Monday, 8 April 2013

I can think of at least eleven

"charities" for people with intellectual impairments in this state alone. I did not have to think very hard either.
All of them claim to be essential, to be filling a need that nobody else fills and to be doing work that nobody else can or will do. There are also two different organisations for Guide Dogs and several more for other aspects of vision impairment. There are other organisations for those with a hearing impairment. Mental health organisations abound, so do general and specific organisations for physical disabilities and chronic illnesses or rare conditions. There are "support" groups like the one for aphasia and groups which "educate" like one of several for diabetes.
There are, to put it bluntly, far too many "charities" for a state which still has a population of less than two milllion people. I do not know how many charities there are altogether in Australia - estimates range from "10,000 plus" to "600,000 or thereabouts". I suspect the answer lies somewhere in between and that some very small "charities" would not be recognised as such by the general public. Somewhere along the line though an application would have been made to have them recognised, they have been recognised and they are able to access certain tax benefits. 
We need charities. The country would not run without charities. It would not run without the small army of (often ageing) volunteers who do much of the work. All the same it is time the charity business (and it is a business, big business in some cases) was streamlined. There are gaps in the system.
I have been conscious of one of those gaps for a long time. There is a gap in the area of communication impairment. There are multiple organisations for the hearing impaired - and there is still the great divide between those who support sign language and those who do not - and there is, as I just mentioned, a nod given to people with speech impediments.
There is a national, indeed international, organisation for people who need augmented or alternative means of communication. It does a good job but it does not have a high public profile like some groups. The need for it is simply not understood by most people - communicating about the problems of communication is, to put it mildly, difficult. 
It means there is no immediate or local support group for someone like the woman I mentioned yesterday. She does not need an "aphasia" group, or a hearing impaired type group. That is not her problem. Her problem is that she cannot speak due to illness - and it may be that it will never be possible. I can put her in touch with several other people in a similar position - but they don't live nearby and she can't travel. 
So there are gaps in the charity system. I don't think we need a new charity though. If we streamline the existing charities we should find more people in her position - and bring them together. It's called communicating - and there should be more of it.


Miriam said...

I was able to communicate by joining an online forum. I don't know if that's feasible for the people you mentioned.

catdownunder said...

Yes, FB, Twitter, text messages etc - all helpful but need more than that and the ability to vent frustration among people who understand what they are going through...we will come up with a range of solutions and you are right - online is going to help.