On November 25, 2015, we remember the dead from 1788 to 2015– we mourn for those who have died at the hands of those who were supposed to care for them – we mourn for those who have passed and whose names we may never know, names long lost. We mourn for those people we have lost from our community and to remind the world that their lives were valuable, that their murders and deaths were tragedies.
November 25, 2015, is a significant day because it is the day that the Senate Inquiry into institutional violence, neglect and abuse against people with disability is released. November 25th is also White Ribbon Day, Australia’s only national, male-led Campaign to end men’s violence against women. Since people with disability experience violence in all the places that they live or are cared for, where women, children and men are all vulnerable, it is relevant that in this first year the memorial service will be held on this date.
However, a National Disability Day of Mourning, where those who have died through neglect and abuse are remembered with a diverse range of flowers in different locations around Australia is needed. It a day where we not only mourn people with disability will but we reaffirm our commitment to ending violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability. We reaffirm the unity of our community in standing against our history of unrecognised violence and murder of people with disability.
In a much bigger picture I believe there should be an International Disability Day of Mourning because what has happened in Australia is not unique, it happens everywhere and in history the Nazi “euthanasia” campaign is a prime example of how people with disability are deemed to be unworthy to live. Over 300,000 people with disability were put to death through starvation, drug overdose or via the gas chamber.
There is now a permanent memorial in Berlin.
Author: Suzanne Keene