Change an Aussie’s world within your lifetime: People with Disability are important.

From time to time, whole churches support rallies. Most advertised on the internet by pastors are anti something. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s important for the church to get political about what is harmful or morally corrupt. But I think we need to start asking, are there opportunities to shout ‘Jesus is Love’ to our generation? And if we find one, then we should turn out in force, because the cross is an act of radical grace upon which our Christianity is built. We should all stand behind that kind of a message.

Today I came across an opportunity to convey love!!!!!! It’s a part of the campaign ‘Every Australian Counts’, a mobilisation in support of changing legislation for the ways funding is received by people with a disability. You can find the info here:

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http://everyaustraliancounts.com.au/rally/

Here’s the state of play when it comes to disability and Australia. If you obtain a debilitating illness, whether at birth, by an accident or in your later years of life, unless you’re sitting on a nest egg of extraordinary proportions (and even sometimes if you are), you will be at the mercy of the State Government Departments that provide services, funding and support. From the first moments of a doctor’s report wondering ‘is my baby OK?’, the financial, emotional, and spiritual impact of disability is profound – and it requires a community of care.

Over the years, many people with a disability have lobbied the government and private sector. This lobbying has had differing success. The de-institutionalisation of disability is one huge win. It occurred due to action taken by ordinary families, who had a loved one like my uncle, who spent the better part of their life in a home – complete with sub-standard food and little to no autonomy, suffering intense loneliness in separation from family. Now, however, there are various excellent Government-run programs. For Downs Syndrome, for example. However, other people with chromosome disorders may have no access and very little help. If you’re hit by a car, then comprehensive insurance paid by all car drivers can be a lifeline. But if you get a tummy bug and one day wake up and can’t use your legs (Guillain-Barre syndrome), you may have trouble getting the funding you need to live. Particularly if your diagnosis is slow, or can’t be made at all. And, while you may be entirely cognisant, there’s no way to supplement the family income if you don’t have carers to get you up in the morning or a modified car for your use.

I’ve chatted to many families in Australia who described their funding as inadequate for them to contribute to society. These families want their children to be trained for jobs, or want to help themselves – e.g. equipment to do their shopping, bill paying and to participate in ordinary life. My mother (quite proud of her!) designed a process of funding allocation based on what the person’s needs, that helps the Government attribute funds to the right places. One man I spoke to had become a tetraplegic at 17, and had a wheelchair he could no longer use because the funding for swimming lessons that extended his arm range had ceased. He was bedridden, and frustrated. A mother described the process of getting her son into a job – when he turned seventeen he was no longer eligible for juvenile training programs. He is on the waitlist for an adult placement, but they have estimated it will take four to five years – and with his hope and energy has now faded, she fears he may stay on the dole. She had money for other services, but was unable to reallocate them, and her caseworker’s hands were tied.

Every Australian counts. Every Australian should be allowed to contribute. This rally is worth it – tell your friends…. and even if you can’t turn up, post it on your wall and get the word out. Australians with a disability have so much to give, and should be supported with the resources to do so. Imagine if Australians turned out in force to this … we would literally change the world and communicate love and care for people with a disability.

And, if you’re interested in disability and spirituality, then my friend Shane Clifton has a brilliant blog to which you should subscribe:

http://andypaine.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/conversation-with-shane-clifton/

2 thoughts on “Change an Aussie’s world within your lifetime: People with Disability are important.

  1. Great post Tanya.

    Depending on the who you deal with, the centrelink process can be a nightmare. When I was hospitalised for a few months due to a sudden collapse in 2007, the doctors and social workers filled in all the centrelink paperwork for me…I then received a letter, which asked me about the jobs I had been applying for, and that I had to personally go and talk to them that afternoon… I broke down, when I rang them, telling them that I was in hospital, was paralysed on the right side, and that I had no way of working, or even getting to that interview…

    I was harshly told that if I didn’t hand it in that afternoon, my benefits and the application process would stop. Many phone calls later by the hospital social worker, it was sorted out… but I still received a fortnightly letter, which I had to fax off to them, telling them about my situation… But, 2 months after that, when I was released from hospital, I was put on a 6 month reporting program, where I didn’t have to send them any paper work, apart from a 3 monthly doctors certificate.

    I remember the time well, when I was sitting in a job networking office, filling in a questionnaire about my work experience and capabilities, ticking all the boxes, saying yeup, I can do that, do that, and do that…at the end, again I broke down and cried, as I realised I once could do those things, but was no longer capable of doing any of them.

    Church history shows us that we had a pivotal impact on care ministries:Schools, hospitals, inns etc. I think there is a great prophetic call to continue that ministry of care for all.

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