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Valuing people’s contributions

18/9/12 · Posted in Employment, society, valuing people

LAC Chair, Allyson Hamblett, returns to talk about how we view people’s contributions to society. LACs are advisory committees for CCS Disability Action that help provide governance for our regions.

I enjoyed studying at university.   After six years of study, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a post grad diploma in Library and Information Studies.  I wish, I had continued with my tertiary education because I felt I was really allowed and encouraged to think at University. People in tertiary education were really interested in ideas and intellectual thought.  University life was better than the “real world”.

I have a great part time job now, updating http://www.sparkcentre.org.nz/.  I’ve had this job for five years. I love the job and love getting paid once a fortnight.  When I was offered the job, I had given up on finding employment because it was so hard.  After university, I managed to get some work in the Library system, but eventually it dried up after two and a half years.  People tried to get me more work, but nothing eventuated.  I diversified, losing interest in library work and found web design.  I’ve never really made money from that, but it became a hobby that eventually led to my job at Spark Centre, a place where I also discovered my artistic, creative self.

I love being the Auckland LAC Chair because it allows me to think about how we can improve the lives of people with disabilities.  Our focus is on accessible housing and employment.  I am looking forward to finding a way to provide good, accessible housing in Auckland and providing employment opportunities for disabled people, including looking at “setting up your own business” as well as becoming employees. 

We are going to have to look at new ways that people can contribute to society, as well as dealing with prejudices caused by fear and ignorance.  At the moment, economic efficiency seems to be at the core of what is considered a good contribution to society, but there has to be new ways for people to make valued social contributions.

I’ve spent about 15 years working on non profit governance boards, starting when I was 17 years old at the Cerebral Palsy Society.  After University, I was on the Pride Centre board for three years, GenderBridge for six years and OutlineNZ for three years. I love the policy work and working with people who value my ideas.  This kind of work drives me, but at the back of my mind, even though this is incredibly important work, it is not paid work. 

My father commented once that all the work I do, means the government is getting my services very cheaply. The current government policies, however, make me feel incredibly guilty; that I have been unable to turn my contribution to society into something that can support me financially.  I feel guilty because I know that I have enough intellect and function to get paid work, but employers look at the way I walk and talk, then freak.  They need to see me at the LAC board table; they need to see me having meetings with the Regional Manager; they need to see the ideas that are generated by the Auckland LAC; they need to see me in the other advocacy roles that take up my time.

The current policies that are shaping the western world are measured in monetary terms and are not sustainable, because the focus is economic efficiency.  People don’t matter.  People have just become cogs of the economy.   Sometimes when someone loses their job; this is wonderful for economic efficiency, because the inefficient cog has been removed.  This model can only be sustained for a limited time.

I hope that there is a way we can create a society that values peoples contribution to society; not just in monetary value, but real value. What do you think?