The other race that stopped our nation

In Australia, we have an idiom for the big horse race, the Melbourne Cup. It is known as the race that stops the nation. It is run annually on the first Tuesday in November. It is, regardless of whether you live in Melbourne or not, more or less a national holiday. Offices hold sweeps and long lunches breaks, women who wouldn’t normally wear a hat become fascinated with fascinators and even normally fairly serious news presenters and politicians are dressing up and talking or tweeting about their tips. These tips are often based on very random criteria, rather than any sort of history with the form guide. After all the fuss, the people who can and do stop to watch the race do so for the 3 minutes or so it takes to run and then return after a bit of celebration to merry-making or work.

In years past, the US election has been held in the same week as the Melbourne Cup. I recall 8 years ago, watching the horses one day and Obama’s speech the very next.

This year it was the week after, and more so than any other election “over there” that I can recall, ordinary Australians were glued to the news channels on Wednesday as the news came in. I was at an airport way ahead of my flight and everyone was talking about it among themselves and even to complete strangers. It was shock and disbelief. But we were glued to it for a good couple of days later. Friends who I don’t normally talk politics with were expressing shock and degrees of discomfort at the idea of Donald Trump as the leader of the free world and what that says about our global mindset and future. I’m sure there are messages there to be examined even before he takes command in January.

The last time I remember seeing Australians glued to the tv for events overseas like they were a week ago was when the World Trade Centers went down. Seems we tend to be the onlookers to the crashes we can’t tear ourselves away from.

My recovery method has centred around becoming hooked again on the West Wing. I know it is fiction but it has to be based on some degree of reality or it wouldn’t work as a drama right? I want to use my intellect more and use it for good .

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Tuesday tidbit: wish I’d known

Wish I’d known about below the line last week. And had electoral commission staff patient enough to let me decide between above and below the line myself (as I have every other election) without pressure and with a proper privacy screen.

For those wondering about my broader reaction to the election and/or my voting experience, I’m working on an email to a disability org so a post or two will no doubt come out of that. In short: could be better, could be worse.

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True to our word.

I want to stress something and then then let the rest of the post speak for itself.

The big thing I want to disclose is that I haven’t made up my mind about my position on the so called “asylum seeker” issue that is at the forefront of the Australian political scene with the election on September 7.

I do think that it is a humanitarian issue not a defence of the realm issue. I am also a fan though of processes (as anyone who has lived with me knows) and due process so queue jumping of any sort annoys me.


Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,

With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

Emphasis mine

The other thing is I make no comment here on whether the above should be our anthem. It is.

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As the dust settles

Yesterday NSW had an election. It was a landslide. that many others will no doubt talk of for many days to come.

Picking up on a post from Mary over at HAT, yes I think she might be right. From what I saw in the literature, there was a higher number of “baseline” accessible venues.

But I never left the house to vote.

I iVoted. At home. On my own laptop. More privately than I did more than once at a polling place.

Designed for people with vision impairment who use screen readers and various other disabilities – they broadened it out to allow travelling folks to feel included too.

The information on the iVote website read:

You can vote before Polling Day using iVote if:

  • your vision is so impaired, or you are otherwise so physically incapacitated or so illiterate, that you are unable to vote without assistance,
  • you are unable to vote without assistance or have difficulty voting at a polling place because you have a disability (within the meaning of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977),
  • your real place of living is not within 20 kilometres, by the nearest practicable route, of a polling place; or
  • you will not be in New South Wales throughout the hours of polling on polling day


The process was painless enough for the fact it was hard to see the bigger Legislative Council in its entirety, and I had to do this sequentially as opposed to top and tailing it as I normally do.

Yes I would do it again. But my question is; is this going to simply be a work around so the various electoral commissions don’t need to improve the distances to and percentages of accessible venues. I hope not. But sadly I fear so


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Quote: may I be

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

I am blessed. I have needed heavy doses of strength and courage in my life. I have had those that loved me “just when I needed it most”.

The courage I have needed in the last few days might well surprise some folks. In fact I know it has. In ways that has damaged at least two friendships.

But the courage I needed was not physical. It was of integrity. I needed to own my truth and recognize that for me at least loyalty to a broader cause was not my highest calling. It was to a principle, this time one of inclusion. I assessed each woman on her merits as I was asked and on the issues I was asked about I spoke as I saw.

IT was worth it all.

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equal anti-discrimination human rights please Senator?

Gay rights to marriage is the topic de jour nationally at the moment and we are debating it for good or ill. That’s ok, great in fact.

A New South Wales Senator Doug Cameron from Australia’s house of review made an an interesting couple of comments in an interview in favour of what “we” are calling “equal marriage rights legislation”. I was listening tonight via podcast.

He talked of discrimination against people on the basis of sexual “preference” as legalised apartheid. I’m just saying that I think the lack of choice offered to other groups, other minorities in the country might also be seen as the same thing, but if you’ll pardon the pun it might be a little less sexy perhaps to argue on the basis of limitation or age. Remind people of weakness and the inevitable ageing process?

He argued that we shouldn’t be discriminating against gay people because they are ordinary people. “People are people”. Indeed again not the only minority with that argument.

“We don’t just live in a economy, we live in a society and society means you have to build a good society (my emphasis) and ending discrimination is one way to build a good society”

Meaning it takes moral leadership to equalise the playing field and perhaps the ability and courage to take a stand, and perhaps heaven forbid say ummm no to some things?

And key.

“I don’t think human rights are ever a fringe issues.

Good then. Fight for all human rights please

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The 2010 Don’t DIS My ABILITY Campaign Has Kicked Off!

The 2010 Don’t DIS My ABILITY Campaign Has Kicked Off!.

Enjoy! I’ll probably write more about this as the month moves forward.

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both disappointing and good

While the announcement itself is good, I’m personally a little bit disappointed that this is the first comment I have heard from Jan Mclucas; our newly minted Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilitiesty and Carers.

a couple of things to notice;
Despite the wording of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of catalogue on People with Disability and the fact that carers are given a title case and personhood in her ministerial title, those with disabilities are not acknowledged as people. Secondly, as soon as she gives her title she then launches into howp roud she used to support all the carers. I really am glad she’s proud of that, but you need to be proud of both parts of the full portfolio and be clear on the different needs of both parts. Because although there are indeed similarities in the needs of carers and people with disabilities, there are differences too.

it really does go to show that once the group gets organised to advocate for itself in a cohesive manner politicians do listen.

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And in the blue corner

I’m honoured to have my first guest post, from PB who is a fellow traveller viewing the world from waist high. This post on the changing nature of disability politics and the language that travels with it. He is much braver than I in what he says.. Enjoy! J

Excuse me but what is the ‘disability fight’? Twice this week from widely disparate sources I have heard this term and am puzzled as to its inspiration and meaning.

Who is it against and when will we know who has won?

What is at stake and what are we fighting over?

Is it a fight towards acceptance, recognition, equity and justice? Are we fighting for social inclusion?
Is it a fight against oppression, ignorance and apathy or worse, the dry rot of passive paternalism.
Will it combat that sense of lowered values and quiet disbelief that this ‘fight’ affects each of us.

It is the fight we had to have or one we have been invited to? That is, spend some time in the ring, swing some punches at a nameless opponent then go sit down in your corner and suck an orange with a towel over your head, ala stressed budgie.

Does this fight recognise it is not about us (poodlies), that is its not a factional squabble of the sector?

Will it be likened to the fight against evil, crime or ‘terror’? A war against drugs. We all know how they end up, see references above to oranges.

Is it like the fight to save the environment or planet? One where we all take a responsibility for being a part of the problem AND solution. Were we all have impact and we can ALL change the situation. Acknowledged it is up to us individually as well as communally.

Or is it the fight we have with ourselves, the internal and infernal struggle against adversity, the challenge of self pride and of rising above ourselves, or rather our disability as the rest see (sorry perceive) it. Is it the battle of the badge, the slogan, the 12 second media bite. A fight to be heard clearly and accurately in the face of an eon of stigma and fear.

This is the lonely fight, the fight of the outsider, the caller of the elephants. Does it need to involve others always? Could it be the sort of path to enlighten (or darken) meant that many aspire to and others scurry from?

What is the battlefield? Politics, law, domestic policy, entrenched institutions, systems and practices, or is it in the class room, the family home perhaps? Is it wherever a significant other, spouse, friend or family member turns their back on you because your inconvenient, difficult, hard to include.

Does it begin when they say “But its ok you’ll understand, what else could I do, what choice did I have?”  many of you been a player in that fight. What choice did they have, well they had the same hard choice we had, to be true to each other no matter what; to act with integrity for what they knew to be right.

How will we fight this? I for one am excited by the prospect of reigniting the “Society for the Chronically Inconvenienced”, forming a unit, gathering arms, battleship, squadron, whatever and taking it to them, whoever them is.

There are also different approaches. Should we fight openly in public, crawl up the steps of the Whitehouse, or psychologically invade their thoughts, dispel their beliefs and place our magnet against their moral compass.

Why is it a ‘disability fight’? Is it because we don’t actually know the answers to these questions but we figure it’s likely that someone will get hurt, either already or through active service.

I’m puzzled truly, although I am cautiously pleased it has moved on from a disability issue, and that it is no longer a problem. I’m even ok that it is no longer a movement for those of us that were there and having these debates decades ago.Puzzled but confident because at least with a fight you get to name the target and opponent/s. You know it will get dirty, you know it will be tuff but you can choose the sacrifice you make. You also know that casualties are likely but that ultimately you know the side your on, and hopefully who is there beside you.

Thank you to J for the space and opportunity to go “blah” and for thinking it worthy of your blog. PB

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