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    Queen Clytie

    Thank you for this Gavin Mooney.  

    Your discussion of class in terms of power rather than income is far more useful, and better reflects the way in which we see ‘class’ play out in day-to-days .   It also gives us more scope to progress solutions based on empowerment from the grassroots that complements systemic changes. I think this approach would also be more useful in debates around education – where the ‘revolution’ in the Education Revolution is sorely missing.  Better support for grass roots advocacy in the areas of health and education would make an important contribution to better outcomes and would help us create the kind of bottom-up demand you need to generate momentum for change.

    My particular interest is in health (and education) inequalities of people with disabilities, specifically intellectual disabilities.  This group were identified by the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission as one of the most vulnerable population in terms of health outcomes.  They are also the least powerful members of our community.  Even within the very diverse experience of disability, those with intellectual disabilities are the least powerful.  Income, as we know,  exacerbates this.  And on this front Australia is a poor performer amongst OECD countries both in terms of poverty and income.  Lower employment means less connection to the community which means less income and certainly less power.  Lower rates of employment are not, let us be clear, because people with disabilities don’t want to work.  Rather  our system seems hell-bent on making it as hard as possible to do so.

    It excites me to know that we already have workable solutions to many of these issues.  It enrages me that the policy and political processes make progressing these solutions so difficult.

    Professor Eric Emerson, now of the University of Sydney, has done alot of work in health and intellectual disability and makes it very clear that access to health services is a huge factor in the health inequalities.  Thankfully though, Professor Emerson shows us that there are practical solutions in this area and the National Council on Intellectual Disability and the NSW CID are progressing work in both general health and mental health for people with intellectual disability.

    But the policy processes move very slowly – especially when we are talking about our least powerful.  Case in point – the current debate about whether or not the nation can afford the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – reform of the kind people have been working for since Peter Baume and the Disability Service Act (1986). A NDIS is not “gold plated wheelchairs”. It’s funding for basic care and support that at the would give people with disabilities and their family carers the fundamentals they need to

    Those of us familiar with the ins and outs of this policy discussion know the nation can’t afford not to have such reform – both economically and socially.

    And thanks to Bernard Keane’s fantasy Budget we know just how much scope there is to fund it (and fund it sustainably if we do it right) if we start asking real questions about where how effective (or necessary or counter-prodcutive) some of our current spending measures are.

    Because this is all about power.  Who has it and who doesn’t.  Who wants to keep it, and who they think shouldn’t have it.

    For Hockey and Abbot to deny class is relevant and to then tell us he’s not sure we can fund a NDIS is an absolute contradiction.

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