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New Australian visa change requirements bring hope

16 August 2019

A change to Commonwealth Government rules in the way people are assessed for visas is bringing a ray of hope to people living with viral hepatitis.

Immigration health requirements for Australia are strict. To date, they have prevented any migrant with an illness, disease, or intellectual or physical disability from obtaining a visa if it is deemed their condition will be too costly to the Australian taxpayer or put the general public at risk.

“I am delighted to learn these rules have been relaxed, both in terms of the financial cap and the number of years over which the costs can be assessed,” said Melanie Eagle CEO of Hepatitis Victoria.

“This is good news for people living with viral hepatitis who want to live and work in Australia as the higher threshold and shorter calculation period should mean that nobody with hepatitis B or C is denied a visa,” Melanie said.

From 1 July 2019, significant costs associated with a condition are assessed as those exceeding $49,000 over ten years. Previously the cost threshold was $40,000 over a person’s lifetime. Read the SBS story and a follow-up article here.

Hepatitis Victoria has previously received worrying reports of people living with chronic viral hepatitis (in particular, hepatitis B) being unsuccessful in applying for permanent and temporary Australian visas. To support visa applicants last year the organisation created a resource Australian visa applicants and hepatitis.

“We became aware of the issue through discussions with colleagues and directly from enquires to the Hepatitis Infoline,” Melanie said.

The previous rules were a clear example of health-based discrimination in the Australian immigration system which disadvantage those living with viral hepatitis who want to call Australia home.

Still, the application process is far from perfect and the complex terms and processes of filling applications and collecting supporting documents can be a confusing and exhausting.

In response, Hepatitis Victoria has information in simple terms as well as in a number of languages. These aim to inform and empower people who are living with chronic viral hepatitis as they navigate the application process.

Input was also obtained from an expert migration lawyer people with personal experience of viral hepatitis and applying for Australian visas.

Australian visa applicants and hepatitis is available digitally on the Hepatitis Victoria website in English, Burmese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Chinese and Dari.  Hard copies of the English resource are also available by contacting Hepatitis Victoria.

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