Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pick yourself up and put yourself back together

I wrote a post on my blog recently, 9 April 2017, which talked about my attempted suicide and where that had come from. It also talked about what I still feel.

Tonight, Wednesday 19 April 2017, I watched an ABC program called “You can't ask that”, which had some suicide survivors who talked about what happened to them. Each of them had attempted suicide years before and were still alive, but much of what they said was what I could relate to. Suicide, they said, is the result of depression, anxiety, guilt – you don't give a shit about yourself.

One said that he'd had a job with prestige, but when he lost it the existence had no real meaning. I totally related to that. That was mentioned in my 9 April post. Another said he's carried shit for 48 years. I absolutely related to that, from my rape when I was 17. That's the story on my rape website. “It makes sense to kill yourself,” they said. “Make the pain stop!” Yes, I related. Like too many other people I saw no future for myself, no chance. Death didn't scare me, I wanted peace. One of them said that they attempted suicide because they were more afraid of life than death. Yes, I knew that. 

The next question asked if there were any signs you were going to kill yourself, and did you tell anyone? No, I didn't leave a message that I was trying to kill myself, but I sent a message to my daughter to look after Jordie. She figured out what I was doing. She contacted a friend and they got the ambulance come to pick me up. Later she came all the way to the village and picked up Jordie.

Beyond Blue has a page on their website titled “Finding your way back”. It says: “Getting your life back on track after attempting suicide is not easy. It takes time to recover physically and emotionally.” Down that page it has a section titled “Before heading home”, which says: “With the right support in place you should be able to go home.” I was released from the hospital just after midday the day after I'd been taken there by ambulance. I didn't have any assistance to get back to my home – no ambulance, no taxi, no supporter. I walked to the train station and caught the train to Bethania, and walked into the village. Where I was treated dreadfully by the site manager.

My daughter lives too far away to be too close to. I still suffer depression - horrible, deep depression. Many people pretended it never happened. I have lost more friends – those who could have stayed with me but I don't even hear from them. I joined the Suicide Prevention Australia and wrote to them about my problem. I thought, maybe, I'd get someone calling me. No-one has. I already knew, on my post on 9 April 2017, that they aren't “real”.

But please, don't tell me – or them – that we were stupid. We can't undo what we tried. You need to help us. Me

Did I think I was selfish and cowardly? No, definitely not. How would I disappoint people with my future? I don't know. I have been through medication and therapy for years – Prozac in New Zealand and Lovan in Australia, in and out with psychologists before I even moved to Australia, and again over here. I wrote in my post that I suffered from PTSD, anxiety, stress, and depression, all caused from rape, two marriage breakdowns, losing three homes, losing my grandchildren, losing my job, suffering a stroke. That's over 40 years. 40 years!! I'm still in the abyss. All alone.

One woman on the ABC program said she has a beautiful support network. Why can't I?

A website I had found said in Google that it was a “supportive community of survivors”. I am angry about this website, because on the welcome page it doesn't explain what it means until further down it says that it's there for people who lost a person to suicide. They are called survivors, when people like me who attempted suicide are called survivors. They have a “Survivor Experience” page which is not about real survivors, but people who have lost someone! What shocked me absolutely was the forum post from a person who said that her sister had attempted suicide, yet the administrator, 'Hazel', said “Unfortunately, this forum is designed to support those who have lost someone to suicide. Many in our community are severely traumatised and not in a position to support, or give advice to those struggling with suicidal ideation. ” Excuse me?? This website is USELESS for too many people! It describes themselves WRONG – they are not survivors; they are grievers!

I am a survivor!

Do I regret not dying? No. Yes. I don't know. Do I feel great alive? I don't know! I am a survivor, but too many people don't even recognise that.

Music is my best life. What else is there?


Saturday, April 15, 2017

NDIS still??

 Back in October 2015 I went to an NDIS meeting at Synapse. I blogged this in Whacksworks titled What will NDIS do for us? Have a read of that one. I don't think my questions were or will be answered.

I went to a second meeting at the City Council building soon after that, which was attended primarily by disabled people. It was supposed to give us a warm intro into NDIS but I think I already knew much about it. And I still didn't think it would work.

Over the next year I saw too many articles which said that disabled people had been broken down with their sincere effort trying to get in. On 1 July 2013 the Tasmania government signed up for a 3-year trial in 2013, and on 11 December 2015, not even 3 years, signed on to the “real” NDIS. It has causes headaches. One was the family of a 13 year old boy who has dystonic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He wasn't eligible from July 2016, but his family has fought NDIS to get him listed. Another was the family of a 26 year old woman with autism and non-verbal. So far, after too many “plans”, they still haven't been able to get her registered.

In August 2015 in WA, the WA Today said that their own model should be supported, rather than the national scheme which “continues to face criticism”.

CEO of Nulsen, Gordon Trewern, said: “We've still got problems with the NDIS Commonwealth model. There is still a key issue around pricing. The funding is still 27 to 30 per cent below what it needs to be to run a service for five people in a group home.”

Natalie Thompson, who cares for her 16 year old son, told the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme: “We did have funding through the old system, which worked great, and he was doing really well for a couple of years under the old system. When we went over to NDIS, that all changed. They cut our funding dramatically as well.

In December 2016, nothing had changed. One mother from Perth said: “There's ... less money handed out. Because I self-manage our funds I'm given a limit of $25 per hour to pay for support workers, which often means going for unqualified workers.” Her son is deaf, and relies on cochlear implants to access sounds. That, unfortunately, has “convinced” the Disability Insurance Commission that he's not deaf! 

On 16 April 2016 the Australian wrote a long federal article titled Monster that ate the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and said: “From today’s vantage point, the medley of early mistakes have matured into a scheme that is riddled with access issues, slow planning turnarounds and questions about future design that will have huge effects on its financial sustainability. The pace at which the NDIS must grow is about to jump astronomically: the agency says it will need to make 12,000 decisions a month for the next two years.” This is worth reading if you believe that the NDIS has problems.

In 2015 the Sydney Morning Herald wrote various articles about NDIS, including the concerns shown throughout NSW which raised “ many questions [which] remain about the future of disability services in NSW.” They wrote that: “There are about 400,000 people with a disability in NSW, with up to 240,000 having a high degree of disability, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. With 140,000 people expected to be eligible for the NDIS, what will happen to the other 260,000 people? Where will they get support?” 

In December 2015 the SMH wrote that disability groups had “an alarming lack of confidence in the NDIS roll out ahead of the full transition to the $22 billion scheme which will launch across the country next year.” 

Qld doesn't seem to have had articles yet, because this state isn't fully opened for NDIS until 2019. So far there are a few people who have registered: certainly not enough.

This year, in March, the ABC reported problems. It's title said National Disability Insurance Scheme rollout plagued with problems, FOI documents reveal. Much information was revealed in those documents, including the facts that NDIS “stopped processing thousands of applications from service providers, critical staff were untrained and properties were not ready when the scheme's nationwide rollout began.” Back at the first meeting which I attended (Synapse, October 2015), I had asked how the shifting of “critical staff” worked. We got ignorant replies, and we had nothing in writing to show how it would work. Recently I searched Google for organisations which would help disabled people through NDIS. Many are not listed. ABC said this year that “[b]etween 3,000 and 4,000 businesses and not-for-profit providers were blocked from entering the scheme because applications could not be transferred to a new IT system.” It is very scary to both those providers and to the disabled people who have previously used them – can they still use them?

Federal minister, Christian Porter, didn't answer questions from ABC. He sent them on to NDIA to speak to NDIA spokesperson Maryanne Diamond. There has been no real responses from her which would have answer my questions.

The NDIS website has a list of how the disabled person might be able to register as a participant. It lists the access requirements and discusses how a disabled person could get

help. It says that you have to produce proof of your disability. The scheme is not due to be fully opened in Qld until 2019, but has different dates until then – for instance, the Logan area where I live will be available from 1 July 2018.

For the NDIS, I still have a lot of questions – and I'm sure I will have problems. I had a stroke 3 years ago, I am on DSP and I have aphasia which kicks in when I am tired (constantly) or upset (too often). I'm told I can only work 8 hours a week for now. Would NDIS pay DSP? Would they rearrange my hours so they can kick me off their scheme – less money in Newstart? If the people who have already met with problems, are they worse disabled than me? If so, why were they declined?

NDIS needs to work a lot better to fix their own problems, but they also need to definitely answer the questions that any disabled person, any family supporters, any friends, any carers or anyone involved with supporting disabled people still are asking.

When will they fix that?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Anxiety, Stress, Depression, PTSD, Stroke, Suicide – what's the difference?

My life changed completely in the last five years. I remember it. I wrote this blog today to record everything that has happened to me.  Oh I know, most people don't remember everything, or don't write about everything. I don't and I haven't, but this is still a long blog. You're welcome to read on.

My grandchildren had been living in Brisbane since 2010. In early 2012 they were taken back to New Zealand without me being told. I stressed over that. I felt my life starting to go downhill. The government's Heath Direct page says that “[e]xperiencing stress is part of being alive.” Later that year my husband chose to go to NZ for Christmas with his family. I had a severe depression breakdown. According to Beyond Blue, depressionis more than just a low mood – it's a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health.” I went to a psychologist, a very good person. At the start of 2013 my husband left me. No reason, he just chose to. More depression breakdown. I was heading into a mental problem. 

In July 2013 I'd already been with my employer for seven years and had got a deserved large pay increase (I had got my GradDip OHS). Two days later I got my brain aneurysm diagnosis. According to the government Health Direct website, anxietyis the most common mental health disorder that can affect ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks.” The diagnosis of my brain aneurysm lead to anxiety and stress. In August I went to an angiogram where the neurosurgeon found a second brain aneurysm, and at the beginning of September I was fired. Why did my employer fire me? Very obvious, for me: I was severely depressed. I fought them until I went into hospital in April 2014 for the brain aneurysm surgery.

That day, under anaesthetic, my heart stopped. When they got it starting again, I had a stroke. Stroke Foundation says that a strokehappens when blood supply to the brain is interrupted.” I was placed for 6.5 weeks in BIRU (Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit). I had aphasia. There is a USA site, Aphasia Org, an Australian website, the Australian Aphasia Rehabilitation Pathway, and a couple of others which include information, such as the Stroke Foundation. I still couldn't talk when I got out, but I had a person from ABIOS (Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service), a government health department, who came with me to Centrelink and spoke on behalf of me. I ended up on DSP (Disabled Support Pension), half from Australia and half from NZ.

Later that year I moved up to Woody Point to be closer to my daughter. I had help from CBRT (Community-based Rehabilitation Team) team, and went to another psychologist. The house where I lived, unfortunately, was bad. An old house, which could have been lovely, but had never been done up. I had anxiety, so I left that six months later and found a lovely house in Scarborough. 

Sometime around November 2014 I was placed with a mentor. She and I spoke about PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). I knew I suffered. Her husband was a veteran from the Army, and he was also suffering from PTSD. Beyond Blue says there are four main types of difficulties. I am affected by the fourth one: “The person loses interest in day-to-day activities, feels cut off and detached from friends and family, or feels emotionally flat and numb.” My suffering is from an event a very long time ago, but it has taken over my brain since my 2012 breakdown.

In May 2015 I went to the QIRC (Queensland Industrial Relations Commission) case against Q-Comp and my ex-employer. I hadn't counted on handled that under my aphasia from my stroke, but the solicitor who had accepted in before I went into hospital walked away from me while I was in BIRU. I had to work this myself, with immense help from a wonderful friend. It was exactly 2 years after my surgery, 22 April 2016, when I finally got the decision. Even though the judge wrote a lot in my favour, he gave the decision to Q-Comp. The current law cut me out. If I had been in court in NSW – or anywhere else in this country - I would have won. I fell into another deep depression, and felt I had to move because I was paying too much rent. I went up to Noosa for 3 months, and then moved down to a retirement village in Bethania in June 2016. It was cheaper in rent than I had paid in Scarborough, but they also charged me $100 weekly for food and made me eat in their dining room.

My dog, Jordie, was definitely with me. I had spoken to the site manager, “T”, before I moved down there, and she knew about it, she had agreed to it, and Jordie was included in my lease and signed off by the property manager, “L”. Four and a half months later I chose to stop paying the $100 week on top of my rent, which was – I thought – for food. No contract for it, so I could just give it up and prepare my own. “T” turned extremely vicious against me, and “L” kicked Jordie out because she was “too big”, stressing me far too much. So why did she even sign Jordie onto the lease??

Within a month, that went downhill to depression severely for me, until I spent my days shut inside my unit, not talking to anyone who lived there who seemed to support what “T” had done. I went to look at other properties – not retirement villages by now – and had signed up for one not far from Bethania. That same day “T” came to issue me the notice that I was being kicked out. She had police with her, but I – much later – didn't find out that what she was doing was illegal. I went to the bottom of my depression; I could no longer deal with it.

That night I attempted suicide. There are a few websites which cover people who reach this end. These include Health Direct, Beyond Blue, Reach Out, Black Dog, LifeLine and others. I didn't look at their websites before I attempted suicide. I overdosed on a chemist-issued drug. I took somewhere between 40 and 60 of them. I just wanted to die. I felt sleepy. I wrote a message to my daughter and asked her to come and get Jordie. She contacted my friend (who had been to QIRC with me) who rang me and kept me awake, and one of them rang the ambulance. I was taken to Loganlea hospital and monitored that night and the next morning. I was spoken to by teams from the Acute team (they came, a few days later, to visit me when I was staying at a friend's home to find out how I was doing). I was released around 1pm on the Wednesday.

The night before that, when my daughter had gone to pick up Jordie, she had spoken to “T” who showed she was completely uninterested in me, or in what I had done or where I was. On the Wednesday, when I got back to my unit, I found out I had been locked out. “T” had arranged for the locks be changed. She dropped my car keys onto the outside table and said I couldn't get inside. I lost my language (aphasia from my stroke), I couldn't talk, I couldn't think. I just sat there for a while, no person around, slipping back into my depression. Eventually I got into my car and drove up to my daughter's home, where I saw Jordie again. My daughter that day bought me some undies and bras and gave me some of her old clothes so I had something else to wear. I took Jordie down to the home of the other friend who had babysat both of my dogs while I was in BIRU. I was now homeless, but she had offered us a short-term home while I spent much time in the next few days talking to RTA, Tenants Qld, YFS and the government department in Logan. I know I spoke to many others, but I can't remember them.

One person at one of those places told me that she had previously had other complaints against “T” and “L”, and that what they had done was illegal. I was given the tenants law where she had highlighted everything that affected me. My daughter wrote a long email to them telling them what parts of the law they had broken. I went into the Beenleigh court and lodged a QCAT matter against them. Because of my depression, I ended up back at a psychologist, this one in Waterford, a good one.

We've talked a lot about my past and my present. I told him about what I had suffered from – stroke, anxiety, stress, depression, PTSD and attempted suicide. I don't know too many other people who have suffered as much as I have, but I do know other people, other friends, who committed suicide. They didn't inspire me to try, but what they were going through was similar to what I was going through. Suicide is like the last stage when you suffer. When you try it, when you succeed, you leave everything which caused your turmoil and led to your anxiety, stress, depression and PTSD. One of those friends had a stroke which had led to depression. Another one had a long illness which was leading to asbestosis; that had caused him severe depression. I didn't succeed at my suicide attempt. Now, I am often thinking about it. Would I try again? I just don't know.

My QCAT case has now been heard 3 times, very stressful. Three times that “L” couldn't present whatever she is arguing. I can fight whatever she is arguing, yet I have so far had 3 different judges. The case now ends up on the day that “L” was given, two months later this year. I know I will win it, but I now have to acknowledge the fact that my depression comes very quickly to me, because I don't end up with a decent – real - future. RTA have investigated my complaints and many other complaints from other people against the same person, “L”. That is not involved with my QCAT case: why not?

After the QCAT case, I met up with my ex-husband who had brought the divorce papers over. I read through them and found mistakes. I was written as “unemployed”. Really?? I am “disabled”. He has to change that. I reminded him about the separation agreement that we both signed back in February 2013, which he'd “forgotten” about. I want him to pay me. Anxiety? Oh yes, that I don't think he can... or will.

What can I blame? What do I blame? Losing my grandchildren? Losing my ex-husband? Losing my job from the brain aneurysm diagnosis? Losing myself from the stroke? Losing “old” friends? Anxiety? Stress? Depression? PTSD? What do I blame???

I am involved now with Stroke Foundation, Suicide Prevention Australia, Synapse, Brain Research, Brain Aneurysm Research (USA) and others, yet they're not my “real” supporters. Most people who have depression, or had brain aneurysms, or had a stroke, or attempted or committed suicide may have felt the same way that I felt, although from a different reason.

This blog post is about me. My five years of hell. If you care for your family, your partner, your friend, your workmate, but if you don't understand whatever the reason is for what they are suffering, you must find out about whatever they are feeling and help them. Because if you can't help them, they might commit their last stage.

Then there won't be any more effects on them... they'll be dead.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Protester... or not

Euripides seemed to know, thousands of years ago, what came from evil. These days I see evil on this planet. Oh I know it's not “new”, it's been around for so long, but evil-thinking people probably don't even think that their thoughts are evil – they simply don't know anyone in poverty.

Thinking this was supposed to be sending me to the March for March in Brisbane today. I'd put my name down to go there, I'd worked myself up so much against far too much evil I see in the government. Except now I'm over-excited; I can't go today. I can't talk to anyone, I would be there entirely alone.

On Wednesday this week there was a march to protest education becoming far too expensive. It should be free, unless, of course, some church runs their own. Yes, pay for that. Not everyone has – or takes – the choice. I'd planned on going to that protest, but on Wednesday I was even too tired to really enjoy the Streetbeat rehearsal. I took the train home after that and lay on my bed, hoping that the education march would be successful. They'd never miss me.

My intention to go to the protest today is something I've done often for the last 5 or more years. I had friends who came with me, I met up and chatted with people. I felt so strong about the protests for the reef, domestic violence, education, mining, tax, you name it. Anything under the previous ALP government, and much, much worse under the current LNP government. Today I would have gone along as a disabled person who suffers from my stroke with aphasia and is pretty close to poverty with no personal choice... but aphasia would stop me from talking to people. Chatting to people.

No government should cut the tax charged to huge businesses. No government should cut the unemployment or disability payments. No government should play with the child care allowance. No government should roll over unions when they can't even prove whatever they think! Euripides didn't know anything about how our planet now lives, but he knew why evil happens.

Too many people – even rich or well-off people – object to poverty. Most people who live in poverty or very close, like me, did not choose. I didn't choose to have a stroke. I didn't choose to have aphasia. I didn't choose to stop working. Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE, a “British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace”, according to Wikipaedia, said that 80% of the people living in poverty should have their standard of living raised. What's happening in this country looks, to me, like it's getting worse.

I know I'm not alone, proverbially. The unemployment ratio has grown. The part-employment has grown hugely! ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) said that the unemployment percentage was 5.8%, and the “labour underutilisation” (part employment) is up to 14.4%. Female underutilisation has increased to 16.8%. In February, according to them, the participation rate remains at 64.6%, employment increased, but so did unemployment. By 5,200 nationally.

The protest is also reacting as a result of the penalty wages change; perhaps you needed to be aware of what the Commission said about this. I absolutely disagree with what they did, and I object to how they turned down the submission by the unions. For me, unions are extremely important to many “normal” workers, because that's how we got to where we were/are. Have a read of this link.

Mining is a huge protest, especially Adani mining which is setting up in Queensland, with a port into the reef area (Abbott Point). That is absolutely unreal, yet the government – and the Qld government state government – will give Adani $1 billion. Right now Aus doesn't even make a profit on whatever fossil fuel we are selling! ABC's PM program on Wednesday 22nd March said that Adani protest groups were “vow[ing] to launch mass protest against mining giant Adani.” Perhaps they'll be separate from today's protest – but I don't think they will start separately. I've walked in their protests before.

Within this country, right now, there is far too much communication: “misunderstandable” communication, “fake” news, long articles, short articles, “shares” throughout media, Twitter, Facebook, too many groups who oppose whatever the government does. Too many people have stopped reading anything, because they can't understand it – or politics turns them off. Most of those people won't go to the protest today, or any other day. But every government action hits them. I don't know “rich” people; I do know many beneficiaries. I didn't choose where I am. I didn't choose to have a stroke. I didn't choose to be on DSP, yet this is my present reality. Whatever is being passed through this government now will not be in my favour.

Today I can not communicate with anyone.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Who am I?

Depression can be very soul breaking. It can lead too many people to attempt suicide. Some win – they die. For many others, depression can be moving inside yourself, shutting the doors against people, staying inside your home and inside your self. Both happened to me. So who am I?

Yesterday I read an article about Nikki Gemmell, how she didn't understand what her mother did. Elayn Gemmell committed suicide in 2015. “She simply sat down in her lounge, took overdoses of prescriptions and washed them down with Irish Bailey.” Nikki told about her pain in ABC's Australian Story last night. I knew exactly what Elayn suffered.

So who am I?

I've changed in 5 years. I lost my grandkids in 2012, lost my husband in 2013, found out about my brain aneurysm in July 2013, ended up in hospital in April 2014, and have “lived” very differently since then. I don't like my life. 

I don't like that I have been through what I consider evil. Far too much. I loved Scarborough but I couldn't deal with 'it'. I moved up to Noosa. I couldn't deal with 'it' up there. I moved again. I couldn't even deal with 'it' when I was at Bethania. Far too much evil for me. I attempted suicide. Too many stories inside me.

I don't like that I have lost too many friends. I live now in a tired, worn out suburb, just me and Jordie, a lonely, shut-in life. People no longer come to visit me. My story is inside me.

I don't like that my body is feeling far too older than I really am. I've put on weight; my right eye is red, full of blood; my back caused me pain a few days ago. Just about every second day I pluck some wiry hairs from my chin – I never grew them, where are they coming from?? 

My story is inside me.

Finding out the Nikki Gemmell story made me stop and think. These days I feel very much alone, and I only have two things that I do which really lift me – I go to Mylestones and I go to SOHK.

Mylestones is an employment group which contracts to Centrelink. At the start I had no positive thoughts – I'd been previously mis-treated by Max and Help – but Mylestones, which is run by CPL, has proven to be an excellent “friend” for me. I was introduced to Natalie, who I now see is a sort of “carer”. I'm not expected to have to do anything except sit and talk to her. She's very well trained, she doesn't make me feel that I'm being “questioned”. I find out that Mylestones will pay for my re-joining SIA (Safety Institute of Australia – I used to be an WHS adviser), will pay for my gap exam for RABQSA (I'm an auditor). Pay for some clothing for an interview. And pay for my haircut. I've got one coming up, 30 March, at a salon I used to go to 3 years ago. And Natalie, at Mylestones, looks for work. I am not required to sit and ring, when I couldn't even do that! I'm feeling excited!

And School of Hard Knock? I think I mentioned this group earlier. I belong to their choir – Absolutely Everybody – and to their percussion jam group, Streetbeat. SOHK works from South Bank, so it's a long way away from me. I take the express train – only 5 station stops - to get there, walk from the station, and even when I don't feel good I won't miss those rehearsals.

So now, just who am I?

I have other stuff I'm doing or have checked up on. I've meeting a psychologist called Emotional Balance, in Waterford. My doctor sent me there due to my attempted suicide. It keeps me thinking. I joined SPA (Suicide Prevention Australia) – so far I haven't heard from them but I wanted to be a volunteer speaker. This remains to be seen. I have looked through NDIS to see if I qualify for that, but Brisbane isn't set up until 2018. And I found another choir in Beenleigh called Mixed Beans. I've been there once but can't make it this week. Maybe I'll go again.

Yesterday it was raining outside. I sat in my lounge and blankly watched TV, or laid on my bed and thought. This morning I will go to the gym. I need to, haven't been there over a week. I have walked the treadmill at around 6 for 35 minutes. I think I need to do 60 minutes. Will I ever? My challenge!

Today I'm driving up north. I'll drop Jordie at my daughter's home, carry on to Redcfliffe where the Harmony Day is happening, even if it is raining. I am playing with the Streetbeat group up there. I need to be there. My challenge!

I know I'll be in front of 'self' for now. I know I'll fall behind again in the near future. Last night I watched the program about Elayn Gemmell. I felt how she felt, but I don't think Nikki knew or understood. It's like me. She looks at it differently now.

Who am I?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Asylum: never right, then or now

Today I remembered Oakley.

I had found an article about Australian NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) which I read because I thought I'd known quite a bit about NDIS, yet I didn't really know anything about the history of how people who were disabled were cared for. The article mentioned how the psychiatric hospitals were shut down from the 1970s, and I remembered the Tokanui hospital south of Hamilton in NZ. That one I had driven past quite a few times during the 70s, even before I'd met my first husband. I knew it was shutting down, but I didn't know, until I read up on it today, that it wasn't completely closed until 1998. That seemed strange – I thought I had remembered it shutting down well before that.

I looked up other hospitals in Wikipaedia and found one I didn't think I knew about, the Whau Lunatic Asylum. That had been renamed, over the years, to Auckland Lunatic Asylum, Avondale Lunatic Asylum, Avondale Hospital, Auckland Mental Health Hospital, Oakley Hospital and Carrington Psychiatric Hospital. It had been called Oakley in the 1960s. I knew Oakley. Many years ago, living in my first home (built by my dad), I would occasionally see my Uncle Brian when my Gran brought him down from Oakley Hospital in Auckland where he lived, to Hamilton for a holiday. I went to Oakley one day for a drive with Gran when she picked him up. I have no idea of how old I was, but I don't think I was more than 10. I never had much to do with Uncle Brian, but that was because he died when I was still very young. That was some time in the 60s, I think.

Uncle Brian had epilepsy. Most people who I had met over my future who also had epilepsy didn't seem anywhere near mentally disabled as my uncle was. I never even asked my mum about that, not even when he died. But later I found out how mum had looked after him. She had to take him out of the house where she and her family were living because her mum was to be beaten up by her husband, mum's father. Gran would urgently tell mum to take him out, and mum and Brian would run. Eventually, Gran walked away from her husband and found housekeeping work so she could look after mum and my uncle. She then became a well-known seamstress, especially wedding dresses.

She got married again in the 60s. I remember a photo of mum and dad with Gran and Pop at their wedding. I think it was some time not too long after that – certainly before we moved house - when Brian died in his hospital from an epileptic grand mal seizure. For a few years I didn't believe that happened; I thought that the hospital had hidden him. I never even went to his funeral.
"There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more."
~ Robert M Hensel
Many years later, after his death, I had worked in an IHC home in Palmerston North when one of the young men in there died from grand mal seizure. He was also epileptic, and very similar to my Uncle Brian. Today I read an article which said that “[s]udden death, a mysterious and devastating outcome of epilepsy, could result from a brain stem shutdown following a seizure”. I thought of Uncle Brian, and the young chap in Palmerston North. They'd both died with very little I knew about epilepsy. I recommend this reading if you know anyone who had epilepsy.

I said at the start of this blog that I had found an article about Australian NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) which I read because I thought I needed to know more about NDIS. This write-up wasn't just about the history – which I thought was excellent because it encouraged me to remember my own history! That article said: “Forty years after community care started, people with disabilities are living longer. Yet in 2009, a report based on consultation with people with disabilities found there was still little social inclusion, poor quality disability services and high unemployment.” That is now something I have personally walked into, after my stroke in 2014, and I know that too many other disabled people live as I do, with little social inclusion, with pretty much no contact or no help about their disabilities and with little or no work. The lack of work for someone as experienced as me cuts too many other disabled people, who have not worked much or at all, out of employment. I remember some articles I have read which glow about how some disabled person has gotten into some very good job, yet that person will say that getting the job was very hard.

Unfortunately, I found out recently that many disabled people have been treated badly. The government says: “We provide financial support and help to people with disability, illness or injury so you can study or find and keep a job.” Would they? Why do they move people off disability pension? Why don't they consider that a person who was on disability pension is still disabled?
"Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having 
access to every aspect of life."

 ~ Emma Thompson
So if a person has been moved from the disability pension to the Newstart, are they still eligible for NDIS? I don't think so. Is this what the government/Centrelink has started doing, just to save themselves some NDIS funding?

The legislation, called the NDIS Act 2013, (available) was passed in March 2013 when ALP was still the government, and revised in May 2013, still under ALP. When LNP won the election the Act was superseded and compiled 5 times since September 2013. There is a full website which includes a history page. The details at the bottom of that page gives, for me, a frustrating change of the name: “After the Federal election on 7 September 2013, the incoming Government discontinued the use of the name 'DisabilityCare Australia', reverting to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.” I would have stuck with DisabilityCare Australia because, for me, that showed that the scheme was set up for care, not for insurance.

The NDIS website gives information about what NDIS means and what it is here for. In June 2013 821,738 people received DSP. That has dropped, and the approval of DSP is much less than it used to be, even when people with real disability applied. Now the NDIS website says only 460,000, aged under 65, would be eligible for the NDIS support. There is no connection to the government change of retirement age. Why not? And how are so many people on DSP not eligible for NDIS?

NDIS isn't available in every Australian area until 2019. It is being introduced slowly, and the growth isn't as high as NDIS themselves said it would have been. From 2014 the government gave information about the increase in the pension age – from 1 July 2017 that will be 65 years and 6 months. I reach the new retirement age of 66 years and 6 months on 1 July 2021. So for other people this affects, is the NDIS eligibility missing between 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2023? Is this leading to more people cut off NDIS?

The NDIS website provides an “access checklist” so any person who claims they have a disability can see whether or not they are covered by NDIS. The huge problem is that any person in this country who is now on DSP, is not eligible for NDIS if they do not have a permanent (lifelong) disability. And that, the worst of NDIS, seems to have been the reason that so many people on DSP have now been moved off. Even if they are disabled. Even if their disability might be lifelong.

If they aren't eligible for DSP, they will never receive NDIS support. And many who are eligible for DSP but for less than their lifetime, will never receive NDIS support.

Asylum” in the Oxford dictionary is defined as “Shelter or protection from danger:‘we provide asylum for those too ill to care for themselves’”. Despite every “asylum” hospital closed, despite the fact that so many disabled people have been cut off from help, no disabled person can claim asylum. It doesn't happen. NDIS should have been set up as an “asylum”. It wasn't.

Never right, then or now.

 "Disability only becomes a tragedy when society fails to provide the things needed to lead one's daily life."
~ Judith Heurmann

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Australia Day?

26 January. What does that mean to you? For me, that date in 2016 is the date I became a citizen in Australia. I have a certificate hanging on my wall, but often I don't know how I feel about that. I don't usually celebrate Australia Day because this country is nothing more than where I live.

Twelve years ago, in 2005, was the year I moved here with my ex. Being in love, unfortunately, blinds you to everything else in your new city. I didn't wake up to the politics until PM Julia Gillard was disgustingly abused by LNP. When Tony Abbott was elected, my dislike of these politics and politicians grew, and has continued to grow since then - throughout the Turnbull years, including the PM and MPs like Morrison, Dutton, Pyne, Brandis, Bishop, Ley, Hunt, Joyce, Rowan and on and on... and on. And recently Pauline Hanson was elected, but as far as I am concerned the mistake of people voting for her is far to close to the evil mistakes which happened in Australia - and in USA.

Women marched after Trump's inauguration, and their protest drew more supporters than the inauguration did. After Trump, women have become - again - second to men. So far we have tried so hard to reach where we should be - with men! Do you remember Nightingale, Pankhurst, Woolf, Parkes, Friedan, Steinem, Greer, Brownmiller, Dworkin? They and so many others fought for us. Feminist was a lifetime, but too many women walked away from it recently. That was dangerous for us - too many turned the feminist around from liberating to chaining. Yet what the early suffragettes and the later feminists won for women are ignored by women today. And by men.

Trump has signed a bill which reinstates an abortion-gag against women. THAT is OURS! What right did he have to do that?

Trump has signed a bill to build a wall between USA and Mexico. THAT should be paid for by the President from the USA who made that stupid decision - not by Mexico.

It's Our Future in New Zealand wrote that "... the countries that have signed up to the TPPA have agreed to either change or freeze national laws to suit the interests of overseas investors from the other TPPA countries (the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan etc).  This means locking in light-handed regulation, limiting restrictions on overseas investment, and making it harder for governments to respond to both the future needs of their citizens and the natural environment." Trump has stopped USA involvement with the TPPA. I actually agree with that, but how does the LNP government here in Australia get along with that?

How would Turnbull regard Trump? How does China regard Trump? How does China regard Hanson? How does Turnbull regard Hanson? Far too many questions, far too many people who I think are evil.

The LNP government last year got Centrelink to send debt notices to 169,000 Centrelink beneficiaries - and so many of these have attempted to contact Centrelink and have been pretty much ignored. Most of them aren't in the wrong, yet Centrelink ignored their own records and these people. It seems it's up to the person who is attacked incorrectly to prove that they are in the wrong through Centrelink - but they have to start paying even before they have provided evidence!

We're losing much of our Medicare. We're losing funds to public schools. We're losing adult and child dental funds, setting up in a National Partnership Agreement (NPA).

What is an NPA needed for? In Australia there are NPAs for legal assistance services, early childhood education, homelessness, health, disability, coal seam gas and large coal mining, road and rail programmes, Indigenous economic and housing requirements, mental health, energy, skills reform et al. So many NPAs! The Council of Federal Funding said: "National Agreements define the objectives, outcomes, outputs and performance indicators, and clarify the roles and responsibilities that guide the Commonwealth and the States in the delivery of services in key sectors." Yet this doesn't explain to me what a National Partnership Agreement means. Another page said there are differences between National Partnerships, Implementation Plans and Project Agreements, and yet another said there are "... currently six National Agreements in the health, education, skills and workforce development, disability services, affordable housing and Indigenous reform sectors, and a National Health Reform Agreement."  That seems very different than any page which showed up in Google with an NPA as I mentioned. Have a look through the links at the start of this paragraph. So many NPAs.

Is any NPA for every person in Australia? Do they include refugees, émigrés, unemployed, youth, old people, people with illnesses, people who live in poverty with no choice themselves? Do you, PM Turnbull, know everyone in this country who ended up where they now are from policies and laws which you and your government has passed? Do you know too many of the Kiwis who have lived here, in Australia, for most of their life, committed a stupid crime and are now being sent back to NZ - where they don't know anyone? Who do you blame for refugees who came here and ended up in Nauru? Why have you signed a contract with Adani coal mine when the Indian government says they will never use that coal?

What is Australia on 26 January? To me, it seems far too different, much worse, than only a few years ago. What would you do, PM Turnbull? Do you really know? Please tell me, because I can't follow your government or the USA government or TPPAs or NPAs or One Nation or arguments or debt notices or any of the stuff which Australia seems to live in.

What would you do?