Sib­lings of the dis­abled ap­peal for recog­ni­tion

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health -

From Health cover ments should give us all our fund­ing, we would be happy to ac­cept money from cor­po­ra­tions or other sources,’’ she said.

‘‘ The prob­lem is that the first thing busi­ness says is ‘ where is your fund­ing com­ing from?’. If you don’t have gov­ern­ment sup­port, they’re not in­ter­ested.’’

El­iz­a­beth Brad­ford was one of the first peo­ple to take ad­van­tage of the ser­vices of Sib­lings Aus­tralia eight years ago. At the time, she was eight years old and hav­ing prob­lems cop­ing with her older brother William’s autism, and the re­ac­tions of her peers.

She ad­mit­ted to hav­ing had a mix of sad­ness, frus­tra­tion and anger at her brother’s sit­u­a­tion and the ef­fect on her fam­ily, cou­pled with feel­ings of guilt, dis­loy­alty and even de­pres­sion.

‘‘ When I was younger, in pri­mary school . . . I had gone through the whole ‘ he’s not my brother, I’m not re­lated to him, I don’t want to be as­so­ci­ated with him, be­cause at school I’ll be teased’. I felt re­ally, re­ally guilty,’’ Brad­ford said.

‘‘ I needed some­one who could un­der­stand me and what it’s like to live with some­one who doesn’t run around and be silly and talk and grab at­ten­tion like a nor­mal kid. It was good to spend time with an or­gan­i­sa­tion that had other kids my age that un­der­stood that. I would hate Sib­lings Aus­tralia to close — you have all th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions for kids who are autis­tic, and the car­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion for par­ents, but this is the only Aus­tralia-wide sib­lings’ as­so­ci­a­tion that deals with kids.’’

Jon Jurei­dini, the head of psy­cho­log­i­cal medicine at the Womens and Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Ade­laide, was cited by Strohm in her let­ter to the PM this week.

Jurei­dini said the level of avail­able help for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties and their car­ers or par­ents was ex­plained by the fact that their needs were vis­i­ble and clearly un­der­stood by the com­mu­nity. ‘‘( But) the needs of sib­lings of­ten dis­ap­pear from pub­lic view with­out an or­gan­i­sa­tion to ad­vo­cate and pub­li­cise the is­sue,’’ he said, prais­ing Sib­lings Aus­tralia for its work.

He said the costs of treat­ing sib­lings’ de­pres­sion and other health is­sues were ex­ten­sive, adding that ev­ery sib­ling who was as­sisted would lead to ‘‘ tens of thou­sands of dol­lars in ben­e­fits’’ to gov­ern­ments.

Jurei­dini said one of the prob­lems was the de­bate whether re­spon­si­bil­ity for sib­lings should come un­der the health or men­tal health port­fo­lios, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to achieve on­go­ing sup­port. ‘‘ It’s crit­i­cal that gov­ern­ments en­sure there is a se­cure­ly­funded or­gan­i­sa­tion to help sib­lings, whether it is Sib­lings Aus­tralia or an­other group,’’ he said. ‘‘ In re­al­ity, only the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment can make this hap­pen.’’

Pic­ture: Brett Hartwig

Sup­port is cru­cial: El­iz­a­beth Brad­ford, whose brother is autis­tic, turned to Sib­lings Aus­tralia for help

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