A Sign of Manners

The graphic is a black and white banner with a stylised M. It reads, in capitals – MANNERS

Parliament is back. An emotional Prime Minister Albanese gave his full endorsement to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This will give First Nations People a voice in parliament. Said Albanese,

“When you have issues that are affecting people, particularly people who have a history going back 65,000 years that offers us a continuous source of great national pride here in Australia, why wouldn’t you?

Why wouldn’t you grasp that generous and gracious offer which is about reconciliation, which is about acknowledging dispossession and colonisation and all of the tragedy and injustice that occurred as a result of the First Fleet arriving in 1788?

In what might be the understatement of the century, Albanese called the push to give First Nations People a voice in parliament – “A sign of manners.”

It was looking to be good week for minority groups at the opening of parliament. Australia’s first Muslim Hijab wearing Senator, Fatima Payman, urged Muslim women to wear their Hijab with pride. This was reported widely in the media. Senator Payman believes that it was time that Australia’s parliament reflected, “…the true diversity….” of the country. And so it should.

I began to think that the adults had finally arrived in parliament. Gosh, this collection of MPs and senators might actually begin to treat each other with respect and dignity. Finally, we might actually have a parliament that can disagree and debate without personal attacks and ulterior motives. It was looking good.

And then Dutton spoke. He accused Albanese, with out a shred of evidence, of siding with, “Union rapist thugs.” Such Unionist are apparently harassing women on building sites.

Worst of all, Pauline Hanson walked out of the Acknowledgment the Country at the opening of the Senate. Simply put, Hanson threw all her toys out of the pram. She stated that she wouldn’t acknowledge the Elders past and present now and never would. Racist only scratches the surface of all the evil things that this woman is.

But wait, it gets worse. New Senator, David Pocock, requested an Auslan interpreter for his maiden speech in the Senate. He was apparently refused this request by the major parties because they feared setting a precedent. You see, if Senator Pocock were allowed an Auslan interpreter it would mean that every Senator in the Senate or every MP in the parliament could request one. We cant have that, can we? Not with a trillion dollars in debt. Blimey, it might even encourage Deaf people to try for parliament. Gosh, all that diversity that Senator Payman is pleading for, we cant have that can we?? It was about here that I knew nothing really had changed. In the first line of this paragraph there is a hyperlink. Read it and weep, but don’t read the comments that tell Deaf people to stop moaning and use the subtitles. (I kid you not.)

What does that tell you about how the government and the opposition really thinks about people with a disability. Certainly not a group of people to enhance diversity. Certainly not a group of people that should be part of an inclusive workplace.

Prime Minister Albanese says it is good manners to give First Nations people a voice in parliament. It absolutely is and I support this 100 percent. BUT, somehow the simple measure of providing an Auslan interpreter to be inclusive for the Auslan users of Australia is some sort of dangerous and costly precedent. Sorry, but this smacks of double standards.

I urge the major parties to reconsider the request of Senator Pocock and any other member of the parliament or senate who should make such a request for Auslan interpreters hereon. After all, in the words of our newly elected Prime Minister, “It’s a sign of manners.”

Or are we not worthy???


Image is of a gold coloured, standard T-handle walking stick

Over COVID? Me too! Its been over two years and the dastardly little bug wont go away. It’s locked us down, separated us, made us sick, killed us and it’s destroyed economies the world over. To the end of last year Governments decided that they were no longer going to be held hostage by this little bug and opened up. Freedoms returned and we all go to travel again. We all got to fly interstate or overseas. And weren’t we happy!!

We hoped that COVID would have gone by now. Alas, no! We are currently confronting the third wave of Omicron and people are dying again. Who knows? Mandates and lock downs might return. In the meantime we continue to travel and fly. Now, we not only have to fear COVID but if we are flying, we fear being JOYCED.

JOYCED is a term that was coined to describe the chaos that flyers are experiencing as demand for flights increases. Essentially the term is taking the piss out of Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce. Unfortunately, the efficiency of airlines has taken a hit since COVID. Flights are frequently cancelled, baggage has gone missing, processing passengers is taking ages. Consequently, people need to be at the airport very, very early to make sure they get to their gate on time.

Much of this is because the airlines are under-staffed. People are sick with COVID, forced to isolate and cant come to work. The result of this under-staffing is unbridled chaos. Instead of acknowledging these very real issues of under-staffing Joyce made the mistake of blaming passengers for the delays. Apparently, we were all out of practice for catching planes and this is the main cause of the delays. Passengers didn’t take to kindly to being blamed for things out of their control so decided that they would blame Joyce. Hence, when things go arse up at the airport, flights are cancelled or baggage is lost, passengers have been JOYCED!

People with a disability are also being JOYCED. Unfortunately, the consequences for being JOYCED if you have a disability can be quite severe. My dear friend Liz represented Australia at a recent United Nations disability gathering in America. Liz is a wheelchair user. On her journey to New York she endured two broken planes meaning they had to book her other flights. She had connecting flights cancelled mid-flight causing extreme delays. This led to overnight stays in strange places and re-bookings that saw her finally land at her destiny. Only for her baggage to go missing! It remained missing for over a week.

For a person with a disability this can be catastrophic. In Liz’s case all her chargers for her wheelchair were in the baggage. All her medications were in her bag causing her extreme health challenges that led her to having to go to ER in New York. She had been promised that her bags would be returned soon, yet by the day of her leaving, more than a week later, they had not arrived. Naturally, she was greatly inconvenienced and stressed. That’s what being JOYCED entails … ( Do note, it wasn’t all Qantas’ fault, however, for the sake of the narrative we will blame them 😀 )

There is a reason why many people with a disability hate flying. In these COVID riddled days they hate it even more. Before COVID it was bad enough. No more than two people with a disability per flight. Valuable mobility equipment damaged by baggage handlers. People with disability being denied access to a flight because they were seen as a risk. Famously, Kurt Fearnley crawled through an airport because airlines refused to allow him to use his own wheelchair and he refused the “Standard” trolley like chairs that they insisted he use.

Recently former Disability Commissioner, Graeme Innes, was humiliated by airport security, They refused to let his guide dog go through X-ray machine. Apart from that they treated him like a child and with immense disrespect. So upset was Innes that he is now seeking damages.

In these COVID days, any delays can be a disaster I got VIRGINNED recently (We cant blame poor Alan for everything.) I couldn’t get through security. I had just had a hip replacement and the new fangled metal hip set of the alarm. SHIT! The security guard comes up, masked and all, and mutters something that was probably. “Go back and come through again.” I started shitting bricks because I was already running late.

Now I am Deaf, and in this case I was also physically limited. I was four weeks post-op and using a walking stick. I’m telling the security guard I cant hear him and have to lipread. He refused to remove his mask. I suggested he might like to use my Live Transcribe. He ignored me and my suggestion. What he did next was truly mind boggling.

He took away my walking stick and asked me to walk through. I asked him how I was supposed to do that. He just gestured angrily for me to walk through. So here I was, physically incapacitated and expected to walk through. So I did, very painfully and with great difficulty. Unsurprisingly the alarm went off again.

I explained to the guy about the hip operation and why the alarm was going off, but he didn’t care. He gestured at me to take my shoes off and go back. By this time I had had enough. Angrily I said,

“Look mate, I’m in pain. I have no idea what you are saying. I cant walk any further without my walking stick AND if I take my shoes off, I hope you are the one that will help me put them back on! “

He said something through his mask. I reminded him I couldn’t hear him. The fucker rolled his eyes at me and gestured at me to stay. He went and got his manager who must have told him to frisk me, and he did. Fifteen minutes or so later I was on my way. Luckily, my flight had been delayed.

And then, of course, the inflight entertainment had no captions. (I was in business class.) I mean in this day and age, where streaming companies can caption everything, you expect something as simple as captioning to exist. The food was good though, and I commend Virgin on their choice of wines. I commend them a little less on their choice of security guards. By the way, the airline steward was great too. Made communicating as easy as possible by removing his mask and even spoke into my Live Transcribe.

This is Australia today. It is 2022 and disability discrimination is rampant everywhere. Australia, particularly the airline industry, needs to do better than this.

So, if you’re non-disabled and you get JOYCED, while I empathise with you, spare a thought for what people with a disability often have to endure. It ain’t a lot of fun, I can tell you!