Thursday, 22 October 2015

Stupid comment shows insensitivity not empathy

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has come under fire for saying he 'thanks his lucky stars' his children do not have a disability.
'I think we look at some friends who have children with varying disabilities and I thank my lucky stars that's not me,' Mr Birmingham told a Senate committee meeting in Canberra on Wednesday night.
'So I am very conscious of making sure we do what we can in that space.'( I wonder how long he's going to keep those friends!)
The Education Minister and South Australian Senator made the comments during a discussion about potential cuts to funding for students with a disability next year, as a new funding model is introduced.
'You should not automatically assume that the new model equals guaranteed new money,' he said. 
When pressed on whether or not funding would be cut for some schools, he said: 'in some  instances in some jurisdictions or some sectors that could be the case'.
The 'lucky stars' comment was slammed by advocacy groups, who labelled it 'deeply offensive' to people with a disability.
'They are constantly exposed to significant barriers in education, including constant bullying, and for them to hear that can easily cause harm and further diminish the views that we are trying to stop,' Children with Disability Australia chief executive Stephanie Gotlib said, according to the Canberra Times. 
'He is either acknowledging that the education system is causing significant challenges, or is he saying children with a disability themselves are a burden, and aren't a valuable member of a family or community.'
Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe said the Senator was 'betraying some of Australia's most vulnerable students' with his comments and potential cuts.
'We already have huge underfunding of disability in schools and further cuts would leave thousands more children without the resources they need to benefit from school and make the most of their ability,' Ms Haythorpe said, according to The Australian. 
She also said five per cent of children currently receive disability support funding, which is a figure significantly below the 13 per cent of children who have a disability, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Mr Birmingham was promoted to Education Minister after fellow South Australian Christopher Pyne.     ( By any rational standards, a failure in the portfolio for 2 long years) switched portfolios in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's first cabinet last month.

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