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Letter to the PM from Mad as Hell campaign Print
Written by Sally Richards    Tuesday, 27 July 2010

27 July 2010

The Hon Julia Gillard MP Parliament House Canberra

Dear Ms Gillard

Why have you said nothing in this campaign about the urgent need to fix Australia’s broken disability system, which Bill Shorten accurately describes as a “national disgrace”? Our crisis-driven, dysfunctional, wasteful disability system crushes around two million Australians with disabilities and their family carers because we cannot get crucial services and equipment when we need them, let alone be actively included in our “very precious Australian way of life”.

The Productivity Commission reports it has already received 1850 expressions of interest for the disability care and support inquiry, compared with 857 for paid maternity leave. Do 1.4 million people with severe disabilities and their 700,000 family carers matter less to you than expectant mothers?

Thousands of parents of students with disabilities wish our struggles to ensure our children receive a decent education – or can just enrol in the school of their choice with needs-based support funding - could be resolved as easily as a cost rebate for uniforms.

The escalating anger of hundreds and thousands of people whose lives are severely restricted by the disability system is obvious in the rapid spreadofthegrass-rootscampaignAustraliansMadasHell. Injust4monthsover26,000Australian electors have taken the Mad as Hell Pledge of Voting Intent, promising to vote only for a party or parties that publicly commit to transforming Australia’s broken, crisis-driven disability support system by:

•    Introducing, or supporting the introduction of, a national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) immediately after the Productivity Commission study, due to be completed by July 2011; and
•    Ensuring people with a disability and their family or nominated representative decide the best use of funding to meet individual needs
Both the Greens and Carers Alliance support the principle of a national disability insurance scheme. Yet the ALP recent piece-meal plans don’t address the real problems and show that your government doesn’t understand or care how much the disability system damages ordinary lives, like the 80 year-olds who are STILL the primary, unpaid carers of their 50 year-old children with disabilities – in a nation that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!
•    1.4 million people with serious disability now need support with core daily living activities. This number is projected by the Disability Investment Group to double by 2030 to 2.9 million
•    700,000+ full-time carers of a person with a disability now; fewer carers as they age, die or simply refuse to provide a lifetime of unpaid carer work at the expense of earned income, superannuation and the ordinary life every other Australian expects and lives. 10% less unpaid care = 40% increase in funded services, according to the DIG report

By tracking Mad as Hell Pledges of Voting Intent we can report the numbers of voters in marginal seats whose lives are so shattered by the abysmal disability system that it will determine who they vote for.

We realise your predecessor as Prime Minister referred the recommendations of the Disability Investment Group for a radically new disability care support system to the Productivity Commission for investigation, with that report due by July next year. But this should not stop you, as Prime Minister, from stating whether your government accepts the case Mr Shorten has made for transformational reform of the disability system, and making disability services a ministerial-level portfolio such as “Disability and Inclusion” if you regain government. We have presented at the Productivity Commission Inquiry’s hearings in Sydney and Brisbane, and observed the reactions by the Commissioners to the numerous, horrendous stories told by people with disabilities and their families. If scores of State and Commonwealth inquiries have not already spelt out the problems and how to fix them, please read the attached submission by Australians Mad as Hell to the Productivity Commission to get a glimpse of what people with disabilities and their carer families are forced tolivewith. Wouldyoubepreparedtolivesuchalife,PrimeMinister?

Everyone supporting Mad as Hell’s grassroots, parent-led fight to ensure a better life for people with disabilities and their families wants to know your policies so they can decide how to vote. Please advise us, at your earliest convenience, of the Labor Party’s official policy on the introduction of a national disability insurance scheme with individualised funding in the next term of government. We hope we can assure the more than 26,000 people who have taken the Mad as Hell Pledge to date that hopes raised so high by referring the disability crisis to the Productivity Commission will not be dashed if a Labor Government is re-elected.

Fiona Porter & Sue O’Reilly Co-Convenors Australians Mad as Hell Campaign


Jackson volunteers at Yarralumla Primary School Print
Written by Sally Richards    Tuesday, 20 July 2010
volunteeringypsJackson and Matt inspecting the garden looking for wees to pull.


Wondering what job needs doing first.
Mac's inquest (that's Jackson's dad) Print
Written by Sally Richards    Friday, 21 May 2010
The Directions Hearing into the death of Mac was held on Tuesday 11th May before Magistrate Maria Duggan. She has decided to hold a full hearing and will set aside three days for this later in 2010.Mac
Mad as Hell National Disability Campaign Print
Written by Sally Richards    Thursday, 01 April 2010
Mad as Hell is the website dedicated to rallying support right across Australia for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is a campaign that has my full support. it would be great if everyone could send the link to everyone they know. Let's make it viral.
Antidepressants and suicide Print
Written by Sally Richards    Tuesday, 23 March 2010

From the week-end edition of the Sydney Morning Herald 20th March 2010. This article, "Slipping into the darkness", is relevant to Jackson's father Mac's suicide in June 2009.

One relevant quote:

"Suicide claims more Australian lives each year than road accidents. For every suicide, there are 30 attempts. It is also a known risk of depression, and pharmaceutical companies acknowledge that antidepressants may contribute to worsening depression and the emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviours."


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