While Labor candidate for Page Patrick Deegan announced that if he was elected in the next federal he would ensure his electorate office is fully accessible for people with a disability, Echonetdaily was also interested in what he would be doing more broadly for people with disabilities both locally and across Australia.
‘If I’m elected I’ll be a local who listens. That means I’ll be getting out in the community and speaking directly to people about their needs,’ said Mr Deegan.
Local reference group
‘One of the first things I’ll do is to set up a local reference group of disability organisations to advise me about issues that I can take to Canberra on their behalf, so that I can be a genuine advocate for people with disability in our region.
‘I’ve been getting lots of feedback on practical things – like access to civic spaces, and health-related issues such as the gradual erosion of bulk billing, and concerns over the roll-out of the NDIS. But there is also a sense of despair among many people with disability over the tone of public debate, and the way in which this government ignores the voices of people who don’t fit into their political narrative.
‘When people with disability hear their local MP saying that voters only care about jobs, they wonder why all other issues like inclusion, education, training and health have been dumped into the too-hard basket.
‘Jobs are important for everyone, but surely we can have governments who are capable on focusing on more than one thing at a time?
‘There’s a lot we can do better, but the first step is always to treat people with respect, and that is what I am determined to do.’
Mr Deegan says he will also work the Department of Finance, which manages electorate offices, to ensure that the Lismore office has full accessibility through the front door for everyone.
‘If there are restrictions on the current electorate office in Lismore that prevent it from having a fully accessible front entrance, then I’ll have the office relocated to another site, because I’m not going to have an elecortorate office that isn’t fully accessible,’ he said.