Allan Takes Aim Blog

There are no votes in disability

Posted on: 17 April 2011


The brief blog:  Sunday, 17 April, 2011

On Radio National this morning I heard the story of a young intellectually disabled lady called Melissa Avery who has appeared before the courts times without number following her arrest for minor shoplifting offences and as result been sent to jail.

That Melissa doesn’t know she is doing wrong has not prevented this happening nevertheless she will be sent to jail and be incarcerated with dangerous people who do know the difference between right and wrong who have taken advantage of her inability to know the difference. But politicians who do know the difference seem reluctant to acknowledge the situation and do anything about perhaps because as one astute carer said: there are no votes in disability. 

In a sense it wasn’t only Melissa’s story that was being told it was also the story of thousands of Australians, young and old who suffer from intellectual disability. At the same time it was also the story of thousands of mums and dad, brothers, sisters, other relatives and others who care for people with an intellectual disability. 

However, when it is said that a country should be known by how it treats its disabled and disadvantaged should worry all Australians. Why should it worry them? It should worry them that they will never know if by accident they too, will become like Melissa or if the situation arises and they have a child or children like Melissa.

It is a situation I am very conscious of because of my intellectually disabled nephew John, aged 44 who fortunately is not in the same position as Melissa but whose parents worry constantly about what will become of him when they die. I have never asked them and never will but I suspect that at times they hope he will die before them.

This places an enormous burden on the shoulders of all parents who have a child with an intellectual disability because the law makes no provision for their condition with the result that effectively many become habitual criminals in the eyes of the law and are consigned to being locked up in prison.

I can but add that if as a society we devoted as much time and money keeping our intellectually disabled people out of prison as we do on people who deserve to be in prison, the world would be a be a better place and the carers of the people with an intellectual disability would live a better and less stressful life.

dca@netspeed.com.au

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2 Responses to "There are no votes in disability"

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