Did Prime Minister Kevin Rudd act inappropriately when he touched the head of a woman with a disability this week? That’s the question the community is asking after footage of Kevin Rudd doing exactly that went viral on the internet today.
The clip was shown as part of an ABC television segment about the Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme. In the footage, which was taken on the day the scheme was launched, Kevin Rudd holds hands and poses for a photo with a woman in a wheelchair. As the now-Prime Minister walks away from the cameras, he places his hand on the woman’s head and ruffles her hair.
The shots of Mr Rudd comprise just a few seconds of the six-and-a-half minute story but those few seconds have made a big impact. They’ve been enough to prompt an Australian disability advocate to speak out, saying that the Prime Minister’s gesture was condescending and even insulting.
Disability advocate and editor of the ABC”s Ramp Up, Stella Young is no stranger to being treated differently because she uses a wheelchair. As a woman with a disability, Stella describes being patted on the head like a child as “a common enough occurrence that it very rarely takes me completely by surprise”.
When Young first became aware of the footage of Mr Rudd, she tweeted:
Actually shaking with rage. This is a clip in which the Prime Minister ACTUALLY PATS A WHEELCHAIR USER ON THE HEAD. http://t.co/W30YAsMuum
— Stella Young (@stellajyoung) July 10, 2013