I am disabled.
Every few months I’ll have a run of good days and start to think wistfully about going to University and studying something I’m interested in. Or the disability bashing will get inside my head and I’ll start to question myself. Surely I could work a part time job, right?
Then something will happen. My body will collapse and I’ll spend three days vomiting, only managing to parent my children through the use of heavy duty anti-emetics which will probably cause Parkinsons when I’m 50. Or maybe I’ll dislocate something so badly I’ll end up curled up in a little ball whimpering and unable to move until my husband reduces the dislocation for me, braces my joints up and puts me to bed. Or my blood pressure will bottom out and I’ll puke and pass out at the same time.
It doesn’t last long, my wistful wanting, before I’m faced with the reality of my particular disability.
I can’t drive because I can’t be trusted not to dislocate something badly while driving, or go all wobbly and dizzy. Public transport is non-existent, and it wouldn’t matter anyway, because the simple act of sitting up straight with my feet on the floor causes enough problems to write an entire blog post about.
Disability is a multi-faceted and complex thing, but Joe Hockey isn’t interested in hearing our personal stories of woe. To him, disabled Australians are an untapped workforce. Too long we have languished in our beds, on our couches, collapsed on our floors. Not only do we refuse to work through sheer laziness, sucking at the public teat like our life depends on it, but we also clog up the medical systems.
No worries. He’ll just stop indexing our pensions, make doctor co-payments a thing, charge us for blood tests and xrays and take away money from our hospitals.
Soon enough we won’t be sucking at the public teat, because we’ll be dead.
I’ve spent three days digesting this budget and I can’t see a way forward that doesn’t involve crying. How am I meant to survive if I’m assessed as being able to work eight hours? And I don’t kid myself – I have no cognitive impairments and I can walk for like, 2 minutes, so I’m perfectly capable of working, surely.
In the last three weeks, I’ve left my house once, and this was to take my youngest child to a speech therapy appointment. My husband, my carer, drove us. Then I forced myself to walk around the supermarket buying food so we didn’t starve. I spent the rest of that day in bed, and the one after too. In and out, parenting prone, between doing the work which we hope will support us when the government cuts us adrift to die.
You don’t want to know how much of our budget goes on food which is too expensive and doesn’t last nearly enough meals.
And I’m one of the lucky ones. I can freelance to make ends meet when I need to. I have a fledgling business which should be up and running by the end of the year. I have options I can carry out from my house, from my bed, when I need to.
My friends, my family, my peers, they don’t have this.
If you’re under 35 and disabled, sorry, but your disability isn’t a real thing. It doesn’t count. We’re just couchsitters, lazy, unwilling to commit to hard work.
Isn’t that right Joe? We’re disabled, so we have no right to live, let alone live without fighting a daily financial struggle.
And this is leaving aside entirely the nightmare of the changes to Newstart allowance, of forcing young people to earn or learn in an economy with no jobs and unattainable education systems.
Force the lot of us into work. Minimum wage to fill a gap, killing ourselves in the process. Cut the mental health budget – mental illness isn’t a real thing anyway. Cut the welfare. Cut the hospitals. Charge for doctors.
Joe Hockey is out there, smocking a cigar right now while our world crashes down around our ears.
The flow on effect of these changes is unimaginable. Crime. Hopelessness. Endemic poverty.
How many convicts were sent to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread, Joe? Is that what this is? Are we merely returning to our roots?
I look at this budget and I despair. Stamp all over the poor people. Let our blood fertilise your field of propaganda and lies.
We’re just grist for the mill now. Chew us up and spit us out.