott government, showing all the compassion that it is renown for, announced that many Disability Peaks had been defunded. This just three days before Christmas. For many that worked within these peaks either as CEOs, administrative workers or project officers, Xmas came with the knowledge that they were about to be out of a job.
For those not in the know, Disability peaks are those organisations that advocate to the Government on behalf of people with a disability and their families. In the Deafness sector these peaks were Deaf Australia and Deafness Forum. Through the skilled advocacy of these organisations many programs have come about such as the Auslan for Employment Scheme that was later expanded to include live captioning. We have also seen steady progress and improvement in captioning and telecommunication access among other things.
Sadly both Deaf Australia and Deafness Forum are among the peaks that have been defunded. They are currently in for the fight of their life to stay afloat. In the short-term they are unlikely to have their funding restored. They will both need to work very closely together to ensure the needs of Australians who are Deaf and hard of hearing are heard. They must carry on without funding. A merger is on the cards.
This Government has no clue as to what it is like to live in Australia with a disability. It seems to not care that Australia performs horrendously in providing support for people with a disability. Why else would 45% of people with a disability live in poverty? People with a disability are among the most vulnerable in Australia yet the Government has them firmly in its targets. Meanwhile mega rich mining and media moguls continue to get tax breaks and abuse the system.
Cruelly one of the Governments targets is single parents. Currently as soon as a single parent’s child turns 8 years old single parents are being forced on to Newstart. They are being made to look for work. This requirement in itself can be very unfair but if your child has a disability it becomes even more so.
My friend is the mother of a child who is deaf and also has autism. She has been forced on to Newstart. My friend already works five days a week but with limited hours. Luckily she works at her son’s school but must be on call to deal with any adverse behaviors that might happen. Last week, as an example, her son head-butted a glass pane door of his classroom because he could not get in. It smashed and he cut his face all over. Said my friend, “ He was damn lucky not to have cut his eyes or a major blood vessel. Bled like a stuck pig. Added 20 years and too many grey hairs to count.”
While this sort of incident is extreme her child’s challenging behaviours are common enough. It means that my friend has to be available at call. She requires a flexible work environment which she, luckily, currently has. Her family is not close by to support her apart from her elderly grandparents who are unable to offer support. Her ex-husband has his own health issues and the bulk of her sons care falls almost solely on her. She gets no respite care from the Government because she cannot get this unless she is, “going to hurt my children or myself.” The NDIS is currently not an option either because its not due to be introduced to her area until 2016, if at all.
At home she also has to deal with meltdowns. She is trying to assist her deaf child with language development. She is assisting her child with his education that is inevitably interrupted and challenged through autism and deafness. She is also trying to give fair attention and love to her other child. On top of this add the additional expense of broken objects and laptops that can be the product of behavioural meltdowns.
My friend does not get carers payment from the Government because – “ I don’t provide constant care in the home because he goes to school” She gets carers allowance that she must split with her ex-husband. This provides her with the princely sum of $56 a fortnight. Previously she got single parenting payment but now she has been shafted to Newstart she has lost $205 a fortnight.
AND to top this off, because she has been shafted to Newstart, she is expected to apply for ten jobs per week. This single mother who can be called from work at any time to care for her child, who has the sole care of a child who is both deaf and autistic, a child that has challenging behaviour at home and school that requires her constant vigilance, who also has the sole care of another child … This mother is expected to look for ten jobs per week! Why? Because the Government thinks she is a LEANER and somehow has the capacity to not only look for ten jobs a week but also work full time. As she so eloquently put it – “How f#*ked is that?”
This is what the Abbott Government wants from people who have next to nothing! Meanwhile the worlds richest woman, Gina, is floating on her luxury yacht, sipping an adult beverage whilst getting tax breaks left, right and centre. To top this off Dr Death Morrison has been appointed Minister of Social Services and our advocacy peaks have been defunded. AND the NDIS is about to be used as a pawn for the Government to push through its unfair welfare cuts! Indeed – How f#*ked is that?
Merry F#*king Everyone!