Category: Uncategorized

New dog tests Graeme with old tricks

IMG_0376So, hi peeps. I’m the new dog in town, and I thought it was time I dragged myself off the dog bed and got to the old dude’s keyboard. Especially after I trended in Australia on twitter last week. That’s way cool on my first attempt. But more of that later.

Let me tell you about myself for those who have not met me. I’ve been around with the old dude for about a year so many of you may have.

I’m a golden lab — almost white really — and I’m super cute. Out of harness I’m pretty upbeat, but when the old dude picks up the harness and lead I’m pretty chilled. Not that I don’t want to work as a guide dog. I just don’t want him to think he’s totally in control. He’s a control freak you know.

I grew up with this great family of puppy-raisers — three boys and a girl who love me to bits. I’m a bit of a chewer, but quite selective as I only go for left shoes. I over indulged on one and had to have my stomach pumped. I chew much less now, just gnawing through the occasional leather lead when the Old Dude is giving a particularly boring speech. He does go on!

I go back to visit my puppy-raising family occasionally and have so much fun. They are awesome.

I started work with the Old Dude in January last year. It was hard at first and I got stressed as. But I’m finding it easier now that I’m a little more experienced. If I have had a tough day I still make the occasional raid on a rubbish bin at home. Whatevs!

Last week the Old Dude and Mrs Old Dude were moving stuff between our current house and the new house in Sydney. They are quite close, and the stuff was wheeled on trolleys. I just cruised along off-lead, you know, hanging out.

It struck me that they weren’t paying me nearly enough attention, so I thought, let’s give them a wakeup call. I just wondered off for a bit of a cruise on my own.

I was always going to come back — in my own sweet time — but you know what humans are like. They panicked. They rang up Guide Dogs NSW, who sent out an instructor to help look for me. And then the Old Dude had one of his brighter ideas, and told Twitter I was missing.

Well, that viralled of course. Trended in Sydney and Australia. Got mentioned by the ABC and a shed load of other tweeps. It was being re-tweeted for a week afterwards. Not bad for my first social media appearance — I could have told him tweets about me would have far more reach than tweets about him.

I rocked up outside the front door about two hours later, after a sniff-a-thon and a bit of a mooch around. I was always coming back — free board and food, a bath once a fortnight, and regular visits from Rachel. Sweet deal for a millennial dog like me. They were so excited when I returned — I just said: “Yeah right”, and went to my bed for a sleep.

Then Mrs Old Dude had one of her bright ideas. They have attached a Tile to my collar, and use @TheTileApp to keep track of me on the internet. They can locate me with their smartphones. They think I won’t like it, but I think “Way cool dudes, I have a permanent online presence”. What more could a 21st century dog ask for? Fully sick. And Arrow, thought she was so switched on blogging.

Arrow says I should blog like this regularly but hey, commitment is so last century. So, I think this will be an occasional series — you know, when I can drag myself off the dog bed.

See ya peeps.

DOG BLOG … or FINDING A WAY: Hey! That’s My job

DOG BLOG … or FINDING A WAY: Hey! That’s My job

I love travelling with the boss. I get to go for a walk with him each morning – he usually goes with Maureen. So many good smells here in Adelaide, but quite dry and hot.

He spoke to the Disability Justice Plan Symposium this morning. They are doing some great work here. And I got to sniff the leg of the Deputy Premier – I suppose that is an honour.

Then off to the airport again. People keep wanting to grab the boss’s arm and push him around. Makes it really hard for me when he can’t give me harness directions. I really don’t get why people do that – they wouldn’t like it if someone pushed them around like a piece of furniture.

Wow, we’re flying to Brisbane and then to Cairns today. That’s another 2150 km, making a total of 3520 km for the week.

At Brisbane airport they have a dog toileting room. Great idea, but they’ve put fake grass in here. Don’t they know my nose works 500 times better than theirs. I’m not toileting on that. What’s wrong with a big tray of sand or dirt. Some humans just don’t get it.

Cairns, warm. Great. Much better for the old arthritic hips. Hope we stay a while.

Friday 20 November

Nice walk again early this morning, except that I kept getting swooped by a noisy minor – well the boss thought he was being swooped, but it’s not all about him. I don’t get birds – can’t they work out that I do not have the capacity to fly, even if I wanted to. So there is no way I am touching their nests. Oh well…

Life Without Barriers board meeting today. They’re a nice bunch, and it’s a long meeting, so I get to catch some more Z’s. I think they laugh at me a bit when I snore – they should hear the boss.

They’re handing out Christmas presents now. The boss gets a nice tie and a stubby holder – well done, he needs some new ties, I’m getting a bit bored with the old ones. And look, they’ve given me a bone – how good is that. What a thoughtful mob – recognising how much work I do getting the boss from place to place. You should stay on this board boss.

Oh, this is different. We’re catching a shuttle bus now. A bit tight between the seats when I’ve still got my harness on Boss. And these metal floors – what’s wrong with a bit of carpet.

We’ve arrived at . Nice! And the apartment here is lovely – ground floor so the boss can just let me outside when – you know…. Don’t worry boss, there’s no side fences to this yard, but I’m not going anywhere. As long as you keep feeding me I’m staying around.

Saturday 21 November

We must be staying here for a while. He installed the Apple TV this morning. Maureen probably told him to.

Oh well, the music he plays certainly beats his own tuneless rendition of Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

Or “cricket on the radio.” If I here that one just once more I’m into some serious shoe chewing. That would get him worked up.

Now I shouldn’t be nasty to him – he’s just let me out the back and given me my bone to chew. Back in a while folks – got to get your priorities right.

Mmmm that bone really hit the spot – thanks LWB. He only gives me dry food so it’s nice to break out occasionally. And because of my wheat allergy I have to watch what I eat or my ears get really sore. Still, if he takes me to the beach I might get some salt water in them – that seems to help. I wish Rachel were here – she takes me to the beach and the park much more than the boss does.

Anyway, full tummy, time for a sleep while he writes. Always writing – I never get a chance to use the computer and keep my blog up to date.

Woops, I’ve been caught. He’s discovered my blog on his blog site. He doesn’t seem too concerned though. He won’t like it if my blog gets more comments than his – ummmm, I’ll have to watch that.

Sunday 22 November

Yep we’re definitely staying. He’s got the boardies on this morning. Wonder what we’ll do up here.

Looks like another quiet day for me. He’s writing again. I’m getting the feeling that there are a lot of speeches coming up for the international day. Should be good – people always drop nice crumbs at those type of events.

YIPPEEEE Maureen and Rachel arrived this afternoon, and Rachel has a friend with her. Two teenagers – I feel runs on the beach coming up. Only problem is they went off to the restaurant for dinner and didn’t take me – that happens a bit when the boss is with the family.

Monday 23 November

We went out today. Caught the shuttle into Port Douglas and did more shopping. Maureen and Rachel are much better shoppers than the boss. Although when he’s in the super-market by himself I can get away with more sniffs at the meat fridges if they’re down at my level. Oh well.

It’s pretty hot up here for a dog with as much hair as mine. Being black doesn’t help. And I can’t stand still on the hot bitumen – it burns my feet. OUCH.

Back to the apartment and air-con. Thank goodness. The air-con in Maureen and Graeme’s bedroom is activated by a movement sensor. They haven’t caught me yet, but if I run in there quickly while they’re not in the apartment I can turn it on. Then I lie just outside the door on the cool tiles and I’m pretty chilled. I could get to like this lifestyle.

They went for a swim in the pool after lunch but didn’t take me. I’m sure the boss could argue he needs his guide dog to show him the way in that pool. Sometimes he just doesn’t try hard enough on my behalf.

And then, when it cooled down later in the afternoon, that beach walk I’ve been waiting for. And off the harness. EXCELLENT.

Rachel and her friend kept chasing me out of the water. They keep mentioning something about stingers, but I reckon with all my hair I’d be ok. Any how, they’re not having it. A couple of rolls in the sand were nice though. There are some great new scents down here which I checked out, and I managed to eat something on the beach before they could stop me. Pretty good all round.

Tuesday 24 November

Rained last night. They have serious rain up here. No sprinkles or light showers. It just drops in buckets. Noise woke me up in the night, and it takes a lot to do that.

Another quiet day. I’m enjoying it.

They went to the Wildlife sanctuary today and had Lunch with the Lorrikeets. The boss said I couldn’t go. The two places I am not allowed are zoos and the surgical wards of hospitals. It’s something to do with cross-infection, and possibly upsetting the other animals. I’m getting a bit bored with being left in this apartment by myself. And then they went in the pool again without me.

Still, Maureen and the boss took me for a walk on the beach at night. That was fun. And on the way to the beach, because the path is quite dark, I got to show both of them the way. Pretty awesome.

The moonlight on the beach tonight was beautiful. I kept out of the water – may be there is something in this stingers story. But just running along was fun. And in the dark I can run just far enough away so that Maureen can’t see me – like to test the boundaries a bit sometimes.

Wednesday 25 November

They went out without me again this morning. I know, it was only to pick up a rental car. But they could have taken me. Anyway, I’ve given them a little reminder that the “home alone” scenario does not always play out well – I tipped over the garbage bin and went through the contents. Some quite tasty things to lick in there.

The boss and Maureen were appalled when they got back. But I had a nice time, and chewed most of the packets to get what was left inside. Rachel came in and pretended to be angry as well, but I know that really she thought it was quite funny. Oh well, they’ll think twice about leaving me alone again.

We drove to Mossman Gorge today. Not far from where we are staying, and once you get up into the gorge it is beautifully cool. It’s a national park, so I have to stay in harness. But Rachel persuaded the boss that it would be ok to take me down to the water and let me have a walk in it and a long drink. That has got to be some of the freshes water I have ever enjoyed.

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There are a lot of ants and insects up there which bothered me a bit, but apart from that I really liked it. A few tourists had dropped some crumbs amongst the rocks, so I helped by cleaning them up. Don’t want the wild life up here getting used to the wrong types of food do we.

They left me in the apartment again this afternoon, but after being out in the heat of the day I didn’t mind too much. Just popped into the bedroom and turned on the air con and it was beautiful. Anyway, the boss is talking about going sailing, and I’m not keen on boats. Then something about watching cane toads race – I think I can skip that.

Thursday 26 November

Quiet day inside today. The boss is writing again. I feel a lot of moving around coming up next week, so I’d better get my strength up. I might have a look at his calendar when I go on the website to post this blog to see what we will be doing.

A tale of two Attorneys

I was buying the family fish and chips when attorney general Philip Ruddock called to appoint me as human rights commissioner and disability discrimination commissioner in December 2005. One of the things he said to me, after informing me and congratulating me, was that I must do the job “without fear or favour”.

As human rights commissioner I reported on three inspections of immigration detention centres, two under the Howard government. I conducted the Same Sex: Same Entitlements inquiry, and the Howard government did not implement my recommendations. I supported Australia’s participation in the drafting of a Disability Convention, which was initially opposed by the Howard government.

I disagreed many times on policy issues with Howard ministers and staffers. Our discussions were sometimes “free and frank”, usually civil and never personal. My views were regularly questioned, my integrity was not.

When the Rudd government was elected and Robert McClelland became attorney general he said to commissioners: Sometimes you’ll give us a kicking. Sometimes you’ll support us. That’s your job. He took the Ruddock approach, sometimes questioning our recommendations, but never our integrity, as did attorneys-general Nicola Roxon and Mark Dreyfus.

Things changed in September 2013. My first sign was when a George Brandis staffer berated me for my criticism of Myer. I had called out Myer CEO Bernie Brookes for his assessment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme levy as being “money that could have gone through our cash registers”. The disability sector and others vehemently criticised his remark. When he made what I regarded as a “Clayton’s apology” the next day I joined the criticism, and recommended that he rectify his error by committing Myer to hire more employees with disabilities and commit to a 10 % target – a call to employers I made numerous times. The Brandis staffer questioned my judgement rather than my policy approach.

The trend continued with Tim Wilson’s appointment as human rights commissioner without a selection process, and fresh from the Institute of Public Affairs, whose policy was to abolish the Commission. Until that point, both sides of politics, as well as the Commission, understood that the position of human rights commissioner was redundant. From the time I moved from that role in 2009, the president, Catherine Branson, and then Gillian Triggs, carried the role.

The ill-fated Labor bill proposed in 2013 to consolidate Australia’s human rights legislation abolished the position altogether. This part of the bill was not opposed by Brandis in opposition. However it never came to the parliament.

Wilson’s appointment meant that the resources of the Commission were so stretched that when my term as disability discrimination commissioner ended last July the position was not filled. Susan Ryan got the job, as well as her full-time job as age discrimination commissioner. She had no lived experience of disability, although she is doing the best job she can.

The decision to conduct the children in detention inquiry was made when I was still at the Commission in 2013. All commissioners made it. Commissioners before me had inquired into the issue, I reported on three inspections of the centres, Catherine Branson inquired as well. The Commission has been concerned since the late 1990s that Australia has not been complying with its commitments under the Refugee Convention.

While the number of children in detention is less now than under Labor, those there have been there for much longer. Also, information about people in detention was significantly harder to obtain from the immigration department after the Coalition took power. In conducting the inquiry, the Commission was just doing its job “without fear or favour”.

The Forgotten Children report was received by the attorney general last October. The message to undermine Triggs clearly went out this January. It has happened ever since, climaxing when the government initiated discussions about her resignation, and talked of other employment.

Triggs was hammered in The Australian, although supported in most other media outlets. It isn’t the first time The Australian has attacked the Human Rights Commission – let’s not forget the time they put Tom Calma’s Canberra house on their front page, questioning what he as an Aboriginal man (who happened to be an outstanding bureaucrat) would know about Aboriginal welfare in the Northern Territory. They ignored the fact that this was where he came from. There are other examples too.

Part of our democratic system, and the rule of law, provides that a key duty of any attorney general is to defend judges and statutory officers doing their jobs, because they are not in a position to easily defend themselves. Far from defending, Brandis has attacked. It is he who has made the serious error of judgement. He has “shot the messenger”.. Triggs has advocated human rights compliance by Australia – she has done her job.

The “play the person, not the ball” approach was followed when Senator Ian Macdonald, chairing the Senate committee considering the report, admitted on Tuesday that he hadn’t read it because –
he said – it was partisan. How “chicken and egg” is this – if he hasn’t read it, how does he know it is partisan?

But you know, I agree with Malcolm Turnbull. This is not the main debate. We should be debating why children are still in detention, as Gillian Triggs has sought to do.

(This article was originally published in The Guardian.)

“(tags graeme innes, ruddock, phillip ruddock, McCleland, robert mccleland, roxon, nicola roxon, brandis, george brandis, brookes, bernie brookes, myer, attorney, attorney-general, triggs, gillian, gillian triggs, tom calma, ian macdonald, senator, without fear or favour, fish and chips, the guardian),

What’s in the name?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” said the bard in Romeo and Juliet So what’s in a name?

Some dogs are famous individuals – Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Inspector Rex, and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s dairy. Their names are famous because of their pursuits, or what they achieve.

But some dogs are famous as groups. The St. Bernards with the keg of brandy around their necks, St_Bernard_with_barrel_alt

the explosives detection dogs which support our diggers,201492-sapper-darren-smith

the sniffer dogs looking for drugs or illegal imports. Quarantine detector dog

And of course, guide dogsSoutheastern+Guide+Dogs+Puppy

I love my guide dog. She is great at her job. I love walking, and she provides me with a far more relaxed and faster means of travel. On familiar routes she is almost perfect.

arrow is the cutest

She’s also a great addition to the family. She provides support and safety to my teenage daughter. She is an excellent foot-warmer for my wife. Her friendly lick on my leg in the morning is a great start to my day. And her leaps of excitement when I get out her harness so she can work just give me a warm inner glow.

But why is her name so important? “What’s your dog’s name?” is the most common question I am ever asked.

My standard answer is – “I don’t use her name unless I’m giving her a command”. I answer this way both because it is true (she responds very well to her name and I don’t want to lose that), and because if I tell people her name it will encourage them to pat her, or interact with her when she is working. These things make it harder for her to work, and puts my safety at risk.

During the time we have worked together (about eight years) I have been asked this question about six thousand one hundred and forty five times. That’s more times than most test cricketers score runs in their careers.  It’s not quite as many times as my dog and I have had hot dinners,dutch-hotmeals-mainbanner but its close to podium. Aus PC X Bradbury

I understand that people are evincing a genuine interest, and I get why they want to know. But I am well and truly over answering this question. I find it a little unnecessary and intrusive, but much less so than a lot of other questions people with disabilities are asked. But you can only repeat the same answer so many times before you start seriously contemplating the more extreme alternatives – which could involve physical harm to the questioner or the answerer.

I don’t want to be rude when I answer, saying things like “mind your own business” or “I’m not telling you.” That’s not the best way to oil the wheels of human interaction.

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I don’t want to keep saying what I have said for years – not because its not true, but because I’m downright bored with saying it.

bored_lion

Perhaps I should try flippancy – “I can’t tell you, she’s working under cover” Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.40.34 am or “I’ve forgotten”.

Perhaps I should attach a small speaker to her harness, so that I can play a message saying “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t tell you that.”

chess_2001_space_odyssey

What do you think? Please give me some ideas? I’m getting desperate! All suggestions will be seriously considered, and I will tweet the ones I choose.

(Graeme Innes has come to the end of his repetitive tether, and is desperate not to be dogged by the same request).

Throwing your lollies out of the Cot

Changing attitudes changes lives Cody’s story will cause different reactions.

Many people will be appalled that teenagers could be allowed to play a game like rugby where such serious spinal injuries could occur. Many people will be saddened about a young life they consider much diminished, and view Cody as a victim. Many people will think that Cody and his family were heroes because of the positive approach they took in the face of such adversity. Only a few of us will think, as I do, “I’m sorry that occurred.

Disabilities requiring someone to use a wheelchair, just like other disabilities, are part of the human condition. How can we best support Cody to enjoy and contribute for the rest of his life.” Cody shares my views. He says “I don’t want people to treat me any different. I’m sitting down all the time, but apart from that I’m still the same.”

And his story, and the interaction with his family and mates, bear this out. Negative attitudes towards people with disabilities do not come – in the main – from hatred, meanness or negative intentions. They come from lack of awareness and understanding. Cody was sixteen when his accident occurred. His story, the first episode in the Attitude series on ABC television at 6 30 on Saturday nights, (and available on ABC iView) is one of many being experienced by people with disabilities.

We are teenagers, sports players, mums, bankers, accountants, truck-drivers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, academics, etc etc etc. We just want to live our lives, not as victims or as heroes, but as agents of our own destiny. And the biggest barrier we face in doing that is the Attitude barrier – we are prevented from living our lives by the limiting and negative assumptions made about us by people without disabilities. Every day, on the train, in the street, in my work and in my leisure people assume that there are things that I cannot do because I cannot see.

There are a few – but trust me not nearly as many as you think. I read, I write, I travel, I love, I parent, I pay the mortgage – ordinary things that ordinary Australians do, whether or not we have disabilities. Cody’s story, and the six other episodes in the Attitude series currently going to air, are taken from “the vault” of Attitude Pictures in New Zealand.

They have been making such programmes as these in New Zealand for the past ten years to change attitudes of people in New Zealand towards people with disabilities. And they are succeeding! We want to do the same thing in Australia – change the attitudes of Australians towards Australians with disabilities. Because we know that changing attitudes changes lives.

If an employer accepts that I can work as a lawyer, rather than assuming that I can’t, and gives me a job, that will change my life. If a fashion retailer assumes that people with disabilities buy fashionable clothes, and includes models with disabilities in its advertising, that will change our lives.

If you use pictures as well as words in your signs, that will change our lives. If you don’t park in our accessible parking spaces, that will change our lives. And if you caption your advertisements on tv and in cinemas, so that people who are deaf or hearing impaired can follow the spoken word, that will change our lives.

Cody’s story is powerful because of his attitude. He says “I love challenges. i’m happy to come across something I can’t do, and go back to it later in the week or in a few years, until I can do it.” And Cody’s dad says “He hasn’t thrown his lollies out of the cot. He’s got plans. He’s gonna be a Wheelchair Black.”

You can help Change Attitudes by supporting our Start Some Good campaign. We are crowd-funding our first Australian programme, and we’ll build to an Australian series. Join us today to help change attitudes towards people with disabilities.

Don’t Bugger Off Now: We Need You

I saw Stella Young perform last Wednesday night at the closing function for the Don’t Dis my Ability campaign. Her opening lines were something like-

“Now before we start tonight, I just want to thank all the able-bodied people in the room. I’m so pleased that your friends have brought you out tonight, and that you are here. You are just so – what’s the word – so inspirational.”

From then on, for the next twenty minutes, she had the crowd in the palm of her hand – laughing, cheering, and applauding. Her stories of ordinary life as a person with a disability were funny, poignant, but always contained a powerful message – “It’s not our disability that’s the problem, its the way you view it, and the barriers that you put in our way.”

I didn’t even bother to talk to her last Wednesday night. There was a big crowd of people, and I thought I’d just catch up on twitter or the phone some time soon. And now she’s gone – at 32 way before her time.

I would have loved her to write my eulogy. I never expected or wanted to write hers. “You can’t bugger off now: we need you.”

How do I describe Stella Young. Feisty, smart, quick mind, sharp wit, great communicator – speaker and writer – and passionate disability advocate. Good friend, who would call me out publicly as the Disability Discrimination Commissioner if I wasn’t speaking strongly enough, or acting quickly enough, but have a drink or a coffee with me as a friend, and strategise on how to progress disability issues.

If you haven’t seen her Tedtalk, go and watch it now! If you haven’t seen the “room for change” five-minute films made as part of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Twenty Years Twenty Stories films, search it on Youtube and watch it now. If you haven’t read her powerful articles on Rampup and ABC The Drum dealing with disability, violence against women, do yourself a favour, go and read them now. If you haven’t followed her on Twitter, go and look @stellajyoung

Stella didn’t achieve the National Disability Insurance Scheme implementation on her own – but she made a significant contribution. Stella would be the first to admit that she could not have run Rampup on her own – she needed all those of us with disabilities who contributed articles. Stella wasn’t the only one to use social media to achieve positive change for people with disabilities – but she led the charge. Stella has not ensured that every music venue and bar in Melbourne has an accessible toilet not stacked with cleaning materials – but she has, with her force and charm, taken many along that path.

Stella had so much more to do. She was energetic, passionate and committed. But not only did she communicate so effectively, using humour to pass on her message, but she worked hard to ensure that the voices of other people with disability would not be silent.

This woman, who said that she could break a bone just by breaking wind, will be sadly missed. Her legacy will be that all who are disability advocates will campaign harder to achieve the change she sought. Heaven must have been short of a few laughs to take her so soon.

This article was first published in The Guardian.

An Excellent Save

Several weeks ago in this blog I wrote about Westpac and how I was “locked out” of my bank. This was because the Go button on the banking app did not work for users operating via voice output.

So it is only fair that I tell the rest of the story.

There were two issues about which I was upset. The first was that, because the Go button did not work, I was effectively prevented from doing my banking, or “locked out”. The second issue was Westpac’s response – whilst the member of staff to whom I spoke was friendly and helpful, her response indicated that Westpac were aware of the problem, and that there was no immediate plans to address it. So I was blocked – during the Christmas and new year period – from using an app which I had used perfectly happily for a number of years before it was upgraded. But other customers who did not use voice output were not. I felt excluded, and I felt hurt.

A previous occasion when I, and many other Australians with disabilities, were hurt in this way was when Myer’s Bernie Brookes said, on the day of the increase of the medicare levy to part-fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, that this was money which would not be spent in Myer stores. Hundreds of people with disabilities reacted to this comment. The next day, Myer made an apology straight from the Claytons song book.

On that occasion I expressed how hurt I was by that half-hearted apology, and challenged Myer to do something positive, and commit to an employment target of 10% of people with disabilities. This was a challenge I had issued to many other employers, and 30’000 Australians supported my call.

Westpac took a very different approach. The head of the relevant IT area in the bank contacted me personally, after I had published my blog, apologised, and explained that Westpac took access for everyone very seriously. He and I then worked together to narrow down the cause of the issue. So unlike Myer, Westpac made a full apology and sought my support to resolve the problem.

It turned out after further investigation that the problem only occurred when My braille keyboard was connected to my iPhone – whenever I disconnected it, the Go button magically reappeared. Westpac have tracked this down to incompatability between the Go button, which is a generic Apple tool, and braille keyboards. Westpac have reported this to Apple, and are moving to return to the old login process – which did not use Apple’s generic Go button – until Apple solve this incompatability.

There is a clear lesson here for all businesses. Whether a business, or an individual, none of us are infallible. So it’s how you go about dealing with the mistake which is important. I am no longer “locked out” of my bank, and I have withdrawn my discrimination complaint.

You can be Myer My Store and say my way or the highway, or you can be flexible and support diversity like Westpac, and stay simply the best.

Not Getting The Point

Picture the scene. It’s been a lengthy cab ride to the airport for my guide dog and I. The driver and I have chatted. We have agreed on politics and sport, but expressed different views on the weather and choice of radio stations. Situation normal.

The traffic hasn’t been too bad, so I’m in plenty of time for my flight. And I know a good cup of coffee awaits on the other side of airport security. Life is ok.

I pay the fare, and am about to get out when I ask the driver to tell me where the entrance is. Cabs can pull up along the front of the terminal, so I like to get some broad direction.

“it’s just over there,” he says, as I feel his arm raised in front of my face to point.

How do I respond? Do I just get out, not having the information I need? Do I ask him to tell me again, because my dog wasn’t watching where he pointed? Do I explain that I can’t see the direction of his digit?

“Pointing doesn’t work for me,” I say, “is it behind or in front of the car.”

“It’s right there,” he replies, pointing again. His physical action showing that he has not got the point.

I get out defeated, hoping my dog will find the way. Which she usually does. She’s a labrador, not a pointer.

This is a regular experience for me. Many people have trouble giving clear directions.

“It’s to your right,” they say confidently, when they mean left.

“You turn left here,” they say, when they mean go straight for another five metres and then turn left. I try to smile as I brush the dust from my clothes, having turned left immediately and walked into a wall or a tree.

But my favourite is “It’s just there,” as I imagine there finger pointing confidently in a direction which I cannot determine.

Perhaps I should reach out and grab their arm, encourage them to hold it steady while I track it down past elbow and wrist, and – using touch – determine the direction in which I should travel. If I could find there arm, that is, without grabbing various other more inappropriate sections of clothing or anatomy.

Perhaps I should train my guide dog to watch carefully, and point her nose in the direction shown by their finger. My dog is good, but that may be above her pay scale.

But until then, or when the penny drops for those who resort to the directional digit, I will continue with my life, not getting the point.

Graeme Innes is a Don’t DIS my ABILITY ambassador, lawyer and disability rights activist. He was Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner from December 2005 to July 2014. He now Chairs the Attitude Foundation which uses story-telling and the media to change attitudes about people with disabilities, because changing attitudes changes lives.

This article was originally published in “Made You Look” the Don’t Dis My Ability campaign publication.