The Fairy Tale of Kallangur – the land that once was and what will become of Murrumba?

Within an hour it was on like Donkey Kong! Dumping Rick Williams (former Labor MP for Pumicestone) was probably the best thing Labor could have done for everyone. He’s been a pain in the proverbial for long enough and refused to heed warnings. He had to go. His disendorsement also triggered the election and within an hour the speculation was over, those in the know knew the date before the Governor was even out of bed.

Now we have it officially called for November 25th and not a minute too soon. Even though it’s only just been called, here in my hometown electorate of Kallangur campaigning for the state election started back in February. Yes, that’s right we’ve had to endure roadside signs and waving, and candidates invading our beloved uncensored Facebook pages making promises of great things while we were still busy trolling the existing government as they diligently tried to do their job (not really, but it is well known that even if I vote for you I’m going to hold you to account if you’re in office).

Poor Kallangur is just about over this very looooong running election campaign and all it’s woes and sagas. Kallangur just wants.. wait (whispers from the stage wings)… it isn’t Kallangur anymore? It’s Murrumba? WTF? Yes folks that’s right, population growth has meant the electorate boundaries had to be changed. So now Murrumba Downs is in Murrumba finally but Kallangur is not longer in Kallangur. Instead now Kallangur is in Murrumba but the MP for Kallangur will go to Kurwongbah. Confused? You should hear me try to explain how Petrie isn’t in Petrie.

So long live the King of Kallangur, Shane King, the loyal and devoted MP of barely three years. He has been overthrown and had to seek asylum in Kurwongbah. They’ll do well to have him, he seems to have achieved the unachievable in what was Kallangur but will soon be Murrumba.

Who will take over the throne? Well that’s for the election to decide. Enter the candidates for Murrumba and well, there’s not much new.

Former MP of Murrumba, Candidate for the LNP Reg Gulley, lost his seat to Labor MP Chris Whiting. Chris won’t be running in Murrumba however. His current office will no longer be in the electorate with the boundary changes so he will challenge for the brand spanking new seat of Bancroft.

The Kallangur side of the new Murrumba electorate may not be too familiar with Mr Gulley but they don’t seem to have much love so far. The memory of his former predecessor Big Trev famous for replacing stairs with stairs at Dakabin station and calling it an upgrade is still a bit sour for some. Of course Reg is well known for…. Ummm.. well there was that time he was very supportive for Redcliffe when fellow former LNP member disgraced the party, the electorate, the government, politics and of course himself. Yes who can forget little born and bred Redcliffian Scotty Driscoll! Yes, Reg was kind enough to step in when Scott stepped out but not down. Speaking of Scotts…. Reg was fabulous in getting the then Minister for Transport, Scott Emerson to take up a cause that Reg holds dear in his heart. The fight of people with disabilities in the arena of disability parking.

When you try to raise an issue of great importance nothing is more heartwarming for the cause than knowing the people you’re seeking support from, the people with the power and control to change things for the better, have a relative, friend, close associate with a disability so they KNOW exactly how you feel. You, the person with the disability. They know how you feel. Never forget that. You would wonder if they know your feeling so well then why are you sitting here in front of them asking them to make changes so you don’t have to feel this way anymore, since they could have just changed it… but hey at least they’re listening right?

Oh they were listening alright. I spent months and my own money making RTI applications, gathering data, putting the data into usable formats and analysing said data to show hey, there’s a problem here and the solution is right in front of you. I mean yeah, police CAN give fines for parking in a disability park without a permit but seriously.. $44… why would they waste their time? If it’s all about revenue raising make it worth their while. They’re the only ones who can issue fines in off street car parks but on street they were competing with council who were giving out fines across Queensland from $150 to $250 for the same offence. What was wrong with this picture?

Lord golly gosh bless Reg and his soft heart for the disabled he went and showed Good King Wences-Scott the report we the common serfs worked so hard on and convinced him that hey, if we did what was recommended we’d not only look good but we’d make more money out of those low life disabled parking thieves. In the world of revenue raising you see, prevention is NOT better than cure so thus, the knight in shining armour of the disabled dubbed thee parking fine increase almost 5 times the amount it was. That will do the trick yeah?

The meeja of course went papparazzi over Scott the Slayer of disabled parking cheats and wanted to take his photo everywhere. The poor serf who had raised the issue didn’t even know it was happening until there it was on the evening news which was quickly followed up but a congratulatory call from the swift footed messenger Reg Gulley. “This is a good thing. Consider it a win” he consoled the poor serf as she blinked in a daze wondering what just happened. Win? Yeah ok. Why is that man on the TV reading out my report word for word? Did I miss the invite to the press conference?

Maybe it was cos he didn’t know anyone else to invite or maybe it was guilt for robbing me blind of my moment to shine in the sun, never the less I got myself invited as a representative of Murrumba (when I lived in the old Murrumba not the new) at the Queensland Plan. You remember the great Qld Plan of Campbell Newman? The one we all got to have our input in and was to be made a part of legislation but has never been referenced again since? I actually really enjoyed being part of it. Some great ideas came out of it and I got to meet so many people. So when the opportunity arose for photos I stood there like a good girl and didn’t poke my tongue out when we posed for a photo with the great Mr Newman himself (waiting for the next episode of Channel Nine’s Where are they now to feature former one term politicians which he will be at number one). I was well behaved and posed for all the photos which still haunt me to this day. So I figured hey, lets use this opportunity, Reg can we get a photo with good Mr Emerson so I can post it on the website and get all the serfs to thank him for saving our accessible spaces for us? What a great idea! Of course it is, it was my idea.

What happened next for quite some time was all a bit of a blur. It was like this whirlwind. Reg excuses himself for a moment cos he really needs to speak to this person before they leave and within seconds I’m whisked aside by none other than the Minister for Disabilities who hugs me… the Ice queen hugged me and I lose sight of my targets cos now somehow my back is turned to them. While she’s trying to keep me engaged in conversation and I’m adamant that I really just need to get this photo before we leave, Reg reappears and he’s really sorry but the great Knight had to rush off to save another group in distress.

It was some months later when I was looking back for information as I continued to work on the same project for some time, that I stumbled across newspaper articles applauding the great Knight’s attack and I read my report again word for word. I scoured the documents for any mention of the author or where it had originated from but there was no mention at all. It had completely sounded like the good Knight did it all himself. It was at that point it happened. In slow motion. Like a movie. Going back through the film scene after scene… that hug… that unsolicited hug and futile conversation was nothing more than a distraction to let the good Knight Emerson slip away unadulterated by photos with the common serf.

Since I couldn’t get a photo, eventually I made my own.

But that my friends was so long ago. Reg well, for all his good doing and supporting of his neighbouring electorates he didn’t win the next election. It was some consolation that the good Knight got a big good night on his minsterial position and went back to being demon in the shadows of the opposition. I forgave the messenger Reg for not speaking up in my defence. It’s gotta be tough when you’re and underling in the afterworld and your boss is a powerful god and the bloke you just let misuse you serf is a demi god. I thought well, one day, when he’s not trapped in the underworld anymore he may give me that apology I so rightly deserved.

Nup. That never happened. I did run into him once or twice at events in his limbo period. He remembered that I had two lovely boys and asked after them. Then the conversation would get stale and I would just sigh and be on my way.

No, I never got that apology for letting Scott Emerson and co try to make a fool of me, treat me like I was too stupid to know any better and walk off basking in the glory of being the saviour of the disabled spaces. No only did he know it was happening, he let it happen and tried to disguise it to me as being otherwise.

Now they want my support again? Fool me once shame on you…. Fool me twice… no that’s not going to happen.

So what does that leave me with in the new land of Murrumba?

We have the career candidate of the Greens, Jason Kennedy. How many elections is that now? Three, four? What are his policies? To change the world of course. And heal it. And make it a better place…. for you and for me and the entire human race there are people dying if you care enough for the living…. oops got carried away there with a bit of MJ saving the world with his music. Yeah our favourite bridesmaid never a bride is still hating on everyone for everything but once can’t help but wonder just how Green he is when he says more jobs here for Australians while he’s importing goods from overseas. Apparently the jobs are in selling the goods, not making them. Where we get the money to buy the goods he’s selling hasn’t really been answered but it seems to lie somewhere between giving people houses for life and saving the Koalas.

Now if you’re anyone else that is not Jason Kennedy or a Green then you’re not allowed to build houses cos you’ll make the Koalas cry. Maybe these houses that we’re all going to have forever and ever will be tree houses? Make mine a caravan. We all know this Pine River loving gypsy cannot stay in the one place for very long. And tree houses aren’t exactly the most accessible living anyway.

The million dollar question is though, why has Jason Kennedy never run as a candidate in the electorate or division he lives in? Makes you wonder how many Koalas had to die for his big house on his big property.

Speaking of not living in the electorate you plan to represent we have the replacement King sent in to defend the land of Murrumba since Kallangur was invaded, is none other than the presiding Minister for the Environment, Heritage and other stuff, Steven Miles. While a new electorate was created here on the north side of the kingdom the electorate of the great doctor of political science was dissolved. So being a north side boy he decided to move back to his roots and defend the land that was Kallangur. Prepared to stick around if he wins the battle he’s enrolled his kids in school and living back in the land of his people. Before you wage a war though, it’s wise to know your enemy. Seems Reg’s campaign people didn’t do their research even though the good messenger himself knew the details and the poor Honourable doctor has been labelled a blow in who doesn’t live here. Wrong candidate Mr Gulley, that would be Mr Kennedy.

None the less he’s out there trying to win the hearts of the Kallangarians and Murrumbans alike with his school boy charm, dashing good looks and knowledge that would challenge the great and powerful Oz. Will it be enough to get him over the line? Not if he doesn’t figure out how to include the common serfs. It took several satirical but suggestive emails for them to figure out ohhhh.. we need to be accessible but not as in available, as in a place with no stairs for the serfs to meet with us. They got the place part figured out… can they get the location right? Disability accessible is great but not when you have to hike 257m through roadworks to get there when you’re mobility challenged. I figure they got enough of my I’m disabled and I vote emails to get the message when the Honourable doctor turned up at a meeting of people with disabilities. Now THAT was making sure we had his attention.

There’s not much more to tell about the battle of the long lost land of Kallangur other than some guy who wants to know what we think a lot. It’s one thing to use social media to reach people, but for those who are familiar with the infamous Facebook community page, Kallangur Watch Fully Uncensored, it’s risky business asking any serious, legitimate questions in that forum. Of course when you’re representing One Nation, with a name like Scott Dare and your slogan is Dare for change, it’s probably right up your alley. Whether it’s boredom or he’s just not sure what he’s doing it’s hard to tell but he’s certainly not afraid to risk people telling him what they think. After all he does ask the same question over and over… What does Kallangur need? Which isn’t helping much to help Kallangur identify with being Murrumba now nor does it give the people much confidence that the person who has put up their hand to be a representative of the serfs AND the demi gods has any idea what they actually need to do to make the daring changes they claim they’re going to make.

It’s interesting times here in no man’s land that’s for sure and while the Kallangur electorate may from here on in be known as Murrumba, nothing will change the once bustling town of Kallangur fighting to get back what was rightfully theirs. Linking them in the electorate with North Lakes has more than ever shown there is no love lost between the two towns divided by more than just a highway. If you listen closely you’ll hear the downtrodden serfs calling out WE WANT OUR LIBRARY BACK WE WANT OUR LIBRARY BACK. Could this election be just what they need to make that happen?

Meanwhile out there in the rest of the realm of politics there’s quite a story behind how and why Rick actually got the flick in the end. Irony is it all started back at the last council election when a cranky old man who grew tired of being the miserable bar tender to the lords and the demi gods, decided enough was enough, he was fed up with being the listener and wanted to be the talker. So the poor publican Eric decided to appoint himself as a lord and go masquerading in the policital realm as someone important.

Lord Eric of Meldale menaced the townsfolk and candidates and anyone who didn’t see the truth as he tells it. Especially after a few glasses of red. Once the council elections were over and things didn’t go the way Lord Eric wanted, he decided he wasn’t settled enough with being a lord. He wanted to be a demi god too. However demi gods have to do a little bit of work and it’s not something Lord Eric is very accustomed to under the conditions required… ie sobriety.

Lord Eric thus knighted himself and jumped on his horse vowing he’d be the demi god of the land of Moreton Bay in 2020. Long way off of course and we all know how much can change in the political landscape over that time. Not wanting to wane and become unnoticed while the serfs were busy building and growing the empire until the next election, he had a wonderful idea to maintain attention by turning to the state election. He really had it in for the Rick he wanted to flick so badly that he made it his life’s work to ensure that he irritated him enough to put him in a position where knight Sir Eric could record Rick doing something terrible! He put a legal notice in his letterbox! I know! All the serfs in the land were equally as horrified as Sir Eric as they watched the 6 o’clock news seeing the story unfold. How dare that man put mail in a mail box they shouted! Eric gained so much support… wait, no… that’s the fantasy that Eric the publican want to be King of all the lands played out in his mind.

What really happened was the serfs, quite fed up with Eric’s antics and hollow shouty promises in his drunken tirades, some of them decided to stand up to him and treat him the same way he treated all the people in elections gone by. Poor Eric wasn’t built to handle that. Especially sober. But in true egotist style he did not fall on his self made sword. He pushed his wife onto it and attempted to play the knight in shining armour saving her from the angry lynch mobs.

Truth… the real truth, and it seems Eric never really could handle it, is that so very few people even knew Sir Eric existed he was never really a thing in the political realm. I mean he’s hardly the next Barack Obama and he doesn’t even cut a shade to our much beloved old Sir Joh B. So with his curly tail between his legs Eric set his horse free, pulled up the drawbridge across the moat to the Castle Meldale and no one ever saw him again.

Rumour has it though that he’s shut up shop completely, no bars open to the public and now he spends his life being the troll under the bridge. Some believe he’s merely laying in waiting for the hype to fade from this election and jump out the moment the billy goats appear to campaign for Moreton 2020. What a time to be alive!

Check out these fellas… who would you vote for?

Jason Kennedy for the Greens
Scott Dare for One Nation
Reg Gulley (right) for LNP with his former party leader Campbell Newman
Steven Miles for Labor (picture with local Gemma Gale of the Dakabin Station Action Group)

One person you won’t have to worry about voting for
Lord Eric the former publican

Stay classy Murrumba Kallangur

Who Owns Indue?

There is some misinformation floating around that only muddies the real issues surrounding the Department of Human Services polices on Income Management of people who receive Income Support Payments (Centrelink) under the Social Securities Act (notice I did not use the word “welfare” to describe it. Cos there is a difference).

One of the things I wanted to clarify so that people don’t misdirect their energy fighting myths and urban legends. You need to focus your energy on fighting the facts and the facts are that for over ten years Income Management has not proven to “work”. By work I mean achieve anything that has a positive outcome for the nation and the communities and people within it who are experiencing serious socio-economic issues.

If you haven’t already read my other previous articles about Income Management and Indue I recommend you do. Whether you get a payment – any kind of payment, even if you work and get Family Tax Benefit) – or not, you need to know what is going on with this issue. It doesn’t just affect people getting payments. It affects people paying taxes and revenue and people who vote for the members of our Parliament. You would want to know if your government wasted over $1.5 billion dollars with the intent to invest more into it, for a project that has failed over and over wouldn’t you?

The biggest myth floating around about Indue’s involvement in Income Management and the Cashless Debit Card is that members of the LNP own Indue or in any way directly benefit financially from it. They don’t. In fact no one person or group of persons own Indue.

Indue is owned by shareholders. The shareholders are financial institutions whom are of heritage banking origin ie members of COBA (previously known as Abacus Mutuals Association).
The Customer Owned Banking Association is the industry advocate for Australia’s customer owned banking sector.  It is owned by its 72 member institutions: 51 credit unions, 3 building societies, 16 mutual banks and 2 others; and a number of affiliate members. – From the COBA Website

Now these credit unions, building societies, mutual banks ect are owned by the members or customers. Each customer/member has one share. This share entitles you to having a say in how that bank operates, spends any profits etc and is usually voted on at the financial institution’s AGM.

What this means is, if you currently bank with Bank Victoria, or Police Credit Union/QUDOS Bank for example, you are a shareholding member. If your institution is a member (like the two examples provided are) of COBA then they are the shareholding owners of Indue. You get to have a say in the operations of your bank/FI at the AGM as a shareholder. Your bank/FI gets to have a say in the operations of Indue as shareholders. No institution can hold more than 15% of Indue’s Class A (voting) shares. Excess of Class A shares are converted to Class B (non voting rights) shares.

Shocked? Yeah I bet you are. If you’re anything like me all you want to see in your bank account is interest accruing, no fees and great deals on lending. You really don’t pay that much attention to how it all happens. Maybe we should be paying more attention. (EDIT: Not all COBA members have shares in Indue Ltd. Shareholders are those institutions who use Indue’s ADI services. Some institutions may use other the other ADI’s such as Cuscal, Australian Settlements Ltd or banks authorised by APRA as ADI (Australian Deposit taking Institutions)

So, as you can see from this information “the LNP” aren’t directly profiting from Indue nor income management. Neither is Andrew Forrest. So why is everyone paranoid about the two and their involvement? You will learn more about it in my previous articles but here is a bit of a summary:-

  • Income Management was first introduced by the Liberal Government under John Howard. This development started way back to a little earlier than 2007. It was around this time that Alan Tudge was a policy adviser to several members of the Howard Government. He had a particular interest in controlling how people spent their Income Support payments after working in the Cape York region.
  • Indue became involved in the government’s plan for Income Management when the BasicsCard system was an epic fail on so many levels. Larry Anthony was the CEO of Indue at the time.
  • There was an election. LNP lost. Labor had the task of making the whole mess better. It was under Labor that Indue were granted the first contract under the Income Management development scheme. There was influence from others on this decision and at the time Ministers moved through the Department of Human Services like a revolving door.
  • Billions of dollars, a few Prime Ministers and some years later Alan Tudge just happens to get the Human Services portfolio for his very first time ever as a Minister. Big job. Of course he was the right man for it after all, he was in this from the beginning.

There is still SO much more I have come across and am doing research on as far as this Income Management scheme goes and in particular the privatisation of social security payments but it’s moving faster than I can put it all together and explain in terms the average Australian like me can understand – bear in mind living with Parkinson’s I experience an increasing level of cognitive impairment making it hard at times to take it all in a break it all down but I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing it, because I don’t believe that the system this current government wants to implement is a justified cost effective way of improving the lives of people who get trapped in the cycle of welfare dependence. I don’t believe that a private entity should be able to profit from the social security system that contributes to making Australia a first world country.

Most of all I don’t believe that we have been told the truth over the past ten years. It’s been sheltered behind the meeting doors of policy advisers and businessmen seeking to access the multi billion dollar industry that is welfare and now it’s costing ALL the taxpayers of Australia. Past, present and future.

EDIT:

Stay tuned. This is going to get ugly.
Read more about Income Management by searching the Income Management tag on the site or using the links below

http://www.fridayology.net/since-census2016-has-everyone-concerned-about-privacy/

http://www.fridayology.net/imandindue/

http://www.fridayology.net/orimaevaluation/

http://www.fridayology.net/qdndisabilityandcdc/

Were we lied to or did was he ignorant to the facts?

This one is especially for my fellow QDN members. Those of you who were at the recent meeting at North Lakes with Federal Member for Petrie Luke Howarth and the Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services Jane Prentice may recall during question time, someone asked about the Cashless Debit Card.

The Cashless Debit Card (CDC) for those of you who haven’t heard about it yet, is the government’s latest scheme in Income Management of people who receive Centrelink payments. All payments aside from Aged Pension and Veteran’s pensions are triggers for a person to be placed on the card.

Once on the card, 80% of your payment is put onto it and the other 20% into your usual bank account. The 80% on the card is restricted to how you can spend it. The card cannot be used for cash withdrawals or transfers between accounts. It cannot be used for direct debit payments unless by agreement with Indue (the company managing the card scheme). It cannot be used to purchase alcohol or gambling items (except for lottery tickets). This means you can’t use it if you go to the club with friends for a drink. You have to rely on the cash you have in your regular bank.

Currently the card has been trialled in Ceduna South Australia and East Kimberley in Western Australia. The third trial site was announced this week as being the Goldfields region of Western Australia. The government and stakeholders in the scheme have expressed every intent to expand this nationally.

We raised our concerns about people on DSP and Carer payments being placed on the card with Mr Howarth who told us we had no reason to be concerned as it was not aimed at people like us. It was apparently aimed at people of working age on Newstart or Youth Allowance. However legislation and guidelines to the scheme specifically state as I mentioned above. ALL payments except for Aged and Veteran’s Pensions are trigger payments for a person to be placed on the card. When I found this information I then went and emailed Mr Howarth as he had invited me to do. His office told me he’d have to do some research and get back to me.

He still hasn’t gotten back to me. Now that the final evaluation of the scheme has been released and the government are blowing their own trumpets about how successful it was (that’s another story) and it’s very clear that they have every intention to continue to expand it, I wanted to make sure you are all armed with the information you need to know. This will be an election issue for us come the Federal election.

The review of the trial showed the numbers of people who responded to the surveys (you can read more about the evaluation and other articles I’ve written about this via the links below). I don’t know why Orima relied on people self reporting what payment they were on when they could have obtained that information from the Department of Human Services but if you do read my other articles you will see the entire review is flawed with inaccurate reporting and figures.

It is important though to note that there ARE IN FACT people on DSP and Carer payments who have been forced onto this card scheme.

Payment Type Ceduna East Kimberley TOTALS
Austudy 0 0 0
Abstudy 0 4 4
Youth Allowance 12 11 23
Parenting Payment Partnered 8 14 22
Parenting Payment Single 29 75 104
Newstart Allowance 102 146 248
Disability Support Pension 33 93 126
Aged Pension 2 0 2
Carer Payment / Allowance 10 14 24
Family Tax Benefit 30 78 108
TOTAL 226 435 661
6 People in total have volunteered to be part of the trial
Source: Orima – Cashless Debit Card Trial Evaluation – Final Evaluation Report

In fact almost half as many people as Newstart participants are DSP participants. There are 2141 participants all up but only 552 people were surveyed. Many have refused to state the payment they receive in the survey.

I have a whole range of concerns and issues about income management as a citizen but as a person with a disability it is even more significant. The difficulty I will have in changing my payment methods of my bills (I share expenses with other people) will be stressful. Not being able to transfer money to my kids or family or pay the small bills I pay by bank transfer will restrict me. Most of all, for myself as a user of mobility devices and a person with motor control issues, I struggle to insert my card into eftpos machines. The CDC has no tap and go feature which is the method I mostly use when using my card while shopping.

I am exploring if this means that the card discriminates against me on the basis of my disability. I also have a number of privacy concerns.

What we were mostly concerned about at the meeting though is why we should even have to be put onto such a demeaning scheme when on the flip side the government are telling us not to accept this kind of demeaning treatment and that NDIS will set us free. Why is it that we can be in control of thousands of dollars in NDIS funds but not our own income support?

If this card is supposed to be aimed at reducing crime, alcohol, drug and gambling problems then why are we being put on it? What are they trying to say?

If you want to find out more about it please feel free to read my other articles or get in touch with me to ask any questions. Most of all, we all need to ask our Federal representatives if they really understand what this is all about and what it will mean for us. And them come the election.

I’d like to believe Mr Howarth wasn’t lying to us and that he was just ignorant of the facts. That said if he was only ignorant and just going by the media releases the government have been putting out to make it sound good, then is he really doing his best to represent us?

Take care all.

Elisha “Friday” Wright

Further reading:

CDC Privacy concerns

Australia’s Biggest Welfare Scam – Income Management and Indue

Australia’s Biggest Welfare Scam – The Orima Evaluation of Indue

Australia’s Biggest Welfare Scam – The Orima Evaluation of Indue

Just when you thought it was as crazy as it could get discovering that Indue’s contracts alone for the famed Cashless Debit Card Income Management Project exceeds

$60 MILLION DOLLARS!

OF TAXPAYERS MONEY

Along comes the next contract joke… Orima.

Orima provide all kinds of research and evaluation services and do quite well out of government contracts (492 contracts, total value $58,680,064.16 between 2007 and now). Not a bad gig. Well just to do this evaluation it cost the tax payer

$160 000

You expect your money’s worth for that with data you can trust right?

Generally speaking after reading a number of the projects they’ve provided research for to various government departments, they’re very good at telling you what you want to hear. Reading the Final Evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card Trial you almost feel like they’re trying to woo Department of Human Services Minister Alan Tudge.

See, Alan and his acrimony for welfare goes way back to, well, probably since he was born he’s just that kind of guy. But before Income Management was an official government policy Alan was working away in the background on policies for welfare reform and as an adviser to ministers way back in the Howard Government…. well hasn’t he come a long way and how fortunate of him to get the Human Services portfolio to be minister of for his very first Ministership… or whatever they call it.

Talk about a ten year plan am I right?

So Orima were contracted to do the evaluation of the CDC trials in Ceduna and East Kimberley. It was a three part report and the final report which the LNP Government are now making their little memes about praising how successful Income Management is (it’s not really) is all because of the Final Evaluation.

To be quite blunt it is 303 pages of the most articulate waffle I’ve read since Tony Abbott’s last speech in parliament. They use all the buzz words and make it sound fabulous but lets be honest, it was nothing more than a market research survey.

I could go through all 303 pages and identify all the problems with the report but you’d get bored. I didn’t but I’m a statistics nerd who loves finding flaws in data. So I’ll give you the highlights. Bear in mind, I am only analysing the flaws in the evaluation not the trial/project itself… that’s for another story coming soon!

To give you insight, this is the objectives of the card that the evaluation is looking at (I just love how there’s NOTHING about employment oh, wait, next story)…

Starting on page 12 it outlines that it will evaluate the impact of the CDC on participants, families and the community. Did it reduce alcohol, drugs and gambling? Did anyone experience shame or social exclusion? Does the community feel safer? (yeah nothing about employment)

They even made all these pretty graphs to try and make their crappy statistics look more impressive.

The only graphs that caught my attention were these two… while the population of Aboriginal people in the trial zones is less than non Aboriginal people, the trial participants accounted for 75 – 80%.

To explain how they evaluate this they have pages and pages of waffle about Quantitative and Qualitative data and methods of collecting data.

There were two surveys done on participants. First in September 2016 about 6 months into the trial. That surveyed a whole 552 people (25%) (there are 2141 people triggered onto the card in the trial in both regions or about 21% of the population of both regions. 794 in Ceduna and 1347 in East Kimberly) the next was May 2017 with 479 people (22%). They’re pretty small sample sizes depending on which analytic method you subscribe to. For an issue as significant as one that could change the lives of millions of Australian’s it’s a rather nonchalant approach. In reality it’s nothing more than a generalised market research survey. You know, like the kind they stop you for in the supermarket when they just need ten minutes of your time and offer you a discount voucher for the product they want feedback on….

Cos that is exactly what they did to survey the community!!! No kidding. I’m serious.

What is even more outrageous is the extent the review goes to justifying it’s methods. There is more pages in wasted justification than there is on the actual results.

The report makes continuous claims that the target areas have had “significant reductions” however it provides very little “administrative” or factual data with all kinds of excuses like lack of availability (then perhaps it’s not long enough to do an evaluation on) and even that Police crime data is unreliable because it doesn’t reflect all the crime only the reported crime… what the? And Tudge and co. think this is reliable?

So lets have a look at the data and results.

Surveys/interviews

Focus Group Wave 1 Wave 2
CDC Trial Participants 552 479
Family of CDCTP 78 0
Community Not CDCTP or family 110 141
Stakeholders/Merchants/leaders 73 86

Drinking Less
The number of people who reported drinking less since being on CDC in wave 1 was 25% of the sample size. The sample size is much smaller than the total of the people interviewed. This is most likely because people were able to respond that they didn’t know or just refuse to respond to the relevant questions. So for this 25% the sample size was 345

25% of 354 is 86 people.

In wave 2 it “increased significantly” to 44%. The sample size was 231.

44% of 231 is 94 people.

I’m not a mathematician, but if my calculations are correct this significant increase of people reporting they drink less since being on CDC is 8 people. THIS IS THE CRAP THE GOVERNMENT IS FEEDING US ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN DRINKING THANKS TO INCOME MANAGEMENT! They say a reduction of 44% in their memes and glossies and media releases because telling you the truth that 94 people self reported they’re drinking less just sounds fucking ridiculous. You know why? Cos it is. It’s ridiculous. Just like the card, this review and the stupid amount of money being spent on this so they can say an increase of 8 people are drinking less.

THIS IS GOING TO SAVE AUSTRALIA!

Mind you no one bothered to mention the report also states that since just before the beginning of the trial, tougher alcohol restrictions were introduced in BOTH trial areas. Ceduna in September 2015 restrictions on the sale of alcohol such as ID for takeaway alcohol, limits to purchase sizes and types of alcohol and banning on selling takeaway alcohol to people who resided in specific areas. In December in East Kimberly they started a trial of tracking the ID of people who were purchasing take away alcohol. These measures were very close to the start of the trial and therefore could also have contributed to some if not all of those 94 out of 2141 people who self reported that they are now drinking less than they did before the card. Oh happy day.

The number of people who reported they’re using illicit drugs less (by the way, it was NOT and anonymous survey. People had to provide ID… just saying):

Wave 1…. 24% n= 84 (n is the sample size). So 20 people
Wave 2…. 48% n=109. So 52 people

Yes a whopping increase of 32 people reduced their drug use during the trial. (According to a certain source cough Larry Anderson’s Say Yes to the Health Welfare Card crap page on facebook cough… this was enough to drive the local drug dealer out one of town. Yeah I’m calling bullshit on that too).

Then there was gambling less. Now Pokies as we know are the lion’s share in problem gambling even though other sources do contribute and much of the talk about the gambling problems in these trial areas was about pokies. Bear in mind in the last 5 years each year has seen a further reduction in pokie revenue (could we really be ready to blow up the pokies?) So that is obviously going to play a part in the reduction of the 12% loss of revenue in the last 12 months reported in the trial areas.

What you also need to know is that there are a whole 40 poker machines in Ceduna and 103 in the the areas outside the trial site that are used to aggregate the figures by the Government. Despite the reduction revenue is still pretty good at at $4.7 million before and $4.1 million now in Ceduna for a total population of around 4000 people (both trial areas – 4110 in Ceduna and 5139 in EK according to ABS Census 2016).  It’s about $1100 a year per person then compared to $997 now. Take into account that during peak holiday season the population of Ceduna almost and sometimes more than doubles, well, it is just so easy to see how the people who get less than $14k a year are the problem spenders on pokies.

It’s also worth noting that the Ceduna revenue equated to about 1.65% of the total state gaming revenue which works out to around $167 per person (figures are lazy and based on population rather than population aged over 18 but it’s generalised enough – still more factual than freaking ORIMA) You can see the spending on pokies in Ceduna is quite high… so lets see if it’s really the people on welfare making that 12% dent in revenue reduction.

People who self reported gambling less thanks to the magic CDC:

Wave 1 32% n= 140 so 45 people
Wave 2 48% n= 109 so 52 people

Yes still the report gloriously praises the “signficant increase” in the number of people gambling less thanks to the card increased from the early days to the later days by a whole 7 people.

So lets take the 794 people on CDC and the reduction of $549268 in gaming revenue. Assuming that the 48% bullshit statistic could be applied to the whole group reducing their gaming spending, that’s 413 people who haven’t. Tudge would have you believe that the 381 people gambling less have been solely responsible for the reduction which means they’d be saving $1329 a year each. Or $25 a week. Yeah, sounds like they have HUGE gambling problems.

If all of that isn’t enough of a farce the stats they’re touting as reductions in crime are actually based on the section of the review that came from the opinions of Stakeholders. Yes that’s right they surveyed the stakeholders and asked them if they FELT that there’d been a reduction in crime. Based on that they got this airy fairy statistic and THAT is the part the government has cherry picked out of the report to say hey look at the great job we’re doing.

If you actually look at the statistics of crime, you know real data, you’ll see that there’s been no significant change in anything over the past 12 months. However if you look at the periods before CDC you will see a different story.

In East Kimberley the increase in crime from the 12 months prior to CDC compared to now are incredibly alarming. Assaults have doubled, steal motor vehicle has more than tripled as has robbery while other crimes such as burglary have also had increases.

In Ceduna while over all crime statistics from Police in the Eyre West district show an over all reduction in crime compared to this time last year of around 10% there has been no continual reduction in the past 12 months. Assaults though are up as is fraud related offences and receiving or handling proceeds of crime. A very important note is that Alan Tudge is tooting his tuba about a reduction of non assaultive sexual offences being down 40% but what he didn’t mention was that other sexual assault offences are UP 40%. So there’s less slapping the barmaid on the bum in the pub but more raping her on her way to her car after work. Yeah sounds fucking awesome Alan.

For the most though there is an over all reduction in crime in Ceduna but police say it’s thanks to their better policing rather than any other so called government initiatives.

It is somewhat amusing that Orima were content to share the answers to their surveys to say it’s a Quantitative response yet didn’t provide any evidence of the apparent administrative data. Just the sources they claim to have examined.

There’s a whole lot more in the review I could flaw but really, isn’t this enough to tell you it’s crap? If Kimberley region has had income management since 2007 and nothing has improved since then, and crime has increased since CDC, surely they have to realise they’re pushing shit up hill? And surely the Australian tax payer has to realise how much of their money has been wasted on empty promises and the propaganda of rich people who would have you believe the poor are evil and will been the downfall of the country. Wake up Australia. Income Support Payments don’t cost you money. They save you money.

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Australia’s Biggest Welfare Scam – Income Management and Indue

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Australia’s Biggest Welfare Scam – Income Management and Indue

As the news spreads far and wide that the heroic LNP Government of the Abbott/Turnbull era is here to reform welfare and save us from ourselves, people are beginning to ask questions that no one wants to answer. The biggest question of all is just how the hell did we get ourselves into this mess in the first place?

We have one of the best Social Security systems in the world. Combined with other essential human services it ranks us 10th in the world in the Social progress index. We’re even 3rd in the Mercer Melbourne Global Pension Index 2016! So why is it under attack from our governments? Two words….. potential profit.

Welfare is a multi billion dollar industry globally. The REAL beneficiaries are the private entities who gain government funding to assist with or provide such supports. Often the same entities who demonise welfare recipients. Why would they do this? By demonising people who need support as people having their hand out they gain sympathetic support from the tax payers who for all good intentions believe THEIR taxes shouldn’t be GIVEN to people to spend on, well…. living. This support then allows private entities to offer “solutions” to reduce the need for welfare and bing bang boom someone is making more money than our budget allows and it’s not people on welfare.

So what happened for Australia to start believing we need this desperate reform? WHERE DO I START!? I won’t go right back to the beginning at colonisation cos we’d be here for years and you’d only end up confused and overwhelmed at learning everything you’ve ever been told is a lie….

It started when John Howard back many many moons ago in the 1990’s by invitation visited for the first time ever, an outback remote Aboriginal community. He had been invited because the Aboriginal people in these communities were battling to save their culture. The last of the lands where they were living in traditional ways were being destroyed by national and international mining conglomerates. With the mines came the mining towns established to house the mining workers who brought with them their culture. Just like colonisation, these things infiltrated Aboriginal communities. Alcohol, drugs, sexual abuse and poverty were just some of the issues they wanted to discuss amongst the big topics such as native land title, reconciliation and human rights of Aboriginal people. It did not go well for the privileged white boy from Sydney.

He didn’t hear the people on their issues. Instead he saw what he interpreted as deliberate neglect and abuse while at the same time felt insulted to be told he would still be considered a boy in Aboriginal culture during a talk from Elders who tried to explain their ways to the Prime Minister.

While there’d been plenty of reports written on Aboriginal life in Australia before 2007, none had really caught the attention of the then Prime Minister until the Little Children Are Sacred report. It was the outcome of the Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse commissioned by the Northern Territory Government. The key finding that most likely “inspired” Mr Howard to act was that both the state and federal governments were responsible for the problems happening and therefore they had to act to fix it and prevent further deterioration of Aboriginal communities.

Sadly NOTHING else stood out from that report that it seemed Mr Howard took in. There was NO consultation with the communities or the people. Instead, there was an intervention.

Naturally, rather than remove the dangers that were creating the social destruction of communities (everywhere in Australia but at higher rates in Aboriginal communities) instead the solution was to restrict Aboriginal people being able to access those things with cash. With an election looming and wanting to show the nation his strong stance in keeping Australia well controlled in a volatile era that saw the “War on Terror” play out, Howard believed he could win the conservative AND worker votes by showing the people he wouldn’t allow their taxes to be wasted by such primitive people who were clearly so vulnerable and lacking in knowledge they needed strong regulation. Thus, “income management” was born. Back then it was commonly known as “Quarantining Payments”.

Despite various leaders, departments and even the co writer of the report who also chaired the Inquiry, Pat Anderson asking how this intervention was addressing the issues highlighted in the report, the project carried on and still to this day there is no evidence that the intervention did any good. You could well say that the fact that we are still here dealing with the same issues some twenty years later, it did nothing but make things worse.

So in 2007 the first income management scheme was the Northern Territory Emergency Response. At this time it was also introduced as part of a trial in Cape York and a provision introduced for people to have their income managed voluntarily.

Howard however, lost the election of course not without creating a great deal of damage in relationships between the government and Aboriginal communities. This then left Kevin 07 Rudd with the huge PR task of reconciling without looking too soft.

The Labor Government then seem to have flown on past a number of red flags and handed out government contracts relating to income management projects like they were how to vote cards.

So 2008 was a little quiet on the Income Management front. Labor had some work to do. There were still legal concerns with Income Management being open to claims of racial discrimination so legal services were procured, policy was adjusted and legislation changed. Instead of just targeting Aboriginal people living in remote communities Income Management according to Labor should be a case by case method of assistance for people who fall into the definition of being “at risk”.

Policy Policy Policy definitions and all that jazz and in September 2008 the first BasicsCard was issued in Katherine in the Northern Territory. YES I AM NOT KIDDING YOU! Even after all the not being racist but…. talk, they still went ahead and targeted Aboriginal communities. However the BasicsCard was there on, used as a method of managing people at risk identified through various services.

The entire project was an epic fail. They had this great idea but when it came to implementation no one in the 185 roles within the Department of Human Services knew how to implement a practical solution that didn’t increase their work load by making it more difficult for people being put onto the card. Some genius just flaunted the idea of using a prepaid giftcard style system and then Minister for Human Services Joe Ludwig (ALP) signed off on it. ReD Prepaid Cards Australia were contracted almost $3.5M to supply the cards. It was plagued with problems, like most gift cards at the time, could only be accepted by certain retailers, many of which didn’t exist in remote communities, cards declined, cards expired, if you lost your card replacement was a pain in the proverbial so by March 2009 the Minister announced a tender would take place for a more permanent point of sale solution.

Now pay attention…. You’ll need to know this later…. The minister at the time was Joe Ludwig as previously mentioned. With a Bachelor of Arts and Law the economic background just wasn’t there. Of course we all remember the volatile time it was in Australian Politics then, cabinet shuffle, reshuffle, spill, reshuffle, more tea move down, election, reshuffle, spill and it all fell to pieces. Very very shortly after the tender announcement Ludwig was moved out and Chris Bowen was moved in. Now he’s the guy with the economics background but what was more important at the time was that his policy adviser was a guy named James Sorahan… remember this name you’ll need it later.

It was difficult to put out a tender when you don’t know what it is you’re asking for exactly. Despite a bunch of research contracts they were still none the wiser on how to manage Income Management. I know the irony isn’t lost on me either. So somewhere along the line… before a tender was finalised…..

Along comes Indue Ltd.

Now Indue has a number of subsidiaries and had grown from a card service to a credit union type financial service and has continued to grow from there with much success. Today, Indue wants to become a bank but to do so they need more capital cash. How do they get that? This ladies and gentlemen is how the biggest welfare scam of all time was birthed…..

Despite an audit declaring that while the project would probably never achieve it’s outcomes, it was found that the correct and ethical procedures were followed in the tender and procurement process of the Replacement Income Management Project. Of course we all know to get your foot in the door it helps to know a guy who knows a guy….

So remember that name I gave you before.. Mr policy advisor James Sorahan… here is another name. Larry Anthony. Larry at that time was the CEO of Indue. Larry is well known for being the son of Former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National party, Doug Anthony. Were James and Larry mates? I don’t know but guess what James does now? He’s a mining lobbyist and Director of Taxation for the Minerals Council of Australia. Nice jump from policy adviser (he moved on from Human Services to the minister for resources and energy later before this gig). Guess who else is a mining lobbyist? You guessed it. Larry Anthony.

Now you may have seen heroic philanthropist (cough tax avoider cough) Andrew Twiggy Forrest pushing this whole healthy welfare concept of the Cashless Debit Card as it’s now become known. What is Twiggy’s main business? Freakin mining of course and in 2009 we were in the middle of the mining boom. But wait… it’s not quite fully connected yet.

So Minister at the time Chris Bowen whether he was aware or not, saw $23.3M worth of contracts granted to Indue Ltd for Income Management Project services within around six months.

Naturally when the tender was finally defined and put out the “primary contractor” was the favoured contractor and yep, they got the tender to continue. Between 2009 and now, Indue has benefited from our welfare system to the tune of $60.2M in contracts. That’s just the contracts!

Yes that’s right taxpayers… welfare has just cost you another $60.2M and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Between the idea launch in 2007 and now more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS in contracts to external entities have been paid out in relation to the Income Management projects that so far…. have failed.

Now of course this is not unusual for a private entity to gain from government contracts and tenders. After all it’s a huge economy. The icky thing I find about Indue and the methods used to get what they’ve got is that they are profiting from WELFARE. From the care of our most vulnerable people.

Larry Anthony is no longer the CEO of Indue, he’s moved onto bigger and better things now. He’s the Federal President of the Nationals and Founding Director of the SAS Group. Guess who else has gained a storm load of government contracts through tender and procurement? Yeah, SAS. And guess when he founded his little company… 2009.

So Indue and the many connections within it have played a significant role in the design of what is to become our future. We aren’t just talking about young people on Newstart and Aboriginal communities here. This has been developed with the potential to expand across the entire nation to anyone and everyone who receives a benefit payment of any kind excluding (for the time) Aged Pensions and Department of Veteran’s Affairs payments. Yes tax payers… this means you too. Family Tax Benefit, Carer’s Allowance any payment you might get as an additional support to your income can and will be paid via Income Management some day soon.

Why is there a push to expand it so fast?

Okay so back to the mining boom and our mates James and Larry have moved on into areas that lobby for mining….. 2014 the mining boom busted. Poof. Like that the honeymoon was over. The government realised there was revenue to be had and they wanted their share. It then became less profitable for the mining industry to keep sucking the country’s resources dry and who should suffer greatly from that none other than Mr Twiggy himself. So in 2014 when those pesky Aboriginals had stood in his way long enough with all those annoy things like land rights and artefact protection he decided he would pick up where John Howard left off and save the Aboriginal communities from themselves.

Enter the Creating Parity report also known as The Forrest Review. Gee it must be good to have a hero status for donating to your own charities. If only you knew how many and how wide they spread. Not to mention how many of his mates and other people he wanted to persuade now have high paying jobs because of his “charities”. Creating Parity was a damning report that painted Aboriginal communities even worse than the 2007 Little Children are Sacred Inquiry. No admission at all that we created the problem, it’s all their fault. So the solution again was to control their money rather than remove the sources that cause the problems.

It’s much easier to control vulnerable people who have nothing than it is to control the continual supply of drugs, alcohol and gambling that they keep telling us are so bad that they are the downfalls of these areas of society who need their spending controlled. Regardless of whether you’re a tea-totalling strictly moral hardworking person who just happens to be out of a job at the time, you’re going to be branded a gambling alcoholic junkie and your spending will be controlled.f

And all the while Indue Ltd, it’s board members and shareholders will all be rubbing their greedy little hands together selling the drama to the taxpayers of Australia that welfare is going to be the downfall of our economy if we don’t let them get it under control. More people on the card means more money transfers to them which means larger cash capital. Once they have a big enough share of the welfare market to control…. they get to become a bank and all their wishes come true.

Does that help solve the actual anti social issues in society both welfare and non welfare related? Nope. If you stay tuned for the next episode of Australia’s Biggest Welfare Profiting Scam I will tear apart the next beneficiary, Orima and their very poor attempt to give the government their $160k worth in a 300 page report about nothing and how the PR people in government are selling the drama to our MPs.

 

The Pros and Cons of photos with politicians

When you decide to put yourself out there as an activist for almost any cause you need to prepare yourself for the fact that you will have an opposition. Even when the cause is one as diplomatic as equality for people with disabilities. You need to develop a thick skin and the ability to ignore being used as a political football.

Yes, sad as it is, the reality is people with disabilities are a political issue in today’s society. Yes, we still have to fight for the equality and basic human rights that many take for granted. If you’re going to be a successful activist you will have to talk to people you may not necessarily like. You have to put your personal feelings aside and assert yourself in circles that wouldn’t necessarily welcome you under normal circumstances. And you have to try to do it with dignity. It’s not an easy task.

You also may find yourself having your photo taken with the odd politician here and there. That’s what I do. I call it the penance I pay for being granted the wishes I ask for. Even if those wishes aren’t personally for me.

What I didn’t expect was that my having my photo as an activist and advocate for others with disabilities, would ever be used against me in a way that was admonishing of me and my character.

I haven’t been all that active online of late. Not compared to the past. So imagine my shock when I was sent screenshots of a particular political candidate and their members openly criticising my character because I’ve had my photo taken with another politician. Of course it’s pretty simple history behind it. The photo in question was with their opponent.

So just in the interest of fairness, honesty and transparency, I thought I’d share a gallery of all the photos I’ve had taken with other people who might be considered of a political nature. I mean after all, selfies are the new autograph right?

Just one more time cos hey, if you’re going to criticise me for being in a photo for a purpose, it really should be this one…..

Here’s a photo with me and holy crap is that??? No…. it isn’t… wait, yes! It’s Former LNP member Reg Gulley and Former Premier Campbell Newman!

I’m sure there are probably plenty of other photos out there. Considering these days I can barely remember what my original hair colour was I reckon this isn’t too bad a collection.

It’s probably not a great idea to rubbish a community activist even if you don’t think they’ll see it. Chances are someone will. As an activist it’s my job to hold politicians accountable for the promises they make and how they treat the people I have promised to defend and advocate for. If you can’t work with me when you’re a candidate it could make things rather difficult to work with my community if you become the person who is supposed to represent them.

Of course I can’t leave a good story untold. There is one photo missing. This one

This is the photo that was supposed to happen the same day I was photographed with Campbell Newman. I’d been advocating for the increase of fines in disability parking by Police (at the time it was a $44 fine and it was increased to $228 which now increases annually) and had support of my MP at the time Reg Gulley.

I asked Reg if we could get a photo with Scott Emerson so I could add it to my campaign page to thank them both for their support. Reg was of course agreeable as he always is and told me he’d go get Mr Emerson for a photo. There was a whole bunch of MPs and other types milling around. Reg spoke to Scott who was with a group of others. He returned to me to say we’d grab him when he was finished with the person he was talking to. Next thing I knew, Reg ‘had to quickly talk to someone’ and along came Tracy Davis. She grabbed my attention talking to me like I was a long lost friend putting her bag on a chair behind me so that I had to turn around to see her when she was talking to me. She then hugged me. I don’t think I’d ever been hugged by a politician before that day. It was most unusual. She kept me there talking to me like she was interested and shortly after Reg returned with great disappointment that unfortunately Scott Emerson couldn’t wait, he had to be somewhere else. Yeah, somewhere I wasn’t.

I played along but I wasn’t stupid. I knew exactly what happened. The classic distraction play. Scott Emerson didn’t want his photo taken with the likes of me. When you’re openly critical of government policy or member’s behaviour it doesn’t matter that you do give credit where it’s due. Which is a shame cos at the time it was Campbell Newman receiving my wrath not Emerson, yet at least Newman was able to do the decent thing and pose for a photo.

So the moral of the story…..

If I have my photo taken with someone that another person opposes I will be labelled the enemy regardless.

Also, if you won’t pose for a photo with me I’ll turn you into a stick figure.

How Accessible Is Your Train Station?

25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, 6 years since Access to Premises (Building) Standards 2011 were implemented, you’d be forgiven for believing we’ve no reason in Australia for not being able to access infrastructure as significant in our community as public transport.

If I asked you, do you think your local train station is disability accessible, without checking, would you say yes?

Many are of the belief that most stations are disability accessible despite what is in fact an incredibly poor compliance rate among he 154 stations on the Queensland Rail Brisbane network.

For a train station to be accessibly compliant it must be independently wheelchair accessible to all platforms, have tactile ground surface indicators on platform edges and electronic timetables.

If a station has car parking or toilets those must also be disability accessible.

All stations built SINCE 2012 meet compliance which is probably why the numbers are as high as they are being that the Redcliffe Peninsula Line and Springfield lines did not begin until after the standards were implemented. Which when I tell you the numbers, makes it quite astounding to learn such little has been done over the past 5 years to improve station accessibility.

So I want you to think about the stations you use. If you had a disability would you be able to use them independently?

How many of the 154 stations do you think are fully compliant?

27

Yes just to confirm for you that is not a typo, 27 stations or 17.5% of the network is compliant.

This means people with disabilities either need assistance to access or cannot access at all, one hundred and twenty seven stations.

51 stations have no tactile edges. This is one of the easiest compliance issues to rectify.

75 stations have no independent wheelchair access, with 26 having no wheelchair access at all.

So why does compliance take so long? My personal opinion is bad management but it comes down to money.

So that large corporations and organisations weren’t disadvantaged (I know, ironic right!?) there was an inclusion in the legislation for them to apply for an exemption due to unjustifiable hardship (again I know, the many is not lost on me either).

The Australasian Railways Association continues to apply for exemptions for all rail services in Australia, regardless of the individual business’s financial capacity. Queensland Rail have comfortably hidden behind this for years and as stations continue to deteriorate so does the service.

Just recently we’ve seen a number of reports of disabled people being stranded on platforms & trains and all of these incidents have been preventable.

Ramp access from platforms to trains where the platform is lower than the train still remains assisted and somewhat dangerous. The ramps are portable and have no fixable point relying on staff to hold them in place.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, we’re about to see the release of NGR (New Generation Rollingstock) trains that pose a list of access issues that Queensland Rail are still trying to rectify. So even if we manage to get onto a station platform, well, chances are we won’t be getting on that train anyway.

Look at us. 2017, still fighting to get access to public transport, still fighting for that accessible parking space and yet all some people want to know is why we don’t just get jobs.

Maybe Qld Rail could hire me to find the solutions to the access issues. Heaven knows, I’ve tried giving them some of the solutions for free but no one really seems to want to listen.

For ongoing coverage of the NGR issues I recommend following @InclusionMoves on twitter.

As for platforms…. well, I’m going to recommend this reading to several members of parliament. If access to trains is something that affects you, or someone you know, feel free to send this to your state member.

A compliant train station with a train pulling out of the station

Justifying My Disability

My disability is acquired and one that is sometimes referred to as “invisible”. My disability is caused by a progressively degenerative neurological disease. I am one of the 10% of people diagnosed with my illness before the age of 40.

I have Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.

When I first started treatment it was like getting a renewed life. As time has gone on and my condition has progressed, the symptoms are less controlled by treatment I’ve had to make adjustments to my life & find new ways to do things that have become difficult to do.

Assistive technology and aides have advanced giving people with disabilities the capabilities to do things once only dreamed of. Yet, when I’m using these things I’m constantly finding I have to justify myself to people too ignorant and judgemental to take the opportunity to learn.

Last week I posted a story on my Facebook page about a group of young men loudly commenting about their opinion of my unjustified use of a mobility scooter because they observed me walk about 10 steps. “people like that who can still walk make a joke of disabilities” they said.

The next day a child of about 10-12 observed me stand up from my scooter to take a photo and exclaimed loudly to their parents “she can walk!” like I had committed some type of deception intentionally.

Elderly people stare at me in disgust when I ride around the supermarket. I get told on a frequent basis “That’s disability parking!” despite my permit being prominently displayed, before I’ve even been helped out of the car.

There was even the time a woman behind me when I was in a shopping centre on my large mobility scooter on a public holiday loudly stated “They shouldn’t be allowed to bring those things in here on days like today”.

I have 2 mobility scooters, serving different purposes each. I am no longer allowed to drive. I have a walking stick and a chair in my shower.

I’ve simplified my eating habits so cooking is achievable at times but my carers do most of it for me. An app on my phone reminds me when and which medication to take and when it needs to be ordered and picked up.

I use drink bottles to drink from most of the time because I spill or drop my drinks.

There’s even a voice activated emergency app on my phone in case I am injured in a fall.

All of these things contribute to me managing my life with a disability. It should be celebrated. Instead it’s questioned and interrogated, judged and discussed by strangers as though it’s not justified for me to use these things.

An amputee can put on a prosthetic limb and run and the world stands on the sidelines clapping calling them an inspiration. They’re doing the same as me. Using the tools available to make their life manageable but, we are treated differently.

Is it because people view their physical difference as suffering? Why do people with disabilities need to show they suffer to be justified in having assistance?

I haven’t lost my legs. Instead I have legs that cramp with rigid muscles that refuse to take orders from my brain. I have hands that move when I don’t want them to and freeze stiff when I need them to move.

There are so many others like me. We just want to live our lives as best we can while minimising the struggle to do so. We’re just doing every day things most people take for granted but because it’s not inspirational for some people, we’re forced to endure and at times even be confronted by their accusational judgement. Made to feel bad just for trying to have a better life.

When I tried to explain to those young men that day that 10 years ago I’d have run circles around them, but the degeneration of my condition now means I can barely walk 100 metres with collapsing in a heap and I will keep degenerating until I can’t walk at all, one of them replied “we all degenerate”.

Yes we do. Just some degenerate before their time. How privileged to never have to see that kind of suffering.

Rather than expecting people to justify their disability, try being supportive. Educating your ignorance might be handy for you if you ever find yourself in our position.

I can assure you, no one, especially me, expects to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Today in Australia 33 people will be diagnosed. It could be you.

Stop expecting us to be nice about ableism

I always knew there’d come a day when I’d finally crack. Finally have enough of taking the high road when the view up here leaves a lot to be desired. It’s lonely on the high road sometimes.

Many of my fellow disability activists and advocates have written and spoken about ableism. We all cop it. We all see it happening around us. We all get frustrated by the inane conversation where we are told just get over it, it doesn’t mean anything. It does mean something to us.

When I established the No Permit No Park Campaign back in 2013 (wow time has flown), I had every intention of being the educator. I learned to change my passive aggressive language into something more engaging to try and open a conversation with the community about disability access and our rights to inclusion. For the most I was successful. I honestly expected to change the world. “If only they could see it from our perspective” I use to think.

I am damn proud of every success, every achievement we’ve had throughout the campaign and that I have had on a personal level through my various forms of engagement with the community. Whether it be on the radio, in social media, public speaking engagements, I always have someone, at least one person get in contact with me to say, I never realised… I didn’t understand it until…. I see things differently now. To me, to have a person realise their own ableism and that they want to change it is the most important reason I put myself out there.

From the start people warned me, you can’t please everyone. I’ve had my share of attacks. I’ve been stalked, confronted, abused, ridiculed, ostracised, assaulted and victimised. None of that, not one thing that has ever happened as a result of my activism when standing up for the rights of people with disabilities has ever been worse than the discrimination against me and against my friends with disabilities.

My friend Tracey and I were told to leave a store recently, because her wheelchair might damage the stock. It was one of those dodgy bargain stores that over fill the shelves with so much stock you can barely fit through to see anything let alone buy it. The owner verbally abused us even shoving the phone into Tracey’s face telling her to call the police when we pointed out what they had done was an offence under the disability discrimination act. Unfortunately the act doesn’t allow us the right to call the police. It’s an offence, but it’s not a crime. We just left. Angry and humiliated.

Sure we could have taken it to the anti discrimination tribunal but for all the stress and heartache of it what would the outcome be in the end? That owner would never treat us as customers even if they made physical changes to their store. Even though our money burns the same way. Besides, bargain stores around here, they’re a dime a dozen. Sometimes you even get it cheaper at KMart so it’s wasn’t a great loss. It was just the principle.

I’ve never been afraid to call out ableists who make vile attacks on social media toward people with disabilities. In the past I’ve tried to reason with people and explain if they looked at it from a different perspective they’d understand why we speak up about things like the abuse of disability accessible parking, but often I get nothing but abuse and self entitlement so I just cut and block. Generally they go away. They are usually so mindless that within a few minutes they’ve found someone else to annoy with their unrecognised privilege and misdirected vitriol. Once in a while though, the person doing the victimising insists that they’re the ones being victimised.

Making comments on social media, in public forums, is a dangerous thing. The thing about the internet – and I still don’t understand why people haven’t learned this yet – is that once you put it out there, it’s there forever. Cos even if you delete your abusive, hateful, discriminatory comments, I’ve already taken a screenshot of it. Not because I want to keep reminding myself of these people, but because they don’t have the right to just walk away and not apologise. So I make sure it stays there, somewhere, forever to remind them. So that if they ever find themselves in our position one day, they might eat their humble pie.

You don’t get to come into our forum, our space, try to muffle our voices, cause people hurt and humiliation and then just walk away like nothing happened. You don’t get to promote your self entitled attitude, your opinion of us, or your indispensible privilege in a platform we built to stand up to these things.

You don’t get to have a say in our lives. Our rights are not yours to give us. If seeing people with disabilities out in public makes you uncomfortable, then I suggest you stay home. We won’t be. We will be out there, seen and heard. There’s nothing you can do to stop us. Most of all whatever you do, don’t tell us not to be angry. We have every right to be.

Jessica Kiddle made this comment, didn’t like my response, blocked the page, deleted it, then reported my photo when I posted the screenshot on Facebook so Facebook removed it.
Some of the comments and posts below were reported by me and Facebook told me they don’t go against their community standards.

 

Below are some more examples I’ve collected over time of the kinds of things people say to me (and some to others in our disability forums) online. Click on the pictures to make them larger.

 

Do Your Thing

This post is dedicated to all my fellow disability advocates out there but mostly to my friend and mentor, Carly Findlay Morrow xo

It seems to resurface in a cycle. The critics, the condemnation and just general apathetic hatred for me as a person and for what I do.

I am an advocate. I am an activist. I fight for what I believe in. I make no apologies for that.

I won’t deny that at time, a brief flicker of frustration passes through my mind telling me to quit and become the hermit you always wanted to be. Or witness protection whichever pays better. Just stop giving people the opportunity to tell you what they think of you.

Honestly though those flickers are quickly extinguished. I don’t really understand what it is that smothers them as they fizzle into the void of lost thoughts that leave my mind. Integrity? Ego? Mental Illness? It could be a combination of those. I just don’t really care what people think of me. I stopped caring when I realised that if my own mother was not going to accept me as I am then no one would so trying was futile. Just get on with it.

Steve Irwin is quoted as saying Crocodiles are easy. They try to kill and eat you. People are harder. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first.’ He was a wise man.

I don’t expect everyone to be my friend. I don’t expect everyone to like what I do either. I mean what in the world would a person without a disability have to value from my work in making sure we have equitable rights, access and inclusion of people with disabilities right? It’s not like they’ll ever be in my position… oh wait… yeah. Still I don’t expect everyone to jump on my bandwagon and come along for the ride. I’m happy to travel alone. I like my company.

What I do expect is common decency and respect for advocates who are working to make the world a better space to live in. That’s not a given though. There are still those who cannot fathom why you do what you do because they’ve got so much privilege they don’t know what to do with it. There are those who just seem to be envious of the attention you get even though it’s not necessarily attention you want but it’s the necessary evil of raising an issue that needs attention for something to be done about it. There are those who well, just don’t like me so they don’t want to even appear to like or support anything I do. Which is really the saddest of them all. I don’t like the government at times but I certainly appreciate the freedoms and benefits I’ve been afforded by our democratic country. If you want to cut off your nose to spite your face that’s fine for you. Just keep your nose in case you decide you need it again one day. No point giving it to me, I have no use for it and I really don’t regard it anyway.

I’ve seen it happen to a number of advocates. Watching others try to tear them down because they have different values. It’s hard sometimes to just sit back and mind my own business. Seeing people get harshly criticised for wanting to do the right thing, the hard thing, the better thing. Or just because they have a platform to express their view on an issue that affects them. They’re not doing any harm to anyone else, but still others want to take them down. Classic tall poppy syndrome. That poppy is getting more sun than me, it has to come down now and I will make it happen no matter what it costs me.

The cost might be as simple as me, a bystander looking at the person and saying wow, you just don’t get it do you precious? It could be the loss of a friendship. It could be the whole loss of a support network when they just can’t deal with your unwarranted behaviour. The loss of a job because your behaviour expanded into bullying and you’ve brought the organisation into disrepute. Or the death of the person you’ve relentlessly criticised because you couldn’t deal with them having an opinion different to yours or a lifestyle different to yours.

It’s been really hard to watch what some of my friends and fellow advocates deal with.

I won’t apologise for what I do though. I believe in what I’m doing. If I have to make a video or go to the media or post something on social media a thousand times for the issue to get addressed, for change to happen, then that’s what I’ll do. You don’t have to like it. You can always look away. Chances are I’m not doing it for your benefit anyway.

If it really makes you that uncomfortable that a person living with a disability can speak for themselves, stand up for themselves, or dare to demand equal access and treatment, the same opportunity that you take for granted, then the issue really isn’t mine is it? It’s yours.

If you can’t allow a person to express something from their perspective on an issue that affects them, then you have far more privilege than you deserve really don’t you?

To my fellow advocates out there, I want to share this quote with you that I love from a guy named Asher Roth.

Just do it. No apologies. Unless you feel you have something you need to apologise for. Otherwise, do what you believe in. I’ve got your back.