The Disability Community Blasts Scott Morrison For Saying He’s ‘Blessed’ Not To Have Children With A Disability

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese at the pre-election leaders' debate
The disability community has blasted Prime Minister Scott Morrison for saying he was "blessed" not to have a child with a disability.
During last night's leaders' debate, ahead of the May 21 federal election, Morrison and Labor Leader Anthony Albanese were asked by an undecided voter about the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
"We are grateful to receive funds through the NDIS, but have heard many stories of people having their funds cut recently under the current government, including our own," said a woman named Catherine who has a four-year-old son who lives with autism.
"I've been told, to give my son the best future, I need to vote Labor. Can you please tell me what the future of the NDIS looks like under your government?" she asked the PM.
Morrison first asked Catherine what her son's name was, to which she responded, Ethan.
"Jenny and I have been blessed, we've got two children that don't — that haven't had to go through that," he then said.
"And so, for parents with children who are disabled, I can only try and understand your aspirations for those children. And then I think that is the beauty of the National Disability Insurance Scheme."
Watch the moment below:
Grace Tame, Carly Findlay and many mothers of children living with disabilities are amongst those who have criticised Morrison for his remarks.
Writer, speaker and activist Findlay urged the PM to "stop seeing disabled people as burdens."
Morrison has defended his comments since the wave of backlash, telling Nine radio this morning, "What I was saying in good faith… I was just simply saying that it's tough and I'm grateful that there are these hardships that I and Jenny haven't had to deal with."
"There are other things, but it's tough and it's hard," he continued.
"There is no greater love than a parent has for a child and particularly a child that has special needs — and it is a blessing. But I was simply trying to say in good faith that I haven't walked in your shoes, Catherine. I'm not going to pretend to say that I understand it as well as you do."
While one in six Australians (around 4.4 million people) has a disability, it’s often still discussed with a stigma of shame, othering or ignorance.
As People With Disability Australia’s language guide says, “People with disability are often described in ways that are disempowering, discriminatory, degrading and offensive.
"Negative words such as ‘victim’ or ‘sufferer’ reinforce stereotypes that people with disability are unhappy about our lives, wish we were ‘normal’, and should be viewed as objects of pity.”
Refinery29 Australia has previously worked with Carly Findlay to create a guide of disability terms for allies to broaden their perspectives, and grow their understanding of disability.
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