What Really Matters


Image shows person kneeling and bent over in shame. background has haunting mist.

Well that was a week in politics wasn’t it? Make that a fortnight. It’s been so shambolic I have lost track of time. First there was the Royal Commission into Banking. To the surprise of no one the big banks have been ripping us off. The Government, who were dragged kicking and screaming to have the commission, have done – Nothing.

Then there was the Asylum seekers who are on Manus island. They can now come to Australia if they are sick. Mind you it is only them. Any new asylum seekers who are sick who and who wind up here on a boat can go and die. They don’t matter. Of course the Government is now trying to scare us all silly that the floodgates are going to be open to terrorists  and rapist from the lands of brown people.

You see they lost the vote and are the first government to lose a vote in Parliament for 90 years. That being the case they threw their toys out of the pram. Then Pauline Hanson was  accused of sexual harassment and two guys had a fight outside her office. Blood ended up smeared all over her door. Let’s not mention Trump who is apparently fat and healthy. Inspiring stuff this, hey?

In the midst of all this something that really does matter was lost. That is the push for a Royal Commission into the Abuse of People with a Disability. Senator Jordan Steele has a bill that he wants passed in parliament so that there can be a commission to investigate this abuse.

The Government, those jolly people, played delaying tactics and had this bill left hanging because they thought they might yet lose another vote in parliament. Meanwhile, people with a disability are being abused and are dying all over Australia. The Government is doing what it does best, nothing. I don’t say this lightly, but the current Liberal Government is the most appalling and disgusting Government, ever, in Australia’s history.

Let’s look at the figures for the abuse of people with a disability that I can find. Credit here to disability activist, Samantha Connor. I will list a few below;

  • Feb 6 2019 – Carer sacked after being charged with indecently assaulting a teenage girl with a cognitive impairment while employed as a carer at a facility in Sydney’s southwest in July 2018.
  • Feb 2 2019 – Three teenage girls fiercely attack, beat and kick an eighteen year old intellectually disabled man in an act of hate crime.
  • Feb 2 2019 – The carer of a disabled teen faces court after being charged with torture and assault after allegedly strangling him with his own bib. He was aged seventeen at the time and required around the clock care.
  • Jan 31 2019 – FaCS respite centre worker is found guilty of assaulting an autistic boy by trying to force feed him. The man was heard aggressively ordering the boy to “eat”, saying “f…king spit it out and I will f..king open your mouth” and told him he would break his neck.
  • 11 January 2019 – Mentally ill man, Kenneth Francis Dunster, who was identified as a choking risk, chokes to death at the Millbrook Rise Rehabilitation Centre, New Norfolk in Tasmania.
  • 9 January 2019 – 62-year-old support worker charged with the aggravated sexual assault of a 38-year-old cognitively impaired woman in October 2018.

In all Connor lists 18 cases that have been heard in 2019. Note we are only half way through February, less than two months into the year. All over Australia similar incidents of abuse are happening to people with a disability. What does the Government do?  It plays delaying tactics in parliament to save its own skin. Meanwhile Senator Jordan Steele is  trying to get this enquiry legislated. But what do the Government care? Those bloody brown skin people are gonna come in their millions and kill us all. Yep, this is Australia today.

And this abuse of people with a disability is well known. It’s been well known for a long time. Successive Governments have chosen to ignore it. People with a disability are being killed, assaulted, raped and systematically abused. Again Connor brings this to our attention;

30 June 2018 – Victorian Disability Services Commissioner releases report saying that there is widespread abuse and neglect of disabled people in Victoria, including 570 deaths in residential care facilities in a decade. The deaths included physical restraint, accidental choking on food and other items, inadequate supervision and inappropriate access to medication.

If you want to read this sordid tale click on the link above. Let it sink in – 570 deaths in a decade, just in Victoria! Just for having a disability. The majority of these appear to be at facilities run by the Government.

And there are more. A mother injecting urine into her disabled daughter to make her sick. A 44 year old man charged with drowning a disabled teenager. Carer charged for killing a disabled person, praying over its body and beating it with a belt. Autistic boy locked in a dark room and forced to urinate in a bucket. Mother sends disabled daughter to an aged care facility and the poisons her. These sordid stories go on and on.

What is our Government doing? It’s trying to save its own skin and fear mongering about asylum seekers who, in most cases, are doing nothing more than trying to save their own lives.

There is hope. Perhaps next week the Government will get its head out of its own arse long enough to listen to Senator Steele’s bill for a Royal Commission into the Abuse of People with a Disability. I hope so. I am not holding my breath because inevitably humans disappoint inevitably .… This week taught me that much. But who knows, they may surprise us!






Oh Sod Off

Sometimes I think we are making progress in this world. I think things are better. There are more opportunities. There is access and immediate communication. The government is funding some great stuff. We have the NDIS which has a long way to go but it is world leading. Given time it can and should be the best thing for people with a disability in Australia. Admittedly we are a long way from there yet. It’s a start though and we need to be patient. I tell myself and others, always, Rome was not built in a day.

And then I have days like today when I realise disability rights are a constant one step forward several hundred backwards. So often it seems like we are getting nowhere.

For example a disabled friend who does not have an NDIS package yet was trying to book supports to attend an event. The service organisation appeared quite happy to assist, given my friend did not have an NDIS package. The bubble was burst, however, when the organisation asked my friend if there were any other people with a disability attending the event who had NDIS funding and if my friend could let the service organisation know who they were. Presumably so that these people could pay for the supports my friend required. I mean – What the fuck? Not only is this unethical but it is a gross breach of confidentiality. Worse, its demeaning to my friend!

But worse was to come. Another friend posted an article to me. The article was about Australia’s Disability Discriminateasmuchasyoulike ACT.  Yes our famous DDA. The article was published at the People with a Disability Australia website, It basically said what we all know, that our DDA is rubbish. If you want to read the article the link is at the end of this Blog. What got me was that a seemingly intelligent judge could rule what he did.

It seems that there was a case where a person with a disability took a training organisation to the task. There is a college, you see, that teaches people about skin and other what nots to do with skin. This is the Australasian College of Dermatologists. I can only assume that some poor blighter with a disability wanted to attend the college and was refused access supports that would enable them to study.

Like any tertiary learning institute the fees are astronomical. A masters course in dermatology at the college will set you back $18 000. If you are going to fork out that kind of money one would hope that you would get full access. Well it appears not if you have a disability. Our hero seems to have asked for support through reasonable adjustments. The college seems to have dug in its heels and refused to provide the  necessary support.

For its obstinateness the college got taken to court for discrimination. The college, as is usually the case, won. The poor person with a disability missed out again, to the surprise of no one.

The article does not say what disability was involved. Nor does it state what the person with a disability was asking for in terms of access. All we know is that the person lost their case. Some bright as a knob judge decided that the college was under no obligation to provide any reasonable adjustments UNLESS – Now don’t laugh, this is serious – Unless the person with a disability could prove that the college  had refused them reasonable supports because of their disability. BECAUSE OF THEIR DISABILITY. Let that sink in for the moment.

So let’s say Gazzles, deaf as a post, wants to study dermatology. He gets accepted and goes to the college and says – ” I want captioning so I can access the course.” This is an entirely reasonable request. But the college says no. Not providing. “Why?” asks Gazzles. The college looks Gazzles in the eye  and says – “Because we don’t want to.”

“Not fair” says Gazzles. “I need it so I can know whats being said.” And the college replies, “Sorry, don’t want to.”

Discrimination I hear you all crying. Not according to the supremely intelligent Judge. The onus is on Gazzles to prove that the college didn’t provide the captioning because he was deaf. The dialogue might go something like this:

Gazzles: “Judge they are discriminating against me because they won’t provide me access to the course even though I met the criteria and I can pay.”

Judge: ” Well you skin experts, what do you have to say to that? Did you discriminate  against Gazzles?”

Skin Experts: “Nope”

Judge: ” It doesn’t look good from where I am standing, why cant you provide Gazzles with support?”

Skin Experts: ” Well cos we don’t provide captions to anyone, We don’t do it. It’s not our policy.”

Judge: ” Are you sure you are not refusing because Gazzles is Deaf?”

Skin Experts: “Quite sure – Providing captions is simply not something that we do.”

Judge: ” Gazzles, they say they are not refusing support to you because they simply don’t provide Captioning to anyone. What say you?”

Gazzles: “Judge, its obvious, it’s because I am deaf and they don’t want to pay.”

Judge: “Is that what they said to you? Do you have that in writing?”

Gazzles: ” Well, No.”

Judge: ” So you have no concrete proof support was refused because you are deaf?”

Gazzles: ” Well no, but its obvious isn’t it?”

Judge: “Not without any proof, no. Case dismissed!”

Ridiculous isn’t it – But this is exactly what has just happened. A court ruled that if the person with a disability cannot prove that support was refused because of their disability they are – In the Queens English – Fucked!

And that is our DDA. Pathetic, useless and totally only worth the paper that it is written on. It is shocking. It is time to fix this mess now before Australia becomes the laughing stock of the world in terms of disability rights.

I mean even our Disability Commissioner makes the point in the Sydney Morning Herald on February 3rd. The Commish had this to say:

” Progress has been incredibly slow,” Mr McEwin said. “A lot of politicians have assumed, ‘Oh we’re great we’ve got the NDIS, we don’t need to do that much more.’ But we’ve got the issue of guardianship laws, the issues of physical access, and the issue of young people missing out on educational opportunities or not getting a job.”

There you have it. Straight from the horses mouth. Human Rights for Australians with a disability are a mess. We need to fix this now. Let’s start with that useless DDA! And if we can’t commit to that we may well just sod off!

And that article – Am I being overly dramatic? Well read it and you be the judge, click on the link below: