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Court of Appeal Closes One Door and Opens Another

Court of Appeal Closes One Door and Opens Another

Legal avenues have been exhausted for disability campaigner Melanie Trevethick as the Court of Appeal recently declined her application to present her appeal.

Three judges decided even if initial discrimination was found between the inferior levels of assistance provided to New Zealanders with illnesses when compared to the generous entitlements provided to an accident victim, the Government could justify such discrimination.

Trevethick says as extraordinary as the statement 'Government could justify such discrimination' may sound, it is not the end of the matter for her.

"In fact I am philosophical about the decision," says Trevethick.

"It is not surprising we have this result given the Government wrote both the Bill of Rights and ACC legislation in such a way to ensure they would be safeguarded from future claims of discrimination."

With the legal outcome now decided Trevethick says it comes down to whether New Zealanders are content to accept that legalised discrimination remains written in government statutes.

Phase two of the Equity For Illness strategy is to create a law change that would give those with disability caused by illness the same rights and funding as those with disability caused by accident.

"The campaign of Equity For Illness and its goal is a simple one, to have a needs-focused, non-discriminatory health delivery for all New Zealanders, regardless of the cause of a person's condition," says Trevethick.

"We will now focus our attention on further developing our lobby groups and work to overturn this deeply flawed legislation.

"Anyone can be born with a congenital condition or struck down by an illness; cerebral palsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, heart attack. For those unlucky enough to fall ill will find themselves trapped in a life of dependency as opposed to ACCs focus on rehabilitation, even for those involved in criminal activities at the time of their accident. This decision fails to deliver any sense of social fairness within our health system. It is quite simply unacceptable," says Trevethick.

Trevethick urges everyone who agrees with the equity-for-illness goal to make contact with the website www.equity-for-illness.org.nz. She says every MP needs to know and understand what part they have to play to change this discrimination.


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