After being openly and ignorantly discriminated against in Learmonth by the Ballarat City Councillors last year, I wrote a resounding letter of complaint regarding the councillors level of ignorance surrounding disability access to the Hon Jenny Macklin MP together with the former minister for Health and Aging the Hon Nicola Roxon MP.
The Hon Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities has replied.
My letter of complaint to these ministers, and others, detailed the event and included the contents of an email from Clr Ben Taylor in which he assured me that
"Council had a solution in place" that night - they "had a few strong blokes who would gladly volunteer to haul me up the hill and into the hall in my wheelchair".
Of course the letter from the Fed Govt outlines the aims of the recently implemented National Disability Strategy. I should know about that, I took part in it!
We are then assured that (this sort of thing should not happen again as) the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the strategy on 13th February 2011.
This body includes the Australian Local Government Association - the national voice of Local Government, representing 560 councils across Australia - being a signatory to this important and life-changing document.
Is the BCC even a part of this body? If so, why, eight months after this document was signed, was this particular council's individual members understanding of the word "equity" still so parochial, draconian and sadly lacking in November of 2011?
People with disabilities waited for over a decade for the immovable John Howard's government to go. There was, sadly, very little reform happening during those long, sterile years. He was too busy creating a surplus. During those years people with disabilities, being seen as a drain on society, were told to "get out and get a job!" This was their idea of redressing the situation.
Of course no one from the coalition put their hand up and suggested that we create an equitable and accessible Australia before many would be expected and enabled to actually do that!
We have a ten year strategy for serious reform taking shape now. So if only the Achillis heel of access - local Councils - could manage to get educated and start implementing correct access provisions across the board, we might be onto something workable here, at last.
Some of us, instead of being expected to spend all of our working lives paying for access that we're still not getting - to a lifestyle - might actually achieve some level of equity in our lifetime!