Sunday, 9 May 2010

Democracy in action

Mad as Hell in Australia
Over 10,000 sign the pledge

We're Mad as Hell
We're not taking it any more – and there are millions of us
Over 10,000 people take Mad as Hell Pledge

The grassroots, electoral web campaign Australians Mad as Hell started by two mothers of disabled sons has quickly won strong support all around the country for an overhaul of Australia’s dysfunctional disability system to deliver better outcomes to people with disabilities and their families.

10,108 people from every State and Territory took the Mad as Hell Pledge, at, from late March to early May, stating they intend to vote for political parties that support the introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme with individualised funding in the next term of government. Individualised funding (personalised or self-directed funding) ensures people with disabilities and/or their families determine the best use of allocated funds, as occurs now in most other wealthy nations.

Noting that Australia’s current disability support system forces people with severe disabilities and their families to struggle without the basic prescribed equipment, essential therapy, support and services they need, campaign organisers Sue O’Reilly in Sydney and Fiona Porter in Brisbane are not surprised by such a rapid and electorally significant response.

'Everyone who has a severe disability or who cares for someone with a severe disability knows how bad the system is. But ordinary citizens – as a critical mass – had few if any ways to make the depth of their feelings known to politicians until we set up the website with its Pledge of voting intent,' says Porter.

O’Reilly warns that the groundswell of widespread, deep anger about the lack of action by all political parties will increase in the lead-up to this year’s federal election as people with disabilities and their families learn more about the properly funded, person-centred disability support systems operating successfully in other wealthy countries like the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

'Disability reform is a major issue for many voters,” says O’Reilly. “This early, strong response of over 10,000 Mad as Hell Pledges should alert all political parties that a very large group of voters demand Australia’s broken disability system be fixed. People with disabilities of any age have a right to be part of ordinary, mainstream life. And Mad as Hell Pledges will continue to be collected right up to the day of this year’s federal election.'

The two mothers say that supporters of a national disability insurance scheme with individualised funding include political, academic, business, medical, therapy and educational leaders, along with disability rights advocates Robbi Williams, National Convenor In-Control Australia, Lesley Hall, CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and Mark Pattison, executive director of the National Council of Intellectual Disability.

What's this about?

Good on you, Sue O'Reily and associates.

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