Australian visa denied to Oxfordshire autistic girl

image captionThe Scotts believe the environment in Australia would have benefited Niamh

An Oxfordshire family have spoken of their distress at being turned down by Australian immigration because of their autistic child.

Adrian and Julie Scott, from Didcot, want to move with Niamh, 12, who has severe autism and is profoundly deaf.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship said families who required health or community care could be refused.

The Scotts said they thought living in Australia would have benefited Niamh.

Their twin sons already live on the continent, and Niamh's grandparents emigrated there almost 20 years ago.

Mrs Scott said: "Anybody who's got a child would do anything to make their child's life the best they possibly can for them.

"We didn't choose to have a disabled child. Why shouldn't she still have as much of a life as anybody else?"

'Reducing stress'

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship said it did not refuse applications based on disabilities, but it took into account public expenditure on "health care and community services in short supply".

It added: "For most permanent visas, if one family member fails to meet the health requirement, the visa cannot be granted to any of the migrating unit."

Niamh's grandmother, Ann Styants, said she was "devastated" when she heard Niamh's permanent visa had been denied.

She said: "The only illnesses she ever has now are what any child gets."

Richard Mills, of Research Autism, said there was little evidence that a change of climate helped autism, but a "change in sensory environment is very important in reducing stress both on the child and the parents".

Mrs Scott said she would fight the decision.

"I have to believe I'll get there, for her," she added.

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