Spread the Love ..

A colleague once said to me that people with a disability who are strong activist are an angry mob. He said they should learn to calm down and work with the powers that be instead of upsetting them all the time. I know a number of hearing colleagues who work in the deaf sector who consider it negative for Deaf activist. and advocates to be constantly speaking out. They tell us that we should, “Spread the love”

Now, I should disclose here that I am a gnarly old disability advocate. I have been in the sector advocating for both deaf people and people with a disability for a very long time. I can be quite aggressive, often sarcastic and very often impatient. There is a reason for that.

Einstein once said that insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This, to me anyway, describes many ablebodied and hearing people. For many years we have told them ” Nothing about us with out us ..”  Yet still they go on their merry way making decisions for us and without us. If we get angry about this we are labeled all sorts of things – negative, stirrers, unappreciative, scare mongers, nasty etc … These labels are used to dismiss our concerns and banish us.

The NDIS is guilty of this. It is largely run by ablebodied people. Heaps of them from banking backgrounds who want the NDIS to act as an insurance scheme. They make decisions like insurance companies too. Decisions that are based purely on saving money. They call it sustainability of the scheme. Don’t be fooled by this namby pamby term … It’s all about saving money.

The NDIS most recent foray into upsetting the disability community is the establishment of independent assessments. This is the agencies attempt to provide people with a disability with what they call consistent decisions. The NDIS argue that with independent assessments they can ensure a consistent decision making process will happen and people with disability will get plans that are more relevant to their needs. By having independent assessments LACs can do what they were initially paid for, that is is to do community development and help participants to implement their plans. This instead of being tied to their desks trying to achieve impossible KPIs.

The NDIS, like many in the disability sector, engage in what I call reverse consultation. That is that they make a decision, with no intention of reversing that decision and then ask people with a disability what they think. In this case they developed the idea of independent assessments. They then asked people with a disability to take part in a”trial” so that they could refine and polish the idea for roll-out.

If you do not know, the basic idea of independent assessments is that the NDIS selects a pool of professionals to carry out the independent assessments. They pay them and use the assessments that they conduct to develop the NDIS plans. The independent assessors submit their assessment to the NDIS and NDIS planners use these assessments to develop a participants plan. I have not yet quite understood where people with a disability provide input to the process. Apart from, of course, taking part in the assessment.

When this idea was mooted the disability activist community hit the roof. They saw independent assessments as a way of the NDIS taking away the control of the planning process from people with a disability.  People with a disability objected to the NDIS selecting the professionals to do assessments instead of using the professionals who have supported and worked with them for many years.

The NDIS argue that the independent assessments will utilise past assessments from participants chosen professsionals in completing their assessments. But the disability community have been lukewarm in their response. They have largely refused to take part in the trial run. So difficult was it for the NDIS to find people with a disability to take part in the trials that they resorted to trying to manipulate these people to participate by offering them $150.

The point is that people with a disability have largely said “NO” – They don’t want this because they see the independent assessment process as nothing more than a dodgy attempt to take away their control and save the NDIS buckets of money. The views and the needs of people with a disability have been ignored and dismissed. Indeed independent assessments were rolled out with NO consultation, whatsoever, apart from asking for input after the event. (The NDIS will argue that they used the finding of the Tune report and that this is something that the Tune Report recommended.)

The result is an extremely angry disability community. And you know, the NDIS have absolutely no intention of listening to or considering input from people with a disability. Allegedly, they have already begun advertising for independent assessors. If true this shows that the the NDIS have absolutely no intention of considering the views and wants of the disability community. It will be the NDIS way or the highway!

The Minister for the NDIS is a particularly nasty piece of work. This is the same guy that used the media to label people with a disability as sexual deviants. People with a disability want to use their funds to help them experience sexual intimacy and pleasure. This meets all the NDIS benchmarks of an “Ordinary Life”.

Some have asked for funding to adapt sex aids or have have support to develop and implement ways in which they can experience and enjoy sex and intimacy. All of this has been labeled by the Minister as wasting NDIS money on prostitutes. In an interview with Leon Byner the Minister had this to say ..

“Well, the average Australian I speak to is aghast that we’d be paying billions of dollars for the services of prostitutes. Now, if people wish to use any services that are lawful in this country, they can do so with their own money. But you can’t bill it to the Commonwealth.”

A diplomatic way to criticise the Minister would be to call him ignorant. The reality is that he is just an absolute knob!

Yeah, I am angry, frustrated, aggressive, immature – you name it.  No, I am just fed up. Fed up of these ablebodied people with no clue controlling my life, without my input and then labelling me and my disabled/deaf colleagues negative for daring to challenge and speak out.

Feel the love?  Bet you can’t!!!

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