Campaign calls for end to disability migration discrimination
13 March 2020 at 12:02 pm
Advocates say current migration laws reinforce the stigma and discrimination that people with disability already face
The federal government is being urged to change migration laws so that people with disability are not discriminated against when trying to move to Australia.
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) and Down Syndrome Australia have launched a new national campaign, Welcoming Disability, which is calling for an investigation into the application of migration laws to people with disability and those with health issues.
Advocates say people are being refused Australian visas simply because they have a disability or health issue, despite meeting all other requirements.
Current migration health requirements excludes people with disabilities or illnesses from receiving a visa or permanent residency, if they will likely require health care or community services above a cost threshold of $49,000 over 10 years or for the length of their temporary visas.
Campaigners are also calling for a re-examination of a 2010 Enabling Australia parliamentary inquiry which said these requirements unfairly discriminate against people with disability.
Angus Graham OAM, chair of Down Syndrome Australia, said for too long people have been excluded from Australia just because they or a family member have a disability.
“Families who are making significant contributions to our communities are being told they have to leave because they have a child with Down Syndrome or another disability,” Graham said.
“Not only is this policy unjust, but it reinforces the stigma and discrimination that people with disabilities already face.”
Natalie Wade, ALHR vice president and chair of its National Disability Rights Subcommittee, said migration laws must change so that people with disabilities or health issues are treated fairly and have their human rights respected.
“Australian migration health requirements are exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act however a review of this situation was recommended by the United Nations in its 2019 Australia Report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Wade said.
Advocates say the federal government must immediately review all 18 recommendations from the Enabling Australia report.
These recommendations focus on the need for migration health requirements to better reflect a modern understanding of disability, and call for the significant cost threshold level to be raised.