Wednesday, 9 September 2009

"This government is committed

to doing something...." Perhaps.
Yet another report on disability services in Australia landed on my desk yesterday. I read it last night. It was shorter than most and said even less. The present government is committed to doing even less than previous governments.
I believe the real rot started in the 60's when there were the first moves to "mainstream" and "deinstitutionalise". (What a word!) The social theory of assimilation and rights and dignity quickly became a reason to spend less taxpayer money on those who needed extra assistance. Of course, according to each successive government, they are spending more than the previous government on disability services - and doing so in "difficult economic services".
There has also been a persistent myth that left leaning governments do more in the area of social welfare than right leaning governments. The statistics show that this is not the case but the myth continues to the increasing disillusionment of old activists who grumble that the young ones do not know how bad things were "back then".
Many of the old activists do more harm than good although they do it with the best of intentions. They still believe passionately in mainstreaming, integration and assimilation. They believe that, if you throw enough money at a problem then that will solve the problem. It cannot and it will not. There is never going to be enough money.
There are also other issues that they often refuse to recognise. These are the activists who grumble when the profoundly deaf do not join in the chorus of demands for mainstream education and who seem happy with their own language and social group. These are the activists who believe that permanent wheelchair access should be provided for all buildings, no matter what the cost or whether anyone will use it. Asked to choose between the access and a wheelchair for a child they simply say that there is no need to make a choice. Society should provide both.
Society is not going to provide everything.
I am however puzzled by the failure of activists and providers to provide more assistance with communication skills. The research we did showed real benefits for both the individual and the provider when communication skills were enhanced. For those with profound communication disabilities who were also getting considerable assistance with the activities of daily living there was a decrease in the amount of time required each day and an increase in satisfaction with the service provided.
The puzzle however solves itself when I remember the words of the senior public servant, "If you cannot communicate you cannot complain."
I suspect it would have been better for many people if I had never been taught to read and write.


Anonymous said...

How did the government manage to keep it short AND say less? A long report usually says far less than a short one!
Perhaps it has something to do with printing allowances getting into the news yesterday.

catdownunder said...

I really do not know - it is a complete puzzle. It probably looked worse for the relevant ministers at the normal word length?

Rachel Fenton said...

I love complaining! Other people ask me to complain for them!

Governments always say too little too late and then still manage to tie themselves in knots with what they've said!

catdownunder said...

Oh Rachel, would you like to move in and help in the complaints department? The problem is that our Premier disappears whenever there is bad news.

Rachel Fenton said...

Might I suggest complaining to his wife? :)

catdownunder said...

Subversive and radical thought! I wonder if she can find him - not sure she gets to accompany him on all those overseas trips!