Dear Abbott, Hockey, et al.

parliament house

The Abbott Government released the Federal Budget for 2014/2015, and I am one of those who will be severely affected by it – if it is passed through the Senate.

I am a 28 year old Australian female who is profoundly Deaf, and I am feeling rather uncertain about my future.

I have always had great hopes for the future – for myself, my family & friends and most importantly, my children. The future is now looking bleak…and I worry about how I would be able to fend for myself, let alone be able to secure a full-time job in the field I want to work in.

I am currently unemployed, and I rely on the Disability Support Pension to be able to have a roof over my head and to keep myself alive. The DSP allows me to pay rent, purchase groceries, pay for my mobile phone bill and all other essentials. Most importantly, it helps me to achieve my goals, especially with studying. It has helped me through my undergraduate career, and it will be supporting me through my postgraduate career. However, I have been on the DSP since I was 16 and it is largely frustrating, especially that it keeps me RIGHT above the poverty line. I aim to get off the DSP by my 30th birthday, which is approximately 16 months away from now. In order to do that, I need a full-time job. But in order to be able to search for a full-time job and to keep a roof over my head, to keep myself alive and to achieve my goals, I need the DSP.

“Deaf people regularly experience discrimination in finding and maintaining meaningful employment, and are much less likely to be able to pick up a new job in a short period of time compared to other people with similar skills. The prospect of losing their home or not being able to afford food and bills during the six-­‐month wait will compound an already significant disadvantage.”

Kyle Miers – CEO, Deaf Australia

To pick up a full-time job in a short time is not possible for someone like me. I have had so many job applications knocked back by mainly non-Deaf related companies & organisations. I do not see my deafness as a disability, but to be politically correct, it is a disability to many others, especially potential employers.

Discrimination is often experienced while searching for a job; one which has had a profound impact on me and my approach to applying for jobs. Back in 2005, I applied for a job at Energy Australia, and it was a traineeship in Business Administration and I had a really good feeling about it. However, I did not disclose my deafness on my job application. They called to invite me to an interview and I was not home to answer the call, but there was a note left next to the TTY saying that I had to call them back. I called the National Relay Service then prompted them to call the number I was given. Someone picked up and I explained who I was, and they flat out lied AND said that the position had already been filled. It’s not an easy feat, and it’s one of many hurdles I will have to overcome for the rest of my life. That said, I will have to continue persuading potential employers to look past my deafness, and to hire me based on my qualifications and skills.

I have a humanities degree, and am about to start a Masters in July.  I am grateful for the HECS-HELP loan I received during my undergraduate studies, however I have had to apply for FEE-HELP for my Masters, as postgraduate courses are now not eligible for HECS-HELP. I am also grateful for support I received at university – Auslan interpreters, notetakers and in general, the academic community. If funds are cut for Deaf students and students with disabilities at TAFE, colleges and universities, then they would not be able to access to the same level of support, and I would not want to see my children and the future generation to suffer through the cuts to fundings for education and access.

Lack of education support and incentives for employers to hire deaf workers means deaf people continue to struggle to access opportunities in a competitive workforce, leaving them further behind.

Deaf Australia – 16 May 2014

I am also a passionate advocate for the rights of Deaf people, and the news of Graeme Innes’ position as the Australian Commissioner for Disability Discrimination being abolished in July is heartbreaking. There is also the news of the Federal Government ceasing funding for ABC Ramp Up – Australia’s most and only dedicated website for people with disabilities. With those cuts happening to the disability sector, advocates and organisations for people with disabilities will have larger burdens, especially those in the Deaf community.

My biological clock is ticking, and I would love to have a child in the next few years, but if the Budget does go ahead then I am more likely not to have a child. What if my child is Deaf too? What if they require additional support at school  – ie; an Auslan interpreter? They would not be able to get access to additional resources and support due to funding being cut, especially for students with disabilities in all levels of schooling (primary, secondary and tertiary). I cannot let that happen now and in the future.

When I started school at Springsure State School back in 1990, the Queensland Government allocated an interpreter/teachers aide for 4 HOURS PER WEEK. They would not pay for my classroom teachers to learn sign language, so my teachers and teacher aides chose to give up their holidays to travel to Rockhampton so they could learn sign at TAFE. My mother was not impressed and she fought a long hard fight with the Queensland Government, but lucky for us, the community of Springsure rallied together and fundraised so the school was able to employ a teachers aide full-time. Springsure is a small town in Central Queensland with a population of approximately 900 people, and it is approximately 50 minutes south of Emerald. From what I can remember, my time at Springsure State School was wonderful, as all of my classmates could sign and I had no trouble communicating with other children. Older children would try to learn to sign so they could communicate with me. Teachers there could sign as well. I felt like I was a part of the school community. Being the only deaf child in the whole school, I guess I was pretty lucky.

To have something like Springsure to happen to a Deaf child is pretty rare nowadays, especially with the red-tape and Government funding being cut for students with disabilities and Deaf students.

I am also put off by having a child due to the changes to Medicare. We’ve been proud of having one of the best universal health systems in the world, and the Abbott Government wants to change it to a US-based health system. Bollocks to that, I say! I am not too off-put by having to pay $7 for a visit to my GP, but what about those single-parent families, elderly people and chronically/terminally ill people? What about single-income families? What about unemployed people? They’d be cleaning out their pockets faster. People who rely on medicine to function would be cleaning out their pockets faster as well. It would REALLY suck if I got violently sick and I had to go to the GP, only to be $7 short AND have no money left for medicine. What if my child is terminally ill? Or to be diagnosed with a chronic disease they would have to live with and manage for the rest of their life?

The Federal Budget 2014/2015 is completely unfair to many Australians like me. We need a Government who thinks of the people, not those who rake in $100,000+ every year. We need a Government who treats everyone as an equal, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, income and status quo. We need a Government who does not use media to create fear for the society so the Prime Minister can get what he wants. We need a Government who is capable of creating a better Australia for our future generation. We need a Government who can push Australia into the future and further into the 21st Century. We need a Government AND a country we can be proud of.

Australia used to be a “Fair-Go” country. What happened?

Reference:

Deaf Australia. Deaf people to be worse off from Abbott budget. Published on 16th May 2014 at http://deafaustralia.org.au/deaf-people-to-be-worse-off-from-abbott-budget/

2 comments on “Dear Abbott, Hockey, et al.”

  1. W. Tai says:

    All I can say is that the budget will be defeated by the Senate. Let’s say that if that happen (the budget being defeated), will you be able to travel more all over the world once you start your Masters?

    1. Sherrie says:

      The Senate bloody well better defeat it 😉 Well, I hope to travel more especially that my Masters is only offered online. I’m moving to Melbourne next month, so once when I settle in, I need to save up all over again.

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