23 January 2012

Migrant NZ family sue Australia over disability aid

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A couple from New Zealand are suing the Queensland government for discrimination after repeatedly failing to qualify for disability services for their severely disable daughter due to her citizenship status.

Australian visa

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has promised to address the treatment of Kiwis in Australia.

Glenda and David Campbell had been trying to secure disability aid to help care for their 19 year old daughter Hannah, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy, since their move to Australia in 2006. However, after being informed they would need to wait two years, they were then told that she would not be eligible.

Mrs Campbell acts as a full time carer for her daughter but struggle to pay for Hannah to attend a day centre two days each week while Mr Campbell, a bus driver, is the sole wage earner.

"There is just no support" said Mrs Campbell, "it's very difficult, we are just coping day by day."

A spokesperson for the Queensland government said they were committed to helping parents of disabled children but that a person must either be a citizen or hold a valid Australian visa which gives them permanet residency in the country "to be eligible for specialist disability services in Queensland".

Obviously disappointed with this, the Campbell family have decided to begin a lawsuit against the Queensland government on the grounds of unlawful racial discrimination.

The lawsuit is just the latest in a sequence of cases intended to address the treatment of New Zealanders in Australia including a nine year old autistic boy who was similarly denied care in Western Australia and Kiwis who were denied disaster recovery payouts in Queensland after floods in 2011.

The entitlements expat Kiwis in Australia are entitled to are in stark contrast to those expat Australians receive in New Zealand; all Australians who intend to live in New Zealand for more than two years are entitled to the same social benefits as native New Zealanders.

A law changed in 2001 however, prevents Kiwis in Australia from reaping the same benefits when they were reclassified from permanent residents to temporary.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has stated he intends to hold talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Goddard this month to address the imbalance.


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