A few months ago as I was walking through the Melbourne CBD, a visibly inebriated woman kicked out towards my elbow crutch and yelled “Can you get your stick out of my way before I shove it up your fucking arse?” The man who was with her sniggered. None of the other peak-hour pedestrians saw fit to intervene.
The woman did not make physical contact with me and probably never intended to do so, but I was left shaken all the same. My balance has been compromised by multiple sclerosis; if this woman’s mock-kick had happened to hit the sweet spot, it could have caused significant injury. But worse than the threat to my physical safety was the reminder that for some people, my disability (possibly compounded by my racial otherness) is sufficient grounds for harassment, abuse and even violence.
Having come close to being treated as a football in the most literal sense of the word, I am more than on board with Scott Morrison’s plea for "disabilities not to be used as a political football” during the election campaign. Or at least I would be on board with it, if the Morrison government had not been playing a particularly cynical game of football of its own.