We had our first meeting of the year for the Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) and I was dismayed to hear about proposed funding changes to vital continence services likely to happen later this year. All Continence Advisory Services in Queensland including The Blue Nurses Continence Service are likely to be affected. When I first started doing any Women’s health, taking ante-natal classes (about a hundred years ago) the guru of pelvic floor physiotherapy- Ruth Sapsford -was the physio at the Blue Nurses Continence service- that’s when I first became aware of the marvelous work they do. So you can imagine my consternation when it became apparent that radical changes to Aged Care are happening later in the year. If funding is up in the air, what happens is the usual anxiety and trauma for good, decent staff, who have their mortgages depending on their job being secure; and the question always is-what is it going to be replaced with? The level of training and expertise in the staff that run these services is something that is difficult to replace. And the continence needs of our older citizens- tax-payers themselves not so long ago- is not going to magically go away.
There has been a lot of ‘lingo’ entering our political discourse lately. Words that sort of denigrate and marginalize those who are suffering (mental illness, disability, unemployed, unemployable, refugees, the aged) – described as the ‘leaners’ in our Australian society and glorify and laud those that are ‘saving’ or ‘putting the finger in the dyke’ so-to-speak for Australia (the government, business, anyone who is lucky enough to have a job, the rich and privileged) the so-called ‘lifters’.
Well I am today going to introduce my own word for all the dumb policies that are saving our bottom line (really equates to about tuppence halfpenny of our debt/deficit). These people are the ‘squishers’. They are squishing the life out of our communities, our preventative health programs, our artistic endeavours and the little programmes that affect the quality of life for many people. And I hate the fact that all this branding of people is so devisive- pitting one group against another – instead of realizing that the difference between and ‘lifter’ and a ‘leaner’ could be a stroke of bad luck- a car accident, a marriage breakdown, a business failure…
What sparked this moral outrage from me though this time was the fact that one of the community groups that may lose their funding could be Meals on Wheels. Believe it or not there was some mention of Lean Cuisine…..
Now I started accompanying my mother and her friend Margaret, on their Meals on Wheels ‘runs’ during the holidays, when I was in primary school. Delivering meals and some banter to the old folk who anxiously waited for their meal opened my eyes to a different world. Who knows it may have planted the first seed of me joining a ‘helping’ profession all those years ago. More than just getting some sustenance provided for them, the recipients looked forward to the social contact that Marie and Margaret would have provided. The meal certainly would have kept them alive but we humans need more than food to keep us existing. The chatter and smiling faces would have been instrumental to making that day a happy one instead of a boring one. Mum even reminisced today that one day they found a lady who was very sick and they were able to call the doctor and get her into hospital. She also fondly remembered one who always gave the ladies a lolly from a lolly jar- specially ready for the Meals on Wheels ladies (and men).
So apparently a bean counter (on instruction to find a dollar here and a dollar there) has deemed that the Meals on Wheels service can be replaced with something like Lean Cuisine- will it come in the mail? will Coles be despatched to deliver it? (I must buy those Westfarmers shares……). So what happens to all the volunteers who gather to prepare the food, who meet their pals for the Wednesday run- doomed to sit at home and watch Dr Phil at midday?
I know for one that I would think that the $25 billion spent on the new submarines would be much better organized if there were some women and health professionals given that sort of money to deliver services. Unless the submarine contract goes to an Australian company, where obviously jobs will be created, then I am hard-pressed to see the value in this type of spending.
If you see that there is talk of disbanding Meals on Wheels and other community endeavours you feel strongly about speak to your local Federal member about it. We need to focus our community spirit in a more positive way and make our politicians aware that we are paying attention!