Teen with cancer’s brutal rejection from Centrelink
MADDISON Delaney could not believe what she was hearing when she tried multiple times to get a Centrelink Health Care card.
The 17-year-old Sydneysider was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in October 2016 at 16 years of age - a disease she still battles with every day.
Despite her having virtually no immune system, she was ordered to visit Centrelink in her wheelchair so staff could inspect her.
And if that wasn't bad enough, staff gave her a list of reasons why she would not be able to qualify for a Centrelink Health Care card - something which would make her chemotherapy and antibiotics cheaper.
She was told the reason for the rejection was because she was over the age of 16 and under 18 when the cancer was detected.
The teenager was also told that she wouldn't qualify because she did not have a terminal illness and she wasn't disabled enough.
"My oncologist, Clinical Nurse Consultants and social workers have all written letters and referrals, yet Centrelink has still denied my rights to a card," she wrote on an online petition. "At one point, I had to be taken into a Centrelink centre with virtually no immune system to be sighted, only weeks later finding out we had been rejected again."
Thankfully, the Year 12 Northern Beaches student has finished intensive treatment that included eight months of intensive chemotherapy at the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick. But she is still taking oral chemotherapy and antibiotics which is costing her family hundreds of dollars a month.
Her petition to make it easier for cancer patients to access benefits from Centrelink has now collected more than 30,000 signatures. However, she said she doesn't blame the staff at Centrelink for what happened to her.
"When we are on the phone to Centrelink, the workers are amazing," she wrote. "They are helpful when trying to find us a successful avenue and upset and regretful when telling us we have been rejected.
"We even have had one worker state they are campaigning for an easier avenue for cancer patients like me internally."
She said her family will just have to cop the hefty fees for her treatment and hopes her story will force a rethink of the rules.
"We have gotten to the point where we have decided to just pay the excess amount instead of spending hours on the phone only to get another excuse," she said. "Hopefully, this campaign will allow my family and the multiple other cancer patients and their families to have access to a concession card quickly and easily."
Ina statement to news.com.au a spokesman for the Department of Human Services said:
"The department has made contact with Ms Delaney's family to ensure she is receiving all appropriate support and payments," he said.
"The department recognises medical conditions can have a significant impact on people's lives, however, we do not have any discretion to provide payments or concession cards outside the criteria set down in legislation."