Showing posts from October, 2014

The Dignity of Slavery - or 'Why My Shoes Are Cheaper at Kmart'

We used to call them sheltered workshops.

That’s a thing of the past – they’re now branded as ‘Australian Disability Enterprises’, places where people with disability are routinely placed and where you can earn as little as $1.79 an hour. A kinder term, but ‘lipstick on a pig’ in the eyes of many. Workers are scaled by ‘productivity scaling’ – despite the fact that the government’s own productivity scaling tool (BSWAT) was declared discriminatory and illegal last year, productivity scaling in different forms continues in sheltered workshops around Australia. Sheltered workshops using the BSWAT tool have three years to stop using it, but their employees, or ‘participants’, are routinely paid far below the minimum wage.

That’s the picture in Australia, not in countries like the UK. In England, a social enterprise approach is used, where the organisation trades in the market and takes on a degree of business risk, as well as receiving a subsidy in compensation for possible reduced p…

Pity Porn - It's a Headf**k, My Friend

Long before I used a wheelchair, another person with muscular dystrophy looked at me kindly and told me this.

“It’s a headfuck, my friend,” she said.

“One day you can do something, and the next day you can’t. And you wonder when you lost that ability, and how many other abilities you will lose.”

I nodded and agreed and didn’t really think much about it. I’d always known I had a disability, and my official diagnosis – of limb girdle muscular dystrophy – had arrived when I was twenty three. And then one day, I went to brush my hair, and my arm felt like it had lead weights attached to it.

It is a funny thing, those changing benchmarks and the way they affect you. The next day, I went and had my long hair cut short (my daughters were dismayed) and joked about it without telling anyone how heavy the hairbrush had become, how unwieldy the hair straightener now was. Just like I hadn’t told anyone how I could no longer shake a doona into a doona cover, or why the kettle was only hal…