Earlier this month I met with a community member, Ms Wen Jiang. Wen is 46 and has lived for 30 years suffering from rheumatoid arthritis—a condition that has not only had a crippling affect physically but in all areas of her life.
Like 5,000 other members of my community, Wen receives the disability support pension, unable to work any longer due to her chronic medical condition. Lack of mobility often isolates her in her home. She suffers daily pain. She has had two hip replacements, a knee replacement and ankle surgery. She has disfigured hands and feet. Fusing in her neck causes nerve pain. Wen faces the possibility of spinal fusion. She will require more surgery in the future.
Despite all this, Wen gives back to her community by volunteering at the Laverton Community Hub three days a week. Her pension buys the numerous necessary medications, the costly supplements, and her specially designed shoes. She wears second-hand clothes.
Wen was concerned about the now confirmed GP tax, changes to the PBS and the pension. She felt compelled to come and speak to me to ensure I understood that she would not have chosen this life.
I stand compelled today to put a face to people in receipt of the disability support pension who, although struggling in their day-to-day life, continue to make a valuable contribution to my community.