BY ALYSON GALE
A couple of days ago I had tea with my neighbour. She is disabled and has to visit the doctor frequently. She is on a range of medications. She can’t walk so she catches taxis everywhere.
We were having tea when she asked me “is the government were really going to cut the disability pension?”
It hit me how devastating that would be for her.
She could hardly afford food some weeks. She had no savings and she had never been able to afford a holiday in her adult life. I told her I didn’t know, but we would cross that bridge when we came to it. Then she asked me “will they really charge us to go to the doctor and put prescriptions prices up?” And then asked “if fuel prices would increase?” because that would mean that taxi prices would go up and “food will be more expensive too because the costs of transporting the food will be past on to the buyer”.
I literally didn’t know what to say.
After a few moments she started crying. I hugged her and said it would be okay. And when the federal budget was released it broke my heart. She was dealt such a hard life already. A life of suffering beyond anything I have ever experienced. Her only ‘entitlement’ was having enough money to live. She smiled when she told me if she had $6 left over from her pension it had been a good fortnight.
This budget will affect disabled people like my neighbour so drastically. People who find it hard to express their voice politically. The most vulnerable members of our community. The disabled who’s already low pensions will be cut. The people who ‘must’ see doctors regularly, who ‘must’ take medication to live.
If this is the ‘age of opportunity’ where is the opportunity for her?