Open letter to Miranda Devine

Open letter to Miranda Devine, from a disabled mother, married to a disabled man, with disabled children:

Dear Miranda,

we need to talk.

Or, more accurately, YOU need to LISTEN. Because I think you’ve said enough

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You say,

“One in five students has a “disability”- just in time for the NDIS. When government provides a pot of free money, people will come” {words in this quote come from the image above, which is a screen shot of Ms. Devines statement posted on twitter}

I don’t have a “disability”, and neither do my husband or kids. We are disabled. By people with attitudes like yours, actually, who think it’s okay to theorise and pontificate about our lives and the validity of our requests for help in navigating a world set up for the non-disabled, without making the effort to seek out the real life disabled people whose experience you are dismissing, to ask them what their lives are like.

Can I ask, do you really think we are all faking it for shits, giggles and money, or did you just say that to draw traffic to your social media feeds?

How about these ones, that you thought would be good to retweet,

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{images above are screen shots found in Ms Devines Twitter feed today. Text reads “It’s tragic and frankly disgusting that we’re labelling healthy kids because their parents are incompetent” and “Agree. These kids with this label will simply become a self fulfilling prophecy”}

Do you really believe these are true? If you do, I’d like you to consider a few facts:

  1. Did you know it is possible to be healthy and disabled? True story.
  2. Giving a disabled person a label isn’t a prophecy, it is an acknowledgement of a truth that gives the gift of self understanding and access to appropriate help and supports. Sort of… that’s what it is supposed to do. Unfortunately many disabled people are finding it very difficult to get these supports, even with the roll out of the NDIS that you would have everyone believe we are faking disability to access.
  3. The NDIS doesn’t actually pay for help for *students*- that is the responsibility of the relevant education departments. Convincing the NDIA to fund accommodations  within education settings would be a very difficult task indeed. I’m pretty sure you haven’t done your fact checking on NDIS at all. If you had you’d realise your statement sounds a bit ignorant about the system you think we are trying to rort.
  4. There is something called the social model of disability. Google it, you might find something you hadn’t thought of before attacking a minority group that faces overt discrimination every day. That you just added to.
  5. As for the assertion that kids get diagnosed with disability because of incompetent parents, if I wasn’t so disgusted by your words I’d invite you for a cuppa and chat, so I could tell you about my family. But I don’t think people like you are likely to stoop to my level, given your obvious disdain for us, so I won’t bother with the invitation. It’s a shame though, because now you don’t get to really know us: a disabled man working full time in an operating theatre while studying part time at University to complete certification in his chosen specialty; and a disabled woman (me) with two university degrees, a successful advocacy career involved in numerous projects, including founding and Directing a new company set up to support and advocate with neurodivergent individuals and their families, volunteering with a grassroots advocacy group that is currently preparing to meet with the UN CRPD, and with a recently published book….. and doing all this while partnering with my husband to raise 6 children, 4 of whom have disabilities, and are wonderful kids with dreams and goals they are working towards and achieving in spite of the barriers placed in front of them.

What’s that you say about incompetency?

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“Settle down disability peeps. Of course a decent society helps the vulnerable. But it’s absurd to label 1/5 kids disables. Debases language”. {words in this quote come from the image above, which is a screen shot of Ms. Devines statement posted on twitter}

No….. I don’t think so. Unless you can explain to me how identifying the exact needs of those disadvantaged by the inability of our society to disguise their distaste for anything that isn’t perfect ‘reduces language in quality or value or degrades it in any way’ (definition), I’m going to have to say that in this conversation it is you who are incompetent and in need of a rest from your soapbox rants.

To be honest, society is doing well enough on its own in it’s task to stigmatise, belittle and disadvantage disabled people, without you adding your voice to the melee. We don’t need you to join the attack. So, please, before you decide on another foray into disability discourse, perhaps you should consider who your words actually help and who they hurt.






6 thoughts on “Open letter to Miranda Devine

  1. I’m not sure of your experience of Ms Devine, however, it is clear to me that any amount of reasoning isn’t going to help. She lives in a privileged world, unfortunately.

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