It’s time for another examination of disability and the dominant Australian culture! Previously we’ve had Ableism and the Aussie Battler, now to the idea of taking a sickie.
“Taking a sickie” refers to taking a sick day off from school or work though one isn’t really sick. This is called “bludging,” that is, doing things for one’s own enjoyment or benefit when one ought to be otherwise engaged.
As I touched on in Ableism and the Aussie Battler, performing paid work, working hard to support a family, carries a lot of weight in the determination of one’s being a good Australian. Nevertheless, there’s also a great emphasis on relaxing, having fun and hanging out with one’s mates. As such, taking the occasional sickie is considered a very Australian thing to do: working is valued, but slacking off is a part of Australian life, too.
So, let’s consider what all this means for disabled people. I for one don’t take sickies, because I don’t want to risk being known as a faker; if people around me think I’m faking my disability things could get quite dangerous for me. Indeed, in Australia, as in many parts of the world, disabled people are often understood as slackers anyway. Where even taking legitimate time off is for disabled people fraught with guilt and potential accusations of slackness and faking, there isn’t a lot of room for participating in the cultural tradition of taking a sickie.
If you’re from Australia, how does this aspect of Australian culture play out for you? If you’re from elsewhere, do you have anything similar where you’re from?