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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The LNP's new talent - How to disable people with a disability.

The LNP's new talent - How to disable people with a disability.

The LNP’s new talent – How to disable people with a disability.








 
 
 
 
 
 
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abbott disabilityKevin Andrews has announced that anyone seeking to access the disability support pension, will now be required to see an independent doctor prescribed by the Government, and recommendations from family doctors will no longer be allowed to assess people for the disability pension.



The
LNP has effectively taken away the right of choice for people with a
disability.  All Australians expect a fair go, a right to choose.
However, this is now no longer the case if you have a disability.
Someone will make this choice for you. For those with a disability who
do not need an advocate; who can make their own decisions.  For those
who need an advocate, this is taking away the right to choose, through
denying the choices that the advocate can make on their behalf.  This is
a blatantly disabling people with a disability, rather than enabling
them.



This
also strikes me as so raw and so insensitive not even a week after the
passing of Stella Young. Stella Young, if anything, taught us that we
should treat all people with disabilities as human beings. Taking away
someone’s right to choose does not treat a person as a full human being.
Kevin Andrews (as all neo-liberals do) is purely focused on money and
not the welfare of the person, nor is he focused on client outcomes for a
person seeking the disability pension.  Scott Morrison inheriting this
portfolio, will contribute a ‘show no mercy’ approach to this situation.



In plain Australian English: The LNP does not give a stuff about people with a disability and how they should be treated.

One
of the most concerning risks is that if the correct outcome for a
person with a disability is not achieved, this will result in that
person being moved to Newstart.  This person will then receive less
money and will further exclude a person with a disability from accessing
social inclusion activities, transport and even better choice of
housing to name a few.  Once again, the underlying message of the
Government for welfare recipients is “they are liars and cheats and we
must stop them.”



Through
this agenda of stigmatization and segregation of welfare recipients,
the LNP Government aims to use this stigma and marginalization, so major
cuts to welfare and even full closure of some services will result in
little resistance from voters.   Everything about the LNP is underpinned
by cuts, cuts and more cuts, as demonstrated even more today with cuts
to housing advocacy and homeless programs, programs for the blind, deaf and acquired brain injury also losing critical funding.



Lisa
Gunder’s article, Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion
of welfare recipients, discusses the narrative / agenda set by political
leaders since Howard.  The focus on the welfare agenda in the Howard
era, when Abbott was Minister for Employment; set to recontextualise
‘have a go’ and ‘the protestant work ethic’ (as part of our national
identity) within the welfare discourse.  In an analysis of Australian
identity, the ‘Australian way of life’ features strong connections with
hard work the middle class and a protestant work ethic.  From Howard to
Abbott, they have used this ‘accepted view of our way of life’ strongly
within speeches and narratives about welfare; to change how Australians
see those who are truly disadvantaged. 



The
other most prominent issue that Gunder raises, is that in Howard and
Abbott’s speeches, they highlight the success of the ‘in-group’
(non-welfare recipients) and mitigate the achievements of the out-group
(welfare recipients).  In simple terms, they purposely avoid
highlighting achievements of welfare recipients and focus on the
negative.  This sets in place an agenda for stigmatization.



It
is through this narrative, that has been used and built on since the
Howard years, which sets the tone for stigmatization and paves the way
for further cuts and punitive measures for welfare recipients.   If you
reflect on the timeline, the progression of this negative narrative has
extended from the unemployed, to the single parent, aged pensioners and
veterans and now the Government believes its narrative has been accepted
sufficiently by the ‘in-group’, that harsh and punitive measures for
those on a disability will be accepted by the ‘in-group’ or mainstream
Australia. In simple terms, the Abbott Government sees punishing people
with a disability as a ‘vote winner.’  As Australians, we should
strongly see this as a failure to our national identity.



It
is simply not good enough for the ALP and Greens and any other party
who opposes these measures and this narrative to simply say ‘it is not OK.’  A
narrative has been built since Howard’s arrival at the podium in 1996;
that has gradually been listened to and accepted by Australians that “it is fine to punish the ‘out-group (aka welfare recipients).'”   



As
‘punitive measures and harsh treatment’ are now the norm within
welfare; the ALP and Greens need to create a very strong narrative and
create a new discourse which places welfare recipients at the heart of
the “A Fair Go” and speak loudly and strongly of not only
achievements, but of compassion and humanity and how and why we should
unequivocally provide assistance for those in need’.  



It
is essential for the progress of Australia to remain silent on any
narrative punishing those on welfare and the disadvantaged and to reject
and refuse to create a welfare out-group through stigmatization.
 



We
must move forward and change the narrative completely to build up the
strength of our people, through true mateship, kindness and a fair go.  
Only then, will we all have freedom of ability, freedom of choice, true
inclusiveness and a greater participation in work and society by all.



Gunders, L 2012, ‘Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients’, Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13

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