22 June 2010
Today, a myriad of organisations representing large sections of the Australian public and electorate have welcomed the understanding and knowledge reflected in the report Enabling Australia, Inquiry into the Migration Treatment of Disability released by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration last night.
However, the recommendations are not going far enough and the disability sector calls on the Rudd Government to use the opportunity now to end the archaic and absurd situation of excluding people with disability from Australia.
Graham Douglas-Meyer, spokesperson for the organisations states that ‘The report is a welcomed assessment of the discriminatory migration practices in Australia. We appreciate the words of the Inquiry Chair Michael Danby in stating that, the Inquiry has found that the current Health Requirement reflects old-fashioned approaches to disability in particular and so unfairly discriminates against those who have disability.’
‘While we support the intentions of the report’s recommendations we believe that they are not reflective of the findings of the Inquiry and it is questionable and disappointing that the recommendations have been limited to administrative changes.’
Mr Douglas-Meyer notes, ‘Improved consistency, transparency and administrative fairness for migrants and refugees with disability applying for an Australian visa is very important and it is the strength of the report’s recommendations. Yet, the recommendations fall short in involving Disabled Peoples Organisation in any reviews as mandated by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).’
‘The discriminatory nature of the current legislation and practices demand a full application of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to the Migration Act 1958. Nothing less. We therefore commend and endorse Senators Sue Boyce and Sarah Hanson-Young on their additional recommendation to such effect.’
Sibylle Kaczorek, further spokesperson for the organisations states, ‘the fact that the report has not removed the cost assessments of visa applicants with disability is in direct conflict with the UNCRPD and the social model of disability.’
Ms Kaczorek questions the effectiveness of the Report’s recommendations, ‘as it stands people such as Mrs Simran Kaur will have no more confidence in Australia’s migration practices even if all recommendations were to be accepted by the Government.’
Mrs Kaur has lived in Australia since May 2007 and has successfully completed a Diploma in Community Development since then. Her application for permanent residency has been rejected on the grounds of not meeting the health requirements due to her vision impairment. Mrs Kaur is financially supported by her husband.
Ms Kaczorek highlights another case of 25 year old New Zealand woman Milly Burrows who has a hearing impairment. Ms Burrows has lived in Australia for nine years, she owns a home in Australia, completed her Victorian Certificate of Education and a Diploma of Auslan, the Australian sign language, she is currently studying a science degree at an Australian University. All her social networks are in Australia.
Ms Burrows states, ‘determining desirability of an individual to be a member of society purely by monetary measures the Government is putting a price tag on human worth. I don't think it’s that simple or superficial, people with disabilities have a role and contribution to our society that can be given by no one else, the value of this is not determined by a price.’
Kaczorek notes, ‘the Government now has an opportunity to embrace the social model of disability and act in the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Not to do so will go down as a failure of the Rudd Government and expose as rhetoric its statements on fairness and social inclusion.’
The organisations referred to in this press release will develop a joint statement with a more detailed response to the Enabling Australia Report, the statement will be available on request.
Sibylle Kaczorek is the Executive Officer at NEDA. The National Ethnic Disability Alliance is the national peak organisation representing the rights and interests of people from non-English speaking background (NESB) with disability, their families and carers throughout Australia.
Graham Douglas-Meyer is the Chairperson of AFDO. The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations has been established as the primary national voice to Government that fully represents the interests of all people with disability across Australia. Its mission is to champion the rights of people with disability in Australia and help them participate fully in Australian life.