Disability Groups Question Reeve's Visit
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 2, 2002
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--Advocates with the Physical Disability Council of New South Wales are openly wondering why the state is paying to have actor Christopher Reeve attend a January conference on spinal injuries at a cost of $135,000 Australia ($75,000 US), the Associated Press reported Monday.
"We are not opposed to medical research and we welcome any overseas visitor with disability to New South Wales," said council president David Brice. "But none of us can escape the realities of how life is today for many people with disability in the towns and cities of New South Wales."
"Why are people waiting over a year in many cases to get a wheelchair? Why are people waiting for better transport?" Brice asked.
Reeve is scheduled to speak at a forum on spinal injuries and at a dinner to raise money for a local research institute. The actor has strongly advocated for research aimed at curing spinal cord injuries since he was paralyzed in a 1995 horse-riding accident.
Premier Bob Carr defended Reeve's visit and the cost to the government.
"The money raised for research into spinal injury will vastly outweigh this relatively modest commitment the government is making here," Carr said.
Other groups in the past have criticized Reeve for his focus on curing disabilities instead of promoting the rights of people who already have or will acquire a disability.