David for (Dis)abilties

David Stone for Disability Director

The problems occurring for students in the disability sector cannot be summed up in the words I have available to me. Often people believe that it is only physical disabilities which hamper people’s ability to not only finish university but go to university.

Whilst acknowledging physical disabilities as a huge impediment to access and retention of students, it is also people with mental health issues who get ignored.

A new, unfortunate problem on the horizon is the Federal Government wish to ‘crack down’ on Disability Support Pension (DSP) applicants in the ‘burgeoning’ mental health sector.

One could interpret this as dog-whistling to an able-bodied and minded constituency to clutch at votes.

Despite my having been diagnosed at various stages as having psychosis, psychotic depression, bipolar, depression, schizophreniform, delirious mania and generalised anxiety disorder, when I was in hospital I didn’t apply for the DSP. I didn’t feel as though I should.

I was at Garden’s Point one day when someone had committed suicide by jumping off the top of one of the buildings. When walking home being confronted with blood being hosed from the pavement I started to question how much stress is on students. The point of this entire memoir I suppose is to illustrate the diverse needs of people when it comes to accessing appropriate help and support and that perhaps universities need to look at potentially less intensive models of teaching.

Further, that the Gillard Government’s ‘crackdown’ on DSP recipients will only marginalise and dislocate people more.

We need to work with the networks in place such as QUT Equity to improve accessibility and flexibility.

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