Many people live every day with illness that cannot be seen by others. Often times, those people feel judged and misunderstood, or ashamed of behaviours or impairments that are linked to their condition. Many chronic diseases have no outward signs that alert others to the challenges that individuals are facing. People living with these hidden conditions often don’t disclose the extent of their hardship for fear of being treated differently, stigmatised or disbelieved.
This article is intended to raise awareness of invisible illness and hidden disability. Hopefully readers will pause before they pass judgement about that person using the disabled toilet or car space who “looks perfectly fine”, or that friend who consistently declines social invitations, or that work colleague who takes a lot of time off and is often referred to behind their back as lazy or “bludging“.
Speaking at the National Press Club Address recently (9 Sep 2015 – Series 2015 – episode 32), US science journalist Jon Entine was alleged by Simon Grose (Canberra IQ) to seem ‘aggressive’ and “defensively ironic” in his pro-GMO stance. Grose suggested that this may be because the GM message is one that seems difficult to sell. Is this the reason why Entine has been chosen to speak at the Agricultural Bioscience International Conference in Melbourne, in a session entitled “Public acceptance of agricultural biotechnology“.
It is good to see that social innovation is being seriously supported with the Macquarie Group Foundation celebrating its 30th Anniversary by awarding a special $300,000 Australian Social Innovation Award this year, rather than the usual biennial $100,000 awards (ProBono Australia). This year’s recipients – H.S.M. (Hello Sunday Morning) – claim to be the world’s largest online movement for behavioural change towards alcohol.
According to a New Yorker article (8 Apr 2015), H.S.M. Founder and CEO, Chris Raine, a former Gen-Y weekend drinker decided to quit drinking for a year and ‘blog about it’. From his year off alcohol and his reflections about his experience and the Australian cultural obsession with alcohol, he managed to convince a relatively large group to quit for three months and relate their experiences online. From these rather modest roots, H.S.M. became an incorporated charity in 2010 and in 2015 exceeded 40,000 registered participants, including some from the UK and the US.
In 2012, well known Australian TV news reader, Talitha Cummins, joined the program as well as Alcoholics Anonymous in her successful battle with alcohol addiction. She is now an ambassador for H.S.M. Also in 2012, Chris Raine gave the following Ted X talk in Darwin. And this year, H.S.M. launched their App, making it even easier to track progress on your sobriety and health goals.
On April 30th, Anglicare Australia launched its annual Rental Affordability Snapshot, highlighting the difficulties that low-income households face in securing affordable housing. Low-income families in regional areas were found to be virtually unable to find suitable housing on their budget, especially if they were single parents receiving Newstart Allowance. Anglicare Australia’s first key priority was “recognition of income inadequacy as a barrier to secure housing and meaningful social participation” (page. 5).