I recently had one of my friends who also has a disability ask me what it was like to have a disability in Australia. Well actually the question was “what is it like for disabled people in aussie?” Though my response was simple which I will not share here, it forced me to really ponder on my experience here. I cannot stress enough how amazing it is to live in Melbourne, it has empowered me and opened up my mind in ways I never imagined possible. I however cannot lie and say that it is always rosey or it is always amazing cause truth be told, it is T O U G H bordering on it being a N I G H T M A R E!
Three challenges come to mind limited employment opportunities, high medical costs and isolation.
Before I write about these three challenges, let me get this out of the way. Because I am foreigner and not a resident or citizen of Australia, it means that I am not entitled to any disability benefits or have access to any disability services, simply put I am on my own which is perfectly understandable. I thought I should put it out there before anyone asks if I know of Medicare,
For anyone who has followed the blog for a while knows that I often write about the challenges of finding a job with a disability. You come across the perfect job, you know if you applied you stand a high chance of getting the job till you realise the job is on the other side of town or one of the requirements is to have a drivers license. I won’t lie, this is beyond frustrating. It can be a nightmare to say the very least. That then means I can only apply for the very limited jobs suitable for people with disabilities and because I cannot have access to any of the job employment services, I have no-one to help me with this task. Recently last week actually I experienced this. I had a job interview right on the other side of the city. It took me a good two hours to get there. By the time I got off the bus I was already tired from all the traveling and as if that was not enough, I still had a long distance to walk and to think I had to walk the same distance back to the bus stop and travel another two hours to get home. I was so exhausted by the time I got home and I knew right there and then that from the traveling alone, I could not do this job.
Having a disability means there’s medical costs involved. Well I have never really had to incur any medical costs thus far except to buy rubber tips for my crutches which I may add keep going up. I remember days when I used to buy one rubber tip for just $1,50 now they are $6,40 each and who knows who much they will be by the end of the year. YIKES!!!! The only time I had medical bills was recently back in March when I was quoted over $200 for x-rays I had to get done of my hips and ankles and because I was a student at the time, the health insurance I had did not cover the x-rays. I am lucky actually scratch that I am BLESSED that I do not have any health problems because of my disability otherwise I really don’t know what I would do with the high medical costs.
Lastly isolation. I have amazing friends, I really do and I love them dearly. They are a great support in anything and everything that I go through, I always have a good laugh with them. I know I can count on them for anything. I have called some of them in moments when I’ve been stuck with no transport and they have come to my rescue. I get along well with my friends and it’s always a great time when I am with them. They understand me in some many areas except for one my disability. You see I know I can talk to any of them about my disability and I know they will listen but I choose not to simply because I know no matter how much they listen, they will never understand how I feel. In the past I used to talk to my friends about my disability and the response I would get the most was “don’t be a victim” and that used to drive me up the wall. What do you mean don’t be a victim when I am telling you how I feel or sharing my experiences? That really used to frustrate me because people would listen to reply not listen to understand what I am saying till I understood that there were responding from their perspective of disability issues and not listening to what I am saying. As a result of this, I tend to be in isolation where my disability is concerned. I have no-one to talk to about it, what I feel in my body, how I feel, my fears, my concerns. It has taken me time to accept this. I know friends always say “talk to us” but I don’t want to be frustrated afterwards because someone didn’t listen to what I was saying so I choose not.
Despite the challenges of living in Aussie with a disability, I still love it here. I can live my independent life in a way that I could never if I was back home. 🙂