All content contained within should be restricted to those over-age. Occasionally, suicide and self-harm are mentioned and readers should take care to ensure they are in a safe place - emotionally and physically - before reading. Comments are welcome.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bling My Ride

I would like to start a movement.  A "Bling My Ride" movement.

Requiring movement aids, whether they be wheelchairs, or walkers or mobility scooters or whatever, can suck big time.  People expect you to walk around them (umm hello???), they make comments about your lack of driving skills when they nearly run into you because they are too busy yapping to watch where they are going, and especially if you are young, you tend to cop either looks of pity, or looks of "gosh, I hope she's not going to ask me to help her out - I'm BUSY".

When I'm in a wheelchair, it sucks because I'm only half my usual height, I have less control over where I'm going and what I can see, and my son keeps wanting to sit in my lap.  When I have my walker, I feel like I'm 90 years old, it hurts my hands because I need them to bear my weight, and my son wants to use it as a ride.

In order to make my day just a little more enjoyable, I blinged my walker a couple of years ago.  It worked.  The looks of pity from strangers turned to chuckles of surprise.  I felt better, happier, more alive - and why wouldn't I?  We feel better when we dress ourselves up to look our best - why not our mobility equipment?

So here is a picture of my walker.  When I get my wheelchair and bling it up, I'll post one of that too.  If you feel so inclined, please feel free to post a link to your own picture of your Blinged Up Ride.

I'm 34 and I have a disability.  I'm not fucking dead yet :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Basics Card

So I just semi-lost-my-cool on Twitter over the Basics Card.  Only "semi" because I wanted to rip a few threads ;-)  Out of respect for my fellow Tweeter however, I did hold back a tad, and am going to write in further detail here why I feel the Basics Card is a stupid fucking arse idea that will demoralise and dehumanise Australians.

For those that aren't aware, the Basics Card is a part of Income Management - a strategy of the Australian Government to manage the money of Welfare Recipients.  It started as blatant racism, however it has progressed to class warfare.  Income Management is where 50% of your regular welfare payment, and 100% of any bonus payments, are managed for you.  That is, you are forced to spend this money on what the government deems is appropriate - housing, food, clothes, medical, etc.  As a part of this scheme, you may choose to be issued with a Basics Card - a card that works in the same way as an EFTPOS card.

Except for one tiny flaw.

It is only available at certain businesses.

Issue number one: Lack of choice.

Scenario - you need to buy food and the only money you have is on your basics card.  The only business in town that offers use of the basics card is the most expensive grocery store.  Already expensive food just got more expensive.  You are penalised for being poor.

Scenario - you need medical supplies in the middle of the night and no chemist will take the basics card.  You are shit out of luck.

Scenario - you need to supply your family with a gluten free diet and the local markets are cash only.

Payments can be arranged in advance to businesses that do not sign up to accept the Basics Card - but it takes time.  That's fine if you're buying a fridge.  Unless your fridge just broke down and you need a new one today.  You knew it was coming and you've saved up but... no store will take your Basics Card.  Damn!  Plus - how do you organise such things with things like the local markets?

Actually, in all honestly, this lack of choice thing is more a pain in the arse than anything - after all, you still have the 50% of your regular income in cash to play with.  However - that's not really the point is it?  Life gets complicated.  It's fine for you and I to sit here and say "well, she should have been prepared for her baby to have whooping cough on a Sunday night by having a spare $50 cash for taxi's and medication"... but we don't have to live her life.  We don't know if she already spent that $50 on Saturday on a medical emergency for her other child.  There is many a mother who has walked into emergency saying "nope, today it's the other one" to an inquiring nurse.  The Basics Card limits choice.  It limits options.  And in some worst case scenarios, it's going to limit health and safety.

Issue number two: Segregation

Those who rock up to the register to pay with a Basics Card and those who don't.  For people who live in the city, this may not seem like a drama.  For those that live in a small town with only 30 people where everyone knows everyone else's business anyway, this also may not seem like much of a drama.  However there are some people who are going to be mortified.

A couple of months ago, a woman whom I had never met, abused the crap out of me in the grocery store.  I was buying groceries with my husband, and I had my walker with me.  She abused us, accusing us of "ripping off the system" - even though she had no evidence of any kind that we were on any kind of payments whatsoever.  For all she knew at that time, we could have both been on holidays from our very high paying full time jobs.  I ended up breaking down in tears, and one of the ways in which I consoled myself was to say to myself that she didn't know anything about me and she still said all that shit.

If I'd had to pay with a Basics Card, she would have known for sure.  Then what would she have said?  How would I have felt?  Do I deserve that?  Do I deserve to be ridiculed in front of a store full of people because I have a disability?  What sort of looks is the mother of three going to get?  Heaven forbid one of them should have Autism as well...  The looks THAT mother gets are already bad enough.  And the comments.  Every time you leave the house.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Ugh.

Issue number three: You can't travel

Australians gets pissed off at the idea that they are working full time and can not afford to travel overseas while other Australians are on welfare and are travelling overseas.

I get their point.

And then I think about it.

Nobody seems to give a rats arse about pensioners using pension money to go overseas, but let us forget that hypocrisy for a moment, and let us bag out Newstart instead.  $489 a fortnight.  I live in a small to modest size country town.  Rent here starts at $240 for a three bedroom house or unit, divided by three (people) and then times by two (weeks) = $160 a fortnight.  Food would easily be $100.  Electricity, phone, transport, insurance, medical expenses, clothes, toiletries, heaven forbid the occasional meal out - and I'm thinking - whatever it is that these guys are missing out on in order to save enough to go overseas, who the hell am I to stop them?  If they decide that eating nothing but fucking rice for three years is worth a trip to Paris, then good luck to them, because I sure don't have the palette or stamina to put up with rice for that long.

People visit their dying relatives overseas - are we really getting pissed off over that?  Especially when it's usually the dying relative who is paying for the trip?

Just a little side note if you'll allow - the person I want to bitch slap is the fool with a disability who lives with his parents and thinks that the Disability Support Pension is more than enough because HE gets to go overseas twice a year.  Yeah?  Either his parents are wearing a lot of his costs, or his disability costs jack shit, but I'm raising two kids on DSP, and it's no fucking picnic!!!  If it wasn't for friends, we would be on the streets!!!

We all have different priorities.  I spend a lot of time with Autism families.  Some feel that iPads are out of their reach and others feel that they are necessary pieces of equipment.  I feel that if we can afford one on a good month (that is, no other emergencies or big bills), then most people who are working should be able to at least consider it - IF it is a priority.  But the thing is - I have no right to tell them that they should be selling their big car to buy their kids an iPad any more than the public has the right to tell welfare recipients what they can do with their welfare money.

And that's it really.  "Should" people be spending their money on housing, food, clothes, etc???  Of course they bloody well should.  I haven't made up my mind yet about Income Management.  Income Management isn't the issue that was stated in the Tweet.

The Basics Card is all sorts of fucked up.  For all sorts of reasons, both practically and philosophically.  No doubt about it.

Not to mention that this doesn't go anywhere near actually addressing the ACTUAL problems.  Lack of health, lack of health care, lack of education, lack of employment opportunities, lack of support in relocation to pursue better employment options, lack of mental health care, lack of social supports, lack of housing, discrimination, etc, etc.

Just before I sign off...

Issue Number Four: To tie in all the others - it's just derogatory.

The Centrelink website states that you can volunteer for Income Management if you are unemployed, to help you adjust to living on a lower income, by providing assistance with budgeting for rent and bills.  Yes, because someone who last week was a teacher earning $45000 so this week needs assistance as $45000 isn't enough to quickly build a decent savings account, needs help doing simple mathematics.  It's like that Bachelor of Education just flittered away in the breeze.

Being unemployed doesn't equal being a fuckwit.  It equals being unemployed.  Are there a few Australians out there that need a bitch slap and made to wake up to the reality that you need to pull your weight in the world?  Yes.  However, there are Australians and media who need far more of a bitch slap to stop them obsessing over a handful of people and making life a living hell for so many good decent people in the meantime.

Note:  I am not writing this as someone who will be using a Basics Card.  Income Management seems to be mainly targeting those on "the Dole" and "Single Parent Pension" - the two types of welfare Australians love to hate.  I can't imagine a day when Australians with a Disability will sit quietly by while they are told that they can not manage their own money simply because they have a disability.  It simply will not happen.  On the off change however that it does, our mortgage is over 50% of our payment, so we'll use it for that.  The issues I've described will not affect me.  When I hear of how they are affecting others however - decent people - I listen.  I empathise.  Sometimes I cry.  It's hard enough to live as I do - always having this cloud above me that I don't "earn my own way" - the feeling that I'm "bludging" - being abused in supermarkets, having notes left on my car, altercations at daycare over parking spots, hell, the other day, some lady nearly ran into my wheelchair, then had the fucking balls to tell me I needed a learners permit for it!!! - Current affairs shows do their shows on disability welfare cheats and I want to invite them over for a week to see what it's like - not just a few minutes - but a whole week.  Get the whole picture.  And still - the cloud over me is better than that hanging over a single mother or a twenty-something on Newstart.  For now, at any rate.  The Coalition is looking to change that I hear :-(

Life can downright suck for some people.  No one wakes up in the morning and chooses this life.  The Basics Card isn't going to fix anything, and it's going to hurt people.  The only good thing about it is that it makes White Australia feel better, knowing that their tax dollars are to the pockets of mining companies, where they belong.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The problem with the NBN

The National Broadband Network.  Everyone who owns a computer, or has operated a computer, has an opinion.  The problem with the NBN as policy in the political sense is that every idiot that fits the aforementioned descriptions, thinks that their opinion is one coming from a place of "knowledge".


I just read a comment on a blog that pissed all over the NBN, and stated that the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is far more important.  It made me think for a wee moment...  My eldest has Aspergers, and my youngest is still iffy on that front;  I have a physical disability, my two kids inherited my physical disability genes, so while it's only mildly affecting them at the moment, this will worsen as they get older; I have a mental illness; everyone has asthma (my husbands is very severe), as well as sleep apnoea; and then we all have allergies too, and various other "things" going on...  The NDIS is a great idea, and it will benefit this family.

The problem with the NDIS is that, well, for starters, it's not been put on the cards yet in any "real" way... it's still just a "yeah, we'll do it, sometime" thing.  By the time it gets up and going (assuming it doesn't get canned first), it'll be that done over by special interest groups, that it'll be fucked anyway.  So while it will benefit us, I'm not expecting it to benefit us much.  Actually, I probably shouldn't even expect that it will benefit us at all just yet...

The NBN on the other hand - it is very much needed for the good of the majority of Australians.  City dwellers may not see the urgent need, however I'm guessing that they can see specialists face to face without it costing them travel and motels in order to get there.  There is a specialist (the only one in Australia) that I would love to have my son's see so that we can halt the progress of their "disability" as much as possible - but he's in Sydney, I'm in Queensland, and it's just not going to happen.  Not unless we get an NBN anyway...

There are a lot of good reasons to have an NBN, and it would take me all night to list them all, but for now, I just want to explain why people with no clue should just shut up about it.

They should shut up about it, because they have no clue.  They think they have a clue, because they own a computer, or know how to operate one, but they really don't.  Or they think they have a clue because Tony Abbott, clueless extraordinaire, gets on television and lies his arse off.  Here are some of his biggest doozies...

#  Wireless is awesome for rural and remote Australia, as it will offer enough bandwidth and speed to do what is required.

ROFL.  The biggest failure of wireless is surprisingly not that people often think they have "wireless" when really they have Wifi connected to a router, connected to (usually) ADSL.  No, the biggest failure of wireless technology is that it is finite.  There is a finite bandwidth with wireless, so the more people using it, the less bandwidth there is to go around, and the slower and slower connections get.  It's also terribly unreliable, particularly in bad weather.

#  The market will supply as consumers demand.

This can be summed up with a quick - doesn't seem to be doing us much good so far, does it?  The market is demanding it, but as there is little profit in putting the infrastructure into rural and remote Australia, the telecommunications companies are never going to adequately provide it.  I live in a country town and have ADSL2.  Five minutes away, a friend is on dial up.  Yep, dial up.  Oh, and while wireless is fine if you're standing smack bang in the centre of town, she can't get it where she lives.  She has no internet.  She also has a daughter with Autism, and could benefit greatly from all manner of internet related things.  The market doesn't give a shit about her, and never will.

#  Current fibre optic networks in the cities, along with ADSL and wireless for the rest of Australia, is "enough".  We don't "need" anything else.

Sure.  Today (well, no not really, but what the hell - you either live in the bush and know what I'm talking about, or you don't).  But not tomorrow.

The world is changing.  Technology is growing.  In other countries, there has long been a push for all communications to go through fibre optic networks.  In the not so distant future, Australia is going to need fibre optic, and it makes sense to start preparing for that now, rather than later.  We moved on from telegraphs, and we moved on from switchboards.  We moved on from the old dial up at 52kbps.  And quite frankly, the copper is going to need replacing eventually (or even soon) - why not do it all at once, do it properly with fibre optic, and save ourselves in the long run?

Oh, and plus???  ADSL2 is already becoming too slow for a lot of households - especially those where someone is working, and someone else is streaming video, and someone else is chatting on Skype.  Thankfully, for now, the television doesn't go through the internet... oh wait... yes it does!!!

We moved on from the caves, and we'll continue to move on, whether the government likes it or not.  The only question is - are we going to leave regional and rural Australia to fend for themselves, or are we going to include them, given that they pay their taxes too?

Feel free to leave argumentative comments below.  I'm more than happy to have my husband answer them ;-)

Monday, February 20, 2012

QLD Mental Health Consultation - What a fucking day!!!

I went to the Sunshine Coast 2nd round consultation in regards to the QLD Mental Health Advisory Committee the other day.  What a ride that became...

I sat down at the back, because with a two hour session, I knew I would have to get up and stretch, or I wouldn't be able to walk back to the car with my joints lol... They started off - three people from the government, a guy, a typing lady, and a carer representative.  Then the room started to fill, and I watched them all - they knew each other, and they had "work clothes" on... I was the only consumer in the room.  Great.

As the Government guy started talking, I tried really hard to just listen and tweet.  And I did tweet, and I did listen.  And a couple of times, my mouth got the better of me, and I mumbled some things under my breath.  From the giggles of the guy next to me, my sentiments were obviously shared though.

Government guy (you guys know I have a BAD memory yeah?) - he started showing some slides.  He got through the preliminary ones before getting on to the recommendation ones, and I'd like to be able to say that we actually saw the recommendation ones, and that we talked about the recommendations, but we didn't.  We got stuck on the preliminary ones.  Because the last preliminary one talked about the Mental Health Advisory Committee being "independent".  And the room full of QLD Health employees and NGO's and NFP's ... well, they just started bitching.  And didn't stop.  About funding.  And control.  And who would have funding and control.

A couple of times, I spoke up - sometimes to back up the government, and sometimes not.  One time to dispel the myth that drugs and alcohol gets a better rap (stigma) than mental health (so so so not true).  And then I got the shits.  Then I wanted to have my say, and I put my hand up, and I spoke.

The thing, and this is important to know - I wasn't nervous.  I was calm.  I knew what I wanted to say, almost word for word.  I had a plan.  My heart was steady, and my hands were calm.  I was confident.  I was in control.  And I spoke.

For about four or five sentences.  And here was my mistake - I looked at the people.  I looked at this group of people fighting for the rights of mental health consumers and here is what I saw... two or three looks of respect.  Two or three looks of pity.  And the rest could only be described as looks of contempt.  "Who the fuck is this girl, who thinks she knows anything?" is what I saw in the rest of those faces.

And then I just couldn't get the words out.  I faltered, and I stopped talking.  I didn't finish what I so desperately needed to say.  Although, while they continued to hash out the money and power crap, I figured that not one of them would have listened anyway.  They didn't care about consumers.  One woman spoke of "participants" during the whole two hours, and when I thanked her for it afterwards, I used the term "consumer" and was lightly reprimanded.  Well, sweetheart - first of all - who gives a fuck, and second of all - I will self-identify any damn way that pleases me.  And I say that the way that I say it because when she spoke of "participants", it was this:

"We are the ones who have to face participants and explain to them that there are no services available."

I know... good right?  Great, especially considering the context of the day...  But then she fucks it up...

"And we are the ones who have to deal with that.  We are the ones who have to ..."

Umm...???  Excuse the fuck out of me, but aren't consumers, oh, I mean, participants, the ones who have to deal with that???  This is a public forum, not a staff meeting.

When the meeting finished, I looked around and thought "what's the point?"  I just couldn't imagine how the hell consumers have any chance when people are just worried about their jobs and their funding and their "turf".  If it had been a meeting FOR staff alone, then yeah, I get it.  But it wasn't - it was a public forum.  There's a time and place, and this wasn't it.  Not for the whole two hours anyway.

I went to my car, trying hard not to cry, and I drove away, soon bawling my eyes out.  I'm just me... I don't know what to do next, or how to fix this problem.  I get why they feel the way they do, and I know there's an answer, but I'm not about to get sworn in as Premier, so what the fuck can I do?  Apart from cry like a girl, which I did quite well.

Until I was about ten minutes away.  And then I thought - NO!  FUCK NO!  I am not going down that easy.  So I turned the car around and I went back.  I was hoping to catch the government troop, and I did, just as they were leaving.  And they were lovely lovely people.  Of course, maybe they were just yanking my chain, but if so, they were really good at it :)

And they let me talk.  We talked about why consumers don't turn up, and I told them that consumers don't know about it.  They told me that they have given NGO's and NFP's all the information to pass on, and I said that not everyone is using these services, and even if they are, it doesn't mean that the organisations are passing the information on.  And even if they are, that generally speaking, consumers don't trust them - at least, not like that.  That lady I spoke of - she told me that no "participants" wanted to come even though she had told them, and I straight away thought, well, if you told them like that, no fucking wonder.  Did you offer to help them get here, or tell them they didn't have to say anything, or find out why?  Did you give them the tools and space to be comfortable with the idea?  Or did you just ask?

And we talked about my finding out how to get more consumers to participate.  Because at the moment from the sounds of it, less than 5% of the voice for this Committee are consumers.  And that has got to change.  I simply don't believe for a second that people don't want to have a say.  I believe that there are obstacles, and I want to find out what they are, and how to get around them, but I don't believe that people don't want to have their say.  Mental illness affects every single fucking aspect of your life, so this shit is important.  And people with a mental illness aren't stupid.  They're treated as though they're stupid, but they're not.

This meeting made it clear to me that this is all fucked up.  The government is effectively asking NGO's and NFP's and state employees what consumers need.  And they are telling the government what consumers need.  What we need is a system where consumers tell the government what they need, and then the government asks the NGO's and NFP's how the fuck they're going to provide it.  And quite honestly, I think that the government guys I talked to would actually be willing to do this if they knew how.  So I'm going to try and help them with that.

For the record:

* The government guys told me that this was the most "focused on one topic" group they had seen.  They said they were surprised and saddened that not more consumers turned up.  I told them that I was glad no other consumers turned up, because listening to that shit was truly horrifying.

* Not all NGO's and NFP's are like this.  And quite honestly, I don't think all these guys would be like this all the time either.  I think it was one or two who lead the pack, and the rest followed.

* One person stated that as an employee of an NGO, they couldn't speak freely.  The same was said of the government.  And I'm wondering - What the fuck?  Why not?  What's the point of this, if it's not transparent?  Why are we giving tax payer money to NGO's if they are not transparent?  There's a whole lot of wrong there...

* The government guys treated me with respect.  And I respect them for it, and I thank them for it.  I left there, the second time, on a total high, because they listened to me.  I don't know if they agreed with me, and I really don't care - they listened, and quite frankly, sometimes that is enough.  On a personal level.  ;-)  On an advocacy level... well that's a whole other story :-)

So my plan now is to work out why consumers don't speak up, and how to fix it.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Australian Curriculum

This info is dated (take note any teaching students lol) - however it gives a basic run-down of the Australian Curriculum...

The Australian Curriculum

The Australian curriculum began its public life on the 14th April, 2008, when then Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced that the federal government had a plan to develop and implement a national curriculum.

In a country where national curriculum ideas have been floated before and failed, and the states and territories have thus far been responsible for their own curriculums, it was and is a lofty goal to achieve. So far, the development of the Australian curriculum has been fast, but focused and detailed.

The Australian curriculum in its first phase is structured by separating into each learning area. For the first phase of implementation, these learning areas, or core subjects, are English, Mathematics, Science and History. The second phase will contain the subjects of geography, arts and languages, and the third phase will contain “the rest of the curriculum” (ACARA, n.d.a).

Each learning area contains content descriptions and achievement standards with work samples to show what the achievement standard should be for each year level (ACARA, n.d.a). There will also be “annotated student work samples and advice on reporting frameworks” (ACARA, 2009b), which will give teachers a clear understanding of the levels of learning that each student must complete in order to achieve each grade (A-E).

The curriculum sets out the content and achievement standards along with other information which is intended to set the background in which subjects are to be taught. This information is presented under the following headings: “Rationale, Aims of the learning area, Organisation of the <learning area> curriculum, General capabilities and Cross curriculum dimensions” (ACARA, 2009, p 5).

In an effort to add more to the curriculum than the core subjects alone provide, the Australian curriculum acknowledges 10 general capabilities and three cross curriculum dimensions that “contribute to, and can be developed through, teaching in each learning area” (ACARA, n.d.b). These general capabilities and cross curriculum dimensions are intertwined throughout the curriculum in an effort to fully immerse each subject with them.

The general capabilities throughout the curriculum are literacy, numeracy, information communication technology, thinking skills, ethical behaviour, creativity, self-management, teamwork, inter-cultural understanding and social competence. Each of these capabilities is represented throughout the curriculum in a manner that is unequivocal as to how it should be addressed within that learning area and whether there are any links to other learning areas, leading to clarity for teachers.

The three cross curriculum dimensions are Indigenous history and culture, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, and Sustainability (ACARA, n.d.b). Again, each of these perspectives has been written into the curriculum in an unequivocal manner as to where they should be addressed and whether there are any links to other learning areas.

Curriculum can be viewed in a variety of ways, and thus in order to fully appreciate how ACARA views the concept of curriculum (given that it has not given a clear definition of its own), it is important to understand the varying ways in which curriculum can be defined.

Marsh (2010, p. 98) views curriculum as being “WHAT is taught in schools” and believes that most would ultimately view curriculum in this way. The Australian curriculum certainly fits this definition. ACARA consistently says that the Australian curriculum sets expectations for what students should be taught. This fulfils Marsh’s view that curriculum is what is being taught, or to put it another way, the subject matter to be taught.

He goes on to say that various curriculum will vary according to “different value orientations and perspectives” (Marsh, 2010, p.98). By setting the three Cross curriculum perspectives (Indigenous perspectives, sustainability and Australia’s relationship with Asia), the Australian curriculum has certainly put forth what it sees as being the three most important values of the Australian education system.

The Australian curriculum also seems to lend itself to another definition. Goodson (1995, p. 17) says of curriculum that it is “in a real sense irrelevant to practice: that the dichotomy between espoused curriculum as written and the active curriculum as lived and experienced is complete and inevitable.” In other words, curriculum is two separate entities – the written and the lived. The framers of the Australian curriculum seemed to have this in mind.

ACARA (2009a, p. 7) acknowledges that the curriculum should not dictate to teachers how to teach and that general consensus indicates that teachers should be allowed flexibility in lesson planning so that they can decide how best to teach their students, thus allowing for individual student needs. They have recognized that curriculum is both written and lived. Whether the lived curriculum will live up to these ideals will be discussed later.

Peter Hill, the first chief executive officer at ACARA, states that he would divide curriculum into four separate entities.

The core curriculum, comprising those general capabilities that all people need, use and develop throughout their life and the big issues of the day that all need to know about,
The formal curriculum, based on disciplinary rules, understandings and methods,
The chosen curriculum, that individual students and teachers create through the choices they make,
The meta curriculum, comprising those activities, events and traditions that all good schools arrange to promote personal development, character and a community of learners (Hill, 2010)

By Hill’s definitions the Australian curriculum comprises the core curriculum and the formal curriculum, but leaves to teachers, schools, parents and students to formulate their own chosen and meta curriculum.

After deciding what curriculum means, one must think of how a curriculum is written. There are quite a few models for curriculum writing, and the oldest and most commonly used types are the prescription models. Ralph Tyler is the writer of one of the most referred to prescription models known as Tyler’s Objectives Model.

Brady and Kennedy (2010) write that Tyler’s Objectives Model of Curriculum starts with the framers identifying the objectives they want students to accomplish. The second step is to select learning experiences and the third is to organise learning experiences. These two later steps involve deciding “how” to guide and teach students so that they accomplish the objectives. The fourth and last step is evaluation – determining whether the objectives have been achieved.

It is interesting to note that Brady and Kennedy (2010, p.122) write that Tyler does not “explicitly specify” what philosophy should be used when formulating objectives, nor when selecting the learning experiences or organizing the learning experiences. Indeed, they describe this as a weakness in Tyler’s Model (Brady and Kennedy, 2010, p. 124).

An alternate view considers that Tyler wanted to allow for flexibility and for the framers of a curriculum to decide for themselves where to draw their inspiration from and for teachers to decide how best to teach the curriculum. If this is in fact the case, then Tyler’s model could well have been one basis for the Australian curriculum.

Another model that needs to be mentioned is Walker’s Naturalistic Model. Walker stated that “a model of curriculum development frankly based on practice should illuminate novel facets of the curriculum development process, correct misconceptions about that process, and enable us to understand both the failures and the successes of the classical model” (Walker, 1971, p. 52).

Walker believed that there are three elements to curriculum: the platform, the deliberation associated with the whole, and the design of the curriculum itself.

The curriculum developer does not begin with a blank slate. He could not begin without some notion of what is possible and desirable educationally. The system of beliefs and values that the curriculum developer brings to his task and that guides the development of the curriculum is what I call the curriculum’s platform. The word “platform” is meant to suggest both a political platform and something to stand on. The platform includes an idea of what is and a vision of what ought to be, and these guide the curriculum developer in determining what he should do to realize his vision (Walker, 1971, p. 52).

The Australian curriculum began with the framers deciding what platform the curriculum should be launched from as per this first element that Walker speaks of. The first phase of the Australian curriculum development involved the curriculum shaping phase, which was broken down into three steps: the identification of key issues and development of position paper, the preparation of initial shape paper and the preparation and publication of Shape Paper (ACARA, 2009b, pp. 4-5).

These steps involved discussing key issues, debating issues, reviewing existing policy and practice, discussing ‘big ideas’ and deciding what it is that Australia wants its children to learn.

The second element that Walker speaks of is that of deliberation. ACARA has certainly allowed for plenty of that, from consultations with a full range of professionals, to allowing the general public to have their say via their website.

The last element is that of designing the final curriculum, a process that ACARA is still undertaking.

The final product that is the Australian curriculum may display all the attributes of Tyler’s Objectives Model, however the process of designing the curriculum is certainly more akin to Walker’s Naturalistic Model.

Being true to the platform of which Walker speaks, ACARA mentions many visions or goals throughout its Curriculum Design and The Shape of the Australian Curriculum publications. Many of these goals have been taken directly from, or inspired by, the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, written by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).

The first main educational goal as defined by MCEETYA is that “Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence” (MCEETYA, 2008, p. 7). ACARA borrows from this by talking about creating a world class curriculum for Australian students.

The second main educational goal as defined by both MCEETYA and ACARA is that the “curriculum will be designed to develop successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens” (ACARA, 2009a, p. 4).

Another goal that ACARA sets forth is that of inclusion. They do not accept that a different curriculum for disadvantaged students is beneficial to those students, but rather that there should be one curriculum for all and that with different levels of support, all students can achieve the high level of expectations as set out by the Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2009b, pp. 6-8).

Once goals had been formulated and ACARA had a vision of where they wanted the curriculum to go, they had to organise the curriculum. When deciding on how best to organise the curriculum, ACARA has looked to the developmental stages of children and written the curriculum to focus on four overlapping age bands. These are 5 – 8 years of age (Years K – 2), 8 – 12 years of age (Years 3 – 6/7), 12 – 15 years of age (Years 7/8 – 10), and 16 – 18 years of age (Years 11 and 12). This is indicative that when framing the curriculum they have allowed for the theory of Cognitive Development.

Cognitive Development is based on the idea that learning develops in stages. Curriculum documents have used this theory by allowing for students to gain certain basic knowledge before then expanding on that into more complex knowledge at a later date. Most curriculums tend to bow to this theory and base their curriculums on the ages of students, rather than other methods, such as basing curriculums around the intelligence type of the student (Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences).

The curriculum also takes into account Taxonomies of Objectives, which states that each person goes through a series of steps as they acquire new information, or learn new skills, or are aware of new ideas and philosophies etc. “These taxonomies help curriculum planners “target” the meaning of experiences and the measuring of educational outcomes” (Wiles, 2005, p44).

The Australian curriculum may value many process of teaching, learning and assessment. ACARA (2009a) states that one of the main ways in which it values teaching and learning processes is that it allows for teachers to determine their own approach to the curriculum and allows them flexibility to accommodate students who may have different learning needs or who are at a different level of development to that of their peers. Despite this declaration by ACARA, the NSW Board of Studies (2010, p. 24) disagrees, stating that “the mandating of content focusing on Asia restricts the capacity for teacher to reflect the needs and interests evident in local contexts”.

The Queensland Studies Authority (QSA) (2010, p. 4) also feels that there is a discrepancy between the ideals of the Australian curriculum and the actual curriculum. In particular they are concerned about time constraints given the “crowding of the curriculum” not allowing the flexibility that teachers require. They have also stated that they feel there is a lack of acknowledgment for English as a Second Language (ESL) students, students with disabilities, students with learning difficulties and students with special needs.

While ACARA may have the best of ideals, it is clearly yet to be seen whether these, combined with the actual Australian curriculum, can be achieved once the curriculum has been fully implemented.

Another ideal that the Australian curriculum speaks to is that of being a 21st Century curriculum for 21st Century learners. Hill (2010) describes the Australian curriculum as being relevant to 21st Century learners in four areas. The first of these four areas speaks to the development process of the curriculum.

The Australian Government has, on many occasions, attempted to nationalize the curriculum (Brady and Kennedy, 2010). The Australian curriculum is the latest attempt and according to Hill (2010) has been given the structures and resources in order to succeed. Professionals from all areas of education have been consulted, and there has also been an online consultation process so that teachers, parents, students and the community can provide their own input.

The second area that Hill (2010) mentions is the “way in which the Australian curriculum is being conceptualized and structured”. It is detailed in the knowledge that it expects students to attain, and has included general capabilities and cross-curriculum dimensions that are relevant to today’s world.

The third area is the way in which teachers and others are able to access the Australian curriculum. Being an online curriculum, it will be easily updated and accessed, giving teachers up-to-date information at their fingertips.

The fourth and last area is the way that schools and teachers will be supported as they implement the curriculum. A new organisation, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) will foster professional development for teachers and schools as well as set out the National Professional Standards for Teachers which will place teachers into one of four categories depending on skills and experience. This will help guide teachers in their professional development.

Australia faces some interesting challenges in the 21st Century. Global climate change and energy concerns, natural disasters, changing attitudes towards Indigenous Australians, a changing relationship within the Asia region, changing health care, increasing mental illness and increasing poverty as the world population soars are but a few of the things that we need to prepare our children for as they become our future. The Australian curriculum seeks to address some of these directly within its cross curriculum dimensions (Indigenous history and culture, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, and Sustainability), and others indirectly throughout the curriculum general capabilities (thinking skills, ethical behaviour, creativity, self-management, teamwork, inter-cultural understanding and social competence) by teaching children how to think independently, and equip them with “the knowledge, understanding and skills that will help them in their futures” (ACARA, 2009c).

Of course, as the curriculum has not yet been finalised, let alone implemented, there is still a long way to go before it is truly known whether the ideals of the written Australian curriculum can be achieved through the lived Australian curriculum. Certainly, it will take a combined effort from the framers, through to the teachers and students in order for it to accomplish that which it sets out to do. As a country, we can only hope that this certainly is the best way forward, and that our children flourish in our schools under its implementation.


ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (2009a).  Curriculum design.  Retrieved September 1, 2010, from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Curriculum_Design_Paper_.pdf

ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (2009b).  Curriculum development process.  Retrieved September 1, 2010, from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/ACARA_Curriculum_Development_process_v3.0.pdf

ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (2010a).  Frequently Asked Questions.  Retrieved September 25, 2010, from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/General_Capabilities_and_Cross_Curriculum.pdf

ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (2010b).  Frequently Asked Questions.  Retrieved September 1, 2010, from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/AC_FAQs_Senior_Sec_v1_20100513_Implementation_FINAL.pdf

ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (2009c).  The shape of the Australian Curriculum.  Retrieved September 1, 2010, from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum.pdf

ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (n.d.a).  What Does the Draft K-10 Australian Curriculum Look Like?  Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/home/question/2

ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (n.d.b).  What makes the Australian Curriculum a world-class curriculum?  Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/home/question/3

ACARA: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.  (n.d.c).  Why have an Australian Curriculum?  Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/home/question/1

Board of Studies NSW.  (2010).  New South Wales response to the draft K-10 Australian curriculum for English, history, mathematics and science.  Retrieved September 25, 2010, from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/australian-curriculum/pdf_doc/nsw-response-to-draft-k-10-aus-curr-eng-hist-math-sci.pdf

Brady, L. & Kennedy, K.  (2010).  Curriculum Construction.  French’s Forest, New South Wales: Pearson Australia.

Golby, M. (1977).  Curriculum studies and education for teaching.  Journal of Further and Higher Education, 1(1), 68 – 77. Retrieved September 3, 2010, from Curtin University of Technology Library E-Reserve.

Goodson, I.  (1995).  The making of curriculum: Collected essays (2nd ed.).  Great Britain: Burgess Science Press.

Hill, P.  (2010).  An Australian curriculum to promote 21st century learning.  Retrieved September 19, 2010, from http://www.eqa.edu.au/site/anaustraliancurriculumtopromote21stcentury.html

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.  (2008).  Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.  Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/Draft_National_Declaration_on_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf

Queensland Studies Authority.  (2010).  Queensland response to draft K(P) – 10 Australian curriculum.  Retrieved September 24, 2010, from http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/approach/aus_curriculum_qld_response.pdf

Walker, D.  (1971).  A Naturalistic model for curriculum development.  The School Review, 80(1), 51 – 65.  Retrieved September 21, 2010, from Curtin University of Technology Library E-Reserve.

Wiles, J.  (2005).  Curriculum essentials: A resource for educators (pp. 44-57).  Boston: Pearson Education Inc.  Retrieved September 1, 2010, from Curtin University of Technology Library E-Reserve.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Assumptions - Fuck you, fuck the lot of you!

There are a hell of a lot of assumptions that go on in mental health care and policy.  I've been thinking about it a bit lately, and what keeps coming up in my mind is Adam Hills... see below...

Fuck you.  Fuck the lot of you.

Fuck politicians that say, in regards to Better Access - "If you think you will need to access more sessions, I encourage you to speak to the GP who refers you to mental health services and professionals. GPs liaise with mental health professionals and counsellors so that patients can achieve the best possible services and outcomes. There is a lot of information out there and it can be confusing, but I really recommend discussing your whole Mental Health Treatment Plan with your GP." (Tania Plibersek).

Fuck you for speaking to mental health consumers as though they are intelligently impaired.  Fuck you for thinking that it's OK to speak to anyone in that patronising manner, and fuck anyone who thinks that the manner isn't patronising.  Yes, sometimes the crap the government puts out is confusing - but what the fuck kind of chance do you think a GP has of figuring it out, when they also have every other aspect of health to keep on top of, if someone who can devote larger parts of time to research can't work it out?  You are assuming that we're a bunch of fucking idiots, and I don't fucking appreciate it.

I'm crass.  I lack fashion sense.  I have teenage taste in music.  I'm not a fucking idiot.

The problem is that the system is fucked up.  It's got nothing to do with individuals being confused.

Fuck the ATAPS system.  The entire fucking system.  Fuck the lot of it.  What a waste of fucking time, resources, and money.  There are so many assumptions that come into play when it comes to this system that it defies fucking belief that anyone with more than two brain cells could actually think it would ever work, but here's some that piss me off the most:

1) The idea that ATAPS will reach more disadvantaged communities than Better Access can, or will.  If only the fuckwits that decide these things had ever fucking lived in a disadvantaged community...  Seriously - how the hell is an entire system of people going to reach disadvantaged people more than one single practitioner?  It defies basic fucking physics for a start.  It also costs a shitload more.  If you want to reach disadvantaged communities, you don't take their care away while you fart arse around with some scheme that a fifth grader can see won't logically (or physically) work.  You find out what the barriers are, and you fix them.  Is it money?  Then up the rebate for anyone living in those communities.  Is it public transport or physical access?  Then fix the fucking problem at hand.

2) The idea that ATAPS will work better for people with severe issues.  For starters - how the fuck do you define a severe issue?  At the moment, we seem to be going on diagnosis alone, with some fuckwits calling depression and anxiety "garden variety" illnesses.  I bet that particular arse would lack the balls to go up to the family who has lost someone to suicide due to depression or anxiety and tell them that it wasn't "severe".  A diagnosis alone doesn't indicate the severity of the condition.  It also doesn't take into account that there may be diagnosis's that we haven't named yet, nor that some may be redundant.  Like or hate the DSM, I think it's pretty obvious that it exists purely for insurance purposes, and as a general guide, and not out of any deep insight into the how's and why's of mental illnesses.  We need to get a system up and running that takes each persons case as an individual case - not square them into a round hole.  That sort of pushing people out of shape ends up with deaths.

Fuck government departments that listen to arseholes that lie about shit.  And fuck people who pretend to give a shit about people when the only people they give a shit about are themselves.

Fuck anyone who contributes to stigma.  I try to keep up with current developments in ASD theory and programs, and the best way to do that is by social media.  Nobody researches better than a mother worried for her child.  Some of these women are fantastic.  Some of them need a bitch slap.  I am sick and fucking tired of hearing "my kid doesn't have a mental illness - they have a neurological problem.  There is nothing "wrong" with them."  There's nothing "wrong" with people who have a mental illness either sweetheart - not in the way that you obviously mean.  Yes, your child doesn't have a mental illness, and it can be frustrating to constantly distinguish, especially when you need to put forth with force the idea that it is not something that can be "fixed".  However you can take your stigma, your patronising fucking attitude and shove it up your arse.

And while I'm at it - fuck anyone with a mental illness who does the same to people with a drug and alcohol problem.  And that, sadly, includes me.  I have done it from time to time.  "I have a mental illness, I'm not a fucking druggie".  It's the tone - the idea that one is OK, and the other isn't.  The fucking superiority complex.  It pisses me off when mental health professionals ask me when I last took drugs.  I've done pot twice, to see what it was like.  That's it.  I don't have a fucking drug problem. But...

The way I look at it now - people who do drugs and alcohol are either in some desperate need of help, and the only help they could find was substance abuse, in which case they need our compassion, not our disdain; or they are just fuckwits (and allow me to point out that it's not like we're lacking in fuckwits in any type of demographic).  Who also probably need our compassion and not our disdain.  In any event, I don't think that "just because" someone goes down that path, that they are any "worse" than someone who doesn't.  Just like I don't think that having a neurological disorder is any "better" than having a mental illness.

We're all fucking human for fucks sake.  When the fuck did compassion become a commodity???  When the fuck did it become OK to judge someone based on the name and cause of their suffering?  A football player goes out and gets banged up in the name of fucking sport, and I'd bet my arse we would all feel bad for them.  But fuck that 19 year old who was raped as a six year old and has turned to drugs to numb the pain and take away the nightmares - that girl should know better!!!  There will be no compassion for her today!

Yeah - fuck that shit!!!

And speaking of stigma, fuck this idea that more education is going to work.  How many studies do we need to say that it doesn't before we'll listen?  Do you know what will work?  Proper health care.  A choice in health care options that suit the person, not the demographic.  We do this for kids under six with Autistic Spectrum Disorders - so it CAN be done.  And health care that takes into account intentions, and not just acts.  I've heard WAY too many times of people self-injuring just to get someone to help them.  Because until they self-injure, they are ignored.  If we want to combat stigma, we need to start treating people with a mental illness as intelligent until individually proven otherwise.  We need to start giving people options that work for them.  We need to get people back on their feet, so that having a mental illness isn't a fucking life sentence of social exclusion.  We need society to be able to point at Johnny and say "hey, he has a mental illness, and he's OK" instead of pointing to people like me and saying "she has a mental illness and look at how fucked up she is - I don't want anything to do with THAT".  You can educate all you fucking want, but until such time as people with a mental illness are treated as people first, you've got fucking buckley's of changing how people see us.  And as for the rest who will believe that mental illness is something humanly inferior even when it slaps them in the face that it's not - you're never going to change their minds anyway.  So fuck 'em.

Fuck public mental health.  I am yet to meet someone who has been truly helped through the public system.  I assume they are out there.  Somewhere.  I do know about the countless fucking people who have been abused.  Who have been given the wrong medication or the wrong dose - and I mean life-threatening wrong here, not just the stock standard "this shit doesn't work" or "I'm having an abnormal reaction".  Then there's the countless more who have begged for help, only to be turned away, who have then turned on themselves.  Our public mental health system is a fucking disgrace, and not all of it is to do with being under-staffed and overwhelmed.  The public mental health system is over fucking regulated when it comes to paperwork and strategies, and under fucking regulated when it comes to the hiring of fuckwits.

I've been reading up on a variety of Mental Health Commissions lately, and it is really starting to piss me off.  In general really, though some of it does actually read well.  Unfortunately, it's the same old shit that I see everywhere.  It's the same old shit, given a new name, with some new players.  Somewhere, there's a database of documents that just get copied and paste with a few words changed so that we don't plagiarise. It's hard to read without wanting to cut my fucking wrists - again.  It's hard to imagine that THIS time is going to be any fucking different.

"We have a brand new mental health plan.  We are investing in the future of mental health!"

No, you have the same fucking plan you had last time, just with different signatures at the bottom.  You have had the same plan for quite a while now, and done jack shit about any of it.  You are good at making fucking plans, and completely fucking crap at implementing them.  Perhaps if you pulled your fingers out of your arse, you could get something done, other than make up pretty posters to stick behind the Premier when she gives a speech.  Perhaps if you didn't crap on about "accountability" so fucking much and just let people get on with their jobs, they could actually have the time to do their fucking jobs.  I wouldn't worry about accountability at all - we've had accountability for some fucking time now and it's fucking useless.  People are still abused, they are still neglected, they are still treated like crap.  People are still people.  Instead of self regulating shit - how about we just make it fucking easier for people to complain?  Make it so that people don't have to be scared to complain.

The shit we've had doesn't work.  And yet, we seem to be pushing forward with plans to do the same shit again.  The same systems.  The same ideas.  The same consultations.  Someone once told me that there's a reason that people listen to Hickie, and not me.  Yeah, you're right.  People listen to people like Hickie because it's EASY.  It's easy to make small changes and pretend you're being revolutionary.

Pity it fucks us over.  This complacency.

We need to start remembering where we come from.  We didn't invent the wheel by slightly changing shapes every few years until we got it right.  No, some fucker decided "let's try this shit out", and let it rip.

Psychological therapies are getting there.  Getting rid of any sort of respect for Freud was a great start.  We have a ways to go, but once people start accepting that everyone is different, and is going to need an individual therapy, rather than the tick-a-box each week therapies, we'll get there.  Psychiatry needs a good kick up the arse, but that has more to do with corrupt fuckers than it does with science.

Policy however - the politics of mental illness - this shit needs to be thrown out so that we can start again.  Get all the departments, and sub-departments and get rid of them.  Find the people who work there new jobs in other areas.  Start fresh.  Brainstorm.  No idea is too fucked up until it is.  Look at the actual problems that we face, instead of the perceived problems.  Look beyond the information collected, and find out how it is collected.  Pick every little thing apart, and question it.

Because this shit isn't working.  And we desperately need something that does.  Something completely different.  Not just the same old shit with different branding.

The government always assumes that it's been on the right track and that only minor changes are needed.  Fuck that shit!  Fuck assumptions.

Assume NOTHING!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Stigma - how much coming out is too much?

In an article today, on stigma in relation to mental illness, Glenn Mitchell writes that:

"I do think provision of mental health services is a big problem in regional Australia but in small communities I think some people just feel that there's a bit of a stigma that if I let my best friend or my girl friend know about it that everyone is going to find out about it, but I still have the thought process that so what if everyone finds out," he said.
So what if everyone finds out?

Here's what...

* Teenagers are bullied to the point that they attempt suicide.
* People of all ages find that family and friends stop talking to them, bitch about them, and sometimes openly ridicule them.
* People lose their jobs.
* People have their property vandalised.
* People in small communities find that complete strangers know who they are.  They know this, because the complete strangers look scared when they meet in the street.  This particular example is that of a fifteen year old boy whose own mother refused to talk to him.
* Physical abuse.
* Sexual abuse.
* Emotional abuse.

I've talked to a lot of people that have a mental illness, and I've talked to them in places that most don't want to admit exist - this shit happens to people when people find out.

That's what Glenn.  That's what.

Look - I get that we need to break down stigma.  That has to be one of our top priorities.  However, not everyone has the open family and the understanding friends - and encouraging those that don't to speak out to their family and friends is irresponsible.  Because some kid is going to read that story and believe you because they desperately want to believe it's true, even if in their heart they know it's not.  They are going to want to believe it's true, and they are going to speak up, and they are going to suffer the consequences, and we are going to lose them!

So how about this, for now...  How about, for now, we encourage people to speak to someone they trust.  Let's not pretend that everyone is going to be understanding.  My family isn't.  They don't want to speak to me.  And quite frankly, I don't care.  For me, this article is correct - so what if I lose a family that was never there in the first place?  But I'm not a fifteen year old kid about to get the crap beaten out of him to "toughen him up".  So can we please assume that fifteen year old kids with deadbeat family are going to read this, and tell them to speak to someone they trust.  Maybe it's a family member.  Maybe it's a teacher.  Maybe it's their doctor.  Maybe it's a friend.  And then they can make a judgement call on whether or not to tell people in general.

I would love to live in some Utopia where we can all just be fucking honest about who we are.  We don't.  We live in a world that will kick us when we're down, and being honest and finding out your family and friends are the ones who will do the kicking - that's a fucking shitty way to learn that particular life lesson.

There are people who can speak out without severe repercussions - and they should.  That is why I do.  I can now.  Let's not forget our brothers and sisters who can't speak out.  Let's not tell them that it's safe to do so until it fucking well IS safe to do so.

So in closing - my advice on "coming out"...

Do what you think is best for you.  Look after yourself first.  If you can, find someone you trust.  If you can, get some help.  Talking about it IS important and I'm not trying to say it's not.  I'm just saying - only speak up if it's safe to do so.

Glenn was right - the more people that help, the better chance you have of recovery.  That is dead set true.  We just need to lose the assumption that the people around us are the ones that will provide that.