I connected with same great people yesterday. I was in Toowoomba at the (re)opening of the Australian Cultural Library, which has just moved to new, more spacious premises. This library is a hidden gem in Toowoomba, with a fascinating eclectic collection of old books, music, posters and artefacts. Totally volunteer run and worth a visit – 1st floor of the Chandler Building at 488 Ruthven St.
From there I went to meet with a group of local Greens members and supporters, including a few of the party’s candidates at the looming state election. One of those is Alyce Nelligan, who is a local disability activist and currently running as the candidate for Toowoomba South. I found it very valuable to hear directly from Alyce about the extra difficulties that people with disabilities face as a result of government failure and neglect. The ongoing government attacks on people who receive welfare payments, including the disgraceful long-standing failure of Centrelink to be readily contactable, is usually portrayed as affecting unemployed people, but it also makes life much harder for people receiving disability, carers or sole parent payments. I hope having more candidates such as Alyce engaging directly with politics will enable the views and experiences of people with disabilities to be better heard and understood.
I finished the evening back in Brisbane with the great opportunity to hear two refugees from Iran talk about their story. Mojgan Shamsalipoor is a young woman living in Brisbane who has endured years of uncertainty, including long periods needlessly moved around immigration detention centres, forcibly separating her from her husband Milad. The two of them have written a book about their story, called Under the Same Sky. They are an inspirational couple, and despite the fact that Milad is soon to become an Australian citizen, Mojgan is still at risk of deportation from Austalia (which would also mean permanent separation from her husband). If you want to help the campaign to ensure Mojgan has freedom and a secure future, you can find more details at this link.
As I was leaving the event, news came through that the Premier would be calling a state election in the morning – which will undoubtedly give some extra pep to the doorknocking I was planning to help out with in the morning.