Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Australia - Another family's application for residency refused because child has Down syndrome

From The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

Dozens of families with Down syndrome children are rejected for permanent migration to Australia each year, the Down Syndrome Association of WA says.

Another case has emerged of a family's application for residency being rejected on the basis of their child having Down syndrome.

A British midwife working at Joondalup Hospital in Perth is due to leave Australia after failing in a six-year battle to win permanent residency, News Ltd reports on Sunday.

The woman's Down syndrome child was not individually assessed as part of that process.

"This is standard practice," Down Syndrome Association of WA migration spokesman Jan Gothard told AAP.

"It is literally the tip of the iceberg ... people ... go through all the hoops ... they're absolutely fine and then they get the letter back saying, `everybody's fine except your son failed the health test', Dr Gothard said.

"This happens all the time."

"The child could be perfectly healthy, absolutely no health issues at all, but they have a disability."

The Perth midwife has had her application assessed by the Migration Review Tribunal and her future in Australia now rests with Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

Her case follows that of Lukas Moeller, the Down syndrome son of German doctor Bernhard Moeller, who brought his family to Horsham in Victoria two years ago.

That decision is now being challenged by the federal health minister and the Victorian premier.

"Migrants bring a net benefit to the economy ... why do we look at people with disabilities and see them only as costs?," Dr Gothard said.

"We don't look at someone and say, oh you can't bring your aged or elderly mother because she might be a cost to the community."

The Down syndrome association says laws which exempt the Migration Act from the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act need to be changed.

See earlier story:

Australia: No residency for boy with Down syndrome