Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Ann – Marie Smith’s death and attitudes towards disability

I know this story is a few weeks old now. But I still think it’s important.

Ann – Marie Smith died a degrading death in early April. Smith, 54, who had cerebral palsy, was shamefully left to die in a cane chair.

When investigated, it was found that Smith, who lived alone, had no fresh food or even a freezer in her home. 

Her ‘support worker’ has been sacked from Integrity Care SA and  Smith’s death has been ruled as manslaughter.

Integrity Care SA has also been fined A$12,600 by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

 

I’ve been disappointed at the lack of commentary and public outrage about this. It is abhorrent.

Effects of ‘wasted money’ cut

Man in wheelchair washing dishes
Image: iStock

Since it’s rollout in 2016, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS),  has come under a lot of scrutiny. Accusations of fraud and funds being wasted came thick and fast. Andrew Bolt was a vocal critic, warning that the system would be abused and that the budget would ‘blow out’.

In 2017, Bolt accused groundskeeping companies of abusing the system. In the same post, Bolt claimed there was a ‘liberalisation’ of the definition of “developmental delay”.

Now, because of the scaremongering, the system has changed. And for the most part, it’s been for the worst. Last year, the Coalition government prided itself on getting rid of ‘wasted funds’. But it has left NDIS providers to  feel the need to chase money, often at expense of customer control and quality care.

 

How the hell did Smith only have ONE support worker when she needed seven – day – a – week care?

I think the “wasted” money shouldn’t have just been cut out of the NDIS. It should have been better allocated.

 

Is this a reflection of how we view people with disabilities?

Is this an indictment on how society views people with disabilities? For so long, people with disabilities have been ostracised and institutionalised. They are still overrepresented in unemployment statistics.

I truly think there is an attitude problem at play. People with a disability are too often treated as too hard. They are seen as helpless, yet they are MADE even more helpless.

 

NDIS chaos

I know from personal experience that since the Federal Government found ‘unused funds’ that they conveniently just cut out of the system it’s made the NDIS worse.

The NDIS is no longer about giving participants ‘choice’. It’s about keeping funds coming, in case the Government all – to – happily cuts “wasted money” out again. That’s often means keeping customers helpless or preventing much progress.

Support providers have become more money focussed. Was providing Smith just ONE support worker for a whole week a money – saving strategy? I don’t know for sure, but, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was. If that’s the case, then Ann – Marie Smith won’t be the only victim. There’ll be many more in the future if things don’t change now.

That starts with the Federal Government putting money back into the NDIS and service providers being responsible for the safety and well – being of their customers.

 

Attitudes need to change

Attitudes towards people with a disability need a drastic overhaul. They are not a burden. They are not parasitic. They are people, who, for reasons often beyond their control, need extra help. They shouldn’t have to beg for it or die. Their lives have to count.

This can’t happen again.

Categories
Music News Pop Culture

Michael Gudinski launches new show and album

The COVID-19 isolation lockdown has seen many people, including myself, embrace music.

From the tone – deaf rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine, and musical parodies of the Bee Gees, Pink Floyd and Queen songs online. Many people  have embraced the music bug.

I myself, have been teaching myself keyboard using the Joytunes’ SimplyPiano app. It’s been both frustrating, but quite fun.

61 key Casio keyboard
This has been my way to embrace my musical side during isolation

I’ve also been listening to a fair bit of music, (which admittedly, isn’t new for me). About a month ago, I ordered myself Metallica’s S & M DVD and A Collection of Roxette Hits CD/ DVD.

 

 

 Online show to launch

According to Herald Sun, Mushroom Records co – founder, Michael Gudinski, with the help of the Victorian Government, is set to launch State of Music, as part of a entertainment/ tourism campaign, Victoria Together. It’s aim is to bring Victoria to tourists and show live performances from isolation. Gudinski’s project was in response to the halt to Melbourne’s entertainment culture due to the coronavirus.

While originating in Melbourne, any musical act from Australia or New Zealand can take part.

Livestream aims to attract young audience

Gudinski told Herald Sun that he wanted to use the Internet, including Facebook  to attract a younger audience.

The artist lineup is a mixture ‘80’s and contemporary artists. The first livestream will feature, Diesel, Birds of Tokyo, James Reyna and G – Flip.

According to Gudinski, artists are free to choose the songs they perform. The live-streams will not feature ads. Interviews are also a part of the shows.

The first livestream will begin at 7.30 p.m AEST tonight. Six more live-streams will occur in the following weeks at the same time.

Gudinski is also producing a 3- CD set and vinyl of  Music From the Homefront. Proceeds will go to the charity, Support Act.

JB Hifi has agreed to sell the album without profit

 

Millennials may get taste of Countdown

When the livestream was compared to Countdown, I knew I had to write something about it.

Unfortunately, I was born two years after the show ended. However, I have the Countdown Spectacular on DVD, which was performed in 2006.

The performances were brilliant. Some of my favourite songs were Hush, John Paul Young and Leo Sayer.

DVD Countdown Spectacular (from 2006)
This was my first taste of the show Countdown. I absolutely love it.

My picks for future live live-streams

Here’s who I think would be great for future live- streams:

  • Leo Sayer
  • Cheetah
  • Eskimo Joe
  • 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Justice Crew
  •  Bernard Fanning (is a Powderfinger reunion a bit of a stretch?)

I know some of these acts, like Eskimo Joe have been around for a while, but a boost for them won’t hur. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard songs from them for a while.

Overall, I think this is a real cool initiative. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see some of the shows. It will be a great way to escape the turmoil that’s going on at the moment.

 

Will you watch Gudinski’s livestream show? Also, what acts would you like to see perform and be interviewed? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.