political now and then I have tried not to use this blog as a means of ranting against governments of all descriptions - well not too much.
This morning however I am tossing my planned blog post topic aside and I am going to fume. Why? Because our state government, in a totally outrageous move designed to "save $2.2 m over three years", has decided to grab money from the most vulnerable people in the community. They are doing this by shifting the financial affairs of some profoundly physically and intellectually disabled people from one department to another.
Now that does not sound as if it would save money but it will do two things. First, it will cut eight positions in one department and add to the workload of another which will not get extra positions. Second, because the other department happens to be the Public Trustee, there will be additional charges to handle the affairs of these individuals.
There will be a charge to move their funds to the Public Trustee, an annual charge and an ongoing charge. At present, unless outrage succeeds, these highly vulnerable people could end up paying another $45 a week. They already pay 85% of their pension on accommodation and food. The rest is taken up with clothing, transport etc. An additional $5 a week would have some people struggling. If they implement these changes then some people will depend entirely on charity for clothing and for getting to medical appointments - forget any daily activities or recreation.
What about family? I can hear some of you asking that question now. Yes, some of those with families will cope because their families will help, indeed are already helping. However there are others, and I once taught some of these people, who have no families. They were state wards as children and nobody has ever acknowledged them as family. They are highly vulnerable people.
They are a soft target for the government.
Governments can get away with such things because these people cannot speak for themselves. Yes, other people can try and speak for them - and I do and I will continue to do so. However the problem is that there are many competing needs out there. There are parents who are, rightly, determined to do the best for their own disabled child. They do not rest until they get what they want. That is understandable. It also sometimes takes services away from those who need them even more but do not have others to advocate for them.
There are also "advocates" who have a particular agenda to push. There are advocates who have pushed for the closure of institutions and the "right" of everyone to live "in the community". There are advocates who have demanded that all buildings be made "accessible". There are advocates who have demanded all children be educated in the "mainstream". Others have demanded the closure of "sheltered workshops" etc. All these have had considerable success - because governments see these demands as being "cost effective", a way of reducing demands on government or not requiring a government outlay.
It has left government with the problem of how to reduce the cost of caring for the most vulnerable people in the community. For government there can only be one answer to that - take as much of the pension back as legally possible. Leave others to voluntarily provide the basics of clothing, personal hygiene, transport etc. It does not matter to them that those they are targetting will have an even lower quality of life than they now have.
These are decisions made by people only concerned with cutting costs where they can be cut without fear of political reprisal. They would claim, and may even genuinely believe, they have the interests of people with disabilities to hand.
The reality is that they do not and will not unless it becomes a personal. Well, for me it is personal. I am about to go and do battle. I will be back.