Justice for people with disabilities dreams of a world where no one is left behind
In this settlement, people with disabilities are continually denied access to the social, emotional, material and medical care they need to survive. Those of us living with disabilities are familiar with the exorbitant costs of medications, medical appointments, mobility aids and surgeries, as well as the costs associated with reduced work capacity. People with disabilities live disproportionately in poverty, representing 38% of all people living below the poverty line through the so-called “Australia”. This is in part due to the inherently crippling nature of capitalism and settler colonialism, structures that rely on the dehumanization and elimination of our bodies and minds.
Access to government support initiatives, such as the Disability Support Pension (DSP) or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), is a notoriously exhausting process. People with disabilities have has consistently spoken out against the inadequate support the state has to offer, as well as the alteration and dehumanization policies and procedures incorporated into these patterns. As a result, many people with disabilities cannot or choose not to seek government-led support. This is especially true for people with disabilities existing at the intersections of other forms of oppression.
First Nations peoples are disproportionately targeted and monitored by the state and denied access to social and material support and generational wealth, a continuation of the colonial violence that began over two centuries ago in the following the British invasion. This excessive surveillance has also led to the disproportionate incarceration and institutionalization of First Nations peoples, systems that are not only inherently crippling, but made even more debilitating by widespread medical racism and lack of access to adequate medical care. In addition, due to the continued dispossession and decimation of their lands, waters and skies, ties to cultural knowledge and traditions are continually severed, which means that First Nations peoples are often barred. to practice and transmit traditional healing practices.
Although the First Nations peoples are twice as likely to live with a disability, alone 5.7% of NDIS participants are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. If these government-led support initiatives fail to provide essential and culturally appropriate care to the most vulnerable among us, how can we expect to trust or depend on them?
Instead of trying to navigate government support, many people with disabilities instead choose to create and strengthen networks of care led by their local communities. This autonomous practice of community care is grounded in interdependence and collective liberation, recognizing that we cannot expect to be loved or released into structures designed to harm us, that “The state was built on a racist and colonialist ableism and will not save us, because it was created to kill us“(In Care Work by Lea Lakshmi Piepznia-Samarasinha). Community care is about practical steps through which we can support each other materially and emotionally in the short and long term.
Based on these autonomous and anti-capitalist principles, a justice network for people with disabilities has been established in what is known as “Australia”. This disability justice network was created by indigenous and non-indigenous marginalized people with disabilities currently located on the lands of Ngunnawal and Ngambri, Wurundjeri, Bunurong, Gadigal and Kaurna. Our intentions in creating this network were to share a space, to organize, to help each other, to care, to love and mourn for each other.
One of the first actions of the Disability Justice Network was the establishment of a permanent mutual aid fund. This fund was first established in response to a disabled member of the indigenous community who urgently needed life-saving surgery. The initial goal was achieved in one day. Three months later, the mutual aid fund has accumulated over $ 14,000, almost all of which has been distributed to people with disabilities in our communities who need help with medical and other living expenses.
This permanent mutual aid fund is part of a larger and longer process of collective care that the Disability Justice Network is committed to undertake. Recognizing the ways in which the state restricts our movement, relationship building and livelihood, the Disability Justice Network intends to build a network of care centered on “Disabled people of color, disabled immigrants, disabled homosexuals, trans and gender nonconforming disabled people, homeless disabled people, incarcerated disabled people, disabled people who had their ancestral lands stolen, among others . “
Based on solidarity between movements, our work will continue to dream and strive for a world of collective liberation, where we are all free and able to receive the care, love and support we need, and where no one is born. is left behind.