A Chinese father has stopped taking the medication that controls his hepatitis B in a last-ditch bid to keep him and his family in Australia.
Paul*, who wishes to remain anonymous, has lived in Sydney since 2012 when he moved with his wife and young children on a student visa. His children have received most of their education in Australia and speak English as their primary language.
Paul later began teaching and applied for an employer-sponsored visa (subclass 186) that would allow him and his family to remain in the country permanently.
But last year he found out he had failed the government’s migration health requirementbecause he has hepatitis – and it was deemed his healthcare would cost the taxpayer too much.
The government’s immigration health criteria dictates that an applicant for Australian residency must be free from a disease or condition which “would be likely to require health care or community services” that would “result in a significant cost to the Australian community”. Currently the “significant cost threshold” sits at $40,000.
After failing the health requirement, Paul has stopped taking the antiviral medication he had been taking since 2006, believing its cost is what stopped him pass the health requirement. He is now waiting for the results of medical tests, which hopefully will show his liver is functioning normally without medication, in the hope it will lead to the medical officer overturning their original decision.
The Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) spokesperson said there had been no changes to the health requirement that would increase the number of visa applicants failing the test. Chronic viral infections, such as hepatitis B, are considered a disability under both Australian law and international conventions. In Australia, laws dealing with migration are exempt from anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of their disability. According to DOHA, a specific medical condition alone does not mean someone will fail to meet the health requirement. The DOHA spokesperson said they do not comment on individual cases, but do not support individuals ceasing medication without consulting a health professional.
*Name has been changed