Category Archives: disability

The Carers Alliance – election message

The following message is from Robert Gow, Qld Campaign Manager of the Carers Alliance. The Carers Alliance are running candidates for the senate around Australia
more info – http://www.qld.carers.org.au/

Hello all,
Many thanks for the support you have all given, the election draws near
 and we are getting many contacts from carers who are desperately
 seeking a better deal.

Carers are asking questions, like:
Why will Indonesian Orang-utans receive several thousand dollars each
 over 4 years when Australian Carers will only receive an average of
 $15.38 each per annum for the next 5 years according to the government’s
 promises.

Carers days are numbered at the rate of interest that governments are
 showing. Will they join the ranks of endangered species though sheer
 neglect by government?

Have you seen our You Tube Video?
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZHkrgNlk9w

When you visit it please click on the favorite’s link. This will
 promote the clip and therefore the issue onto the political agenda and may
 gain us some more much needed press before Saturday.

Over the last two weeks we have published stories of difficulties that
 Carers are having with Centrelink. Many other carers have contacted us
 regarding their problems with the same body. There have been three
 overriding themes emerge:
• The officiousness and inflexibility of Centrelink staff
• The rudeness and flippancy of Ministerial staffers, and
• The non-responsiveness to issues raised by carers with Ministers,
 Shadow Ministers and local Federal members (not even the courtesy of a
 reply)

It has become clear that carers are a home grown endangered species.
  We are a finite resource – we will not live forever. We cannot continue
 to be exploited as a perceived cost effective alternative to a
 properly funded community support system. Governments are consigning carers
 and our sons, daughters, family members who require support and
 assistance, to the scrap heap.

Many of the 2.6 million Australian Carers and the other people that
 they influence (estimated to exceed 6.5 million) will ask “How do I make
 my vote ensure a future for our carers if neither party is serious about
 the issue?”

There is only one option; send a carer to Canberra and force government
 to take notice. A vote for the Carers Alliance Party is the only
 course of action for voters that want to influence the next government to
 make critical changes before carers are extinct in our population.

Without support Carers will become an extinct sub-species of the
 Australian community. Most are at breaking point and many are desperately
 beyond. At current rates of neglect many of the 2.6 million carers will
 join the ranks of those who need care. It will become a vicious circle
 and where does that leave the country?

Once again, please forward this to your mailing list and request that
 they do the same.
Don’t forget to visit the web site, http://www.qld.carers.org.au. We
 have had over 80,000 hits this month alone.

so many thanks,
Robert Gow,
Qld Campaign Manager
Carers Alliance

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“Unlikely Travellers” voted best documentary at IF awards

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Congratulations to Michael Noonan and John Hart and for their film “Unlikely Travellers” winning the Inside Film (IF)  award for best Australian  documentary.

“Unlikely Travellers” will be screened on the ABC over the next three weeks beiginning Monday November 19 at 8pm.  more details here. 

Here is my review of the launch of Unlikely Travellers in August –   movie review

UPDATE – While Unlikely Travellers is now recieving the acknowledgement and praise that it deserves, the controversy and condemnation is continuing at Irish Indymedia – here  and at the Courier Mail – here 

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QUT controversy resolved but patronising attitudes to disability continue.

The long running QUT dispute over the sacking of two academics seems to be over with an out of court settlement. Courier Mail article  “QUT academic brawl ended by settlement”

It seems to me however that there are 3 issues that marked this affair which remain unresolved. These are…

 1/ attitudes towards disability,

 2/ attitudes towards free speech and

3/ The allegations that Michael Noonan forged signatures on release forms for Aboriginal people he filmed.

1/ Attitudes to disability.
 The original flashpoint of this controversy was the criticism of Michael Noonan’s film work with people with intellectual disabilities. This criticism has continued and none of the critics have changed their tune. However Noonan’s film “Unlikely Travellers” has now been widely praised for its representation of people with disability since it was released. Similarly the footage presented to Noonan’s QUT PhD confirmation hearing that was released to the Courier Mail has received almost unanimous praise, the exception of course is the issues of permission raised about the Aboriginal woman in his footage, which I will get to soon.

Since the release of “Unlikely Travellers” I have personally written several letters to Queensland Advocacy Incorporated asking them to retract their criticism of Noonan’s film but they have not responded to any of my correspondence.

The Australian Catholic Disability Council continues to criticise the film project as recently as last month, indicating that they are incapable of admitting they were wrong or that they hold a totally repressive attitude towards disability and they are offended by “Unlikely Travellers”, but my guess is they still haven’t seen the film or Noonan’s PhD. rushes and are still commenting in ignorance. Australian Catholic Disability Council speaks out against degrading research project

Noonan’s film is now an international landmark in positive representation of people with intellectual disabilities in the media. His work deserves support and praise but instead this whole affair has demonised Noonan and has never, ever, raised any serious and rational discussion about issues of disability. The ignorant, repressive and patronising attitudes of the criticisms have been reinforced and largely unchallenged in this whole episode. The so called “speaking up for the disabled” has created one more brick in the wall that contains people living with disabilities.

2/ Free speech issues.
The academics and their supporters called for Michael Noonan’s film project to be stopped, for the screening of his movie “Unlikely Travellers” at the Brisbane International Film festival to be stopped and for the issue of what universities ought and ought not to teach to be determined by the federal court, a course of action that has been thankfully aborted through the out of court settlement – all in the name of free speech.

Nothing is black and white, even the most ardent anti-censorship libertarian realises that there are times to censor. The extreme case is snuff movies but there are less dramatic compromises such as racist or sexist vilification and exploitation of the vulnerable. Many libertarians accept the need for moderation and control of the media in some areas.
However any call for a film or any other project to be censored needs to have a good reason, a rational explanation of why its production or broadcast directly exploits or oppresses somebody. The calls to censor Michael Noonan’s work was not based on any such explanation. The criticism was based on false information about the capacity of the on screen performers and an academic critique that it was an example of post modernist ammoralism.

It seems absurd to me that such a campaign of censorship could have existed under the banner of a free speech campaign.
  This campaign was perhaps the most significant parochial left wing campaign that Brisbane has seen for decades, it defined the evolution ( or slowed the devolution) of that strange phenomenon known as “the left”. Yet this campaign went from start to finish with absolutely no discussion or exploration of any of the core issues of the campaign. The powerful force of solidarity was corrupted and transformed to a mindless witch hunt and gang mentality relying on personal slur and gossip rather than any intellectual reflection and learning. It was this ignorant gang mentality that justified the call for censorship, not a concern for people with disabilities or the principle of free speech.

3/ Allegations of fraud and issues of filming Aboriginal people.
Firstly, I was at a meeting with Ted Watson (representing the Aboriginal woman in Noonan’s rushes), Michael Noonan and John Hart (The producer of “Unlikely Travellers”). At this meeting Noonan produced to Ted (and myself) signed releases from The Aboriginal woman and her husband. The signatures on Noonan’s release forms were the same as those on Ted’s documents of authorisation and complaint (in my opinion with no expertise in forensic handwriting analysis). I have never doubted Noonan’s honesty on this matter. At this meeting the issues of dealing with Aboriginal people and protocols was discussed at length and Noonan was genuinely disturbed by May’s concerns and has apologised to her.

However it seems that the issues of representation of Aboriginal people in the media were always only secondary to the legal defense of the two academics in their struggle with QUT. The complaints and allegations were administered as an addendum to the other legal actions. Now that the QUT issues are resolved what will happen to the the conflicts and controversy that has been stirred up about Aboriginal representation, in particular the interests of Aboriginal individuals at the centre of this? Will the issues of Aboriginality now conveniently disappear along with the issues of disability?

In conclusion I will recount my own involvement in this. As a long term proponent of free speech and as a person who has many connections to disability I was particularly interested in this issue. Initially I supported the academics but had not even read their criticism of the movie, I just assumed it to be valid. The fact that academics could be punished for being critical was an obvious attack on free speech.
However, somewhat belatedly, I read the critical article “Philistines at the gate” and was very disturbed by the patronising, moralising Roman Catholic attitude to disability expressed by the two authors. I had seen nothing of Noonan’s work but I knew the criticism was very wrong. This debate between humanisation vs. protection of people with intellectual disabilities was, and still is, an important debate to be had by the mainstream society – as it is the mainstream that embodies the attitudes of repression and exclusion.   I wrote the following critique of “Philistines at the Gate”“Laughing at the disabled, power perception and prejudice

As I surfed the net looking for more information I discovered that complaints had been made to the Adult Guardian, asking them to investigate Noonan’s “exploitation” of people with impaired capacity. I was outraged at this point. Regular Paradigm Oz readers will know that my family has been at war with the Adult Guardian who are a secret totalitarian agency that has complete power of peoples lives and can intervene and smash families with no accountability structure at all.  Background on the Adult Guardian

I was absolutely disgusted that people who mouthed rhetoric of freedom and human rights could be appealing to a fascist institution to intervene in the lives of people who are perfectly happy and supported.

Somewhere along the line I made contact with Michael Noonan and he gave me a copy of Unlikely Travellers. I was very impressed by his treatment of disability issues and realised that not only was the criticism of him based on a repressive ideological framework, but his work was extremely significant to changing mainstream attitudes about disability.  I wrote this review of “Unlikely Travellers” 

The campaign to support the suspended academics continued throughout to demonise Noonan, they never gave up attacking him for being an exploitative scum. This has disillusioned me terribly for I now have absolutely no respect for the Brisbane “left”. I was arrested at a land rights protest at the age of 16 – The concerned Christians arrests in Queens Park. I was arrested countless times marching, speaking and leafleting against Joh. From that time until very recently I identified as part of the “left” movement. But no more! What that movement has become is nothing more than a nest of malicious gossips, a petty and ignorant social clique that has nothing to offer the crises and issues of the modern world.

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The Carers Alliance – A new party contesting the senate election.

“Our purpose is represent, raise and monitor issues affecting unpaid family Carers through the representative participation of Carers as candidates in Federal and State parliaments. The Carers Alliance will represent the rights of unpaid Carers of people with disabilities, mental illness, chronic illness or issues of frail age who need assistance at differing times in their lives.”          – from the   Carers Alliance website.

The Carers Alliance has recently been registered as a political party and is in the process of putting together it’s national senate team for the upcoming federal election.

I have had the privilege of meeting their Queensland lead senate candidate, Felicity Maddison at the recent picket against the Queensland Adult Guardian.

Like all the Carers Alliance candidates, Felicity is herself a carer, looking after a family member with high support needs.

The Alliance states its task as follows…….

“We will be the watchdogs for the Australian people, ensuring the issues that affect families have political representation and caring families are not missed in the process”.

As I see it, the Carers Alliance is essentially an exercise in visibility. On so many fronts the needs of disabled, frail, the elderly and their carers are neglected and misrepresented by politicians and public servants.

Federal and State governments appear to dismiss the urgency and crisis that exists in so many Australian families who survive (and sometimes they don’t) without adequate or appropriate support services.

Disability is still a hidden issue in Australia even though it effects us all at some stage.

Issues of funding for disability support agencies  as well as  the financial security of carer’s including pension, taxation and superannuation justice, are not amongst the nation’s political  debate and rarely in any debate at all, except within the families at the front-line of these issues.

Thousands of families suffer terribly in isolation but their suffering has not yet been acknowledged as a significant political issues.

News of the Carers Alliance registration as a party and its senate campaign has been widely publicised amongst disability, aged and carer’s networks around Australia. This network may well generate a significant vote for the new party.

Although the single issue of disability and carer support is amongst many important issues in the election,  and it hasn’t the sex appeal or sensational profile that some other issues do,  those families who suffer because of inadequate and inappropriate services will no doubt have the issues on their minds on election day, as they do every other day of their life.

Family first won a Victorian senate seat in the last federal election despite being a new minority party. The weird and wonderful process of senate preference distribution could also see the Carers Alliance fluke a seat somewhere. Unlike Family first which campaigns on vague and ideological notions of family, the Carers Alliance is campaigning on real, concrete issues that hundreds of thousands of real families experience.

In the probable event that the Carers Alliance does not win a seat, their preferences will be crucial in determining who actually does win in some states. In this sense they cannot fail in their goal of raising the profile of disability and carer’s issues.

They are now a force to be reckoned with, whoever forms a government after the election.

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Laughing at Aborigines now – An Aboriginal woman’s perspective

UPDATE – This post has suddenly become very popular.  New visitors to Paradigm Oz should be aware that this was posted before the new allegations against Noonan were put on youtube (post on that issue here ).  It was not written as a response to the youtube allegations. The complaint refered to was a complaint to the QUT Vice Chancellor relating to the representation of Aboriginal women in the footage.

Paradigm Oz regulars will know that I have been following the controversy over Michael Noonans movies and his Phd thesis “Laughing at/with the disabled”.

This is a link to my most recent article on the controversy which contains links to the other articles on the issue.  “Michael Noonan exposes his naughty bits”

Since  Noonan has released his controversial footage to the public it has been widely applauded and the criticism against it in the name of “the disabled”  has dissolved. 

However Noonan is still being criticised, this time for inappropriate representation of Aboriginal people in one of the released clips.

So Paradigm Oz asked Baganan Kurityityin Theresa Creed , a Kalkadoon and Pitta Pitta woman what her impressions were of the controversial Boulia Pub scene.

Baganan is not related to May, the Aboriginal woman in the footage, and cannot speak on her behalf.   She is however a traditional owner of Boulia.

This is what Baganan says………

(note Baganan is refering to James, one of the two stars of the clips when she speaks of “him” and “he”)

That was liable to happen because that was their intent to get a girlfriend for him. When he asked all the town folks and most of the girls up there had children so there wasn’t many to pick from who didnt have children.

It looked like a good mood where they were happy and cheerful and looking content with their interactions, content with each other.

Playful to the point of playfullness and a good time.

Aboriginal woman was very cautious with him, very careful with him, picked up straight away that he had disabilities and was able to give him that attention that he needed.

She was very careful with him and encouraging.

She was a very thoughtful person who was able to read where he was coming from and make sure that he felt accepted.

It was funny because this guy finally found someone after all this time, after looking everywhere, his heart was content then when he finally found someone.

The issue was to find out about a girlfriend, the issue was to go on a trip and find a girlfriend that can be good for him. Someone that was acceptable to him and acceptible to her.

Aboriginal women role in this movie was very powerful, she chose to be with him and understood the unspoken words of mental disability. She was woman affectionate as well as strong and straight, she wanted to be with him and she was sure of that, sure that she was with him, she made it happen.

She directed the playfulness and was able to get what she wanted which was his attention and they both got lost in each others joyfulness and had a playful time.

Racism could block the gap and peoples minds and make them get offended by this beautiful phenomenon. Once upon a time out west it was forbidden for black and white to be together and people who still suffer from that racism would have been very wild upset at seeing this happen.

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Laughing at the “disabled”, Michael Noonan exposes his naughty bits!

CAUTION!                                                                                                                          Some academics may be offended  by the film footage in this link.     Michael Noonan’s Naughty Bits

The controversial Bris Vegas film maker, Michael Noonan, has been accused of producing “misanthropic and amoral trash” and exploiting people with intellectual disabilities who are not competent to make decisions for themselves in his PhD thesis “Laughing at/with the Disabled.”

This criticism can be found in the now famous Australian (newspaper) article by two academics from QUT -Gary MacLennan and John Hookham entitled “Philistines of Relativism  at the Gates” (link here).   My critique of this article can be found here.

Since the screening of Noonan’s film “Unlikely Travelers” at the recent Brisbane International Film Festival (see my review here)) the supporters of MacLennan and Hookham’s criticism have maintained their rage against Noonan, explaining that the criticism had nothing to do with “Unlikely Travellers” but was aimed at “the other one”. “The Other One” is an as yet unfinished comedy film entitled “Down Under with Darren and James”.

Continue reading

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Brisbane family challenges Queensland’s adult guardianship laws

 Media Release 26/8/07 contact John Tracey (07) 32552146

Brisbane family challenges Queensland’s adult guardianship laws

A Brisbane family who has a member with an intellectual disability has organised a protest against Queensland’s guardianship laws.

 

The protest will be next Wednesday, the 29 August 2007 at 9.00 am. outside the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court, 240 Roma St. Brisbane.

(a client of the Adult Guardian is appearing before a magistrate there)

 

The protest will open with a traditional Aboriginal dance from family member Baganan Kurityityin Theresa Creed.

This will be followed by a forum chaired by Drew Hutton from the Qld. Greens

 

Spokesperson for the Family John Tracey says….

 

“We have called this protest to shine a light on Queensland’s adult guardianship laws”

 

“Qld. Guardianship laws are a totalitarian regime that encourages neglect, incompetence and cover-ups. People with intellectual disabilities are being allowed to fall through cracks in the system, some are ending up in gaol”.

 

“The only agency in Queensland authorised to investigate claims of neglect or abuse of Queensland adults with intellectual disabilities by their guardians is the Office of the Adult Guardian. The Office of the Adult Guardian is itself the legal guardian for many Queenslanders with impaired capacity. Therefore the only agency capable of investigating allegations of neglect and abuse by the Adult Guardian is the Adult Guardian itself – a clear conflict of interest.”

 

“The Guardianship and Administration Act was designed to be independent of the Attorney General and the Justice Department in order to avoid political interference. Because of this insulation it has become a law unto itself, with nobody including the Attorney General being able to investigate into its secret workings.”

 

“We are calling on the Queensland Attorney General to immediately take the Guardianship and Administration Act back to parliament and amend it to include some form of accountability structure for the Office of the Adult Guardian”.

 

“The Adult Guardian’s responsibilities to wards of the state can only be accountable, scrutinisable and transparent if its guardian function is separated from its investigative function.”

 

“ The Office of the Adult Guardian must be split into two separate agencies”.

 

“Our family has suffered the consequences of the system’s neglect, incompetence and cover-ups. We would love to speak openly about it but we have had a suppression order preventing us from doing so.”

 

“Like many Queensland families we will not see justice done until the Office of the Adult Guardian is reformed”

 

For more information or interviews contact John Tracey

ph. (07) 32552146

email kurityityin@yahoo.com

 

See also

https://paradigmoz.wordpress.com/2007/08/15/picket-to-demand-justice-for-people-with-intellectual-disabilities-and-their-families-Brisbane/

Background……….

I have considered the following carefully and I honestly believe it does not breach the restrictions placed on me about discussing this issue.

If there is a problem, I accept full and sole responsibility. – JT

The matters before the magistrates court on Wednesday relate to a person with a mild intelectual disability.

Four years ago this person owned a beachside unit and a 30 acre block of bushland on the Sunshine Coast. These were paid for by an insurance payout for orthopaedic injuries sustained in a car accident when he was 4 years old.

These two properties were selected by the persons family to provide an appropriate and fulfilling lifestyle for him.

Before he was able to move into these properties the Adult Guardian intervened and handed control of his assetts to the Public Trustee because they considered it an inappropriate use of money to buy a bush block as well as a primary residence. The money should be left in the bank they insisted.

The Adult Guardian then placed this person in an accomodation option of their choice and restricted contact with his mother and her family.

The car accident happened when this person was 4 years old. He had to wait until he was 18 before compensation could be awarded. As a child he lived in desparate poverty, as many Aboriginal people do, and was cared for by his single mother and grandmother. Because of his learning disability (not connected to the accident), his slow recuperation from terrible wounds and the stigma associated with his wounds his upbringing was difficult.

Today he is 25 years old and still has never recieved any benefit at all from his accident compensation payment.

A usual fee charged by the Public Trustee to administer the assetts of a person in a situation such as this is over one hundred dollars per week. They appear to be the only people who may be benefiting from this persons compensation payout.

For most of the past year this person has been homeless. He has lived in parks for most of this time and now he is in a hostel close to Fortitude Valley . He still spends much time walking around the inner city, especially at night.

The Adult Guardian have resisted moves by his family to get him out of the inner city, insisting his present hostel is the best possible accomodation option – despite him being (theoretically) wealthy enough to buy or build a mansion customised to his every need.

When he was living in the Park they refused to allow him to go to his family on Palm Island, insisting that living in the park was a better option than Palm Island.

This person has very dark skin and attracts the attention of the police when he walks around.

He has been arrested many times in the last year for various street offences and continues to get in regular trouble with the police.

He is in court on Wednesday and is facing imprisonment for these accumulated offences.

Before the Adult Guardian’s intervention this person was a wealthy land owner with allmost infinite lifestyle options. Since the Adult Guardian’s intervention he has settled into a homeless lifestyle and is now facing gaol.

I alledge that since, and as a direct result of, the Adult Guardian’s intervention the person’s mother has suffered a heart attack and two accute anxiety eposodes resulting in her becoming incapacitated . She is now on a disability pension.

The person (son) has been assessed by the same clinical psychologist 4 years ago, 7 years ago and aprox 15 years ago as having depressive and psychiatric conditions as well as not being able to cope with separation from his mother.

This same clinical psychologist reports have also explicitly reported that the person has never had a head injury after examination of all his medical reports since his accident.

The Adult Guardian and the GAAT (informed by the Adult Guardian) insist that the person has no depressive or psychiatric condition.

The GAAT (informed by the Adult Guardian) has deemed the person as lacking the capacity to make his own decisions on the basis of a brain injury as a result of his car accident.

The Adult Guardian’s information directly contradicts assesments by 3 separate psychiatrists who clearly and explicitly state the person has the capacity to make decisions about his life.

The Adult Guardian have no medical assessments to support their departure from the prior assessments.

The decision whether to retain a solicitor for the person to represent his interests in these matters is made exclusively by the Adult Guardian, his guardian for legal matters. If such a solicitor was retained, they would be instructed exclusively by the Adult Guardian.

The persons family are not legally able to seek legal advice on behalf of the person.

The persons family are not legally able to initiate legal action for the person as the Adult Guardian has that exclusive power.

All these issues have been presented to the GAAT which has either dismissed them without giving reasons why or refused to hear them alltogether.

This is why we have taken the drastic step of a public picket. We can think of no other option but political action to pursue the interests of the person.

This is why I have taken the risky step of putting this information here. There is no other forum or authority than “the people” for us to take our concerns to. We have exhausted all other avenues.

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