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Media Releases

MEDIA Release January 7, 2016

Yesterday, ABC News published a story detailing the plight of the Fonseka Family from Sri Lanka, and how a young girl is being denied permanent residency status because she lives with disability.

The story by ABC News can be found here:

In March last year, NEDA and Down Syndrome Australia became aware of the Fonseka family’s situation and called for action, requesting Government to reconsider its original decision. Currently, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are still reviewing the case.

NEDA wishes to highlight that the Fonseka Family’s situation is not isolated. Australia’s discriminatory immigration policy which effectively ‘screens out’ people with disability from settling in Australia routinely negatively affects numerous migrants and refugee families and communities. This is a key advocacy issue for NEDA throughout 2015 and 2016.

‘It is extraordinary that a nation that has committed to the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disability (UNCRPD) continues to have a Migration Act that is exempt from the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act’, said NEDA President Mr Suresh Rajan.

“The Fonseka case is one of many such cases that we have dealt with in recent times. We continue to emphasise that this is a blot on the record of Australia as a humanitarian nation and we urge the government authorities to act to remedy this immediately” Mr Rajan added.

NEDA urges the Government and Minister Dutton to overturn the decision and to bring about a just outcome for the Fonseka Family.

For further information please contact NEDA CEO Mr Dwayne Cranfield on: 02 62626867 or NEDA President Mr Suresh Rajan on: 0413436001.



MYEFO 2015-16 measures will hurt migrant partners and children of Australian citizens and permanent residents

The government is proposing to save $225 million over four years by removing exemptions from the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period for new migrants who are family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents from 1 January 2017.

The effect of this is to reduce support for new Australian families.  This is short sighted policy that affects vulnerable families facing the challenges of adapting to life in a new country, just when they need more support not less.  Supporting new migrants to Australia benefits the whole community.

Under the current law, new migrants to Australia generally have to wait two years after the grant of their permanent visa[i] before they can access most income support payments.  However, there are some exemptions from this two-year Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period (NARWP), which include an exemption for a person who is a family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident (of at least two years).  This exemption is mainly for partners or children of an Australian citizen or permanent resident.  Other people may be treated as family members, but in practice this is rare.

In our experience, this measure will mainly affect partners of Australian citizens or permanent residents.  Its effect will be to reduce support to these families at a critical time, increasing financial stress and hardship.

We call on the government not to proceed with this proposal.

For Comment

NWRN President Kate Beaumont: 0448 007 428

NEDA Offie (02) 6262 6867

FECCA Office (02) 6282 5755

[i] The NARWP commences from either the date of arrival in Australia, or the date of grant of permanent residents visa, whichever is later.


MEDIA Release December 15, 2015

The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) has received clarification about questions raised by NEDA President Suresh Rajan as to the employment of family members to support people living with disability within the NDIS. This area of support has always been of concern for NEDA and an area that was identified as an area of concern by people who live with disability from within the CaLD/ NESB community. We also recognise that it could be an area of some concern to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Often English may well be the fourth or fifth language that they may speak. Under those circumstances, family members may well be the only people able to provide these needed supports.

For NEDA, the concern has been the ambiguity of the ruling and mixed messaging from senior staff at the NDIA. Some members of the NDIA had stated that the employment of family members was a reasonable process to accept while other senior management at the NDIS stated that it was not cut and dry and that it may have been warranted in exceptional circumstances.

The letter from the NDIA now clearly states, “The NDIA will not fund parent/ family members of participants to provide personal care supports except in exceptional circumstances”. The NDIA then list what those exceptional circumstances might mean.

NEDA CEO Dwayne Cranfield stated that “we are seeking clarification from Jenny Macklin MP as one of the architects of the system, while in government, as to what the policy was during their time our recollection is that the original policy was more open”.

Suresh Rajan NEDA President stated “of concern is that the ambiguity leads to an individual interpretation that may vary from one NDIS planner to another, that the policy is subjective and open to personal values and does not embody true choice and control, the hallmark of the NDIS.”

“This is a significant issue for all recipients of the NDIS. To be able to employ family or friends given their possible special cultural and linguistic needs can be far more an issue for the CaLD/NESB and ATSI communities. We must give all people true choice and control” Mr Rajan further stated.

For further information, please see the full letter from the NDIA on the NEDA website at or for further discussion please call Dwayne Cranfield NEDA CEO on 02 62626867 or Suresh Rajan NEDA President on 0413436001.