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Showing posts from December, 2013

Your Office Is Over There, Just Up That Flight Of Stairs - Australian Public Service

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In the wake of recent, alarming media around employment of people with disability in the public sector, I started writing a press release. It went something like this - 'A dramatic drop in the number of people with disability employed in the public service has sparked alarm amongst disability advocates, who are calling for effective measures to resolve the situation. In 2011, 4.2% of all employees in the Western Australian Public Sector were people with a disability. In 2013, the number has plummeted to a scanty 2.6%...'Then I sat back and looked at it for a while. Sparked alarm? There hasn't been an outcry from most disability groups, despite the fact that our State Government has announced further cuts in the wake of 1200 axed public service jobs. There hasn't been any detailed analysis around what the proposal to tighten up the Disability Support Pension will do to an already fraught issue, nor whether there's a correlation between the 2012 slashing of the …

The Gimpled Table of Microaggressions

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We sometimes 'discover' concepts and words and ideas that are transplant-able from one 'sector' to another, and here's a magnificent example. There's a really cool project called 'The MicroAggression Project', where a photographer named Kiyun asked her friends to 'write down an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.'The term 'microaggression' was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to 'brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.' Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.If you're disabled, you'll look at the project and shout 'yes!' I don't know too many people this wouldn't resonate with...I can think of hundreds of microaggressions that people with disability …

Why We're Not Married After All

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It was the happiest day of my life. He got down on one knee and proposed to me. I couldn't say yes fast enough. Well, almost the happiest day of my life. The happiest day might have come when we actually stood before the celebrant, saying our marriage vows. You know, just like everyone else. I'd heard stories about others who had a different experience. People picketing at their wedding - did anyone picket at your wedding? And people holding their own views about me loving him - not in private, in public. Not whispered, but shouted. Even in a courtroom. Planning a wedding is an expensive exercise, but we loved doing it. Picking out what to wear, who would photograph it. Where we would get married and how we would honeymoon. It was a stressful period of time - but we loved it anyway. And on the Happiest Day, he looked into my eyes and said 'I do'. A week later, we found out we weren't married after all, because the Federal Government intervened. They sa…

Just One of the Guys

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I have this theory about language in the disability sector. After a while, everything becomes a bad word. Five years ago, 'retarded' was a commonly accepted term within the American disability community. Now it's regarded (rightly) as a slur - an awesome campaign, spread the word to end the word, has made people change their language and their attitudes. But does everything become a bad word? And why?I listen to service providers and community organisations talk about their - wait for it - clients, service users, participants - in either careful terms or in affectionate ones. Invariably, they will talk about their (intellectually disabled) clientele as 'our guys'. It got to the point where the term made me wince, and I wasn't sure why. A couple of rules for the use of the term 'our guys'. It's used indiscriminately, whether you're male or female. It is usually only applied to people with an intellectual disability or people who are in cong…