Do you want to play for Team Australia?

Opinion piece clip-art iconGraeme Innes wants to play for Team Australia, or more accurately he wants Team Australia to play for us.

However it’s probably not quite the same Team Australia metaphor that Tony Abbott has in mind.

Graeme is talking about disability employment, and while there are many people who want to be “picked” for Team Australia, it seems our elected representatives aren’t picking us.

Graeme has a few suggestions however:

So it’s time we – the members of Team Australia – did something about it. Yes, I mean each one of us reading this blog. It’s time we shirt fronted our local politician. Which I understand in polispeak means having a very robust conversation. And here’s what we should say.

I propose that politicians take the lead on employment of people with disabilities. I suggest a government-established scheme which allows an extra member of staff for each politician who employs a person with a disability. If you don’t think it works, just ask Minister Duncan Gay in the NSW coalition government, or Jan Barham in the NSW Upper House representing the Greens –
they’ve already done it, and they speak publicly about the benefits. Or just ask Kelly Vincent, a woman with disabilities representing the Dignity For Disability party in the SA upper house. I’m sure other politicians around the country have done it as well – I just don’t know who they are.

So, three cheers for the politicians that have employed a person with a disability on their staff – but we need the rest to get on board ASAP.

Given the high numbers of people with disabilities leaving public sector jobs (often involuntarily and at a higher rate than their non-disabled peers) and overseas examples of similar “tough love” disability welfare models being disastrous, maybe it’s about time “Team Australia” lead by the example Graeme Innes suggests.

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