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Posts Tagged ‘disability rights’

There’s an interesting article in the Guardian today about a report which demonstrates a 17 year gap in the ‘disability-free life expectancy’ of the withs and withouts in the UK. That’s an enormous gap!

This quote caught my eye:

The report says the conditions in which people are born, live, work and age, shape their health; what is needed is a reduction in the iniquities in power and money that benefit the rich from birth.
[emphasis added]

Yes, I would agree that disparities in power and money are iniquitous. I don’t think it’s quite what they meant to say, but it seems appropriate!

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You might have heard the name Kurt Fearnley. He’s an Australian Paralympic athlete (marathon) who recently took on the Kokoda Track. He usually uses a wheelchair. The Kokoda Track is hardly wheelchair accessible. Fearnley walked on his arms.

Fearnley took a Jetstar flight on his way home, and staff insisted that he check in his wheelchair and use an airline-supplied one. Fearnley refused to accept the alternative wheelchair, and instead, used his arms to move himself around the airport.

His reasoning? From the ABC piece linked above:

“An able-bodied equivalent, a normal person’s equivalent would be having your legs tied together, your pants pulled down and be carried or pushed through an airport.”

I am entirely prepared to accept his assessment that using the airline-supplied wheelchair would be a humiliating experience which would have robbed him of his mobility and independence. I have two reasons why I’m prepared to accept it. First, and most importantly, it’s Fearnley’s own account of his experience. To deny it would be to deny that he felt that way, and I’m simply not in a position to do that. Can’t imagine anyone is, quite frankly. Secondly, and much LESS importantly, it actually makes a hell of a lot of sense from an objective perspective that, yes, having someone remove your mobility aid would be humiliating and would rob you of your mobility and independence.

Fortunately, the general atmosphere is one of accepting Fearnley’s experience, and Jetstar has apparently apologised. The ABC article quotes Bill Shorten, and an SMH article quotes Joe Hockey as well as Shorten, and both seem outraged that Jetstar treated Fearnley in this matter.* It’s great that there’s bipartisan recognition that treating people who use wheelchairs like shit is a Bad Thing.

It also allows us to focus on the details of how that acknowledgement is made, in some of which there is Fail.

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DUFC logo

Welcome to the 18th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival! (And apologies for the delay.)

This Carnival has an optional caring theme, thanks to Australian Carers’ Week (which was October 18 to October 24). The theme for this year was “Anyone, Anytime, Across Australia”, which I modified to “Anyone, Anytime” for the purposes of the DUFC.

There wasn’t much sent in on theme, so I’ve expanded the DUFC rules just a little.

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I know it’s no longer Carers’ Week, nor is it still October, the month in relation to which I’m hosting the DUFC (you are still welcome to send me submissions by email, by the way, although anything sent via the blog carnival site will no longer come to me).

However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about issues faced by carers.

Such as the awful choice apparently faced by a number of parents who are carers for their children with disabilities.

It seems from this article that, if you are in a situation where you can care for your child some, but not all, of the time, you don’t receive a whole lot of respite support. Your care may also reduce the likelihood that your child will be placed in a permanent supported residential position (which may not be what every person with a disability aspires to, or hir carer, but I’m sure many people do).

The solution? ‘Abandon’ your child by leaving them permanently in the care of DOCS and relinquishing all parental rights.

Yeah. Good one.

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Just another reminder that it’s Carers Week this week and I’m hosting the Carers’ Week-themed DUFC early next month.

Take a look at the information about halfway down the linked page under the heading “Impacts of caring”. The first sentence under the heading is:

Carers have been found to have the lowest health and wellbeing of any group yet discovered.

The points I’m most interested in are:

more than a third of carers were found to be severely to extremely severely depressed

more than one third were found to be experiencing severe or extreme stress

carers are almost twice as likely than normal to experience chronic pain

caring could be one of the leading causes of depression in Australia

not receiving treatment for a significant medical or psychological condition is extremely damaging to carers wellbeing

caring compounds the effect of any other factor that leads to reduced wellbeing

it is evident that any level of consistent, daily, immediate caring responsibility is sufficient to severely damage wellbeing

These factors say to me that carers run a real risk that they are, or will become, a person with a disability themselves as a result of their caring work. (This is not to say that anyone affected by anything outlined in the points extracted above is a person with a disability, just that some of those factors may contribute to a person being or becoming disabled.)

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This seems like good news to me:

Professor Cousins, the director of the Pain Management Research Institute at the University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, has led a national draft strategy to have pain management addressed as part of the Federal Government’s national health reforms.

This doesn’t mean the government will actually do anything, but it is great to see a real possibility that chronic pain may be recognised as a condition in its own right. It seems to me that that would mean: (1) greater likelihood of a doctor listening to someone who is suffering chronic pain; (2) greater likelihood of a doctor knowing what options can and should be offered to that person; (3) greater likelihood that others with whom that person interacts (eg an employer) will understand that a person’s chronic pain is a real and serious problem and not “just” in the person’s “mind”. (Although a better way to deal with #3 would be to recognise that something which is “just” in a person’s “mind” – note scare quotes – is often a real and serious condition anyway!)

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Christian Rossiter is dead. RIP.

I stayed out of the debate about Rossiter’s win in the Supreme Court at the time, partly because I didn’t have the time to get involved in the discussion in the depth it deserves, but also because it is quite a painful issue for me.

My grandmother chose to die by rejecting all food, water and medical treatment except morphine.

It only took her two days to die because she was so frail by that stage, and that was bad enough.

Her decision was a completely conscious choice to die, and something that I supported at the time (and still support) in the context, because she clearly did not want to live the only way she had the choice to live. But that needs to be contextualised, and I think it highlights some of the issues that Lauredhel outlined in the post I’ve linked above. I think they’re worth talking about again.

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(Not that I’m saying the NSW Government has proved it should stay in government, mind you!)

Anyway, the SMH this morning has reported that the NSW Opposition spokesman on legal affairs, Greg Smith, apparently thinks that people with disabilities are dangerous.

Talk about epic fail!

I actually think that Hatzistergos gets this pretty much right:

“The comments made by the shadow attorney-general in Parliament on this issue are outrageous and serve to demonise people with disabilities and mental illness,” Mr Hatzistergos said. “They also underline his complete lack of understanding of the challenges faced by these vulnerable members of the community as they go about their daily lives.”

So yes, he’s milking it for all it’s worth, politically-speaking. But I’ve got to say, I don’t think I want Greg Smith anywhere near any responsibility for policy relating to people with disabilities!

(Oh, and kudos to Hatzistergos for using “people first” language there, too. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, but he seems to be an astute politician. And while he is very much against any sort of Charter of Rights, many of the public events that I’ve seen him at have been human rights events. Which I take to say more about his astuteness as a politician than his own personal stance on human rights, but I think it’s not a bad thing at all that the NSW AG shows his face at human rights events on a regular basis.)

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