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Showing posts from August, 2014

The Spaces In Between

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Draw a circle, I said. It was in one of those classrooms where many people drew circles and talked about things like personal space and public and private behaviours and how to make a cup of tea.

He dutifully drew a circle.

Now draw another circle around it, I told him. He did, and I filled in the gaps, drawing more circles – family, friends, paid support, others. That’s what we were taught to do, to help people understand their boundaries. Paid support workers won’t hug you, but they will take you to your day programme. Friends and family live in the same circle, and they will hug you as much as you want.

He looked at me. ‘Why are they in circles?’

That’s the question that keeps coming up. Who else in the world has areas firmly delineated by ‘professional boundaries’ when it comes to your day to day life? How can you compartmentalise your whole life into little circles?

There’s a show on television at the moment called ‘Dream House’. It’s a reality television series abo…

Shut in, Shut up and Shut Out

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NEWS that the UK government is risking ‘systemic violation’ of international human rights law in its treatment of disabled people raises the question – what about us?

Australia is also a signatory to a binding UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities, but our scorecard, whilst not being publicly damned, doesn’t cover us with glory.

We are letting people with disability down. We routinely discriminate against people with disability in the justice system, although we promised to ‘ensure effective justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis than others’. Ask Marlon Noble how he feels about our compliance with Article 13 – he was locked away for ten years under laws relating to the Mentally Impaired Accused Act, despite never being convicted of a crime. Marlon was ‘freed’ after a campaign for his release, but must now be in a support worker’s ‘line of sight’ for the rest of his life, and must ask permission to leave his home town, Geraldton – something we …

If Only Everyone Was George Takei

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George Takei. If you’re not on his Facebook page, you need to be. George is witty, thoughtful and passionate – especially about human rights issues. George didn’t come out til he was an older guy, but his work in the gay rights movement has been outstanding. As of today, George Takei’s Facebook page has 7,425,539 likes. And today I liked him even more. A week ago, Takei shared this meme. Unfortunately, I missed it. Today he posted this incredibly thoughtful apology. ‘I’ve just come back from an extended trip to England, and I came home to a large number of fan emails concerning a meme I shared more than a week ago. In that meme, a woman in a wheelchair was standing up to reach for a bottle of liquor in the store, and the caption said something about a miracle in the alcohol aisle. To this I added a quip about her being touched by the holy spirits. I did not expect the level of offense this meme caused. I had naturally just thought of those movies where the evangelical preacher…

Thirty Three Times in Thirty Four Days

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Tomorrow, a man named Peter Edward Kasatchkow will be sentenced for 33 counts of sexual assault against five women with disability. Mr Kasatchkow was a taxi driver, and as such, held a position of trust. He routinely drove people with disability in his Maxi Taxi to and from work or other places. Most of the people Kasatchkow transported had disabilities that severely impacted upon their lives. The 29 year old woman who caught his taxi on February 3 was no exception. She has cerebral palsy, uses an electric wheelchair and has great difficulty speaking. When Kasatchkow drove her to a racecourse car park at Ascot and sexually assaulted her, he probably never dreamed that she would be able to alert her support workers to the abuse, much less ask them to record his registration number. In WA, only police are able to access taxi security camera footage, which is used to provide evidence in court when taxi drivers have been assaulted. It is not monitored in any other way, and police will…