Last week we mentioned the attitude foundation, chaired by former Disability Discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes. This week he has on his blog short biographical story of his own experiences, about how attitudes change lives. The same story is also up on the attitude foundation blog.
I roared out of the garage of Sydney University, and the College of Law, a shiny new lawyer. My social justice engine, fuelled by its knowledge of unfair dismissals and unconscionable contracts, was ready to drive people from the back roads of disadvantage onto the freeway of life.
Then reality kicked in. I spun my wheels for twelve months while I went to thirty job interviews. I didn’t get any of those jobs, mostly because employers could not comprehend how a blind person could work as a lawyer.
It took someone to change their attitude for Graeme’s job situation to change.
Then I met Dave. He was the Senior Legal Officer at the Department. We used to chat at the coffee machine, and at drinks in the pub across the road on a Friday night. I kept talking to him about how I wanted to be a lawyer, and how I would do the job if I could get it. He wasn’t absolutely convinced, but agreed to give me a try. Dave’s change of attitude changed my life.
While trawling through his site we also discovered an older article entitled a commissioner for left-handers. It’s addressed to Adam Crieghton, economics correspondent for The Australian and apparently a disability discrimination trivialiser, who made this brilliantly reasoned statement:
“lots of people are discriminated against. Why don’t we have a gay rights commissioner, or a left-handed commissioner, or a short persons commissioner, or a commissioner for people who aren’t good-looking.”
Graeme’s article has a brilliant quote at the end:
“it is easy to stand atop a mountain of privilege, and tell those at the bottom of the mountain that privilege is irrelevant.”