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Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
9am-5pm Monday - Thursday
T: 9841 444

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

History of immigration discrimination - old thinking, old laws

Jan Gothard and Charlie Fox are parents, historians and members of Down Syndrome Western Australia. Charlie Fox has written extensively about the history of people with intellectual disabiity in Australia. Jan Gothard has taken up the cause of people attempting to imimgrate to Australia, who have a family member with a disability, over a number of years.

They have combined their skills, experience and analysis in a lucid account of the evolution of immigration policy and practice, resulting in the dissonance between the law and current Australian values, published in The Australian (17th November). They conclude:

Families with a child with a disability, such as those supported by (Prof Fiona) Stanley and other health experts, should not be put in the position of having to fight their way through the Migration Review Tribunal before being accorded the right to bring their skills and qualifications into Australia. The family of Tracey Robinson, who finally received ministerial approval for migration last week, had waited more than six years for a resolution and over that period had to endure an appeal to the tribunal as well as to the Federal Court. Immigration Minister Evans should be called on urgently to exercise his discretion and offer closure to the many other families in waiting. But above all, the DDA should be changed and its clause 52, like the White Australia policy before it, should be consigned to the dustbin of history. It's time to throw aside legislation cast in century-old attitudes, and for the Rudd Government to do for disability what the Whitlam government did for race.

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It was also reported yesterday that the Department of Immigration has requested that 13 year Lukas Moeller be subject to another medical review, despite two previous assessments, and no actual health problems. The (Melbourne) Herald-Sun reported that his father, Dr Bernhard Moeller " ..... angrily refused the request last week, despite fearing it could affect the outcome of his visa review."

"Lukas has Down syndrome. That's not going to change," Dr Moeller said. "It makes me angry. We've done the medicals twice. It's just more bureaucracy."

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