In February we lost another family from our community. This time it included ‘May’ who has Down’s Syndrome and her parents who were refugees and her siblings who went to school and lived for over two decades in the area. Those who care about people with significant disability know how hard it can be to achieve inclusion, to have real friends and relationships with those without impairments and to be allowed and encouraged to contribute to others. Outside of her roles in the family, ‘May’ was a valued community member and regular church attendee and helper at the oldest Catholic place of worship in Australia. She played tennis at the local club and was liked by many in her community, especially by those who came to know her through church. She made her first communion with two other young women there in 2013 and the congregation celebrated together afterwards. ‘May’ regular took up the offertory of bread and wine after this and was the only person with cognitive disability my girls had the opportunity to associate with on a regular basis. Her web of relationships were achieved without special assistance or a support worker, but as part of a community that tends towards including and looking after its own.
Minister Pru Goward stated that evicted tenants would be helped to reintegrate, but all the officer responsible for eviction promised were the benefits to the rest of the family and ‘May’s valued roles and relationships will be hard to replicate – it will take time, trust and tenacity. Is Housing NSW bending over backwards to compensate for this loss, helping to ensure ‘May’ is truly included in her new community? Or is, as I suspect, little or no thought at all being given to what is a drastic loss for a young woman at great risk of further marginalisation. Another web of vital community shredded around a vulnerable person…please do what you can to speak up about this situation.