Sunday, November 2, 2008

Good News and Bad News...okay, yeah. This turns into a rant again.

The Bad News:  Australia has done something quite shameful...very bad.   If I was Australian, I'd be very embarrassed.   Hell, I'm embarrassed being an American obsessed with Australia.  I'm thinking I should lay low and/or change this blog name to The Girl Who Wished she Was Swedish.  You know, until this all blows over.  


What happened?   Immigration officials denied the Moeller family's application for permanent residency because their son has Down Syndrome.   They said the medical costs will be a drain on society.

If I strip away all my humanity and compassion, and look upon the matter in a pure financial and practical matter,  I can kind of take the viewpoint of the bad guys.   I'm not an expert on Down Syndrome, but I do know that it can involve intensive medical treatments and surgeries.   I'm sure it can be expensive to the taxpayers.

Here's the thing though.   You can let a perfectly healthy family into your country, one that does not need intense medical treatments.   And guess what?  They can get severely injured or suddenly discover they have cancer.

My parents had three relatively healthy children.   They were blessed.  One of my sisters was a preemie and had some very mild birth defects.    I had some minor issues and needed a little physical and occupational therapy.   My older sister was healthy.   Easy.   No major medical bills from that one.

Then she got hit by a drunk driver.  She was in a coma for about six weeks.   Hospital stays cost a LOT of money.   If I remember correctly, most of those six weeks were spent in an ICU. 

I'm sure the ICU aint cheap.

She had a broken leg, a broken pelvis, and facial injuries.   All of these needed surgery.

Worst of all, she had extensive brain damage.  

We had to use the services of a neurosurgeon--at least twice.   I'm sure that's not cheap either.

She had to have physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other stuff.

She's doing very well now, but she still has to take medicine that costs a lot of money.

I see blogs sometimes where parents talk about how blessed they are for having healthy children.

They read stories of children who are severely ill or handicapped, look at their own healthy children, and feel blessed.   The terrifying thing though is that tomorrow we might be the one people are feeling sympathy for.   I guess this is why we feel blessed.   We know it can be taken away at any moment.  

I think the thing that really upsets me about this particular story in Australia is that the Moeller family lived in Australia already for two years!   They're happy there.    The father works as a much-needed doctor in the community.   You know if you're going to be rude and reject someone, do it before they even come.   Don't let them get all settled and feel comfortable.

The Good News-Outside a few villains who made this decision, it seems a LOT of Australians are fighting in defense of this family.   

Who are the bad guys?   Some people in immigration-- although they said they're following the laws.     
Just doing our jobs people.   Move along.

The thing is I did a lot of looking at the Australia's Government immigration website; and I don't remember anything that said you can't live here if you have a disability.

But maybe I missed that.  Maybe I didn't pay enough attention.

I'm going to go look now.  

Well, I guess I didn't pay enough attention.    There ARE health requirements.

I'm guessing America has them too.  

Yikes.  I find the American immigration website much harder to navigate then the Australian, but here's what I've found.

It's sad.   I wish we could all just live where we want.  I wish moving to a different country was as easy as moving to a new state.    I mean not that moving is easy.  You have to pack and unpack.   You have to move heavy furniture.   But....you know what I mean.   Immigration is a pain.  

You know what I think they should have?   Trading Visas.    Okay, let' say a medical condition is draining on a country's financial resources.   But what if they found a family in Australia who had a child with a disability, and that family wanted to move to the country that the new family wants to exit?   They could just trade places!
 
AND.... I think it would be cool if I could move to Australia simply by finding an Australian who wants to become American.   Our families could just trade.  You live here and we'll live there.  

Oh!  Back to the good news thing.    It seems Australians (both the general public and many politicians) are against the immigration policy that has denied the family permanent residency.  

I think this is important.   It's bad enough to be rejected from a country because your son has Down Syndrome.   But how much worse would it be if it seemed most of the country supported the decision?

That doesn't seem to be the case here at all.

Labor Premier John Brumby spoke out against the decision.   Brumby is the current Premier of Victoria, the state where the family lives.   If I was part of the Moeller family, I think it would make me feel much better knowing that the state's premier was behind me.  

The federal health minister, Nicole Roxon also supports granting the Moeller family permanent residency. I'm guessing that's a pretty good person to have behind you!

Various newspapers have had editorials and letters in support of the Moeller family.

1.  Melbourne Herald Sun
2. The Age 
3. Bendigo Newspaper
4. Wimmera Mail Times (small town where family lived)

Petitiononline.com already has 1104 signatures regarding the Moellers.  

I've seen Aussie blogs bitching about the situation.   Actually, that's where I heard about the whole thing in the first place.

I am betting in the end, they let the family stay.

And I think the best thing is maybe this incident will bring more attention to such ridiculous laws.  

Maybe Australia will change their laws.   Maybe America will too.

America has some horrific stories regarding immigrants as well.   One that bothered me a lot was the one about the family who had recently immigrated from Peru.  They took a nostalgic photograph of their one-year-old breastfeeding.   Despite the fact that our culture has been brainwashed by formula companies and the over-sexualization of breasts, breastfeeding a toddler IS healthy and NOT sexual abuse.  

A family took an innocent photo, brought it to the drugstore to get it developed, and then had their children taken away from them.

Taking a child away from their loving and decent parents because you are ignorant IS abuse.

Disgusting. Scary.

This thing didn't just happen in my country. It happened in my state--while I was breastfeeding my own toddler.

Like in Australia, people didn't sit quietly over the story. There was a lot of protest. But even with the outrage and protesting, it took six months for the family to get their children back. That's a long time for a baby to be without its mother.

People really need to get their heads on straight.

We really all need to be better, and we need policies that protect families; not hurt them.

You know why? Because there aint enough room in Sweden for all of us.

P.S-I was joking way above. I still totally love Australia. I wish I could hug it right now and give it a kiss on its forehead. Maybe I can just go and kiss a map. Or I can kiss our bottle of Vegemite.





14 comments:

Jayne said...

It's a disgusting law that needs to be eradicated from the books.
A few years back an Indian-born doctor working in Brisbane applied for residency but got refused because his Aussie-born son had autism. So he, his wife and his Australian-citizen son were sent back to India.
It's happened to many others and is a load of rubbish as most of those applying for residency are professionals who have private health insurance, are earning huge amounts of money and can easily afford to pay for their child's care.

Stephen Moore said...

Stories like this come out every year or two. I wonder how common it is for people to be denied permanent residency because of this rule. Probably more common than we realise.

The last time such a case was reported - if I remember the story correctly - an elderly Chinese woman was denied a residency visa because of her age. Well, because of the health care requirements that come with being elderly. Her son(?) and his family were permanent residents here, and wanted to bring her to live with them. She had no other family in China. The denial of a visa to her was reported in the media, there was a big stink raised, and the Health Minister granted a visa on compassionate grounds.

Given that Minister Roxon has weighed in on this and made a public statement, it's a fair bet the Moeller family will be granted permanent residency.

Stephen Moore said...

Sorry. Just to be clear, Roxon as Health Minister has no power to grant the visa. That power lies with Senator Evans, the Minister for Immigration.

Nevertheless, I reckon the Moeller family will be granted permanent residency.

Dina said...

Jayne: It is very sad. If it's not about money, what is it about? Prejudice against the disabled? Unwillingless to ignore/change outdated laws?

Stephen: I knew about the age thing because of when I was looking at immigration visas for us. I think for the business visa and working visa, you have to be under 45. I think you can get a retirement visa if you're older, but you can't get permanent residency.

My husband would say "Maybe we'll move to Australia in a few years."

He's getting close to 45 though so I'd tell him...We don't have much time!

Oh wait. Awesome. Just looked it up. The business talent visa is for 55 and under. So we have some years to get ourselves a business. I'm wondering if they changed that???? I could have misread it. But I don't imagine so. I think I would have noticed something like that because I remember being nervous/disappointed.

Although the investment visa is for 45 and under. Maybe that's what I had seen before.

Anyway, yeah. I think the Moeller family will get to stay. I think the Internet is going to make it harder and harder for people to get screwed over.

Jayne said...

A link HERE to hundreds of residency applications refused on disability.
As Stephen Moore said - it happens a lot more frequently than we hear about!

Dina said...

Jayne,

Thanks for the link. I looked at several of the cases and they were all in the 90's and none for the 21st century or earlier. Do you know why that is??

I hope it changes.

I'm wondering if we have the same problems here or if we'd have less since are medicine is less socialized. I found this article http://www.gibbsmagazine.com/Disabled%20Right,%20But%20Do%20Not%20bring%20Them.htm

It's kind of what I expected. I think we're more likely to let them in, but then we deny them medical help and assitance.

Retarius said...

There was a famous and horrible case some years ago of a man who was attempting to bring his family from Pakistan. He had been granted political asylum and the obstacle to family reunion was a medical condition of one of his daughters.

After many tribulations he set fire to himself outside the Parliament house in Canberra. That's not the worst of it; he took 51 days to die in an ACT hospital.

It was a case, the particulars of which, pull the observer in various directions. He had returned to Pakistan several times after the grant of asylum and this caused many to question the validity of his claims. His explanation was that he had gone back to protect his family. If he couldn't protect himself, how could he help them? And if he was so concerned for his family's welfare, how did burning himself to death benefit them?

Such is the irony of these cases. Could any Pakistani torturer have devised a more terrible end for him? I've come to the conclusion, after stewing over it for a long while, that he was simply insane and suffering paranoid delusions.

There's never just one issue in these matters and very often the refugee advocates rush to adopt a claimant as the latest hood-ornament for their cause without looking closely enough at the whole matter. An example of this was the Bakhtiari family who had apparently been long-term residents in Pakistan before arriving in Australia and claiming to be directly escaping the Taliban. They made a bit of history when the sons of the family approached the UK High Commission in Australia for asylum as a fallback position. No luck there either. And back to Pakistan they all went.

As for this question of disability; the rules are no secret and the German doctor had no reason to be ignorant of them before coming to Australia. He's not an illiterate peasant. Once again, the wrong case to choose for a campaign, whatever the merits of the issue in general.

Jayne said...

Just found the more recent ones, Dina, they changed the name from Immigration to Migrant.
(Change the name but it still stinks!)
You'll find the recent cases HERE

Dina said...

Retarius,

It's not a secret in terms of some hidden document that's sealed and only top government officials can see.

It's not like Xena in Scientology.

But it's NOT very open. A few months ago, I was OBSESSED with moving to Australia. I would read the migration websites on a daily basis. I never knew there were medical restrictions like that. I probably saw the link to info about medical stuff. But I think what I assumed that it was a basic health exam--the same type you take for going to school and getting into camp. Making sure you have all your shots and you don't have some horrible contagious disease like TB or the Bubonic Plague.

I'm guessing by the reaction of many Australians that they were also not aware of this law.

It's not secret but it aint in your national anthem.

The song doesn't go. Australians let us rejoice for we are young and free....and not disabled so please don't come here if your child has autism or down syndrome.

As for the Pakistani man. I agree with you there. I don't see the purpose of torching oneself.

Jayne: Thanks the for the link!

Dina said...

Retarius,

I don't mean to excuse my ignorance or Dr. Mueller's. Anyone who is going to move to another country should read ALL the fine print.

But whether he did know or didn't know....is there a difference? Does knowing a law mean that you shouldn't fight against the law?

Watching The First Australians....there's been a lot of stinky laws in the world. Thankfully there are people out there who speak out against these laws and get them changed.

Jayne said...

Doesn't matter if the doctor was an illiterate peasant or not - it's a law that is discriminatory and should be removed.
The fact that Amanda Vanstone changed the Immigration Dept's mind over 1 family with an autistic child a couple of years ago proves it's not something everyone agrees with and that individual cases need to be assessed properly.

Dina said...

Jayne,

Well it might matter in the fact that I wouldn't want him as my doctor if he's an illiterate peasant.

No seriously. I agree with you. It is discrimination.

Hopefully, the law will be changed and it won't be something that people have to fight each time.

The weird thing is...if you go to the migration website, there's actually a visa section for people who want to come to Australia for medical treatment. So, what does that mean?? Actually, I'm going to go look it up again. http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/special-activity/685/index.htm

If you need medical treatment in Australia, you can get a visa that allows you to stay 3-12 months. I suppose you can come for treatment, but then they want you to leave. Actually, I think you can keep reapplying for the visa.

I'm low looking at the Doctor visa called the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme. I'm guessing this is the one that Dr. Moeller was on.

It talks about dependents (including children).

But listen to this:

Other relatives may be included in the application if they are wholly or substantially reliant on the employee for financial support for their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing and they have been reliant on the employee for that support for a substantial period.

They must also be more reliant on the employee for support than on any other person or source. A relative may also be considered dependent on the employee if they are reliant on them for financial support because they have a mental or physical disability which stops them from earning a living to support themselves.

Doesn't it sound like they DO welcome people with disabilities??? It seems that way to me.

Jayne said...

Abso-bloody-lutely it sounds like they welcome dependents with a disability!
That makes the discrimination even more bitter and sour.

Retarius said...

The Migration Act of 1958 is what, to borrow a political cliche, may be called a "battleground" law. Have a look at the Act on the Austlii website. Notice the extraordinarily detailed definitions of terms in the initial part.

These are the burning wrecks of tanks left behind after the immigration lawyers set about each other in the 1990's. No other law has such strangely particular definitions and it reflects the ferocity with which these cases are contested.

It's no wonder that the law is confused in the extreme. It's been pulled to pieces and restitched dozens of times in the past 50 years. There's one thing that you really need to understand about this: Australia doesn't have an "immigration policy". It has a set of continually changing laws and administrative practices which reflect the political fortunes of the factions pushing the various viewpoints.

A good analogy is the USA's position on the Mexican border-crossers.