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Budgeting for disability

By Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Wednesday, 12 November 2008

So, you thought discrimination against people with a disability was a thing of the past?

Think again.

Not only are people with disabilities still treated as sub-human, it's politicians and government officials who are excluding them.


People with disabilities are constantly given cruel reminders of just how much damn money they're costing all us fit and healthy people.

German doctor Bernard Moeller and his wife Isabella have been denied permanent residency in Australia because their 13-year-old son Lukas has Down syndrome.

Dr Moeller and his family moved to Horsham to relieve a chronic doctor shortage. The Immigration Department has refused the Moeller’s application for residency because it says Lukas' condition would be too much of a burden on Australia.

"Lukas is discriminated against because of his disability and we thought that it would be different in Australia," says Dr Moeller. "It's really unfair, not only to Lukas, but to our family and to the community at Horsham because we've settled in really well and we love it here."

The Kayani family also suffered this discrimination. Refugee Shahraz Kayani sought to bring his wife and three daughters from Pakistan to join him after he became an Australian citizen. But he was denied family reunion because his youngest daughter has cerebral palsy.

The family had undertaken to cover all her care. Devastated by the Government's enforced separation, Mr Kayani set himself alight outside Parliament House and later died.


Why is this system of apartheid against the disabled allowed to continue?

This same attitude can be found in a submission to a Senate finance committee: written in the name of 41 of our elected leaders, the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, chaired by ALP Queensland Senator Claire Moore, gives a cost-benefit analysis in which the abortion of a disabled baby is seen as a bargain for government.

Supporting Medicare benefits for late term abortion, the submission - which happens to be identical to that of the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance - says that without this funding, we'd end up with more people with "high support needs" being born. The "cost" and "impact" "cannot be ignored".

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About the Author

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. Melinda is author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief after Abortion (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000), Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (Spinifex Press, 2006) and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Melinda is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation ( Melinda blogs at

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