Allan Takes Aim Blog

Give the disabled the dignity they deserve

Posted on: 29 September 2011


This is the uneditedversion of the article published in The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 27 September, 2011 

Few people go through life without experiencing disability. Some examples: being confined to bed with flu or broken a leg or temporarily blind. A temporary loss of voice would also be ability even though it might make life more pleasant for other people. 

In fact the list of such disabilities is almost limitless and though most of us would not think them disabilities for some people they are a disaster of the first magnitude. But whether minor and temporary or major and permanent, when people are affected the one thing they all have in common is their need of help.

Some periods of disability can be overcome by treatment in hospital or even by self-administered medication; some cannot. Unfortunately some disabilities are so serious only governments can provide the money necessary to fund programmes to help people with a disability.

Thus Federal, State and Territory Governments fund many disability programmes, some of which are classed as priority, which is as it should be.  It should also be mentioned that the Federal Government proposes to introduce a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) that will help ease the financial burdens many families with seriously disabled members face. Sadly, some problems will remain.

But let us not sit back thinking the NDIS a panacea for all the problems in the disability field and say to ourselves: problem solved. What we should do is ensure that, when introduced, the ACT should be so well prepared that its introduction will proceed smoothly thus ensuring that families with serious disabled members will enjoy maximum benefit.  

Having had a long personal association with disability (with two physically (now one) disabled sister) and having worked for years with various disability organisations in Canberra, people often contact me with their concerns. Fortunately, many are easy to solve; unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Generally, but not always, the concerns that take my immediate attention relate to children, and by children I don’t just mean kindergarten age children, but children who attend special, public and independent schools.

From experience I know that many parents of children with a disability often get emotional if they think their children are being disadvantaged at school. Their reason for becoming emotional is they feel their children are getting less than adequate attention. At times, and rightly or wrongly, they see this disadvantage in terms of discrimination.

Unfortunately the parents’ emotion turns to anger. I understand this too. Indeed at times, when this discrimination applies to people with a disability I become angry. That some parents become angry is due to them thinking that in some respects the discrimination seems to have become endemic. I hear these statements with a sense of déjà vu and sadness because many years ago I heard parents say the same.

They also say that when nothing happened after taking their concerns to the Government in desperation, they voiced them to the Opposition even though knowing it had no power to act. Nevertheless I am sure they will be pleased to know that, in a recent speech to the Assembly Mr Doszpot Shadow Minister for Disability raised their concerns about a shortage of equipment for people with a disability; lack of therapy and after-school care services at special schools; lack of post-school options for special needs students; a shortage of supported accommodation; and poor respite services.

While such concerns clearly point to a shortage of both staff and money, I hasten to add that they do not point to lack of effort by staff who labour tirelessly and often in their own time, for the people in their care. Indeed, many parents say that if they could give them a medal and an increase in pay, they would.

Briefly, although the NDIS might cure some problems, it will not cure the lack of understanding among policy makers of what caring for a person with a disability means and how it can affect a family’s life. And although the ACT election is not due until October 2012, some parents who called me said they intend to support new candidates and/or current members who seem to think the curing of such problems is no longer aspirational but necessary.

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4 Responses to "Give the disabled the dignity they deserve"

I worked with young mentally disabled adults in France for recreational activities. When my partially Government-funded contract ended and was not renewed for financial reasons too long to explain here, they thought that I was leaving because I didn’t love them any more. It nearly broke my heart, as I was unable to make them understand. They had given so much to me at a very difficult time in my life. We all suffered from this withdrawal of funding.

Lady Marilyn, I hope many people in Canberra read your post because at the nmoment I’m engaged in a major fundraisng effort for people with disabilities. Readers might like to know that this year ACTAADS an Assciation of which I am a member has raised and distributed $18,000 to Canberrans with a disability.

Simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is simply great and I could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

Real superb info can be found on web blog . “Society produces rogues, and education makes one rogue more clever than another.” by Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wills Wilde.

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