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The LNP’s new talent – How to disable people with a disability.

Kevin Andrews has announced that anyone seeking to access the disability support pension, will now be required to see an independent doctor prescribed by the Government, and recommendations from family doctors will no longer be allowed to assess people for the disability pension.

The LNP has effectively taken away the right of choice for people with a disability.  All Australians expect a fair go, a right to choose. However, this is now no longer the case if you have a disability. Someone will make this choice for you. For those with a disability who do not need an advocate; who can make their own decisions.  For those who need an advocate, this is taking away the right to choose, through denying the choices that the advocate can make on their behalf. This is a blatantly disabling people with a disability, rather than enabling them.

This also strikes me as so raw and so insensitive not even a week after the passing of Stella Young. Stella Young, if anything, taught us that we should treat all people with disabilities as human beings. Taking away someone’s right to choose does not treat a person as a full human being. Kevin Andrews (as all neo-liberals do) is purely focused on money and not the welfare of the person, nor is he focused on client outcomes for a person seeking the disability pension. Scott Morrison inheriting this portfolio, will contribute a ‘show no mercy’ approach to this situation.

In plain Australian English: The LNP does not give a stuff about people with a disability and how they should be treated.

One of the most concerning risks is that if the correct outcome for a person with a disability is not achieved, this will result in that person being moved to Newstart. This person will then receive less money and will further exclude a person with a disability from accessing social inclusion activities, transport and even better choice of housing to name a few. Once again, the underlying message of the Government for welfare recipients is “they are liars and cheats and we must stop them.”

Through this agenda of stigmatization and segregation of welfare recipients, the LNP Government aims to use this stigma and marginalization, so major cuts to welfare and even full closure of some services will result in little resistance from voters. Everything about the LNP is underpinned by cuts, cuts and more cuts, as demonstrated even more today with cuts to housing advocacy and homeless programs, programs for the blind, deaf and acquired brain injury also losing critical funding.

Lisa Gunder’s article, Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients, discusses the narrative / agenda set by political leaders since Howard. The focus on the welfare agenda in the Howard era, when Abbott was Minister for Employment; set to recontextualise ‘have a go’ and ‘the protestant work ethic’ (as part of our national identity) within the welfare discourse. In an analysis of Australian identity, the ‘Australian way of life’ features strong connections with hard work the middle class and a protestant work ethic. From Howard to Abbott, they have used this ‘accepted view of our way of life’ strongly within speeches and narratives about welfare; to change how Australians see those who are truly disadvantaged.

The other most prominent issue that Gunder raises, is that in Howard and Abbott’s speeches, they highlight the success of the ‘in-group’ (non-welfare recipients) and mitigate the achievements of the out-group (welfare recipients). In simple terms, they purposely avoid highlighting achievements of welfare recipients and focus on the negative. This sets in place an agenda for stigmatization.

It is through this narrative, that has been used and built on since the Howard years, which sets the tone for stigmatization and paves the way for further cuts and punitive measures for welfare recipients. If you reflect on the timeline, the progression of this negative narrative has extended from the unemployed, to the single parent, aged pensioners and veterans and now the Government believes its narrative has been accepted sufficiently by the ‘in-group’, that harsh and punitive measures for those on a disability will be accepted by the ‘in-group’ or mainstream Australia. In simple terms, the Abbott Government sees punishing people with a disability as a ‘vote winner.’  As Australians, we should strongly see this as a failure to our national identity.

It is simply not good enough for the ALP and Greens and any other party who opposes these measures and this narrative to simply say ‘it is not OK.’  A narrative has been built since Howard’s arrival at the podium in 1996; that has gradually been listened to and accepted by Australians that “it is fine to punish the ‘out-group (aka welfare recipients).’”   

As ‘punitive measures and harsh treatment’ are now the norm within welfare; the ALP and Greens need to create a very strong narrative and create a new discourse which places welfare recipients at the heart of the “A Fair Go” and speak loudly and strongly of not only achievements, but of compassion and humanity and how and why we should unequivocally provide assistance for those in need’.

It is essential for the progress of Australia to remain silent on any narrative punishing those on welfare and the disadvantaged and to reject and refuse to create a welfare out-group through stigmatization.  

We must move forward and change the narrative completely to build up the strength of our people, through true mateship, kindness and a fair go.   Only then, will we all have freedom of ability, freedom of choice, true inclusiveness and a greater participation in work and society by all.

 

Gunders, L 2012, ‘Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients’, Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13

Originally posted as http://polyfeministix.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-lnps-new-talent-how-to-disable-people-with-a-disability/

23 comments

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  1. Peter Ball

    The Liberals can’t help themselves , they have declared a class war against the Australian people. What I clearly understand is the ultra Liberals hate the Australian people and will do anything to ensure the rich get richer and the poor will be poorer , its about time the average dumb Australian wakes up to themselves and understand the Ultra Liberals led by Abbott are against the average person , the Liberal mouthpiece called the Murdoch press will tell us the Liberals are good for us , Nothing could be further from the truth

  2. CommonA

    Personally, I would have said this was a slap in the face of the “non approved” doctors… the government doesn’t trust you to make an appropriate judgment.

    I guess it can also be seen as either a way to “standardise” decisions of eligibility, or as a way to push people out of DSP and onto newstart, perhaps both are valid…. It all depends on the eligibility criteria and how they are applied doesn’t it? In my opinion though, as lot of this rhetoric is a little early, lets wait for the first horror story under the new direction and comment then eh?

  3. DanDark

    R.I.P AUSTRALIANS

  4. mick

    This will be our future unless scabbott it stopped Speaking in March, six months before his pledge not to change pensions, Mr Abbott told Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry he wanted a two-tier system, modelled on the British one, which paid people with disabilities different rates depending on whether their condition was permanent.

    This is the result of those failed policies in the UK or only failed unless that was their intention in the first place cause thousands to die from suicide and stress-
    http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html

  5. Bultaco

    My Uncles encountered just this sort of thing when the Conservatives needed to move the disabled returned soldiers off the pension in the ‘twenties.
    ‘If you can stand up then you’re fit to work’ said the Government Doctor to my Uncle Clarrie who had a collar bone rebuilt in silver by a genius British surgeon.

    May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their crutch.

  6. Helen in NQld

    …and n
    o doubt the ‘approved’ doctors will be carefully chosen, hard-line Liberals.

  7. Fred Martin

    I am a disability pensioner and I can tell you that the 3 specialists and 1 GP who told me I needed to retire and have been treating me for the last 15 years know more about my disability and how it affects me than anyone this nasty government will appoint. Governments are elected “by the people” to be “for the people” but clearly Abbott and his cronies are only interested in the megarich and their profits and don’t give a stuff for the welfare of the people.

  8. Andy McCracken

    I am was on a disability pension ( retired now) for a few years with a heart condition ( Myopathy ) which started with an enlarged heart,too much hard work (Bricklayer) and terrible shortness of breath (scary ) and a lung complaint which did not help the shortness of breath, but from the outside I looked healthy .
    Some days I could do a bit of work in the garden but would have to stop after a while because I got dizzy spells .
    Depending on when I would see the Drs I could be having a good day but they were far and few in between so a Government Dr could say he doesn,t need to be on a Disability Pension and his Drs report doesn,t count but when you explain to a prospective employer your health problems hey no chance.
    Greedy Governments give me the YOU KNOW WHAT.

  9. Marie Reynolds

    My husband suffers from Bi-Polar and has done since he was 22. He is now 60. At times he has been able to hold down a job, but the breakdowns occur regularly and you need an employer who is sympathetic to the fact that he may not turn up for six months or more at a time. And, he has not been able to work under supervision, therefore his main employment has been as a taxi driver. He is now unable to work at all, because the breakdowns are recurring more frequently.

    He is well for short periods, and this Government want people like him to work in these short periods. It is simply not possible. Providing you can find an employer who is willing to give them a job, the stress of working is just to much for some. The suicide rate of people suffering from mental illness is very high and these new changes by the Government will increase that rate even more.

  10. eli nes

    the liberal thinks it is better that a criminal goes unpunished than an innocent suffers ie innocent till proven guilty. the Liberal thinks it is better to have everyone in the same boat and accept collateral damage ie guilty till proven innocent. For the purpose of disability pension and the dole the electorate is skewed Liberal. The sadness comes when a group of men and women believe those Australians on the dole have chosen that option and are deserving only of basic handouts and formulate policy to garnish public support to achieve their belief. It amazes me that any women could support the coalition but in my circle breeding is first priority.

  11. Stuart John Pearson

    Unfortunately getting DSP Pensioners back into full time work is very unlikely especially in Regional and Rural Australia. I went to Sydney twice as a young person and ended up with the same problems occuring.I found Sydney a terrible place to live in. You might get work but the cost of living kills you.I tried education after that but was not able to obtain full time employment and was slow obtaining my qualification.Since then the best I have had was temporary casual employment plus health issues. I am now in my 50’s and do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. The sooner Abbott is gone the better we have for all in Australia. Its Time.for freedom.

  12. ' george hanson '

    I am nearly 61 , and am having another attempt at the D.S.P. My reason : post polio syndrome [ contracted polio at 3 years of age and HEY , NOT ALL VACCINES WORK ,[ my father was a doctor , both myself and my brother contracted POLIO and YES , we were given the shots ] . My brother walked away ……i didn’t ! So after much surgery [ left arm , left leg , right leg and spinal fusion T3 to L1 by the age of 13 ]. Went to uni , [ thank you GOUGH] and earned a living in the entertainment industry for the best part of 35 years as a casual .[ FULL-TIME jobs are rare], then when 2 years ago , i was told by the D.S.S assessor that i was not dis-abled enough , and i also had a part -time job at a venue that only hires when there is a show happening that night .So ,earnings from a 4 hour shift once a week …equals employment . Fortunately , when i was able to work flat out , i realized that i had 12 -15 years before i needed to break out the walking stick . I went for it ….but all that effort cost me , my mobility , walking is a big problem . Paid my taxes , now just let morrison tell me otherwise .

  13. Richard Knowles

    More importantly, the liberals are saying they cannot trust the professional judgment of one’s GP and specialist. Query: will there be a review process to enable one to challenge the verdict of the government appointed doctor. And what will be the dictates imposed on government appointed doctors, will they be transparent, and will their opinions outweigh one GP and specialist? Again imposed policies done when Parliament is in recess. No public discussions. “Do what we tell you to do – we know what is good for you”. Yep the Liberals cannot help themselves. Always needing a whipping boy.

  14. Kaye Lee

    How can a one off interview with a stranger understand episodic illness that a family doctor has been treating for years? They say some people doctor shop for the doc who will just write the certificate. If they know this to be fact then why not prosecute the doctors involved in writing fraudulent assessments instead of persecuting ALL people on the DSP?

  15. John Fraser

    <

    Doctors are not happy with the $5 co-payment.

    When the assessments of their patients are overturned there's going to be hell to pay.

    I know it doesn't help those being attacked by Abbotts gang though.

  16. silkworm

    The Labor Party are complicit in the decision to subject those applying for the DSP to so-called independent doctors who will be anything but independent, but who will be extra hard on applicants. Shame on Labor! Shame on Australia! It pains me to think of the suffering and even deaths that this decision will lead to.

  17. CommonA

    Richard, at the risk of trivialising your situation (I agree you should be supported)… re the Polio, did you have your tonsils out before contracting it? Thanks

  18. Win jeavons

    Forget the 3 word slogans, now we have new 4 letter words that are out of fashion. Words like help, kind , care, sick, poor.

  19. marwill10

    CommonA My brother contracted polio in the early 50’s. He was left with an atrophied left leg and foot but was lucky not to have more serious issues. He did have his tonsils out prior to contacting polio.

  20. CommonA

    Hi marwill10, thanks for the reply, your brother has my sympathy. I asked because I was testing what I had heard; that the tonsils are not the useless part of the body the medical profession used to think they were… they are part of the immune system, and possibly the primary defence against the polio virus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatine_tonsil). It’s taken a long time for the medical/scientific community to get over the idea that the body was made with mistakes. Again, thank you for your reply, I’m sorry if I brought up painful memories. But personally I think this sort of information needs to get out there as it still seems not commonly known.

  21. Bacchus

    Graham,

    Perhaps you could explain what you hope to achieve and how. I’m no constitutional lawyer, but your petition seems to be very Quixotic.

    Just sayin’…

  22. matters Not

    Graham Houghton, your petition is simply ‘intellectual masturbation’ writ large. Even if each and every voter in Australia signed up, the Governor General would, and should, do absolutely nothing.

    If the GG decided to ‘act’ (perish the thought), the GG would be acting outside the Constitution.

    Whether you like it or not the “Abbott Government” was ‘elected’ according to the Constitution. (BTW, I don’t like that it was. But that’s how ‘democracy works.)

    Petitioning the GG to act outside the GG’s designated constitutional role is actually an affront to our current democratic system.

    BTW, if there is a petition that urges the GG to ignore your petition, I will gladly sign same.

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