We have a date to go back to the polls and cast our vote as part of the new 2014 WA Senate Election. Most would not quibble that due process is essential to create an equitable and democratic society BUT how are Western Australians coming to terms with the knowledge that this exercise will cost an estimated $20million.
I am finding it hard not to stray into thinking about what this amount could potentially provide for the many people who live with a disability and their carers.
One fifth of these dollars would:
Enable between 100 – 150 homes to be modified to be fully accessible providing much needed housing for people living with a disability, ensuring the basics of an accessible toilet and entrance.
- ILC’s 2010 Home without Barriers research project documented the potential environmental barriers and weighted these against an individual’s identified functional limitations, resulting in what was likely to be problematic for a person given their particular difficulties. High thresholds and or steps at the entrance was a very common problem that impacted on 81% of participants. Read more about this research project here.
Provide vital equipment to over 1,000 people with a disability; equipment that cannot be obtained through the state funded program. It may interest you to know just what we call vital. Examples include: Mobility devices such as manual wheelchairs and scooters.
- Electrically adjustable beds – the ones that can be raised and lowered to make it easier for an individual to independently get in and out of bed, whilst reducing the risk to back and neck injury that many carers face on a daily basis.
- Research conducted by the ILC back in 2006 found that most caring related injuries occur through the physical tasks of looking after someone whose disability or physical condition restricts their mobility. To really stress this fact – 43% of carers surveyed had been physically injured through caregiving and heavier caregiving workloads increased the chance of injury. Read about this research here.
Perhaps ‘essential’ is a more apt word than ‘vital’ when it comes to describing equipment and modifications that can make a significant difference to an individual’s life.
What value do we as a society place on an individual’s right to independence? In reality the right equipment could mean being able to manage one’s personal hygiene needs without a support worker or primary carer sharing the space. The right equipment for environment and task usually comes down to access to funds, assistance with purchasing and delivery, set up, training and ongoing maintenance. All told a lengthy journey
So when you head to the polling booth let your conscience be aware of those you see around you who may have to overcome obstacles and hurdles to place their vote. Remember what this electoral error has cost us as a community. Just as we value a democratic process let us also value the work that still needs to be done to ensure our community is supporting all of its members and ensuring their participation and basic needs are not forgotten or overshadowed by more obvious agendas.