23 Mar 2011

Caregiver says ministry stalling in unwinnable case

3:24 pm on 23 March 2011

A man fighting the Ministry of Health in order to be paid for caring for his two disabled children says the Government is delaying the court case because it knows it cannot win.

The Human Rights Tribunal and the High Court have found Cliff Robinson and members of six other families have been discriminated against because they are related to the patients they are caring for.

Mr Robinson says the Ministry of Health is unfair to appeal against those decisions and is not looking at the human cost.

Of the seven plaintiffs who first took action in 1999, one has died and three, including himself, are now in their 70s, he says.

"What's the strategy of (Health Minister Tony) Ryall and the Ministry of Health? Do they want us to die? Do they want us to go away? Do they think that somehow by delaying the case, it won't happen?"

Mr Robinson says the Government pays for children with disabilities who are put into care, but not those cared for at home by their parents, and the Government should have some pride and drop the case.

Mr Robinson told Nine to Noon the families are not asking for the same hourly and overtime rates of full-time carers.

He says the contract care payments of about $30,000 a year are about a third of the cost of full-time care.

Government taking 'principled' approach

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the Government is taking a principled approach by appealing against the court finding.

Mr Ryall says the Solicitor-General believes the case should be appealed against because it has wide ramifications for how the Government supports people with disabilities.

The minister says it is very easy for people to call for the families to be paid when they do not have to find the budget to pay them.

But Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty says the Government needs to drop the case and compensate the families who chose to take on the care for their disabled children.

Ms Delahunty invited the families to speak at Parliament on Wednesday to highlight their struggle.