By JULIA GILLARD
There are millions of words and thousands of articles published every day in Australia, in newspapers and online.
Only a few make you stop what you are doing and read them again – and only a very few make you think. Stella Young’s article on Monday was like that.
I saw Stella at lunch in Sydney in March, at an International Women’s Day event. We were both humbled to be there, with some great Australian women.
We spoke about the issues that have a big impact on women’s lives. We spoke about the big reforms this Government is putting in place to make sure every Australian is given every opportunity in life – reforms like the DisabilityCare Australia. Stella also told me about her work as an advocate and about the writing she does for ABC’s Ramp Up and for Mamamia.
Then on Monday, when I read a fighting, feisty line like “I’m happy to pay $300 a year to ensure that whatever your life circumstances turn out to be, you can continue to buy your morning coffees instead of your own wheelchair,” I thought yes, that’s the woman I met!
Those of you who follow Stella’s writing and activism know how impressive she is. Now a lot more Australians have seen the fire and light that Stella brings to our public debate.
I believe the community campaign which, has brought DisabilityCare Australia to within nine weeks of launch is one of the most remarkable social movements in our country in decades.
On Tuesday we announced another decision which is vital to DisabilityCare: a secure, sustainable funding stream for generations to come.
We will increase the Medicare Levy by half a percentage point from 1 July 2014 – this will take the Medicare Levy from 1.5 per cent of taxable ,income to 2 per cent.
For someone earning around average wages of $70,000 a year, this will be a modest contribution of around 96 cents a day.
That money will support a better life for hundreds of thousands of Australians with a significant and permanent disability, their families and carers. I don’t think Australians believe the fair go stops at people with disability.
That money will also protect every Australian. Anyone who might acquire a disability will have a new safety net to rely on.
Here’s where Stella doesn’t just have feistiness on her side – she’s got the facts.
As Stella reminded us this week, “disability currently affects one in every five Australians. 95 per cent of Australians will enter the disability community, either temporarily or permanently, at some point in their lives.”
Tuesday’s announcement will ensure we deliver and sustainably fund this reform now and into the future.