June 22, 2004
A Cambridge multiple sclerosis sufferer says the Government discriminates against her because of the way she became disabled, and has taken her claim to the Human Rights Commission.
Melanie Trevethick said government funding for people who were disabled through disease did not match funding for people who were disabled because of accidents.
In April last year Ms Trevethick made a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission, which said her case was worth pursuing and took it to the Crown Law Office.
Crown law in March said it could not legally make a comparison between her and people being funded by ACC because they were administered by different agencies. Without such a comparison, discrimination was unable to be proven.
Ms Trevethick said she would now take the complaint to the next level by applying for the Office of Human Rights proceedings director Robert Hesketh to take up the complaint on her behalf. If successful, she could force a review of the law.
Ms Trevethick, whose MS has taken away the use of her legs, said she had to pay $31,000 out of her own pocket for a specially modified van which she needed for regular trips to Waikato Hospital. Charity agencies paid for the remaining $61,000 and she had friends take out mortgages on their houses to help her.
If she was similarly disabled by an accident, she could apply to ACC to pay for the car.
But because she had a disease, she had to apply to Enable New Zealand, which would only fund up to $12,000 and only if she was in paid employment, vocational work, or education.
"I find that insulting. How am I supposed to do that if I don't have a vehicle anyway?"
Royal College of GPs president Jim Vause agreed the difference in funding
was unfair. "You can have an accident from risk-taking behaviour and be
funded, but if you have a degenerative disease you will not be eligible
for the same level of funding."
Copyright © 2004, Waikato Times