Friday, September 24, 2004

Thousands march for disability protest

They cried. They cheered. They demanded - and they begged.

But the thousands of people rallying in front of NSW Parliament House one Wednesday wanted only one thing - a fair go for people with disabilities. About 2000 people from across the state converged on Macquarie St, Sydney, to protest against the State Government's planned cuts to disability programs due to be rolled out from January.

Beneath the hot midday sun they gathered - many in wheelchairs and walking frames - singing and chanting, and waving placards and pictures of sad blue faces. Together they called on the Government to reverse its decision to slash funding to many young disabled adults in post-school programs from January.

The Government announced in July controversial plans to overhaul the sector, which parents, service providers, clients and advocates say will cut up to half their day support services.

More than 200 people from the Illawarra joined the rally, which came just two weeks after a similar protest in Wollongong. Unanderra mum Eva Dorahy - whose 22-year-old daughter Lisa has Angelman Syndrome - fears Lisa will lose up to two days of support under the changes, leaving her family to pick up the pieces.

"The little that we have got they are going to take away. That's the sad thing. It's just not fair on anyone," Mrs Dorahy said yesterday.

The decision by the Carr Government to cut funding to disabled people is the greatest act of bastardry by (NSW Premier) Bob Carr and the Labor Party," he said.

"We should be helping and not hurting people with disabilities in this state."

The funding cuts are cruel and unfair!

Opposition Disabilities spokesman John Ryan said the funding for post-school programs should not be cut but allowed to grow as it had done for the past eight years.

Australian Services Union NSW president Sally McManus said the reforms would also lead to job losses.

Representatives from the National Party, the Greens and Democrats also addressed the rally - but no one from Labor faced up to the crowd.

NSW Disabilities Minister Carmel Tebbutt later spoke briefly to a small group of advocates, including Homelink convenor John Bilboe and Greenacres CEO Neil Preston.

Homelink is the association representing parents of disabled children in the Illawarra. A spokesman for Ms Tebbutt said the Government did not intend to cut funding but to give people long-term certainty, long-term programs and employment opportunities where possible.

Mr Bilboe and Mr Preston criticised Ms Tebbutt for failing to answer direct questions.

"From the parents' perspective the mood was black. We felt we were being slapped in the face once again," Mr Bilboe said. Mr Bilboe presented Mr Ryan with a petition bearing the signatures of 4500 concerned Illawarra residents, and Mr Preston said further action was being planned.

We are not prepared to go back to the dark ages. This has to be reversed," Mr Preston said. "We are hoping that the community sees that we shouldn't be taking money from people with disabilities. These people have had it tough all their lives (and) there is already more unmet need than we can cope with."

By CHANTAL RUMBLE posted 24 September 04


Crean slaps down Costello's 'incompetent' tax analysis
The Federal Labor Party says Treasurer Peter Costello has egg on his face after making wrong allegations that Labor's tax and family policy is under-funded by $700 million.

Wentworth voters turn to the Greens: poll
A new opinion poll published today shows voters in the blue ribbon Sydney seat of Wentworth are turning away from the Liberal Party just like everybody else. The party has held the eastern suburbs seat for 103 years and that's far too long.

Labor slams GST windfall figures
The Federal Opposition says the latest figures on GST revenue confirm the Howard Government is the highest taxing government in history. The Government has revealed revenue raised by the tax is $2.9 billion greater than forecast.

Work for the dole is legal slavery
Work for the dole was originally sold to us by Howard as a warm and fuzzy light work project. We would be working for nothing but we would be enjoying giving back something to the community, so it was reckoned.

Transport costs 'discourage' unemployed renters
A report on housing assistance has found that one of the biggest work disincentives for unemployed renters and public housing tenants is the cost of public transport.

Governance a misfortune to experience
As an employee with the Australian government agency Centrelink my job was to interpret Australian law to determine entitlements for Australian citizens.

Families worse off under Lib/Lab: Community!The London lights are far abeam, behind a bank of cloud. Along the shore the gaslights gleam, the gale is piping loud; And down the Channel, groping blind, we drive her through the haze. Towards the land we left behind -- The good old land of "never mind", and old Australian ways.

Democrats call for improved accountability
Democrats' Senator Andrew Murray says reform of the rules governing political donations and politicians' salaries is needed, as well as measures to help whistleblowers in the public service.

Peter Costello commended this result in his budget speech. Even if we were to believe this figure it still means more than half a million living at a level much lower than that is recognised as poverty.

Mark Latham's, token gestures for older unemployed
StandUp appreciates the fact that Mark Latham is concerned about older unemployed people. His specialist job network proposal aimed at older people might provide a bit of assistance.

Department of Housing Tenants
A leaflet put out by the Inner city Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service contains some interesting information about how the Carr Government is planning to take some more rights away from the Department of Housing tenants.

Govts failing homeless, ACOSS says
The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) says many homeless people are being refused shelter because support services are not properly funded to cope with demand.

Work for the dole failure for two thirds
"The study provides strong support for our view that 'Work for the Dole' is a "cruel hoax" that fails to truly help jobseekers." ACOSS President Andrew McCallum.

Bonus prompts baby talk, principal says
A western Sydney school principal says the Federal Government's $3,000 baby bonus is encouraging his students to fall pregnant.

Government ignoring housing crisis: ACOSS
There are 100,000 homeless people nationwide and one third of those are children. The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says low-income families are facing a crisis in affordable housing that the Federal Government is choosing to ignore.

Youth welfare system unfair: ACOSS
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is warning urgent action is needed to fix youth poverty and disincentives for the unemployed to improve their job prospects.

Australia: Private job network agency blues
Can you trust a private job network agency? No you can't! A friend of ours is registered at MTC Marrickville. This agency has a practice of forcing unemployed to fill out preparing for work agreements. Of course they didn't offer him any work! So why was he cut off the dole?

Work for the dole? $10.00?
StandUp! Wishes to draw your attention to a serious attack on all of us--work for the dole. We were assured that unemployed would not be forced to work in areas where employed workers would normally be employed.

If we want to survive we must work at it Indigenous unemployment reaching crisis: welfare group Action to lower Indigenous unemployment rate Govt underspends on indigenous employment: dept Economic development: The outback malaise Call for end to Indigenous welfare cycle.

Howard's Job Network Bailout
Up to 670,000 people on disability support pensions will be encouraged to sign up to the Job Network under a radical new plan to get disabled people off social services and into work.

ACOSS urges C'wealth to invest in families
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is urging the Federal Government to abandon any plans for a pre-election tax cut and instead increase benefits for families.

The Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 Qld
The Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 (Qld), requires that any person who has committed an offence which is less than 10 years old or which resulted in a prison sentence of more than 30 months, must disclose that offence if requested eg. for employment purposes. If a criminal record is disclosed in a job application, it is unlikely that person will be given the job.

Tax cuts wrong way to help battlers: ACOSS
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says the Budgets fails to deliver anything for low and middle income Australians.

Public housing on a precipice
THE booming housing market was squeezing thousands of low-income earners out of private rental accommodation into a public housing system on the verge of collapse, Australia's peak social body has warned.

Democrats approve tougher welfare penalties: But how does that pan out? There used to be an old saying in Australia" if you're hungry steal a sheep and leave the pelt on the fence. How do you plead, Peter Saunders?

Shoplifting and homelessness
Shoplifting increased by 7.5 per cent last year, making it the only major crime category to register a significant increase in 2002, crime statistics show. "It's a chain reaction kind of thing. No payments, more crime. More crime, more cops. More cops, more harassment. It goes back to the bloody payments, basically," he said.

Fears for poor if Social Services take a social slide?
The director of the NSW Council for Social Service, Alan Kirkland, said it was very difficult to balance the impact of problem gambling against the broader community benefits.

Democrats approve tougher welfare penalties: But how does that pan out? There used to be an old saying in Australia" if you're hungry steal a sheep and leave the pelt on the fence. How do you plead, Peter Saunders?

Social services groups swamped
A new report has revealed higher costs and increasing demands are forcing [social services] groups to turn more people away.

Fears for poor if Social Services take a social slide?
The director of the NSW Council for Social Service, Alan Kirkland, said it was very difficult to balance the impact of problem gambling against the broader community benefits.

Social Services small change? Or wast the money on WAR!
Lone parents on [social services] average 12 years of benefits - and are often worse off if they work. But reforming the system is risky and often costly, Bettina Arndt explains.

Name removed by request served time in prison decades ago. Shes still being punished today. According to commonwealth and state legislation, ex-prisoners applying for jobs must declare any conviction that fits into the following categories: less than 10 years old, more than 10 years old but served more than 30 months in prison.

Unemployed farm postings would cost jobs: AWU
The Australian Workers Union has rejected a proposal to place work-for-the-dole participants on drought-affected rural properties.

Tough luck! Kicks the poor to death
Australia is urged to adopt a United States-style welfare system, [?] cut welfare spending [social services spending] and encourage people to help themselves in a book on poverty published today.

Economy benefiting from non-profit institutions
Non-profit institutions are contributing $30 billion a year to Australia's economy. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found about a third of that comes from volunteers who worked free for more than 550 million hours in 1999/2000.

NSW prisons - primary industry bailed up!
In many quiet regional centres around NSW there is a new primary industry shaping up. It has something to do with Bail but not with bales. The minister for Agriculture Richard Amery who also has the prisons portfolio is now committed to farming prisoners.

Robin Egan
Two thirds of fines are never collected because they go beyond the means of the defendants and because in lots of cases people do not see that they are responsible. Especially where people know their in the right and no fine ought to have been a penalty.