Last week we had the opportunity to speak to a local men's group at Rebus Cambridge.
One of the most interesting things that came forward was the lack of knowledge regarding disability services and awareness of disability in our community and the barriers faced by those living with and working in the disability sector.
When asked for a show of hands, all present had not had any prior connection with any family member with an intellectual or physical disability outside of ageing family members. This is despite the Waipa area having a higher than average national rate of disability according to the Disability survey of 2011.
How is it that in this day and age, a disability could still be so invisible? I believe that in part this is due to three key aspects of modern life.
1. The speed at which life is lived means that everything we do is hyper-focused and fleeting. This does not allow one to focus or register outside of the task at hand. In a career and time-focused world where you have allotted time for work, recreation and family it can be hard to see outside the realm of immediacy.
2. We no longer take the time to stop and see people. In the movie Avatar they use the expression, I See You, to acknowledge the value and life force of another. What could happen and what could we learn if we stopped long enough to see and acknowledge the people that cross our path each day?
3. The extension of institutionalism into smaller isolated groups that do not connect with the community or each other. Having closed the big institutions down we have opened up smaller care homes and focused groups to hold those with a disability in that space of invisibility. In effect, we have created smaller institutions.
The new DisabilityCommissions' direction of changing funding and resourcing, places the focus back on planning with and for the individual which in turn creates life and energy with an emphasis on creating opportunities to access and join with the community at large. This is a big step towards true integration and acceptance of disability as a way of life and helping the community come to terms with normality from another perspective.
It’s a great starting point.