Yesterday I went to a rally calling for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which later was announced to have become policy
. I have no deep point to make, but it was this or not get around to posting on BADD at all.
It's the first political rally I can remember ever going to. When I was younger I had a kneejerk reaction against rallies the same way that some people from church going families do against going to church, and then just as I started getting more into activism I got sick. I must admit my understanding of the NDIS is fairly shallow, but when lilysea
asked if I wanted to come along I decided it would be a good chance to see what going to a rally in the wheelchair is like since I could probably rely on the organisers to pay attention to accessibility. Plus, while I do ok myself, know a lot of disabled Australians have real issues getting the help they need.
The organisers were indeed pretty good with accessibility, including setting a start time in the middle of the day well after the time we were supposed to arrive (disabled people often not being able to zip about efficiently in the early morning or late at night). The same cannot, alas, be said for Transperth, the lifts at Perth train station died really quickly once they had to deal with multiple people in wheelchairs etc using them in quick succession, causing a long queue, and staff were apparently unhelpful. (And later on we discovered the joy of trying to fit more than 4 people with wheelchairs/prams etc in a train carriage)
Once we escaped the station we spent some time waiting with many other disabled people and carers in the Hay Street mall, with organisers emphasising that the police needed us to of stay in the centre so that pedestrians could get past. The few police looked rather bored, but there were quite a few photographers and journalists. A woman from the ABC asked lilysea
and I if we wanted to be interviewed but neither of us felt up to being Representatives of The Disabled, and deferred to a more prepared looking woman. (If you see any photos of a woman with bright blue hair in a wheelchair, that's lilysea
. I'm the more boringly dressed woman beside her :)) I met some women from a local disabled women's group lilysea
is in, they seem very nice.
Organisers with microphones tried to encourage people to chant, but my throat wasn't up to it. I did hold a sign on my lap. We went at a slow pace as a fairly tight group up the mall, down a block towards the river and into the Supreme Court gardens. It was hard keeping a steady pace with people of all different abilities and forms of mobility (scooters, on foot, crutches etc), I ran over someone's foot :( At the gardens there were people set up to direct people towards the stairs or ramp as appropriate, which did a good job of preventing bottlenecks. Then there was a small concert, which was loud and not really my thing so I left after taking some photos.
It was an interesting experience. Even as someone in a wheelchair I sometimes found myself defaulting to talking to carers rather than other wheelchair users. But despite my best efforts I am alas not always immune from awkwardness around people with major speech impediments or cognitive disability, which many people had. Being in a large group of disabled people was kind of cool, people showing off cool purple calipers etc without awkwardness.
(Below: Three photos of a large group of people, many in red shirts, some in wheelchairs or just sitting on garden chairs, watching a band play on stage in the park of the Supreme Court gardens. It is a beautiful sunny Perth Autumn day)( Read more... )