In the Media

Dignity Party Candidate for Morphett Monica Kwan speaks to Peter Greco on Vision Australia

Peter Greco: Monica Kwan is the member for the Dignity Party candidate for the seat of Morphett Monica welcome.

Monica Kwan: Thank you. How are you Peter.

Peter Greco: I’m very well. Only about three months to go. What made you decide to put your hand up obviously it’s a fairly taxing and challenging thing to put a hand up to run for a state election. What made you decide to do that.

Monica Kwan: Well I think there’s a need to support and speak up for various disadvantaged groups especially people with disabilities and people who are marginalized by standing as a candidate I can provide them a voice to raise awareness of the need that we need to provide them.

Peter Greco: What about in terms of lived experience you speak from a person’s point of view who has that experience with the quote unquote system and disability.

Monica Kwan: Yes I have three children my oldest daughter has multiple disabilities. She has Down Syndrome, visual impairment and hearing impairment I’ve struggled alot through schooling for her to just get her the right appropriate schooling. Now we’re looking at getting planning for a job in the future. It’s a struggle for every step. So, I’m hoping to make this a bit easier for the future generations.

Peter Greco: If it’s okay to mention you are a doctor by profession. So you know like a lot of people might not have the what’s the word have had the blessings of having the education etc. that you have had in the area of being a doctor but you still faced challenges for example to get your young daughter through school etc.

Monica Kwan: It is difficult I think regardless of what level of education and achievement that the parents have; the difficulties are faced by the person with disability; the teachers assess the child and a lot of times before they actually properly assess them they already put them in the too hard basket. So it’s alot of fight to get them back out of that too hard basket to engage them into mainstream activity.

Peter Greco: So then they’re put in that box and is it hard to get people to change their minds.

Monica Kwan: It is a fight every step and practically the last 16 years. My daughter is 16. Almost every step they have to struggle to get things done for her. The last few years have been better we are now in a school that’s more open to accept various level of abilities or people and they are happy to try to get her to the highest level she can achieve.

Peter Greco: We’ve been doing this program and we’ve spoken to a number of parents with children with disabilities and one of the really good points that they make is when their child is at a school and the child has a disability and they mixed in with others who don’t necessarily have a disability it can be a great educational thing as well. You know the awareness and the education of those kids about disability is brought forward to them in a very powerful and very obvious way.

Monica Kwan: It is very true. People often a lot of times when people discriminate against people with disability, it’s because they fear they don’t know what to expect but once they have they know somebody who has a disability and interact with them they understand there’s a lot in common.

Peter Greco: And I’ve said earlier that message or that way of thinking can be brought into play the better. You know if it’s kids at preschool or year one sort of thing if it could be that young age that’s a great way to set them on the right road.

Monica Kwan: Very true. A lot of times I think reception they do keep them in the main stream often as they go on they often tried to drop the kids with disability off to special school and that’s what I think is not the right approach. The idea is to actually keep them in mainstream but provide support.

Peter Greco: For sure. Now I hope it’s okay to ask because we were talking about this during the week you are now part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and you’ve had I guess; you seen a couple of different sides of the scheme.

Monica Kwan: Yes it’s very interesting. We had 2 years in this scheme and very different experiences of the two years, the first year we had a very difficult interview she pretty much did not want to allow anything to be put on the plan. We struggled and she needed extra letters to support what we needed. But the second interview this year has been really good and the staff understood exactly what we were talking about, tried to get us the right support. It was a much more pleasant interview.

Peter Greco: So sometimes it might be a bit of a lucky dip as to how it goes in terms of the outcome.

Monica Kwan: That seems to be the case I suspect that the level of understanding of the staff are quite variable they haven’t got a uniform idea of what’s allowed or what’s not. So  I think they may need more education for the staff but the NDIS to go  a better way.

Peter Greco: So as far as this year goes your double thumbs up as far as the NDIS goes. Monica what about being a doctor. Do you think that’s despite the fact that it’s very challenging. Do you think that’s helped I mean even maybe seeing some of your patients and some of the trials and tribulations they’ve been through. Do you think that’s been a bit of a help a helping hand for you.

Monica Kwan: It helps me in the sense that I understand the medical needs for Grace my daughter, it hasn’t really helped me a lot in going through things to acquire things that she needs. However it opened my eyes to how difficult it is for people with disabilities to get the right medical care. Sometimes it’s just the lack of a voice for them to say hey these people also need the right treatment.

Peter Greco: Now you’re running for the seat of Morphett and I guess like a number of other candidates in the Lower House there’s 17 of you. It’s just raising that awareness so stuff on the radio some stuff on the ballot papers when people go into vote it just gets the message out there even if it’s a little bit subliminal.

Monica Kwan: That’s the idea. I think the main aim is to raise awareness. Everything goes that counts. If we can convince people to change their mind and be more inclusive that’s a win for us.

Peter Greco: We spoke to to Kelly Vincent the program of course and as the upper house goes Kelly’s the number one candidate and she’s done such a wonderful job that hopefully that will reflect  when people particularly vote in the Upper House part of the election.

Monica Kwan: Exactly, Kelly Vincent has done a marvelous job in everything that I have supported, to the state that she has been a great advocate for people with disabilities.

Peter Greco: Well Monica we wish you well you’re in the seat of Morphett and as I said to a number of other candidates I think the major parties are so much on the nose at the moment that you just wouldn’t rule out anyone being elected because I think theres an appetite out there for change and an appetite there I think for some honest politicians to be brought into play. So, you’ve put your hand up you’re in there so you to you and Grace as far as the future guys we wish you well and thank you for sharing a bit of time with us today.

Monica Kwan: No thank you Peter.

Peter Greco: That’s Monica Kwan there one of the members of the Dignity party running for a state lower house seat and Monica there having a crack for the seat of Morphett.