Disability sector split on human rights. Where is the promised shadow report on the rights of persons with disabilities? It should have been released in advance of the government’s first report to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities committee and now, here we are, almost in March, and still no shadow report. Could it be that the extreme ructions between key disability rights players in Sydney and Melbourne, particularly over the issue of forced interventions (Sydney is in favour, Melbourne is opposed) and how they might be interpreted through the CRPD, is causing the delay?

Or is it that the long, shameful process by which the federal government orchestrated a timid shadow report process, is in fact so timid that the authors are afraid of releasing the report, lest it upset anyone? Notably thin on the ground, of course, from the shadow report, if ever it should be released, are first-hand experiences of actual people living the experience of disability. Contrary to the imperatives of the CRPD, the shadow report process was designed to delimit and filter consumer views. You know, they might have something controversially unpleasant to say.

Six weeks on, no flood relief for some. A friend of mine lives in Ipswich in Queensland. Yesterday marked six weeks since their house was inundated (both levels of the house, to just below the ceiling), first by storm water and later by the Bremer River rising.  They are not particularly wealthy, but they have their house and contents insured. Despite numerous contacts and pleas with their insurer, their claim has not yet been assessed. This family is forced to camp in their gutted house, in tents. The timber windows will either not open, or not close.  The screens are gone. Most of the internal walls are gone.

Last week an electrician rewired all powerpoints, and the week before he rewired all the lights. He has no idea when he will be paid. A local pest company has sprayed the creepy crawlies for free. My friends have been refused emergency accommodation, even though it was a feature they paid extra for to have on their policy. The press has covered their story. Local politicians have had their say. The community is trying to move on. Local kids are able to get limited free counselling. But still, no response from the insurance company, and no indication of when there might be a decision. I am a battler, I love my country, I pay my insurance policy and I’m very scared that if I was placed in the same position as these friends of mine that I would break under such strain. How much longer can this be allowed to go on?

Quake closes AUQA website. The website of the Australian Universities Quality Agency is a casualty of the NZ earthquake. Visitors are met with the following message:

Due to a devastating earthquake that affected Christchurch at 12:51pm today, the Digital Fusion offices are in disarray and we currently have no electricity, internet or physical access to the premises. This situation is expected to continue for the near future at least. We are bringing hosted services online at an alternate location, and normal service will resume as soon as possible. For urgent inquiries please contact the following temporary address …

It raises an interesting risk management question — who in their right mind would outsource any type of IT service to a company located on a major fault-line in NZ without ensuring they have appropriate disaster recovery plans in place? It also raises the question of what AUQA would make of an Australian university that outsources its IT services to a company located in Christchurch …

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey