“Jenny and I have been blessed, we’ve got two children that don’t — that haven’t had to go through that,” .. and as one, the disability community erupted. Didn’t they let ScoMo know! Look, I don’t think he meant any harm. But there are two parts of what he said – ““Jenny and I have been blessed, we’ve got two children that don’t ….” No doubt he was about to say “.. have a disability” But he corrected himself with … ” – that haven’t had to go through that” – THAT – What does this word tell you about his attitude to disability?
The first part, where he has corrected himself, it tells you he is glad that he and Jenny didnt have children with a disability. That tells us he thinks, consciously or subconsciously, that people with a disability are lesser beings. ScoMo wouldn’t be the only one. However, as Prime Minister we expect better of him.
The second part of his comment is what intrigues me the most – “- that haven’t had to go through THAT.” The mother who asked him the question wanted to know how he was going to improve the NDIS because her son had just had his plan cut. Is ScoMo, consciously or subconsciously, stating that Australia is no place for people with a disability? Is he stating that the struggle that people with a disability have to get the support that they require is as a direct result of the policies that his Government has introduced? Think about it – he and Jenny are glad that their children did not have to go through THAT! Blessed by god to have avoided it even!
The mothers question was directly related to the NDIS having failed her and her child. The failure is a direct result of Government policy. This Government is hell bent on cutting plans. They are hell bent on making it more difficult to get the supports that are required. They have publicly stated that they need to reduce expenditure on the NDIS. They have caps on the number of people the NDIS employ so as to save money. The shortage of workers has led to great delays in processing claims for essential things like wheelchairs. Did ScoMo just admit that his Government was the cause of THAT and it was a blessing that he, Jenny and his kids did not have to go through THAT?
You see the mistake that ScoMo and his Government continue to make is that they want to continue to make it all about people with a disability, and not in a good way. They want to make it about people with disability in a way that they are a drain on the public purse – A BURDEN. Never have I heard his Government discuss the NDIS as an investment with benefits that allow people with a disability to contribute to society. Never have I heard them discuss the return on investment.
The evidence is clear. Caitlin Fitzsimmons, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, reveals that the average cost of a plan for participants fell by 4% in 2021, “… The figures revealed in the latest NDIS quarterly report show average spending per participant fell from $71,200 in 2020 to $68,500 in 2021” Clearly, the Government is hell bent on cutting plans, even to the point that they hire private legal firms to fight their cause when participants appeal cuts to plans. What was it last year that they paid in legal fees? $32million? Did you know appeals for cut plans increased by 400% last year? It’s very clear what the Government is doing.
And how do they do this? Well, Albanese provided us with a brilliant example. A disabled person uses a colostomy bag. This is not uncommon. For some unknown reason a bureaucrat in the NDIS decided to cut the purchase of colostomy bags in a persons plan. These are not cheap. Without proper hygiene and access to colostomy bags many disabled people are at risk of severe infections. It’s a clear cost of disability, but it was cut! When questioned as to why the cut was made the bureaucrat asked .. “..Cant you reuse a colostomy bag?” It’s crazy that the NDIS could even consider employing anyone that would be this clueless, but there you have it.
This is what disability is about. Not the individual person with a disability, not being blessed but constantly having to fight a system that puts up barriers and prevents access to … almost everything. It’s not just the NDIS. People with obvious disabilities, who cant work and who have mountains of evidence are denied income support through the Disability Support Pension.
Again, it is Government policy to spend less on pensions. So these people have to appeal too. They go to AAT. They have to spend good money on doctors reports and evidence. But still they are denied. Yes, I know there are people who rort the system. I work as an advocate in this area and let me tell you none of the people that come to us, and there are many, are rorting the system. Often it is just a pig headed bureaucrat trying to follow the Government mandate!
And you know what? It means thousands of people with a disability are living on almost nothing. They have to go on Jobseeker -$46 a day. It adds to the spiral of poverty. What was it that Price Waterhouse Cooper found? 45% of people with a disability are living below the poverty line. How many others are on very low basic wages. Hell, one Disability Employment Enterprise pays its executive a healthy salary and makes $17 million just from Bunnings alone. Yet, they somehow think that paying someone $2.37 an hour is ok. You know why? In many cases because if they do pay more the person will receive cuts to their Disability Support Pension. Again, it is this ablebodied and clueless bureaucracy causing the problem, not people with a disability.
We talked about this at a team meeting at work yesterday – I am blessed to work with informed people :-D. It is a vicious cycle. The poverty means that there are many people with a disability who are actually homeless. Many, because they cannot afford cars petrol etc, are forced to use public transport. Thats cool, but a lot of public transport isn’t accessible. In Victoria, as an example, the State Government promised every tram stop was supposed to be accessible this year. They are nowhere near it! Indeed, many of the trams are still not accessible.
This means people are stuck at home. Unable to get out and about. Not to worry, they have an NDIS support worker. But the NDIS is being cut too, by a Government obsessed with cutting expenditure on us pesky disabled! Oh, how I wish Mark Bagshaw was still alive to give us the modelling of how much Australia would benefit from people with a disability if they made society fully accessible. I think he said that if they just made public transport accessible, Australia would benefit to the tune of $43 billion. That was around 2008. How much would it be now?
Yes Scomo, you and your family are truly blessed that you – ” … haven’t had to go through THAT.” – Of THAT, I am sure.