Is this really true? Do people really abuse fellow community members for using disabled parking spots and toilets? Sadly, the resounding answer is YES. It happens every day to thousands of Australians and others across the globe.
In fact, this has become such an issue that organisations are collaborating to raise collective voices and to put a flag in the ground saying that enough is enough. The time has come to ask ourselves where common decency went? Why is it seemingly ‘ok’ to treat people with disregard before we even know anything about their lived experience?
Our organisations hear countless stories of abuse in our communities, whether it be from mothers who have children with Autism who regularly absorb verbal abuse that is hurled at them from carparks and toilet ques or the man who suffers from Fibromyalgia who has mustered up all the strength he has to make it to the shops for his weekly shop. Or, perhaps it’s the young adult suffering from depression who has mustered up the courage to face the world and avoid isolation. The list goes on of Invisible Disabilities that people, family and friends in our community are living with. For some, every day is a struggle and the last thing they need or much less deserve is ill-treatment from strangers and bystanders.
Justine Van Den Borne shares her story with the Daily Telegraph about the day she received a nasty note on her car saying, ‘Did you forget your wheelchair?’ Her story is like many others and one we all need to hear.
There is a line in an American Indian Proverb that says, ‘Never criticize a man (woman or child) until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.’ Definitely a line we can all heed and make known through our own humanity. There is always a why behind the what so before you speak, leave a note, scowl or roll your eyes, perhaps take a moment to think that perhaps like Justine it was a rare day whereby she could walk unaided, perhaps the mother of the child with autism was having a day where sensory issues were at a low level and a trip to the shops was achievable.
We never know what anyone is walking through so let’s take a breath and #thinkoutsidethechair.