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October 2003

Anita Gordon

Anita Gordon.

Wheelie defies ferris wheel!

The following profile of Anita Gordon has been prepared by e-bility, based on extracts from media stories about the many public awareness campaigns and advocacy activities she has been involved in, press releases about her election campaign and a personal interview.

Anita Gordon lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia and recently announced that she will be running for the seat of Maroochydore in the forthcoming elections, as an independent candidate. She believes:

"people want to talk face to face with Government, and not get swirled around like a ferris wheel"
Vote 1 - Anita Gordon

As far as she knows, Anita will be the first Canditate to run for the Queensland Parliament who is wheelchair dependent. Having used a wheelchair since she had a stroke in 1998, Anita has first hand experience of the issues surrounding public health and disability support services. It is these issues that are the focus of her election camapign and which have been the driving force behind the many advocacy and protest activities she has been involved in. Her efforts to "strike a better deal" for people with a disability have effected positive change in her local community, including:

A new freedom

The new bus route, and promise of more accessible buses in the future, offers people with disabilities and their families greater independence at an affordable price. Anita says that now, if her husband is unwell she can catch the bus into town and do the shopping or she can take her son to the pictures if her husband would prefer to stay home. Before the bus service she relied on him for transport as she couldn't drive herself.

Anne Pitcher on Sunbus with access ramp.

Ann Pitcher is also a regular traveller on the new accessible Sunbus.

"I am an aged pensioner and I am very pleased that I am able to travel distances and places that I would not have previously considered. The savings of accessible buses and freedom has given me quality of life again."
A fair go for carers

To protest against a Government budget cut to carers funding, Anita and another "wheelie" Kris Bignall (who has cerebral palsy) with carer Paul Homer made the difficult trip from Maroochydore to Brisbane to raise the problems directly with the Minister. They argued that the funding only covers about half the carer hours needed by people with disabilities to maintain quality of life and a fairer system is needed. As a result of their efforts Premier Peter Beattie and Minister Judy Spence met with them outisde Parliament House, assuring them the Government will work hard to see that Queenslanders with a disability are looked after.

The Premier has scheduled a followup meeting for 28 October to discuss in more detail the issues being faced by carers, people with disabilities and the aged, as well as a proposal currently with the Queensland Government for a new housing and rehabilitation centre in Maroochydore. The proposal recommends a 42 unit permanent housing facility with respite services for people with disabilities, older people and those requiring palliative care.

Anita, Kris Bignall and the Wheel to Brisbane team.

Around 20% of the Australian population have a disability (ABS Census 1996), which in Queensland equates to 90,000 people. In Maroochydore 20% of the population are also over 60 years of age. Anita understands many of the difficulties experienced by older people and people with disabilities, and feels someone has to speak out.

Equity and access

People with disabilities have a right to equitable access. Society's attitudes are changing and services and facilities generally are improving. However, too often, accessibility is an after thought, or tokenistic. For example, access is via a back entrance, not the front, or the accessible facilities will only be available in one area of a facility (meaning there is no choice).

A more inclusive community benefits everyone - accessible pathways and premises are more accessible for parents with prams, cyclists and deliveries, as well as people with disabilities or limited mobility. As a popular holiday destination, accessibility on the Sunshine Coast is also important to the tourism industry.

Campaigning under the slogan "Go Get 'em Gordon", Anita is passionate about effecting change and opening people's minds to the opportunities and responsibilities of society in addressing the needs of all its citizens!

Anita, Ann Pitcher and Peter Wellington, MP for Nicklin.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world,
indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." [Margaret Mead]

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