Contributed by Jim Hayes
A young 17-year old Sydney leukemia sufferer, Maddison Delaney, has found herself among the ranks of those being abused by Centrelink.
Diagnosed with the illness in October 2016, the year 12 Northern Beaches student went through eight months of grueling intensive chemotherapy at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick.
But once out of hospital, Medicare no longer covers the cost of her ongoing medication. This is the reason why she has tried several times, with the help of her mother, to qualify for a Health Care Card over the past eighteen months.
Although she is wheelchair bound and immuno-suppressed by her chemotherapy treatment, under the Centrelink rules, she was regarded as not being sick enough, and therefore did not qualify for help.
Medical records did not count. At one point, she was ordered to turn up to the Centrelink office in her condition, so staff could “sight her,” even though her mother was acting on her behalf.
The sort of treatment is degrading and unnecessary.
Renee Delaney said about her daughtewr’s case: “We had medical certificates, we had doctors’ certificates to say what her diagnosis was. They didn’t need to sight her, and they felt really bad too, but their hands were tied because of the bureaucracy.”
Maddison is fighting back. She has started an online petition with change.org. She wants to make it easier for all cancer patients to get help from Centrelink. Her petition deserves support.
The problem is that under existing legislation, cancer patients are not regarded as being sick enough to warrant help.
There is a silly argument that suggests another mark against help, is that disability is about permanent condition, and it cannot be determined whether a cancer is going to permanent, unless it has been diagnosed as terminal.
Cancer patients are ruled out for not being sick enough.
Maddison had to put up with the added disadvantage of becoming between the ages of 16 and 18, where you are no longer regarded as a child, but still not an independent adult. It means that your parents are expected to cover the costs.
The legislation is clearly punitive. Discrimination against and the punishment of individuals, because they have come down with a disease, should not exist in the modern world.
Changing this legislation is an important part of the package to make Centrelink an organisation that works for people, and does not primarily exist for a government’s cost cutting ambitions.