The election is over. So what happened?

Introduction

John ran as a candidate for Dignity Party in the South Australia state election, held on 17th March 2018, in the seat of Torrens. His goal was simple – to increase the votes for the Upper House candidates, and for Kelly Vincent to retain her position in the Legislative Council. Kelly has been a voice for people such as those with a disability for the past eight years. This blog shares the results and his experiences with the campaign. John’s opponents were Dana Wortley (Labor), Therese Kennedy (Liberal) and Alex Dinovitser (Greens).

Lower House Result

many stats that show the result in torrens - Dana Wortley*

It was expected that Dana Wortley (Labor) would retain the seat, and the swing towards Labor was 2%. John’s goal was to receive 5% of the overall vote, and this was achieved with a share of 5.9%, an increase of 5.4% since the 2014 election.

(* taken from http://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/sa-election-2018/guide/torr/)

Upper House Result

a list of results from the legislative council*

Unfortunately, Kelly Vincent wasn’t re-elected, and the Liberal Party and Australia Labor Party won four seats each, SA Best received two seats, and the Greens gained the final seat. The vote for Dignity Party increased by one per cent. However, over 60,000 votes were required, and only a third of this was achieved.

(* taken from http://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/sa-election-2018/results/lc/)

Why did John run as a candidate for Dignity Party?

Following his accident in 2009, John gained experience in living a life with a disability, namely paraplegia and chronic pain. During his travels, he came across many situations that either prevented his access or made it more difficult than it should have been. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person due to their disability, including employment, using services, accessing public places and others.

When John encountered a business in violation with the DDA, he would talk to them, and encourage them to make changes. The majority of businesses did the right thing, and a few were reported to the Human Rights Commission.  Initially, John aimed at improving access for himself, which then extended to advocacy for all people with accessibility issues. This lead John to discover Dignity Party and was accepted to be a candidate in the 2018 election. The seat of Torrens had no Dignity candidate, and given John had lived there for over 20 years, it was the perfect match.

The Campaign

Dignity party held a large number of informative sessions aimed at teaching the candidates about politics, and in particular, running a political campaign. Campaign Manager Anna Tree and Office Manager Kathi Tucker both had extensive political experience, as did Kelly Vincent,  with eight years in the Upper House. Many of the candidates had experience in previous campaigns going back to 2006. John’s campaign was based on the needs of the marginalised in the community, and he attended events including AGMs, charity events, quiz nights and other events, some of which were included in his blog.

One of John’s focus during the campaign was social media, which included regular posts on Twitter, Dignity Party FB Group for Torrens, and this website. Other avenues of marketing included two letterbox drops of the eleven suburbs and finding volunteers to provide the “how to vote” cards to voters, on election day.

John categorised the whole experience of running as a candidate into three categories – The Good, the Bad, the Funny and the Ugly.

The Good

  • Learning about the political system in Australia
  • An appreciation of the work of Dignity Party
  • Getting to know people in Dignity Party including the candidates, staff, friends and family, and leadership team
  • Talking to people about Dignity Party, both in person and via the internet
  • Supporting rallies, protests, fundraisers and other events
  • Obtaining 5.9% of the vote in Torrens
  • The team of volunteers handing out “how to vote cards” on election day
  • Election officials that helped John on election day with his special needs
  • The volunteers from other parties that worked together to help each other

The Bad

  • Kelly Vincent unable to retain her seat

The Funny

  • John watched the Green’s candidate in Torrens, Alex Dinovitser, attempt to erect a shelter at a pre-polling centre (it was a hot day).  John thought that Greens should know how to put up tents (or equipment like this) 🙂
  • While giving out how to vote cards, someone removed all Dignity Party stickers from the back of John’s chair (John thinks he knows who arranged this 🙂 )

The Ugly (not literally)

  • Preferencing is a dirty word, notably the lack of help in the Upper House from Labor and Liberal parties.  John felt the major parties didn’t want Kelly Vincent in the Upper House. In the Lower House, John wasn’t involved in the preferencing deals, and the parties preferences are included below. how to vote cards in Torrens
  • Ms Dana Wortley (see below)

Ms Dana Wortley

John believes Ms Dana Wortley is a hard-working MP, who helps constituents in the Torrens electorate. However, John didn’t experience this for himself. Before the announcement as a candidate for Dignity Party, he requested the help of his local MP for many issues…

  • Medical Cannabis (January 8, 2017) – John asked for a meeting with Mrs Wortly to get support for legalising cannabis for medical use
  • Lower House candidate cost (April 3, 2017) – John asked for help in decreasing the cost of running as a candidate in the lower house (Major parties increased it to $3,000)
  • An issue with SA Health (May 23, 2017) – John asked to talk to Ms Dana Wortley about a personal issue (please see http://transforminghealthsa.com/ for details)
  • A problem with misuse of a playground (June 3, 2017) – John asked Ms Dana Wortley to speak to a school, as students from a local high school were misusing a playground, and preventing younger people from using it

Waiting, waiting and waiting

John gave up on meeting with Ms Dana Wortley about Medical Cannabis after four months of hearing nothing. He reminded her about the issue of the candidate cost once, and during July received a letter from SA Health, but hadn’t had any contact from Ms Dana Wortley about this particular topic. John reminded her that talking to each other about the issues was the request. John contacted Ms Dana Wortley again on July 28, 2017, asking why she wasn’t interested in a face to face meeting, and this meeting didn’t occur until February 6, 2018. It took Ms Dana Wortley 394 days to meet with John, and it only happened due to 1) The 2018 election campaign and 2) This site shared the lack of response from Ms Dana Wortley, as well as the following details.

  • Ms and Mr Wortley do not live in a suburb within the seat of Torrens and live in an exclusive suburb
  • Ms and Mr Wortly earn over $8,000 a week together (refer to the Adelaide Now story, which mentions Mr Wortley also has the use of a chauffeur-driven car. note: the average dual income in Gilles Plains is $1,200 a week)
  • Given that Ms and Mr Wortley represent Labor Party (who traditionally support working class people), how can the couple understand what it is like to struggle with finances as they live in an exclusive suburb and have an enormous weekly income?

Early 2018, Ms Dana Wortley became aware of this website, and rather than talking to John, Ms Dana Wortley complained to Dignity Party via Kelly Vincent. Following the offer of a meeting, John decided to remove the details graciously.

John’s meeting with Ms Dana Wortley didn’t help resolve any of the issues. However, it was good to have the time of the local MP finally.

The Liberal party placed an interesting political advertisement in my letterbox!

dana wortley according to the libs - a red background making them look evil, and a poor track record

The Political Future

John is uncertain about the future as a candidate in the 2022 election but believes in the goals of Dignity Party.  He wants to help the party regain a seat in the Upper House. There may be other avenues of helping Dignity Party too. John hopes to get a better response from his local MP for assistance with future issues, and so far so good.

The digital divide between the haves and the have-nots. A Video Blog.

The Divide

John Duthie has a long history of working in IT, and he loves technology.  He believes it is vital for people to keep learning about technology, otherwise, you get left behind.  There is a cost of keeping up with technology, and one of them is the expense of buying new equipment.  There is a digital divide in this country. 45% of people with a disability are at, or below the poverty line – which makes it hard for those people to use equipment and technology required to access the NDIS. We have to work together to help close that gap between the ‘haves & have-nots’.

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.

Ticketek Accessible Ticketing – Cannot book tickets online. A Video Blog

Ticketek Accessible Ticketing

John Duthie is a long time sporting fan, and loves to attend musicals, concerts and other events, for both local and international entertainers.  In 2017, customers can book tickets online for events, except if you need accessible seating and/or need to book a ticket for a carer via the Companion Card scheme.  For these scenarios, you must phone a person, and often the ticketing agencies do not answer the calls for many hours, and sometimes John has to try for days.  This is a violation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and agencies need to modify their computer systems. This includes Ticketek Accessible Ticketing.

Dignity Party recorded a video as one of the items on John’s campaign is equality for online booking.

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.

 

O-Bahn accessibility issues at the tunnel open day

O-Bahn accessibility issues

John Duthie and thousands of other South Australians attended the Community Fun Day at the new O-Bahn tunnel.  It now extends from Rymill Park to Hackney Road (Westbury Street).  John was joined by Jo Blesing (candidate in BRAGG), Phillip Beddall (candidate in WEST TORRENS), the leader of Dignity Party, Kelly Vincent MLC, and Nick Schumi (candidate in ELDER). The day highlighted a few O-Bahn accessibility issues

members of Dignity Party in the tunnel - O-Bahn accessibilityobahn tu

What is the O-Bahn?

The O-Bahn system is a fantastic way of moving passengers from Adelaide CBD. The path follows the Torrens River, all the way to Tee Tree Plaza.  Prior to his accident in 2009, John regularly took the O-Bahn from his home to work and back again. It only took him 15 minutes to walk to the bus, catch the bus to Adelaide, and then walk to SA Police headquarters.

 

The new tunnel O-Bahn accessibility issue

The tunnel will save time for commuters, as well as decreasing the traffic congestion, and there are other advantages including the 450 full time jobs during the life of the project.  The bad news is the design hasn’t taken into account that some passengers will be in power wheelchairs.  John was hit by a tree in 2009 because safety wasn’t a priority, and he wonders why the government of South Australia, hasn’t taken into account the safety of all members of the public.  Power wheelchair users will not be able to quickly and safely exit the tunnel if there were an emergency such as a bus fire.

 

Burning rubber in the tunnel

A ramp placed in the middle of the track allowed John to demonstrate the difficulty powered wheelchair users may experience if they need to get over the middle of the O-Bahn track.  He was interviewed by one of the three tv stations that recorded footage for their tv news.

john being interviewed by tv news

john and the transport ministerStephen Mulligan

John has previously challenged the SA Transport Minister, the Hon Stephen Mulligan. To sit in a powered wheelchair, and take part in an emergency evacuation from a bus in the new tunnel.  So far, no reply. However, John managed to catch up with the Minister to talk about the idea.  The Minister confirmed that there had been evacuation tests with wheelchairs in the tunnel. He couldn’t recall whether it included power wheelchairs.

John’s challenge has changed, as he doesn’t want to risk the safety of the Minister. John will volunteer to take part in the evacuation test.  When will that be Minister?

The TV Report

Channel 9 featured a story about the opening and the protest by Dignity Party.

 

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.

Minda opens their Modbury Office

Minda Modbury

minda incorporated logoJohn Duthie attended the opening of the Modbury office of Minda Incorporated. The addres is now 928 North East Road, Modbury SA 5092.  The Hon. Katrine Hildyard, Minister for Disabilities, opening the office. It will serve people North and Northeast of Adelaide.  Minda estimates that the opening of the Modbury office will generate $21 million of economic activity. The biggest beneficiaries will be the surrounding suburbs and a boost for local employment. 

John spent time talking to the staff and visitors, learning more about the great work that Minda does in the community.

The Minda Modbury office with fake sheep out the front

History of Minda

Unfortunately, prior to 1898, children with intellectual disabilities occupied the lunatic asylum at Parkside. The South Australian government promised £500 towards a better residence. The other funds came from the public. The new home was registered as ‘Home for Weak Minded Children’. Fortunately, the actual name given was ‘Minda’, an aboriginal word meaning ‘place of shelter and protection’.

Vision, Purpose and Mission, and Values of Minda

Vision – For people with disability to live enriched lives of their choosing.

Purpose and Mission – Minda’s purpose is to be a progressive organisation of choice for people with disability, supporting them on their journey toward enriched lives with greater community participation and contribution.

Values

Passionate: We care greatly for the people we support and we work hard to create an environment where individuals live a life of their choosing.

Respectful: We learn from each other and celebrate diversity – we value each person as an individual.

Accountable: We are transparent and responsible in all of our actions and we promote open communication.

Innovative: We embrace new ideas, take smart risks and reward creativity.

Successful: We grow from our successes, and also our mistakes, and abide by all processes and procedures.

Ethical: We are true to our word and walk our talk. We encourage autonomy and self-determination.

A reminder to avoid using the slang word

Minda became so well known, its name became associated as an offensive way of referring to a person with an intelluctual disability.

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.

Cedar College Senior School Graduation

Cedar College Northgate

Cedar College High School graduation night

John Duthie’s children have spent their entire schooling life at Cedar College Northgate. With Ben graduating in 2017 and Jasmine in 2015.  It was also the location of the accident in 2009. John’s spine was severed by a tree and changed his life forever.  John felt the need to address the graduate students, their families, teachers and other visitors at the graduation ceremony. The school was happy to give permission.  The theme of the speech was “Bad things can happen in life. You cannot control all events and people that may adversely affect you. How you respond is the key” and the speech is below.

Graduation speech at Cedar College Northgate

Ben is graduating in about 90 minutes, Jasmine two years ago and I did it 35 years ago. Why do my children say I am old?

Thank you to the school, Peter and Ben for the permission to talk.

Tonight is a celebration, and very positive, but I need to share some things which are not good, then change to a more positive mood, and provide a statement to end my talk.

On September 11, 2009, at Cedar College, an Ironbark tree fell on me, narrowly missing Ben and my father, Alexander. It changed our lives forever.

My spine was severed causing paralysis from the chest down. A broken collarbone, cracked ribs and sternum, broken leg and ankle, and a neck fracture and a bruised heart. Wendy, a friend and church minister, is the only person I recall from the first few weeks.

I asked God, “where are you?”. Preventing a tree from falling should be easy since you created the world in six days.

While in rehab, I woke up in agony and unfortunately, the pain remains.

In January 2011 I returned home after 14 months in the hospital.

In 2012 my wife and I separated, and following this, I experienced mental health issues, including an attempt to hurt myself. An unexpected visitor stopped this and I spent time in psychiatric health care and heard a voice say “You do not belong here”.

Life improved. A relationship commenced with Madie, and I renewed my relationship with God at Rise Church.

I worked on my physical health and regularly lift weights, and my swimming record is 40 laps. Maintaining good mental health is also a priority.

I share my life with a disability in a blog called “WheelchairJohn.com”. And have a book being published later in 2018 whereby 30 people are sharing their lives with a disability.

I perform advocacy for disabled people, and I am a candidate in the Torrens electorate for the 2018 SA elections, representing Dignity Party.

I cannot blame God for what happened to me. God placed the right people in the right place many times, those at the accident, Wendy, the unexpected visitor, my parents, Madie, my children and friends.

I think being able to swim 40 laps, and surviving the accident, and living with my children is also miraculous.

Many people on stage have and will be congratulating the year 12 students. I will too, and congratulations on your efforts, however, I want to thank the parents, the caregivers, and everyone else who played a role in supporting the students. And students, please thank them, and reward them by keeping your bedroom tidy.

The things I want to leave with you is… “Bad things can happen in life. You cannot personally control all events and people that may adversely affect you. How you respond is the key”.

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.

NDIS: Where to? – A vision for Disability Services from 2030

NDIS – will it be dead by 2030?

Flinders University Logo - NDISJohn Duthie attended the Festival of Disability Research and Practice by Flinders University. The event focus was on the NDIS and was advertised as 

Presenting: The Politician, the Bureaucrat and the Raconteur The Politician, the Bureaucrat and the Raconteur will ponder the proposition:

“Will the NDIS will be dead by 2030?”

  • The Politician: Hon Kelly Vincent MLC, Dignity Party Leader
  • The Bureaucrat: Professor Richard Bruggemann (Senior Practitioner for Disability, South Australia)
  • The Raconteur: Mr Robbi Williams (CEO, JFA Purple Orange)

Each will try to convince you of their stand, BUT the final vote is yours.

The event, based on the famous Oxford Union presentations, will be an entertaining and informative look at where the NDIS is going and its position by 2030.

By the end of the night…

At the end of the night, all attendees voted that the NDIS will be alive, but currently, there are many problems that need to be resolved, including

  • NDIS is under funded.
  • Many new organisations looking to grab a slice of the funding, but what is their motivation?
  • Will the NDIA planners do what is right for the participant, or is their focus on limiting budget overflows?
  • NDIA planners insisting to talk to the person with the disability over the phone, even where that participant is unable to communicate via phone.

The recording can be viewed on the Flinders University website.

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.

Faisal Rusdi – Colour of the Journey

Faisal Rusdi – Artist

Cucu Saidah, Kelly Vincent MLC, and Faisal Rusdi

John Duthie attended the opening of an exhibition by Faisal Rusdi at the City of West Torrens library.  John and Faisal have known each other for several years through the disability community. 

Faisal is contributing his life story to the book “MYdisABILITIES” and the website can be found here.  He paints using his mouth, and his exhibition presented 19 paintings which took four months in the making.  The leader of Dignity Party, Kelly Vincent MLC, opened the exhibition and is pictured with Cucu Saidah and Faisal.

Granite Island - a painting by FaisalFaisal is a member of the MFPA (Mouth and Foot Painting Artists) and has exhibited in many countries including Japan, Singapore and Myanmar.  The current exhibition runs until Sunday 3rd December 2017.  John was keen to support Faisal, and purchased one of the artworks “Granite Island”.

Determined 2 team painting

The Determined2 team posing in front of the painting of them by FaisalThe Determined2 team turned up in their colours and were photographed with a work that was painted in their honour.   The founder of Immersion Therapy, Pete Wilson, purchased the painting as quickly as he could. 

John is pictured below with Cucu and Faisal.

photo of john, cucu and faisal

More about Faisal Rusdi

Faisal was born in Indonesia with cerebral palsy and was paralysed between his hands and feet. Although it took him some time to accept his way of life, he now loves life. Art is a big part of Faisal’s life.

He could spend up to eight hours a day, on the ground, supporting himself with his elbows. This position allows him to paint with a brush between his teeth. The smell of the paint can sometimes cause problems with breathing.

Faisal came to Australia with his wife, Cucu, Saidah, to support her as she studies at Flinders University. He has written a story about his life in Australia and hopes the book will be available to Indonesians.

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.

Community Bridging Services – still breathing fresh air

Community Bridging Services logoCommunity Bridging Services

John Duthie attended the Community Bridging Services AGM held at the TAFE campus at Gilles Plains, just around the corner from John’s home.

The goal of CBS is helping clients achieve success by working with them to plan their futures, achieve their personal goals and improve their quality of life.  Their services operate in metropolitan Adelaide as well as in rural and remote South Australia.

Executive Director, Freddie Brincat, opened the night and welcomed all guests.  Ted Evans, Dignity Party candidate in Colton, and Chairman of CBS, presented the Chair’s report.  Lukasz Wojiniak, the CBS consumer nominee, shared his work with the organisation.  Various guest speakers spoke highly of the love and care provided by CBS, and Rick Neagle, President of Dignity Party, spoke about his work with “Count Me In”.  The foundation partners with other like organisations who have developed a culture with accessible and inclusive principles, and are heavily involved with the local SANFL.

Contact John Duthie here and visit his personal site here.