Mike Steketee, The Australian April 30, 2011:
It is to spend a day helping care for a person with a severe disability -- to "walk in our shoes" as Sue O'Reilly and Fiona Porter, who signed the letter and who have disabled children, put it. "There are many parents of adults and children with special needs who believe that politicians, although sympathetic, do not really fully appreciate what it is like to be in our situation," they write.
If the Prime Minister is too busy on a weekday, a Saturday or Sunday would be fine, they add, since "it is of course the case that supporting a person with severe dependent disabilities is, for many tens of thousands of carers, a seven-day-a-week role".
To ensure that such an event is more than just a photo opportunity, they suggest Gillard spends at least 10 hours with a disabled person. The same letter has gone to nine other leaders and politicians with responsibilities in the area, including Wayne Swan, Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop, Joe Hockey and Bob Brown.
The campaign for proper recognition of people with disabilities and their needs has come a long way in the three years since the 2020 summit adopted as one of its "big ideas" a new, insurance-based system proposed by Bruce Bonyhady, chairman of disability service provider Yooralla.