Thursday, 10 June 2010

New ways of frittering away spare time

When I travel to my classes and lectures I go by bus. Today the time spent on the bus was longer than usual, because the bus, and all other traffic was held up by a march and demonstration by workers and unionists in favour of equal pay for women. While equal pay generally applies, there are many jobs predominantly done by women. Their wages are significantly lower than those paid for male-dominated jobs. These workers have a good case. Many of their jobs involve caring - for children, for disabled or for others. Our society needs such people - but nonetheless does not pay them well.

The march took me back to when I first joined the workforce, when female rates were much lower than male rates. The rationale was that men supported their families - although women supporting families somehow were never paid the male rate. After my graduation I joined the public service, working in the National Library, where the majority of librarians were female, but the senior positions were generally held by men. Married women could not be permanent employees, nor belong to the superannuation scheme. Equal pay was brought in by the ALP government elected in 1972, and permanency for married women was brought in sometime later. Of course, many jobs are now no longer permanent. I worked part time for years, and could not join the superannuation scheme until I worked full time, and as a result my superannuation is not enough to live on independently. There are still many people whose lives were greatly affected by the mores and the discriminatory laws of the past.

My spirits improved along with the weather. The sun has been shining. But it is cold now, even in Sydney. Winter is really here now, and last night, for the first time in years, I wore pajamas to bed. This was not a pretty sight, nor a good idea. The pajamas were a gift from an airline, of the one size fits all variety, and whoever designed them evidently failed Elementary Fashion Design. The pajama experiment will not be tried again, because the legs roll up to the knee, and this is uncomfortable. I can think of better things to do in bed than to yank down the pajamas legs from knee to ankle. Yes, OK. I was actually thinking about sleep.

While selecting the pajamas from the dim recesses of drawers which are full of old clothes which are never worn but which might come in handy some time, I came across some silk pajamas which originally I bought for hospital when I had surgery for breast cancer. These silk pajamas will probably go to Vinnies now, as they do not fit me any more. Back to the light cotton nightie.

Dr P had a doctor's appointment this week for his Vitamin B12 injection. Getting him there and back is almost fit stuff for a documentary. While we were there I asked our nice GP whether it was appropriate to apply for a Carer's Allowance. This pays a small fortnightly sum to the carer. He agreed it was. Having downloaded the form, of over 20 pages, I sat down to fill it in.

The questions they ask! Other than those providing details about the extent and level of care needed, they want to know whether you are Australian born or not, and all sorts of other things, the necessity and relevance of which are questionable. Dr P was born in Austria. His family was Italian, but his mother went to Vienna for the birth. The form requires you to list all countries which the person for whom you are caring ever lived in. Now I have no idea how long Dr P was in Austria before his mother returned home with him. Probably several weeks at most. She is long dead, he was a baby. No one else knows. They would all be dead too. Then they want to know the date he arrived in Australia. He knows the year, but not the day or the month. He cannot remember, and it is the least of the things he can no longer remember. It is more than 70 years ago. Who cares? They want to know the airline or the name of the ship on which they travelled! They also require you to list the countries outside Australia to which you, or the person being cared for have travelled for short trips. For goodness sakes!

Many years ago there was a proposal to create a system of national identity card. This was seen by the then Glorious Opposition (since returned as another possibly less glorious opposition) as a fundamental breach of and invasion of our liberties and right to privacy. If I remember rightly, the bill never came into effect because the Senate had the power to disallow the regulation fixing the commencement date of the legislation. It was careless drafting, and since then the commencement date of legislation is part of the act. So what happened? We do not have an ID card, and by default the driver's licence has become, to all intents and purposes, an ID card. But not everyone has one.

Dr P surrendered his licence last year. His passport lapsed some years ago. I cannot find a copy of his birth certificate. The only forms of ID that he has are his Tax Assessment notice, and his naturalisation certificate. Thank heavens. But what happens to the elderly, to those who do not drive, or who have no passport?

Now you would think that in these days of data sharing, computers and the like, that if they did really did need such information, they could check the tax records and the births, deaths and marriages, files, etcetera. Government departments routinely do data matching on the passengers on all sorts of things, including airline flights in and out of Australia, to pick up travelling patterns and coincidences, so why am I required to spend all this time providing information about myself and my 86 year old husband who is an frail aged person requiring much care? I am tempted to contact my local MP about this, if I can summon up the energy after filling out the form and seeing the doctor again to get him to complete the form for the medical report.

Tomorrow we will be visited by someone from the Aged Care Provider. Unfortunately, Dr P took the phone call making the appointment and although he noted down the date and time, he cannot remember the purpose of the visit. We have had a physiotherapist visit, but Dr P is reluctant to do the recommended exercises.

At the end of next week J1, (SD 2, the Wicked Step Daughter) will be visiting. They can all play Happy Families. I hope to go to Canberra and thus we can all avoid each other's contaminating presence. My breast can fill with parental and grandparental fervour, and there are all sorts of enjoyable things to do there.


molly said...

I doubt anyone ever reads all that mumbo-jumbo anyway, sooooo.....time to do some creative writing! Often the people handling the forms are barely literate, and probably only check that all the slots are filled! You could write the information in Swahili [or Italian!] and you'd still be fine. Just don't miss a box! Have a lovely time in Canberra!

Pam said...

I'm filling in forms for my aunt to apply to retirement homes. They need all sorts of info that I don't have such as her National Insurance number and so on. Gah. I'm with Molly. Make it up.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, just checked the BoM website and it's 9 degrees outside as I type this, which is way too cold for this Queensland girl. I have hopes of England being warmer, but feel sure I am in for disappointment. At least we now have sunshine, after all those weeks of rain.

VioletSky said...

Lordy, but that sounds an insane amount of irrelevant information. I would be tempted to fill in whatever - you could always say Dr P filled it in and when he changes his story, they'll understand. Hopefully.

Word Verification is 'slasher'
please don't take that as a hint!!
have a good visit in Canberra.

Meggie said...

I hope you have a wonderful time in Canberra.
As to the pyjamas, I wear huge ugly ones when it gets too cold, and they seem to remain where they should. I think the fact that the cold has been so sudden has caught us all off guard.
As to form filling, it all seems so pointless. I have to jump through ridiculous hoops to handle accounts that Gom once handled. They act like I am some 'pretender to the position of wife'.