Showing posts from May, 2014

Mind the Gap

On Friday night, I attended the gala presentation of the West Australian of the Year. Don’t get me wrong – I was delighted to be chosen as a finalist. It showed that we people on the ground who experience disadvantage are able to be recognised for our work in the same way as others who have been brought up with power and prestige and wealth. The winner in my category, Nicola Forrest, is a deserving recipient - she has started up many programs and given away half of her wealth to charity alongside her husband Andrew Forrest, our nation’s ninth richest person. Andrew and Nicola have contributed enormously to the lives of the disadvantaged in our state. But to me, the gap seemed immense. I did not grow up in poverty, but the trappings of the event seemed faintly obscene. At $250 a head, my table was not filled with friends and family – many Divas gathered down the road to meet me afterwards at a (cheaper) venue and two of my six children were in attendance. Shadow Minister Stephen …

The Age of Entitlement

I read an opinion article by Gina Rinehart the other day. Gina, who is worth an estimated $19.89 billion, criticises welfare recipients for dragging the country into debt and says that ‘we are living beyond our means’. ‘Australians have to work hard or actually harder and smarter,’ she says. ‘The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.’ Treasurer Joe Hockey says the Age of Entitlement is over and it is time for all Australians to do their fair share of heavy lifting. That’s the kind of commentary currently making headlines. Painting welfare recipients as scroungers and scrivers, advocating for policy that ‘gets tough’ on welfare recipients. It’s also the kind of commentary that strikes fear into the hearts of people with disability and their families. Not because they’re bludging, not because they’re frightened of doing it tough. But because things are already so tough that people are not living, they are barely existing. And nobody seems…