13 June 2012

London police officer denied Australia visa over autistic daughter

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A London Metropolitan Police sergeant and his family have been denied an Australia visa over fears the state would have to pay for his autistic stepdaughter's condition.

Australia visa

The Threlfall family have fallen victim to a policy some accuse of being discriminatory.

Sergeant Peter Threlfall says he has spent over £5,000 preparing his family to move Down Under and is furious his 25-year-old stepdaughter Sarah's condition has prevented them from receiving an Australia visa despite her having two jobs and having no intention of seeking assistance from Australian authorities.

"Sarah is not a drain on UK resources and would not have been on Australia," said Mr Threlfall.

Australian immigration requirements currently stipulate that any potential migrants must not have health conditions which could place a burden on Australian healthcare services. Autism is considered to exceed these requirements.

Mr Threlfall has spent the past few months appealing the decision, claiming Sarah works two jobs and volunteers with the Scout and Guide movement yet has had little success and is now preparing to remain in the UK.

Mr Threlfall had secured a job with the Ceduna Police Force in South Australia and had even turned down a lucrative position within the Metropolitan Police.

The Threlfall family had hoped to repeat the case of the Lapidario family who avoided deportation on the grounds of having an autistic child when their local community offered to help pay for treatment but no such solution looks possible now, despite support from several within Australia.

"A decision made on some sort of disability shouldn't be grounds for someone being in the country, it is discrimination," said David Holst, chairman of the Intellectual Disability Association of South Australia.

Meanwhile Kelly Vincent, MP for the Dignity and Disability party has called for an overhaul of the 'discriminatory policies' which have ruined the Threlfall family's plans.

"It is very concerning and I think insulting to put all people with disabilities in the same basket," said Ms Vincent.

"We need to stop pretending that people with disabilities and their families don't pay taxes too."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian visa application with the Australian High Commission

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