A Victorian man has filed an age discrimination complaint with the United Nations over the National Disability Scheme (NDIS) age cap.
The day someone turns 65, they can no longer apply for the NDIS.
NDIS Minister Bill Shorten has publicly acknowledged the current situation is unfair, reports ABC News.
Man makes age discrimination complaint with the UN
Peter Freckleton has suffered with disability his whole life, starting when he contracted polio at the age of six.
“I was paralysed totally. I finished up with two both legs paralysed and for the rest of my life, I had to wear leg braces and use calipers and use a wheelchair,” he told ABC News.
But he was rejected for the NDIS, because he was over the age limit.
“They didn’t query my disability. It was just straight out ‘no’ because of the age requirement,” he said.
“That’s totally wrong.”
Mr Freckleton is now making an age discrimination claim in the United Nations.
He argues that the age cap is a breach of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“I feel obliged to take it as far as I can on behalf of a number of people who are being really cruelly and unfairly treated,” Mr Freckleton said.
“We’re just asking to be treated like everybody else.”
Exhausted legal options in Australia
Mr Freckleton initially filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
It does not have the legal power to remove the NDIS age cap, however.
The only option is to the change the NDIS legislation, according to Mr Freckleton’s lawyer, Sheetal Balakrishnan.
“That power is only held by parliament, so Peter doesn’t have any legal remedy within Australia, which is why he’s complaining to the UN,” she said.
Once the UN committee receives Mr Freckleton’s complaint it will then ask the Australian government to respond.
“The UN committee will provide a written decision about whether the Australian government has discriminated against Peter. And whether [it] has breached Peter’s human rights under the convention,” Ms Balakrishnan said.
NEXT READ Discrimination
Previously, independent MP Andrew Wilkie described the age cap as “blatant age discrimination”.
Last year, a proposed class action alleged excluding over-65s because of their age was unlawful.
Earlier this year, then Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson also noted the apparent discrimination.
She described it as “odd” that if you developed a disability the day before you were 65 that you can get the NDIS, but two days afterwards you cannot.
Almost 25,000 people signed a petition, launched by Spinal Life Australia to have the age cap removed.
NDIS Minister Bill Shorten has publicly acknowledged the current situation is unfair.
However, the ever increasing cost of the scheme is a concern for government.
Mr Freckleton argued that the National Disability Insurance Agency, which runs the NDIS, has not done any modelling on the cost of admitting older people to the scheme.
The government has previously suggested removing the age cap would see an extra 2.25 million people try to access the scheme.
However, campaigners believe it would be closer to 25,000.
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