Australian Cross Disability Alliance supports calls for the Department of Immigration to review decision relating to child with Down syndrome


7 April 2015

The Australian Cross Disability Alliance supports calls for the Department of Immigration to review its decision to deny a visa to a child because she has disability, despite finding her parents fit to live and work in Australia. The Fonseka family from Sri Lanka plan to work in a Christian crisis centre in remote Australia and claim their visa application has been denied because their daughter, Eliza has Down syndrome[i].

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) President Suresh Rajan said: “People are being reduced to formulas and this effectively sanctions disability discrimination,”

“People are reduced to an equation, or net benefit approach in a process that determines eligibility across the potential or possible cost to a community because of one’s disability. It fails to view these individuals as people who participate to the overall fabric of Australian life,” said Mr Rajan.

This case is not isolated. There have been reports of similar cases in the media[ii]. Damian Griffis, CEO, First Peoples Disability Network said: “Decisions such as these reflect poorly on us all as Australians, and unfortunately are indicative of a discriminatory attitude towards disability that still prevails,”

“If the system automatically discriminates on the basis of disability, then that system needs to be reviewed,” said Mr Griffis.

Matthew Bowden, Co-CEO, People with Disability Australia said: “Australia is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and this case highlights how far we still have to go as a society. There was a national outcry recently relating to discrimination against a young child with Down syndrome, and this decision sends a message about the way we view disability and diversity as a nation.”

Carolyn Frohmader, CEO, Women With Disabilities Australia said: “The Australian Cross Disability Alliance encourages the Minister responsible to review this decision and to recognise the value and contribution of people with disability.”

[i] Media report 1:
[ii] Media report 2:

Sara Irvine
0402 982 002

First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) is the national peak organisation representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families. FPDN utilises a range of strategies in its representative role, including through the provision of high level advice to governments, and educating the government and non-government sectors about how to meet the unmet needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) is the national peak organisation representing the rights and interests of people from non-English speaking background (NESB) with disability, their families and carers throughout Australia. NEDA believes in an inclusive Australia where cultural diversity and disability rights are valued as essential aspects of an equitable society.

People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWDA) is a national disability rights and advocacy, non-profit, non-government organisation. We have a cross-disability focus, representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability and our membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability. Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are respected and celebrated.

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the national peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. WWDA is run by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities. It is the only organisation of its kind in Australia and one of only a very small number internationally. WWDA’s work is grounded in a human rights based framework which links gender and disability issues to a full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. WWDA has affiliate organisations and networks of women with disabilities in most States and Territories, and is internationally recognised for its global leadership in advancing the human rights of women and girls with disabilities.

Phone: 02 9370 3100 Toll Free: 1800 422 015 Email: