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.
Justice targets are measurable goals which aim to reduce incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians. Their addition to the existing Closing the Gap targets, set collaboratively by all State and Territory governments, was announced in August 2013 by then Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin. This was a recommendation of then Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma in 2009’s Social Justice Report. How can this be a bad idea?
The video below highlights the key findings from the 6th Productivity Commission Report into the wellbeing of Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage.
There is cause for hope that the improvements in child mortality, life expectancy, education and employment outcomes will continue to trend positively. However, it is still a major concern that statistics on chronic health problems, mental illness, community and family violence, illiteracy and rates of incarceration and interaction with the justice system remain unacceptably high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
ACOSS have made it clear lately that the budget cuts will adversely affect many aspects of Australian society, with the burden of redressing the ‘fiscal incompetence’ of the previous government largely falling on low-income families with children.
Proceeding from the Harvester Judgement of 1907, basic working wages in Australia were essentially constructed to cover the reasonable needs of a family. This placed women and children in a position of dependence and women’s work was relegated to a space outside national productivity accounting. Working women were not offered the basic wage as social norms at that time expected that this was supplementing the husband’s already adequate wage. Women were actively prevented from many higher paid jobs, and maternity leave was irrelevant as women were expected to cease working once pregnant. In 1919, women’s wages were set at 54% of the male basic wage which only rose to 75% in the 1950s (Hearn 2006).
Close the Gap is a human rights movement, whereas Closing the Gap is a whole-of-government approach to addressing the discrepancies in health, education and employment status between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian citizens.