Saturday, 2 June 2007

Manifestations of Injustice

I am currently reading Clive Hamilton's piece "What's Left? The Death of Social Democracy" in Quarterly Essay, issue 21, 2006.

It's very interesting, and I'm sure will form the basis for many discussions on this blog! Here's an extract I found very challenging in terms of thinking about what we, as Christians, should be thinking about as we come up to the next election:

"Three manifestations of injustice continue to blight our society. Firstly, poverty remains present in Australia, with around 10 to 15 per cent of the population at any one time suffering significant material deprivation. This is manifestly unacceptable and is all the more unconscionable because it persists in a land of affluence.

"Secondly, the circumstances of many indigenous Australians are a matter of national shame. Indigenous people no longer experience institutionalised discrimination, land rights have been granted and extensive attempts have been made by governments to provide social services and income support. Yet it must be said that the remedies prescribed by social democracy appear to have had little impact on the parlous state of many indigenous communities.

"Thirdly, the members of one minority group, those people with physical disabilities, despite important forms of progress, continue to suffer neglect. In a country like Australia, people with disabilities are perhaps the last minority genuinely feared by the majority."

It's this last group I want to reflect on, because I fear Clive is right. Over the last few years I have personally come into contact with two young people with brain damage who are forced to live in nursing homes because there are no facilities for them. And there are many more. Another friend with a child incapable of walking has to raise the $5000 needed for a wheelchair herself with little or no government help. Respite care relies on community volunteers, often young people with no skills or experience in dealing with disabled people. Another friend told me that when she was told her newborn baby girl would be physically and intellectually impaired for life, the doctor said, "put her in an institution and forget about her". What's even more outrageous is when I told that story to a midwife I know, she said, "yep, it happens all the time." I could hardly believe it - are we in 2007 or 1707?

I'd like your opinions on this, and some ideas about how to go about changing it.


AngryToaster said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
So true.

Still, the system in place does provide for disabled people. I have a friend who has chronic fatigue syndrome, he gets a pension from c*ntrelink.
You could probably argue that it isn't a great deal, but then again, what c*ntrelink payment is? At least there is a system. In other countries, if you can't work or have someone to care for you, you die. We do live in a relatively good country.

I think our country stands a better chance of introducing proper care facilities and welfare for the disabled once our dictator is voted out. The way things are going with the "work choices" laws, it really wouldn't suprise me if he tries to shut down c*ntrelink entirely.

Well, that's my 5c.

rajane said...

I think that it's issues such as these that keep Australia a 'good' country and stops us from being 'great'.

As if people with disabilities don't have enough to overcome - then they have to fight a welfare support system, and the apathetic attitudes of so many people in society.

I remain hopeful, yet doubt that Australian Christians will have this issue in mind when it comes to voting later this year.

Em, make sure you give me that book back when you're done. I'm going to read it in the holidays.

Emma said...

no worries! glad to see you found your name rajane!