The health criterion requires that every person seeking a visa (including dependent children) secure a health assessment demonstrating that they are unlikely to need $21,000 of health care during the life of the visa. This means that a family full of highly qualified Doctors (for example) will be denied residency in Australia, purely because of their child’s disability – even if the family is willing to put a few million dollars in a trust account to cover the child’s health care needs.

Obviously this rule has been the subject of much criticism.

Critics point to the fact that Australia has ratified Article 18 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

That Convention aims to preserve the rights of all people to live anywhere that they choose – and disability should not be a barrier

Australia is starting to listen – and just last week, Chris Bowen, Minister for the DIAC, announced:

  1. migrants who suffer from health problems or disabilities will be granted easier access to visas.
  2. DIAC will no longer assume that these migrants are a burden on Australia’s health care system, and will now adopt the “net benefit” approach which involves comparing their health costs with what they can contribute economically and socially to Australia.
  3. from July 1, 2013 the government will increase the Significant Cost Threshold to $35,000, up from $21,000, which is the fiscal level at which a visa applicant’s health costs are considered significant.
  4. The DIAC will streamline health waivers to bring offshore and onshore protocols in line.
  5. DIAC will consider the other recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s report, Enabling Australia: Inquiry into the Migration Treatment of Disability over the coming weeks.

Advocates for disability groups have welcomed the announcement:

Vision Australia international relations manager Maryanne Diamond stated: “…it is totally in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 18, and Australia has ratified that convention that says people have the right to live anywhere that they choose and disability should not be a barrier.”

The National Ethnic Disabilities Alliance chief executive Dwayne Cranfield told SBS “…that the immigration department should really consider the skills that disabled people have which have been overlooked in the past…” “…the cultural diversity that is brought in by disabled foreigners is a positive in and of itself…”

The DIAC also clarified the government’s position by saying that public health is one of his department’s concerns.

“Of course, the government’s priority is the protection of public health so we will continue to apply rigorous and consistent health screening procedures.”

Only time will tell – The Migration Place is experienced at seeking waivers of the health criterion, and also at collecting evidence to satisfy the criterion.

If you have any health issue, or if the DIAC have queried your health, then you should contact The Migration Place ASAP.