Joint submission: Recommendations to the Review of Australia’s visa Significant Cost Threshold

More than 70 of Australia's leading disability and civil society organisations have endorsed wide-ranging recommendations to reform the nation's archaic and degrading migration laws.

Civil Society calls for an end to discrimination against migrants with disabilities

More than 70 of Australia’s leading disability and civil society organisations have endorsed wide-ranging recommendations to reform the nation’s archaic and degrading migration laws.

The recommendations are part of a submission made by the Welcoming Disability Campaign to a public review of Australia’s migration health requirement being conducted by the Federal Government.

The recommendations call for an end to the Migration Act’s exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act and reforms to ensure that Australia’s approach complies with its legal obligations under core international human rights treaties.


Welcoming Disability recommends that the Federal Government:

Recommendation 1 – Implement Recommendation 4.32 of the 2023 Report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and Recommendation 36(a) of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2019 Concluding Observations to Australia by reviewing and removing:

  • the exemption in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) to certain provisions of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth);
  • Australia’s interpretative declaration to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • all forms of discrimination against people with disabilities and health conditions in Australia’s laws, formalities and procedures relating to migration and asylum in order to ensure compliance with Australia’s obligations under: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the remaining core United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party.

Recommendation 2 – Immediately increase the unrealistic and internationally out of step Significant Cost Threshold (SCT) to a level that is at least commensurate with comparable democracies such as Canada and New Zealand.

Recommendation 3 – Reduce the assessed SCT time frame applied to permanent visa applicants from ten years to five years in line with the practice adopted in comparable democracies such as Canada and New Zealand.

Recommendation 4 – Formalise a definition of “significant cost” as a cost that  exceeds the average costs of the Australian resident, as assessed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Recommendation 5 – Tie the SCT to AIHW figures in order to enable regular and automatic incremental adjustments to the level of the SCT and establish a fixed and transparent relationship between the combined annual per capita expenditure on health and welfare as published by the AIHW and the SCT, to align with the notion that a significant cost is necessarily greater than the average cost.

Recommendation 6 – Recognise that the right to education is a fundamental human right belonging to all children by immediately removing “special” education or supported education from Policy settings that include it as a community cost for the purposes of the MHR.

Recommendation 7 – Grant all children with disability or health conditions born in Australia to temporary residents an automatic waiver of the MHR.

Recommendation 8 – Implement the recommendations of the 2010 Enabling Australia Inquiry Report with particular regard to the Inquiry recommendations that were accepted within the Federal Government’s 2012 Response, but which remain unimplemented, including:

  1. granting all visa applicants the right to apply for a waiver of the MHR by dispensing with PIC 4005;
  2. abolishing the “one fails, all fail” rule;
  3. abolishing the requirement for non-migrating family members to meet the MHR; and
  4. abolishing the “hypothetical person” test.

This submission was prepared by the Welcoming Disability Campaign.

The eight key recommendations within this submission are endorsed by the following organisations and experts:

  1. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR)
  2. Down Syndrome Australia
  3. Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  4. National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
  5. People With Disability Australia
  6. Children and Young People with Disabilities Australia (CYDA)
  7. Women With Disabilities Australia
  8. Inclusion Australia
  9. LGBTIQ+ Health Australia
  10. ACON
  11. Amnesty International Australia
  12. Equality Australia
  13. Australian Women Lawyers Ltd.
  14. Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)
  15. Advocacy for Inclusion
  16. Physical Disability Australia
  17. Rights and Inclusion Australia
  18. Human Rights Law Centre
  19. Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University
  20. Australian Lawyers Alliance
  21. Migration Institute of Australia
  22. Public Interest Advocacy Centre
  23. Neurodivergent Labor
  24. Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS)
  25. Centre for Law and Social Justice, Newcastle University
  26. Deafness Forum Australia
  27. Cystic Fibrosis Australia
  28. Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability
  29. New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties
  30. Liberty Victoria
  31. University of Sydney Disabilities Collective
  32. Equality Building
  33. Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion
  34. SCALES (Southern Communities Advocacy Legal & Education Service)
  35. AMPARO Advocacy
  36. Imagine More
  37. Disability Voices Tasmania
  38. RIAC (Rights Information Advocacy Centre)
  39. The Growing Space
  40. Speak Out Advocacy
  41. Rights In Action
  42. Kurdish Program on 3ZZZ Community Ethnic Radio
  43. SANE
  44. Crossing Borders
  45. Equality Lawyers
  46. Down Syndrome Victoria
  47. ACT Down Syndrome
  48. Down Syndrome Queensland
  49. Estrin Saul Lawyers
  50. Dr Jan Gothard, Migration law and policy expert
  51. The Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC
  52. Graeme Innes AM, Former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner
  53. Professor Adam Jaffe, UNSW Sydney
  54. Professor Julian Trollor, Acting Director, National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health; Head of Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry; NHMRC Leadership Fellow, UNSW Medicine and Health, UNSW Sydney
  55. Kim Oates AO Emeritus Professor, Client Health, Sydney University
  56. Professor Christine Bigby, Director of the Living with Disability Research Centre, La Trobe University
  57. Professor Keith R. McVilly, University of Melbourne
  58. Cornelia Koch, Adelaide Law School
  59. Dr. Dinesh Palipana OAM
  60. Professor Susan Harris Rimmer, Griffith University
  61. Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny, School of Law and Criminology, Murdoch University
  62. Dr Robin Banks, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania
  63. Michael Small, Director, Equality Building
  64. Helen Said
  65. Nathan Kennedy
  66. Professor Charlie Fox, UWA History Department
  67. Kathryn Viegas
  68. Min Guo
  69. Samantha Norman, RMA
  70. Jane Kenway, Emeritus Professor, Monash University, Professorial Fellow, Melbourne University
  71. Sarah Pettit, Associate Director Mapien