By Gerowyn Hanson / March 16, 2014
Australians rally to March in March
Rural towns around Australia saw thousands of concerned citizens come together in public places to voice their concerns about Abbott Government policy decisions yesterday, 15th March. Peaceful, non-partisan marches also took place in the capital cities today and one will be at lunchtime in the capital, Canberra, on Monday. Many people in isolated remote parts […]
GOVERNMENT CUTS TO DISABILITY PENSION ADDRESSED @ MARCH IN MARCH
Around Australia yesterday, 15th March 2014, today and tomorrow, tens of thousands of people voiced their concerns on the Abbott Government’s changes to various policy decisions.
Speaking on discrimination against people with invisible disabilities and the Government’s proposed cuts to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) at the “March In March” political rally in the Queensland rural town of Caboolture, I outlined the following.
As I have already explained in my previous blogs (30th Jul 2013, 13th Jan 2014 & 6th Mar 2014 gerowynhanson.wordpress.com), I have seen and experienced discrimination and negative judgements against people with an invisible disability.
Examples of invisible disabilities include:
– mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, anxiety and acquired brain injury (ABI)
– organ damage or dysfunction to heart, kidneys or lungs
– auto-immune diseases, etc.
Often, there is a combination of illnesses and conditions, the effects of which impact on the individual’s ability to function as an average, healthy person who is able to cope with everyday life.
I have an invisible disability and have also experienced negative attitudes and accusations from people who do not understand why I cannot work. For a long time, I hid my condition by telling people at one point or another that: I had taken early retirement (true); received a Workers’ Compensation payout after an accident (true); or I had received an inheritance (also true).
In fact, how I support myself IS NO-ONE’S BUSINESS!
Trying to find work for a disabled person can be very challenging. Employers do not want to offer the disabled a job as their conditions often interfere with their being able to work like an able-bodied or non-injured person. Many disabilities render a person as an “unreliable” employee due to the effects of their conditions.
Considering the types of invisible disabilities mentioned above, the examples below could impact on their ability to hold down a job:
– Pain, medications, severe dysfunction from anxieties like PTSD, poor social skills, psychotic episodes, sleep deprivation, physical weakness, etc.
As I have explained in previous blogs, “unreliable” does not equal “irresponsible”. It is a medical term used by professionals when assessing the ability for someone to actually go to work and hold down a job.
Time is money, so it is not necessarily in the employer’s interests to engage a person with a disability, invisible or otherwise. Again, as I discussed in More Discrimination Towards People With An Invisible Disability, large “L” Liberalism as purported by the Liberal National Party (LNP) of Australia, you are only a useful person contributing to society if you are employed. As stated by Therese Fitzpatrick from Beyond Blue, the organization helping people with mental health conditions, “Because we are so focused on work in our society, there’s a sense if you are not employed, there’s a sense you are somehow a failure as a human being.”
In a compassionate society, however, there needs to be support for the disabled. The Abbott Government wants to make everyone in society work, even if they are disabled.
While some people with a disability can do some types of jobs, those people who are forced into the workforce can experience failure and the humiliation of being sacked through no fault of their own. This could result in a serious blow to self-esteem, exacerbating their already fragile condition. If able-bodied, non-injured people suffer depression and lack of self-confidence after being laid off, what could the extent of such a blow have to someone with a disability?
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott stated some months ago when he announced the proposed cuts to the DSP, “The best form of welfare is having a job”.
His Government is intending to drop the DSP to the same level as the Newstart unemployment allowance. My research has shown the following statistics for a single recipient:
– DSP = $751 per fortnight + $125 for rent assistance
– Newstart Allowance = $501 per fortnight. No rental assistance
– Median rents on Sunshine Coast Queensland (where I live) = $350 per week
– Average grocery bill = $60 per week
– Average power costs = $25 per week
– Average phone & internet costs = $25 per week
– Average public transport costs = $6 per week
– TOTAL = $466 per week, $932 per fortnight
It begs the question, then, how does a person on the pension cater for extras that arise such as insurance, clothing, appliance breakdown and other emergencies?
How can the Abbott Government justify reducing the DSP to $501 per fortnight?
As much as my heart goes out to the plight of the unemployed, at least they have the possibility of being able to work if something is offered. Disabled recipients on the DSP CANNOT work. That is why they are on the DIS-ability Support Pension. We need to protect the vulnerable in our society and send a very clear message to the Abbott Government that reducing the DSP is NOT OK.
And please do not pass negative judgements on people with an invisible disability. They are struggling enough already.
YET ANOTHER ATTACK ON PEOPLE WITH INVISIBALE DISABILITES
Once more I find myself writing about the insidious and offensive prejudice towards people with invisible disabilities. Three recent criticisms have again raised my ire.
The first was a couple of weeks ago. During a casual conversation with a health care professional who has treated me for the past decade, I had mentioned my online writing and commented how it would be wonderful if one day I could be paid for my work. This person then responded with, “Oh, you could work in a nursing home as a carer. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
I was perplexed: what did a conversation about writing have to do with working in a nursing home? I mean, WTF? It was not until later I realized what this right-wing, LNP-worshipping twit had meant. Hadn’t the Abbott Government recently announced it was launching a programme to move welfare recipients of Newstart and the Disability Support Pension (DSP) back into the workforce by placing them at aged care facilities? Didn’t they say that, “The best welfare is having a job”?
I was incensed! Firstly, how dare she or anyone else tell me to get job! Notwithstanding how unrelated aged care is to my qualifications, experience and interests, it is absolutely none of her bloody business how or from where I receive my financial support. Secondly, while I as much as anyone else wouldn’t mind having a few more dollars in the bank, theoretically speaking, I am fortunate enough to not need paid work in order to survive. Not at this point, anyway.
To suggest that I take a job in a totally unsuitable and frankly in my opinion, unpleasant occupation, smacks of a whole range of nasty judgements upon me. It assumes I am a useless, lazy bludger who contributes nothing to society, and – dare I say it – her jealousy of my seemingly “fortunate” financial situation.
My blogs, 30th July, 2013 and 13th Jan, 2014 have already dealt with the philosophies and attitudes of how conservatives believe that people who are not working have no place in society. A recent article on the ABC (Network) Health & Wellbeing Newsletter website looks at the mental health issues that emerge from employees faced with the prospect of losing their jobs. The ABC article quotes Therese Fitzpatrick from the mental health organization, Beyond Blue, saying, “Because we are so focused on work in our society, there’s a sense if you’re not employed, you’re somehow a failure as a human being.”
The second incident debasing welfare recipients was a sign recently erected by Young Liberals at Edith Cowan University: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=665741003467286&set=a.653683968006323.1073741828.653679618006758&type=1&relevant_count=1
Let me tell you how my invisible disability would have affected my ability to work in the last 5 months.
To explain the background: a serious motor vehicle accident 10 years ago left me with moderate organic brain syndrome, psychological, neuro-psychological, neurological, psychiatric and extensive soft tissue injuries. As it was a Work Cover case, it was heard at the QComp (state compensation) Medical Tribunals. The bench ruled that I was “permanently impaired for work”, also known as a “PI” case.
The impact of these injuries, caused by my vehicle being criminally sabotaged, cause periodic flare-ups of excruciating neck, shoulder, back and pelvic pain which cannot be relieved by pain-killers, including heavy-duty prescription ones. It causes serious sleep disturbances which leave me experiencing the usual depressive and anxious episodes associated with prolonged sleep deprivation. In the last 5 months, there have been 3 incidences lasting a total of 14 weeks. Had I been an employee expected to attend work, I would have been on sick leave for more than 3 of the last 5 months. To my knowledge, few employers would be able to sustain the employment of a person whose mental and physical health so profoundly impacted on their ability to work. Hence, the Medical Tribunals’ findings and subsequent compensation pay out. Not that this is anyone’s business.
How can these cold, hard, uncompassionate, right-wing morons justify forcing someone like me back into employment? Not only that, but how dare they vilify my inability to work as nothing more than a shameful sham?
On the other hand my wonderful mental health therapist believes, contrary to what right-wing LNP supporters think, that we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. We need to be able to define ourselves by who we ARE, not WHAT we DO. Our self-esteem, should not be defined by our jobs but by our humanity. When dickheads like the other health care professional who believe that the work ethic is what defines us by shaming us into working, it can be quite soul destroying for those who cannot work.
Shame is an insidious thing. Those who attempt to shame us believe they have power over us. If we allow that shame to haunt us, we can spiral downwards into a mire of depression, self-loathing and anxiety. Large “L” Liberalism, as I have already explained in my previous blog, is a political philosophy of tyranny over the weak. Name it: it is ABUSE. It is BULLYING. These mongrels are TROLLS. It keeps those who are not as strong in a position of fear and shame so they become victims of manipulation.
The third incident making me see red is the Abbott Government’s recent announcement that it wants to reduce the allowance of the Disability Support Pension to a similar amount paid to unemployed Newstart recipients at $501 per fortnight.
I cannot see how I could survive on such a puny amount of money. Rents where I live are at least $280 per week and the mean is around $350. The average weekly grocery bill for 1 person is approximately $60 per week. Public transport costs per week are around $6, electricity $25, and phone and internet (plan) also about $25. That’s $396 per week, $792 a fortnight. Given that the full DSP is $751 per fortnight plus $124 for rent assistance, totalling $875, this leaves only $83 per fortnight to cater for emergencies, extra health costs, contents insurance, clothing, appliance breakdowns, etc. How can the Abbott Government justify reducing the DSP to $501 per fortnight?
People with a disability are already in a position of weakness in society. If I were in a wheelchair with tubes coming out of me, few people would pressure me to “get a job”. That would be heartless. But as a person with an invisible disability, I am subjected to this abuse by those who consider themselves to be my moral superiors.
Well, I have news for those of you who preach the LNP philosophy: you are not my moral superiors and you have no right to tell me to get a bloody job! And moreover, in my day-to-day battle to maintain my mental health, manage my pain, support local businesses, do my best to not pollute the environment, live a life of integrity where I do the best I can to be a good and kind family member, friend and neighbour, I am so much further along the scale of evolution in BEING a person of integrity.
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TOP STORIES / WORLD / MARCH 3, 2014
World leaders respond to Ukraine incursion
GEROWYN HANSON (c)
In the wake of Ukraine’s head of Navy, Denis Berezovsky’s defecting and swearing allegiance to Sergiy Aksyonov, the unrecognized pro-Russian leader in Crimea, world leaders dash to put a lid on the unstable situation arising.
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, spent ninety minutes on the phone with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. President Obama has responded to the mounting tensions in Ukraine by letting Russia know that, “there will be costs” if there is a military reaction in the region.
The new Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk is fearful of an imminent Russian invasion.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has made it clear that there will be a range of sanctions issued against Russia and he is flying to Kiev to discuss the escalating crisis.
France has warned that the Sochi G8 summit will be suspended.
Acting Ukrainian President, Oleksander Turchinov has appealed to President Putin to cease provocations in the predominantly ethnic Russian region of Crimea. He likened Russia’s military presence there to the incursion into Georgia when its states of Abkhazia and Ossetia were attempting independence.
Meanwhile in Australia, Prime Minister, Tony Abbott warned President Putin to “back off” from an offensive foray into Ukraine. Having won parliamentary approval for sending troops into the Crimea, however, Putin believes he has the sanction to go ahead with the intervention.
Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Minister, summoned Russian Ambassador Vladimir Morozov to meet with her secretary to discuss the emergency situation in the Ukraine. He has spoken to reporters telling them that Russia intends to act to “ensure the interests of Russians in Ukraine”.
DFAT has warned Australians not to travel to Ukraine.
Photo via Alexander Grinvald