Counting the cost: the social construction and human rights conceptualisation of the disabled child migrant through Australia's migration processes
Natalier, K and Harris-Rimmer, S, Counting the cost: the social construction and human rights conceptualisation of the disabled child migrant through Australia's migration processes, The Future of Sociology: The Australian Sociological Association 2009 Annual Conference, 2009, Canberra, pp. 1-12. ISBN 9780646525013 (2009) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Copyright The Australian Sociological Association 2009
Children living with a disability who seek to migrate to Australia are currently subject to the health requirement, which excludes applicants on the basis of their cost to Australiaís health systems. While subject to seemingly objective processes of quantification, these children are in fact incorporated into a set of structures that order belonging and citizenship in classed, raced and ableist terms. The research was driven by the tale of two families. The most recent case was that of Dr Bernhard Moeller, a German doctor practicing in rural Victoria who was denied permanent residency because his 13 year old son, Lukas, has Downs Syndrome. In November 2008, the Minister for Immigration Chris Evans used his discretionary power to waive the health requirement and grant permanent residency after waves of sympathetic media coverage and public support. A Parliamentary inquiry based on his case is currently in progress. In contrast, in April 2001, a previous Minister Philip Ruddock refused to exercise his waiver to grant permanent residency to the daughter of Pakistani refugee Mr Shuharyar Kiyani, on the basis that Amunís condition of cerebral palsy would cost the Australian community too much to support. Mr Kiyani died after dousing himself with petrol and setting himself alight outside Parliament House in protest. Migration systems construct a static and disempowering social category, that of the disabled child migrant. In this paper we explore this construction within technical and administrative processes; we then discuss the possibilities of an alternative, human rights based approach. The paper concludes that for people living with a disability to become visible and to claim worthiness, capacity and advocacy in this system as opposed to silent, helpless burdens, human rights discourse itself will require transformation.
Refereed Conference Paper
disability, migration, children, citizenship, quantification, human rights