by Carly Findlay
Originally published: May 2, 2017
I'm tired of influential people using disability slurs as insults. As long as these people continue to use them, the average person in the workplace or schoolyard or street will think it's OK, too.
Last week, it was revealed that Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chief John Coates wrote in an email that an AOC staff member should "get in the real world" because the AOC was not a "sheltered workshop". The staff member had cancer, was undergoing chemotherapy and, according to her boss, rarely missed a day of work.
The Australian Paralympic Committee has condemned these comments, describing their impact as "a hard battle". Dylan Alcott, three-time Paralympic gold medalist, was one of several Paralympians to speak out about Coates' comments. "Using derogatory language like 'this isn't a sheltered workplace' - with its tone and purpose to denigrate people with disabilities, implying that people with disabilities are second-class citizens, and cannot do the work of an able-bodied person completely negates all the positive progress that has been made."