Friday, 1 August 2014

The heartbreak of low expectations

Down Syndrome Australia (DSA) was greatly saddened to read the story of baby Gammy in today’s Fairfax media: Australian couple leaves Down syndrome baby with Thai surrogate.

“Our primary concern is for the wellbeing of this little boy and his family. In Australia we are fortunate that the additional health conditions often associated with Down syndrome are routinely managed through our healthcare system – something which is clearly not accessible from a village in Thailand,” said Down Syndrome Australia CEO Catherine McAlpine.

“We very much hope that the pro-bono reach of Australian hospitals and their partner charitable organisations will be available to assist in this heartbreaking situation. We are currently examining ways we can work with them to do so.

“In Australia life outcomes have never been better for people with Down syndrome and their families. Advcances in health care, early intervention and education have made a tremendous difference to the lives of people with Down syndrome.

“There remain however many barriers to ensuring people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Low expectations and lack of understanding mean that Australian children with Down syndrome still have trouble accessing mainstream education and adults with Down syndrome struggle to obtain jobs.

“For many people with Down syndrome the biggest challenge they face is the stereotyping and discrimination that follow from these negative attitudes and low expectations.

“Everyone in the Down syndrome community is heartbroken to see those attitudes played out with such devastating consequences for baby Gammy and his family.

“We will look at ways we can partner with other organisations to help this little boy and his family.

“It is a sad reminder to us of just how far we have to go to in changing attitudes to ensure people with Down syndrome can enjoy the same rights and opportunities as everyone else in the community. We have made great progress in recent times but there is still so much to do.”

Down Syndrome NSW response to media reports (1st August, 2014:
Executive Director of Down Syndrome NSW, Tracylee Arestides, has formulated the following brief response to media reports regarding baby Gammy. 
DS NSW is greatly saddened that baby Gammy's biological parents may have made the decision to abandon him based on the fact he has Down syndrome. 
We are looking at ways to help Gammy access the necessary health care he needs. 
We would also encourage people to support Gammy's Thai birth mother Pattharamon Janbuaand and her family who are caring for Gammy and bringing him up. 
We have had advice from Thailand that the GoFundraise campaign to support Gammy's surgery and his family is legitimate, however we are not in a position to make the decision for people to support Gammy in this way. We encourage our members to make their own enquiries and decisions.

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