Saturday, 25 September 2010

At 16.42 yesterday afternoon I pressed

the button and sent a submission off to the government. I hope it is the last time I will have to do such a thing.
The report has gone to the Social Inclusion Unit. This unit is supposed to be looking at Social Inclusion Disability Reform. I wonder if it really will?
There will be submissions to the unit from across the state. Many of them will come from organisations that have been putting in submissions for as long as I can remember...and that is a long time. Other submissions will come from individuals, some of who, have also been putting in submissions for as long as I can remember. Both organisations and individuals are tough. They have to be. They are still making very little progress.
My submission will be different from anything anyone else has submitted. Their submissions will focus on issues specific to their areas of concern or look at the need for the supply of equipment and services, and the lack of special needs accommodation, transport, education, employment. They are perennial and urgent problems. Little will be done. There will be no increase in funding, indeed the last State Budget has effectively decreased funding yet again even while appearing to increase it. The need for assistance is growing now that the generation of people with disabilities who were "mainstreamed" in school and placed "in the community" are reaching an age where they need more physical assistance and their parents, who have undertaken most of their care are reaching an age where they have come to realise that they will not always be able to do it.
Siblings, who have married and have children and even grandchildren of their own, are not always able or willing to take on the care of a brother or sister with a disability - and yet this is, all too often, what is expected.
All these, and many other things, are issues. They are issues of concern and there is a growing awareness that the problem is going to grow rather than go away.
There is also an almost universal problem in the disability sector. It does not get acknowledged because it is not understood. It goes almost unrecognised and, when it is recognised, people have no idea what to do about it and even believe it "does not really matter".
It is a problem with communication. Put quite simply, many people with disabilities also have a communication disability and that disability will go unrecognised. There may be a casual acknowledgment that someone is not literate or has difficulty with literacy skills but that is seen as part of a wider problem rather than a problem in itself. It is not a visible problem and, for many, it does not exist because it cannot be seen.
Literacy skills are just a small part of the wider communication process. The research I did which forms the basis for the submission used the following as a guideline for a definition of being able to communicate independently,
The ability to make contact at any time with a stranger and ask for assistance without the assistance of or interference by any other person.
How many people do you know who would be unable to do that? Anyone unable to do that is at risk of abuse. That alone is why the problem of communication in the disability sector needs to be addressed. It is also why it will almost certainly not be addressed. Even acknowledging that
the problem exists would require a major change to the way in which we view the whole concept of disability.
I will leave it at that except to ask, "How would you feel if you were not free to ask for assistance when you needed it most?"


Anonymous said...

Unanswerable question Cat - needed emergency plumbing this morning and I just picked up the 'phone!
Bob C-S

Donna Hosie said...

Keep fighting the fight, cat. It is a noble one.

Weaving a Tale or Two said...

I ditto Donna. As the election official for my city, I became aware of some of the issues you mention. There are certain assumptions made--not just by government but by people in general--about the problems faced by people with disabilities, things like the one you mention but also that the disabled will always have access to a trusted helper.

catdownunder said...

You would be horrified then at how many PWDs have their vote taken from them by their carers. Assumptions are made that (a) PWDs do not know anything about politics and (b) that they are going to vote for a particular party. I once got told by someone who should have known better that "all people with disabilities vote X"!

Weaving a Tale or Two said...

Yeah, right.