Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why do we so easily accept NDIS?

It's simple, when you see it all laid out how we could come to believe in the miracle that is NDIS. But once we understand how we are encouraged to rationalise our discomfort about this NDIS, then what excuses are left for letting them do it to us?

But there are additional, and powerful reasons.

Other than cognitive dissonance, carrots and sticks are part of getting this NDIS through too. Always are in politics. One huge carrot is the big pile of money that NDIS promises. Another may be the proposal for a new NDIS-funded national disability research institute (DIG report), complete with a proposed charter (involving, inter alia, commercial applications of the research). Might keep some otherwise critical academics busy. Would it not be preferable to fund many different, independent disability research projects, ensuring a vibrant research environment, not wedded to one huge institute with values like that upon which NDIS is based? And so we enter into another 40 years of market/medical ideology making people with disabilities live unsustainable lives for sake of sustainable budgets.

And the sticks? Well, of course, disability organisations need funding. For some it may be an issue whether they can afford to bite the hand that feeds them. It's a difficult dilemma for some. Do you look the other way completely so you won't have to say whether the emperor has clothes; say you think you like the underpants, or even, all of the attire; or an in-principle declaration that clothes would look nice. You cannot survive if the government pulls the rug out from under you. Ugly business.

Then there is the idea, with some historical justification, that Labor is the best side to get things done for people with disabilities. Certainly Whitlam had a genuine personal interest in a no-fault disability compensation scheme for our benefit. The Hawke government started genuine, and participative reforms with its Disability Services Act and its Principles, subsequently undermined by a service lobby. But this government has refined the rhetoric while being wedded to market ideology and thereby perverting care.

True, we could easily be worse off under an alternative government. But when do we reach a point that we say "enough is enough", if we show a united voice, if we demand that our needs are to be recognised, that we must take part in our own destiny, that presently the character and values of this country are far from a shiny reflection of the way its treats its most vulnerable people... If that point ever comes, the time is now. Not tomorrow.

If this government cannot accept our most reasonable amendments to the terms of reference of an inquiry that shapes our destiny for decades, amendments that will have it recognise our needs and have us participate, it would set a low benchmark indeed. It will be long road up from there...

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