COVID has changed the way we work, and at Q + A it was discussed whether Australia would follow the US into a “major resignation”, but as the majority of the show was about hypothetical conditions, the reality for workers with disabilities was exposed in a case that panelist Eliza Hull branded “pure discrimination”.
- Q + A paid tribute to a former audience member who passed away after a fight against dementia
- Australia was called upon to continue to improve social norms for gender equality
- Disability lawyer Eliza Hull described a case of an autistic woman who was forced to work from home discrimination
While many Australians may require more flexible work arrangements, audience member Lisa Burns expressed fears for her autistic daughter, who has been further isolated from the world due to her workplace labeling her as a health risk.
Ms. Burns told Q + A that her daughter’s employer told her she had to work from home after she fell off the chair at work as a result of a seizure.
“This has further isolated her from the world,” Burns told Q + A host David Speers.
“She no longer takes public transportation and she does not chat with her colleagues.
“She is sitting on the sofa at home and working.
“I am aware that there are many people with disabilities who have been improved by working from home [but] my question is, will the phenomenon of working from home further marginalize people with disabilities?
Speers then asked if the workplace had provided a “medical justification for this position”?
“There have been three reports from my daughter’s psychologist, and we are currently awaiting the final one and the employer will make a decision,” Burns said.
“She’s at NDIS, she’s funded to work 16 to 22 hours a week… but if she’s told she can’t work sitting on a chair, where can she work then? Where’s her future? She’s 22 . “
Disability lawyer and musician Ms Hull filed an indictment against the unnamed employer.
“I see it as discrimination,” she said.
“It’s different if we’re in lockdown and we all have to work from home, but when we all start moving back to the workforce, whether it’s for hybrid work or where we all go back, I think it would be [a] choice.
“It is not [that] all people with disabilities should work from home. “
Mrs Hull added that for many people with disabilities, the workplace is where they can make connections and join a community.
The case of working from home as an option rather than a command for people with disabilities was put forward earlier in the show by Mrs Hull when it came to her own condition of Charcot-Marie-Tooth, which causes nerve damage.
“It affects the way I walk and I get tired easily,” Mrs Hull said.
“It has been incredible to work from home, because I do not have to have the time when I commute.
“For many people with disabilities, you do not even know if you enter through the front door.
“There are a lot of barriers to getting into the workplace, so this is a really good leveling off and a great way for a lot of people with disabilities to be included in the workforce, finally.”
But Mrs Hull said there should still be a greater focus on employing more people with disabilities in the future and work on that needs to be done.
Women are ‘tired of it’
Another area of inequality that the pandemic highlighted for the panel was gender, and after author George Megalogenis raised it, health expert Jane Halton jumped on the issue.
Megalogenis said abuse survivor Grace Tame was awarded the title of Australian of the Year was a turning point for women in Australia.
“From the moment Grace Tame was named Australian of the Year, and then Brittany Higgins brought her story forward, it’s almost as if it was the collective moment when women in Australia said, ‘right, we’ve had it with you. guys’, “he said.
“COVID brought a recession and is the first since the early 60s where the majority of the jobs lost belonged to women.
“We are still missing 160,000 jobs compared to where we were in February last year, and two-thirds of those jobs belonged to women.”
He added that something “had to click” on the issue, and it triggered a passionate response from Mrs Halton to the issue of gender inequality.
“There’s not a woman I know who does not have a story and they will share that story with you if you ask them.”
She said the exaltation of Mrs Tame in particular had increased the profile of the issue of domestic violence and that it was up to society to continue to enforce better standards.
“We have to say unequivocally, ‘this is not right,'” she said.
“And it’s not okay unless someone says it’s ok.
“George is absolutely right, this has hit a chord, and it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about older women, women in the ’70s and’ 80s, they’re all talking about.
“Let’s hope the galvanizations change.”
Q + A pays tribute to former guest
Finally, Q + A took the time to pay tribute to former audience member Trevor Crosby, who died last month.
Mr. Crosby appeared in an episode of Q + A earlier this year dedicated to elderly care, in which then-host Hamish Macdonald was moved to tears.
Speers paid tribute to the same thing did Mrs. Halton, who was in nursing home care.
“I had the privilege of talking to Trevor after we finished that program,” she said.
“I went to see him and told him that my husband’s name was Trevor.
“I am so sorry to hear that he has passed away and my deepest sympathy to his family.”
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