Australian born children are being denied access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) because their parents are New Zealand citizens.
Labelled a ‘clear case of discrimination children born in Australia to New Zealand parents or on special visas cannot access the NDIS scheme because of government rules. The insurance scheme is open to people who are either citizens or permanent residents.
But a loophole in the visa categories sees many New Zealanders living in Australia falling under a special visa category – meaning they cannot access the insurance scheme for their severely disabled children.
Under the rules surrounding the special visa category, children born in Australia are eligible to become citizens until they turn 10, meaning essentially those children will lose out on the vital funding for support and treatments.
In a recent interview with the ABC News, Mum, Angela said that this was exactly the case for her seven-year-old son, Toby Bensemann. Toby was born premature in Sydney in 2008 and has since been diagnosed with autism.
Angela said with the help of early intervention her son had gone from strength to strength.
“Toby has just flourished, he exceeded all our expectations in his first couple of years at school,” she said. “We went from having this little 24-weeker who we were told probably wouldn’t survive, and if he did he would be severely disabled, to having this wee boy who was going to mainstream school.”
Angela desperately wants her son to continue to receive the early intervention assistance, but has been told her son is eligible for NDIS funding as he is not yet aged 10 and consequently not an Australian citizen. She feels frustrated by the circumstance and feels it is discriminatory to refuse her family access to the scheme.
“I feel broken to be honest because I’ve got this wee boy who desperately needs help to learn how to cope in society and with his emotions, and I just feel that all these doors have been closed on us,” she said. “The simple fact is if you pay that levy you should be able to access the benefits of that service.”
More than 626,000 New Zealand citizens are now living in Australia under that visa. Although they may be living here for decades, the visa is classified as a temporary visa.
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